Posted by: Dan | June 12, 2006

A day at the Baldwin Preserve

This week’s birdwatching was unfortunately hampered by several days of cold, rainy weather, finally clearing over the weekend. On Sunday, I made it out to do some birding, primarily at a recommended Cayuga Lake basin birding location: the Baldwin Preserve. This site is most popular for being one of the best spots around for seeing Praire Warblers, which, despite their name, prefer brushy, early successional habitats like the majority of the area encompassed by the preserve, with its large planting of young spruces and red pines.

As I found out, it’s also an excellent site for seeing a variety of other shrubland birds, and is also home to a stretch of beautiful forest running along Six Mile Creek as well. It was this last part that interested me most, as I sought some warbler species that preferentially breed in coniferous woods for my life list.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed – at least not in the birds I heard. At the above mentioned stretch of coniferous woods, I heard two male Black-throated Green Warblers, vigorously defending their territories by constantly repeating their song: zeeeeee zeeee zoo zoo zee!. I spent over two hours obsessively staring up through the tree branches trying to see them, but was denied: the branches were simply too dense, and the warblers must have been at the very top of the forest canopy. It was agonizing.
Black-throated green warbler
I did however earn a great look at another warbler for my life list: a Canada Warbler. While neither of these are all that uncommon species, I just hadn’t seen them before in the two years since I started seriously birdwatching.

Site note on their conservation status: Black-throated Green populations have been stable through the early 1990s. Logging of coniferous forests negatively affects Black-throated Green Warbler populations, but the species does also breed in second-growth coniferous forest. Meanwhile, the Canada species is declining across much of range.

Anyway, for a full list of the birds I saw/heard at the Baldwin Preserve:
Great Blue Heron
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Barn Swallow
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Winter Wren
Wood Thrush
Veery
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Chesnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Ovenbird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Rose-breasted Grosbeak(?)
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch
Goldfinch

Update, 6/20
I returned on Friday, 6/16, to find the place ravaged by partying/camping college-age kids, who’d decided to drive an ATV to the area where I’d been watching the Black-throated Green Warblers (or trying to, rather). As I found them, they were packing up their sleeping bags and tents, with an astounding volume of empty beer cans strewn throughout the woods, up to 50yards in all directions from the campsite.

Knowing that the owner of the Baldwin Preserve (privately owned, but with a land trust conservation easement) would not approve of such blatant disrespect of the area, myself and a friend wrote down their license plates. We reported it to the owner, and tomorrow, my friend and I, along with the owner, will go to the sherriff and file affidavits.

Sadly, prosecuting such kids for trespassing and littering is probably the only recourse Mr. Baldwin has, and the only way to send a clear message that disrespecting of this wonderful preserve is unacceptable.


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