Deer Mountain Nature Trail

Scott Varney

My sister and I followed up on a recent post about this nature trail in Coeymans. 
The birding was terrific!  I went for the sole purpose of getting audio clips and/or photographs of the Worm-eating Warbler. Audio recordings were readily available on both sides of the West trail along the very steep hillsides. However, these were probably the most difficult to photograph...extremely well-camoflaged and clearly not fans of humans. I eeked out a couple of ID-able photos, but they won't make my Facebook page!

Also, for anyone contemplating a visit, wear tall, waterproof boots. The majority of the West trail was a mudpit and the boardwalks ALL need to be replaced...they are in scary disrepair and horribly unsafe. 

....but the birding was fantastic!

Happy Day,

Scott Varney
Salem NY

New arrivals, West Charlton


While walking my dog this afternoon, I heard my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee and, a short distance down the road, my FOS Great-Crested Flycatcher.  Also heard Red-Eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager (making its funny call note), and Ovenbird. 


Ellen P.

West Charlton

Bicknell's Thrush @ Normanskill Farm - 5/18


As I reported to HMBirds that day, I found a Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s Thrush at Normanskill Farm in Albany on Sunday morning, 5/17. I was able to get some photos and video of the bird (including an audio recording of the call but not the song), all of which I submitted with my eBird checklist.


I returned the next morning and was able to find what was presumably the same bird at the same location. This time, it wasn’t nearly as cooperative visually, but I was able to record it giving its song for over two minutes, which is generally considered the most reliable way to separate Gray-cheeked and Bicknell’s. I wasn’t sure my recording was of sufficient quality to nail down a species identification – nor did I trust my ears to discern the difference with absolute certainty - so I submitted it to eBird and the “Mysteries” section at xeno-canto.


As of today, I still haven’t gotten any responses at xeno-canto. But I finally had enough time yesterday at lunch to sit down with some field guides, process the audio file, and look at the spectrogram on my own. Not only does having this concrete visual representation on-screen really help in parsing out the sometimes ambiguous bits of birdsong on a lower-quality recording, it makes it easier to recognize patterns in a series. And, of course, it gives a better idea of duration, frequency, and other auditory characteristics.


After many listens, I began to feel confident that I could call the bird I recorded on 5/18 a Bicknell’s Thrush (I’ve left the 5/17 thrush identified as Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s Thrush since it gave no diagnostic vocalizations). I’ve heard some agreement on the song fitting Bicknell’s Thrush and other have commented that the photographs from 5/17 (assuming it’s the same individual) present visual characteristics that lean toward the Bicknell’s side of this confusing species complex (though most field guides seem to caution against relying entirely on fieldmarks in separating these species).


Complete eBird checklist for the 5/18 thrush with photos, audio recordings, embedded video, and spectrogram screenshots at the link below:


It’s been an exciting May for rarities in Albany County: a Trumpeter Swan at Partridge Run, the Forster’s Tern Zach found at Coeymans Landing, two Golden-winged Warblers, and a Cerulean Warbler at Hollyhock Hollow.


Good birding —


Tristan Lowery


Birding board game "Wingspan"


I bought this board game and it is very detailed and fun but it isn't going to get much use in my house. Would any of you like it? It's brand new, all pieces.

Three Quarters of a Century Run


Forgoing our usual plan to join friends for a challenging and high-yield all-Saratoga-county run, Denise and I opted for a more limited, local, and relaxed approach in his pandemic year, covering several sites all within a portion of Albany County, and within about 15 miles of our Loudonville home.  

Starting around 0515 in our own yard during breakfast, we tallied our usual feeder and yard birds. Departure was then delayed due to a mini-wavelet of warblers near the street, including Cape May, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, and Blackburnian......

Picking up Rock Pigeon along the way, we then spent 3 hours at Five Rivers, adding more warblers, Bobolink, Meadowlark, Killdeer, Wood Duck, Field Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Willow and Least Flycatchers, among others. Louisiana Waterthrush was frustratingly absent, or at least silent, along the Vlomankill. 

Our next stop, Tygert Rd. in Voorheesville yielded Virginia Rail, Green Heron, Swamp Sparrow, and a.Common Grackle carrying food to a nest in the reeds and carrying off a fecal sac. 

The relaxed pace allowed time for a stop home for lunch and more yard birding.....

heading up to the Mohawk river by Cohoes to include a different habitat, we added Bald Eagle, Osprey, DC Cormorant, some gulls, Northern Rough-winged Swallow...and - our bird of the day, Great Egret, which Denise spotted and photographed at Cohoes flats! We put the word out but it took off and headed south.

A stop at Albany Rural Cemetery added Rose-breasted Grosbeak. after another stop home, our final destination was the Ann Lee pond/Shaker site complex, where we picked up our last two birds: a transient Alder Flycatcher and American Kestrel, before calling it quits around 7 PM.  

