Tomhannock Reservoir and Vicinity - 11/11/2021

Larry & Penny Alden

I did my annual Veteran’s Day Tomhannock Reservoir circumnavigation doing the customary counter-clockwise route with two traditional departures from the reservoir for the sole purpose of padding our list.  I was accompanied by Jackie Bogardus, as I have been for 7 of the past 10 years.  We found 50* species, with nothing new to my composite list.  Unlike last year, it was a very nice day, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s with sunny skies, changing to partly cloudy. There was little wind, which left the reservoir almost glass-like at times. We were forced to divert from our traditional route on the west side of the reservoir by bridge work on Ford Hill Road.  The detour sent us onto Cushman Road, where we picked up our only Wild Turkeys of the day.  Just dumb luck, I guess.


We ran into the Thursday morning bird group a couple times, and accuse them of chasing away all the “good” stuff.  Actually, they helpfully noted that there were scoters at the north end of the reservoir, so we were on the lookout when we got there. 


Numbers of waterfowl seemed low on the reservoir, and we missed Ruddy Duck for the first time ever, but we made up for it by picking up Ring-necked Ducks, Greater Scaup, and Northern Shovelers on the large farm pond on Northern Turnpike (aka Tomhannock-Johnsonville Road, aka CR 113) out of the hamlet of Tomhannock (one of our extra-reservoirial excursions).


We missed the Eastern Screech-Owl we’ve gotten the past two years on Nortonville Road (our other extra-reservoirial excursion). The small roost tree we’ve had it in had broken off and, if the bird was still around, it probably found a new roosting spot.


Unlike last year, we had success finding blackbirds, kinglets, and wrens, but missed Am. Tree Sparrow for the second year straight. A Fox Sparrow somewhat made up for that miss.


I have species records for 24 of the last 25 years (trip totals for all of them) and I know I’ve done this count for at least five years before that.  The cumulative list of species remains at 107.  If we go by my cumulative list, our best birds were: Northern Shoveler (3rd time), Greater Scaup (4th), Black Scoter (3rd), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (6th), and the always-elusive Wild Turkey (6th).  We recorded at least 6 Pileated Woodpeckers, including 3 harassing/being harassed by a pair of Cooper’s Hawks. It was also intriguing to watch the single Ring-billed Gull harassing an unfortunate Hooded Merganser in a case of attempted kleptoparasitism.


Here’s today’s list of 50* species:


Canada Goose

American Black Duck


Northern Shoveler

American Green-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup

Black Scoter


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Bald Eagle

Cooper's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ring-billed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow


Totals for the past 20 year’s 11/11 counts are as follows:

2020 - 46

2019 - 49

2018 - 50

2017 - 51

2016 - 43

2015 - 49

2014 - 44

2013 - 51

2012 - 51

2011 - 50

2010 - 51

2009 - 57

2008 - 57

2007 - 47

2006 - 51

2005 - 57

2004 - 58

2003 - 48

2002 - 52

2001 - 48


Thanks to Jackie for being good company and a good set of eyes and ears.


Larry Alden



* We had two Ring-necked Pheasants, but somebody wouldn’t let us count them since they were obviously released birds that are unlikely to survive for very long.  I see her point, but….

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