PurpleSand571a.jpg (45749 bytes)A wild wet November weekend in central New York, Tompkins County, 16 and 17 November 2002.


All pictures are Kevin and Jay McGowan.  They were taken with an Olympus D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope

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Cold and rainy, with snow over night.  What better day to go birding?  We started out with a large number of birds at our feeders, including 2 Common Grackles and 4 Fox Sparrows.

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Cold and drizzly is perfect weather for Dryden Lake, so we headed there to see what was present (Long-tailed Duck was reported in the morning). We got more than we bargained for. In addition to a dozen species of waterfowl (Northern Shoveler was new for the year), and a late Great Egret, Great-Egret-Dryden-Lake303a.jpg (24618 bytes)
we found a 1st winter Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) in among the Ring-billed and Herring gulls sitting in the middle of the lake. For more about this bird, go here. BlKittiwake-354a.jpg (13072 bytes)

A search by others for the kittiwake and other good birds on Sunday led to one sighting of the same or a different kittiwake off Myer's Point in Cayuga Lake, and a surprising bunch of shorebirds.  The biggest surprise were 2 Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) working the leaf-covered shore of the point.  Absent from the Cayuga Lake Basin for nearly 20 years, this was the second sighting in 2002 (the other was of a single breeding-plumaged bird in May)!


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Also present were a half dozen Dunlin, and single White-rumped and Pectoral sandpipers.

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Unusual for the area were the large number of Red-throated Loons present on Cayuga Lake; over 50 were seen, including this single juvenile bird that appeared on Dryden Lake the next day.

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Not to be outdone were the "normal" November rarities, the scoters.  A single female Black Scoter was in with the coots and ducks on the south side of Myer's Point, and a couple of large flocks of mixed species (all 3) were present further south towards Ithaca.

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Add to this a Greater Yellowlegs at Stewart Park; Killdeer, Tree Swallow, and Snow Buntings at Myer's Point, and a probable Black-headed Gull off East Shore Park in Ithaca on Monday, and it totals a pretty good birding weekend, despite (or probably because of) the bad weather.

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Revised: April 08, 2005.