Our final tally was 77. Along with the Louisiana Waterthrush, expected species that eluded us were Scarlet Tanager, Wild Turkey, Red-eyed Vireo, and Red-tailed Hawk. A fun day to be sure!

Scott Stoner and Denise Hackert-Stoner

Averill Park - Loon and Common Night Hawks

Brian Smith

Good morning,

Second year in a row finding common night hawks over Burden Lake in the second week of May. I had a fly over of about 10 of them that were flying together and then scattered to hunt flies and bugs over the lake with the tree swallows at dusk.

Also had a common loon on the lake that called once. 

Brian Smith
Averill Park

Re: WW Scoters - Saratoga Lake

Alan Mapes

Add 5 common loons, 5 brant, purple martins and another dozen Bonaparte’s gulls  

On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 3:03 PM Alan Mapes via <> wrote:
At 3 PM, a huge flock of an estimated 300 white-winged scoters are on Saratoga Lake. Viewing from Reilly’s Cove. Also a dozen Bonapartes gulls and several common terns. 

Alan Mapes

WW Scoters - Saratoga Lake

Alan Mapes

At 3 PM, a huge flock of an estimated 300 white-winged scoters are on Saratoga Lake. Viewing from Reilly’s Cove. Also a dozen Bonapartes gulls and several common terns. 

Alan Mapes

CORRECTIOn: Forster’s Tern!

zach schwartz-weinstein

Tom Williams’ photographs show a bird with paler primaries and an orange bill with a dark tip.  It continues at Coeyman’s Landing now.

On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 7:09 AM zach schwartz-weinstein <zachsw@...> wrote:
Sitting on a plastic barrel on the breakaway.  Earlier at the Hannacroix Creek Preserve Hudson River interpretive trail I had large numbers of warblers, with particularly impressive numbers of Cape Mays and Tennesees 
Zach Schwartz-Weinstein
203 500 7774
Zach Schwartz-Weinstein
203 500 7774

Common Tern at Coeyman’s Landing now

zach schwartz-weinstein

Sitting on a plastic barrel on the breakaway.  Earlier at the Hannacroix Creek Preserve Hudson River interpretive trail I had large numbers of warblers, with particularly impressive numbers of Cape Mays and Tennesees 
Zach Schwartz-Weinstein
203 500 7774

Hudson Crossing birding: 16 warbler species!

Scott Varney

I went to Hudson Crossing today with my sister, Heidi,  to search for Warblers today and had the best day ever there...despite the dog Easter egg hunt (which was a really cool event for dogs). Kudos to the Hudson Crossing staff for organizing this "Get to know Hudson Crossing" 2-day event.

Here's my list of Warblers after reviewing photos:

American Redstart
Black and White
Black-Throated Green
Cape May
Common Yellowthroat
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Parula

Great Day,

Scott Varney
Salem NY

Swainson's Thrush, Canada Warbler, etc. - Vischer Ferry


I spent the morning between 6:00 and 11:00 am at Vischer Ferry Preserve, walking the western loop and the round trip from Ferry Drive to Lock 19.  About 2 weeks ago or less  I was listening intently for any hint of the song of Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Gray Catbird, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart because these species were yet to show or hard to find, but by this morning all of these birds have become dominant vocalizers throughout most of the Preserve.  While finding it helpful to tune out the above singers as much as possible, I was able to hear or see all of the following:  Least Flycatcher (almost a candidate to tune out, also), Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Marsh Wren, Carolina Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, Veery, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula (surprisingly common), Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Wilson’s Warbler, Canada Warbler (heard on scout trail in the woods and along Canal east of Ferry Drive), and Scarlet Tanager.  I should also mention several Least Sandpipers and Spotted Sandpipers on the mud strip along the river where the main path ends, and a Solitary Sandpiper at  Ferry Drive east. 

Two disappointments were the lack of any rails or bitterns, and none of the 3 spruce budworm specialist warblers. Otherwise it was a pretty good morning for birds.

John H. 

Century Run: Normanskill Farm-only



Like some others, I opted for a scaled-down “Century Run-in-place” this year. I decided to spend a good part of the day at my local patch, Normanskill Farm in the City of Albany. So, it wasn’t much different than any other day of spring birding for me - except I got up an hour earlier to try for nocturnal birds, and made two visits, instead of just my usual morning-only outing. I was under no illusions of getting to 100 species; as of Friday, I’d seen 102 species at Normanskill this month, but getting them all again on the same day seemed like a pretty tall order. In the end, I wound up with 81 species – so, a Four-Score-and-One Run?


The first good pickup for the day was American Woodcock, which I heard “peenting” down in the gully along Normanskill Drive at 4:35 a.m. I reached 75 species about six hours later and gave it another hour more before packing it in for the morning at 11:30. It was getting hot, the birds were quieting down, and the farm was filling up with gardeners and dogwalkers, so I went home for lunch and a sensible nap.


