Eight intrepid folks, not intimidated by the ominous forecast, were rewarded by reasonable weather and a vanguard of early bird migrants for PFN’s 2013 inaugural edition of the Sunday morning wildlife walks. It being early spring, we stuck mostly with the birds. Flybys at the zoo meeting area included Wood Duck, Osprey and Common Goldeneye. At Little Lake Cemetery singing Eastern Phoebes, Am. Robins, White-throated, American Tree and Dark-eyed Junco Sparrows, besides the usual chickadees and cardinals, counted as the current spring chorus, but could not drown out the nesting Merlins. The latter gave spectacular shows, twice perching within 50 feet of us. On the Otonabee were Am. Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, a Cm. Loon (present Sat.), and several duck species, but numbers are much reduced – Redheads absent, for instance- but we may have been guilty of lax scanning, as we did not see a reported Red-necked Grebe. A Belted Kingfisher made sure he was noticed. Tree Swallows, as they have been for about a week now along the river corridor, sometimes in the scores, were high overhead. The Mathers Corner’s ephemeral pond has considerably dried up, although there was a Northern Shrike farther south. Along a meandering route, to and from Garden Hill, including a mandatory stop for butter tarts and cookies in Baileboro, we observed another shrike, kestrels, an Eastern Meadowlark and a female Northern Harrier. Ospreys, at least 9 on the trip, and many on nests, have arrived. Killdeer were heard at almost every stop, but no other shorebirds could be dredged up. The main Garden Hill Pond had a Trumpeter Swan, (another pr. was in a nearby cornfield), but a small roadside pond just east of there had Wood Duck, American Wigeon and a drake Green-winged Teal. At Mill Road Pond we added a Gadwall. In less than 4 hours birding and depending on who was counting, we saw or heard about 45 species. Thanks to Jerry Ball and Tony Bigg for assistance. A Fox Sparrow was at my feeder when I returned home.
Observer: Sean Smith