The real morning highlight was 17 species of wood-warbler, though they were mostly the same mix of birds I’d been seeing there for a few prior: Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Wilson’s Warbler. I found all six expected woodpeckers, the four most common vireos, and the corvid four-pack. Great Crested Flycatcher must’ve arrived that day, but Least Flycatcher was my only Empidonax (Willow Flycatcher showed up Sunday morning, however). And while I found Swainson’s Thrush at Normanskill on Friday, and Swainson’s, Veery, and a Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s this morning, the only thrushes yesterday were locally-breeding Wood Thrush, Eastern Bluebird, and American Robin.


Palm Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and White-throated Sparrow all disappeared just in time: I saw kinglets at Normanskill as late as Thursday, and the other two were both still present in decent numbers on Friday. But not on Saturday.


While it was a good morning of birding, there weren’t any real surprises, except for a flyover Northern Harrier around 10:30. Some other good birds that made appearances were White-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Orchard Oriole.


After the hottest part of the day had passed, I returned to the farm in the afternoon to record another half dozen species (including some embarrassing near-misses): Rock Pigeon, Turkey Vulture, Cedar Waxwing, Blackpoll Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and Chimney Swift (in chronological order).


My two biggest misses were probably American Kestrel and Northern Mockingbird, but Common Merganser, Double-crested Cormorant, Green Heron, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Eastern=Towhee, and Indigo Bunting are other species I see with some regularity at Normanskill that decided not to show yesterday.


Being a creature of habit, I was back again this morning (Sunday), where the first bird I saw at sunrise was the Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s Thrush I mentioned above. There are some blurry, low-light photos attached to this eBird checklist.


And finally, after being holed up at Normanskill for most of the weekend, I drove out to Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area in western Albany County this afternoon to see the previously reported Trumpeter Swan, which was still present at Tubbs Pond.


Good birding —


Tristan Lowery




The past 2 Day's I've been birding solo except for yesterday, I was with Donna Wright. In Vale Park/Cemetary we had, foy, Nashville Warbler,male and Female Scarlet Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo etc. Today I was up in The Woodlawn Preserve I got 10 year birds, Least Flycatcher, 2  of the following both seen and heard, Northern Parula, Wilson's Warbler,Chestnut sided Warbler, Blackthroated Green, Ovenbird multiple, Wood Trush, American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo. etc. Just a heads up and reminder that RR tracks are private Property, and that if you get hit by a train it's your problem. Jamie Taft Schenectady

Golden-winged Warbler, S. Bethlehem

John Kent

A Golden-winged Warbler reported earlier on eBird by Chris McCarthy is still present at Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary in South Bethlehem. It periodically visits the apple tree by the pond. Thanks, Chris! 

John Kent

Great-crested Flycatcher and IBs Continue


Just saw my FOS Great-crested Flycatcher, a good reminder "bird every bird." Saw someone fly into a tree out back out of the corner of my eye from my seat at the dining room table. Almost went back to the email I was writing - the yard is pretty busy with the usual suspects - but grabbed my binoculars instead. Also good to keep them within reach!

After having three Indigo Buntings here Friday we had one or two off and on yesterday until dusk and they are still frequenting the feeders today. They do love the sunflower hearts. I've been putting a couple of handfuls in with the oil sunflower.

There are at least two male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds around and one has kindly started frequenting our new window mounted feeder, about two feet away when I sit at my desk and turn my head. Still no sightings of females.

Clear skies, Alan

Town of Colonie Big Day, 5/16


Colleen and I conducted a Town of Colonie Big Day on Saturday. We visited four locations within town boundaries, except for a small section of Albany Pine Bush that extends into the City of Albany. We thank them for the American Kestrel we found perched on a post at the closed section of the landfill. The day began around 5:30 a.m. at Albany County Airport, and our active birding ended at about 1:15 p.m. with a second short stop at Ann Lee Pond. We then passively observed our yard for additional species until 7:00 p.m.


Albany County Airport (6)- Savannah Sparrows, Bobolink and many singing Eastern Meadowlarks. A flyover Green Heron was a fortunate sighting as it was the only one we saw all day.


Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Karner Barrens East (68)- Three hours of methodical hiking yielded 68 more species. Some highlights included: multiple Orchard Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Bunting. Through-migrant warblers observed were Nashville, Cape May, Northern Parula, and a western Palm Warbler.


Ann Lee Pond (5)- Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Waterthrush, Great Horned Owl, Cape May Warbler and Northern Parula.


Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Latham (5)- Virginia Rail, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.


Incidentals and yardbirds (5)- female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (FoY).



We ended with a total of 89 species. Our prediction ahead of time was 80-90, so we did well. Without traveling to a large marsh, lakes, rivers and reservoirs, we pretty much eliminated any chance of hitting the century-mark. It was a fun day conducted at a more leisurely pace than normal, too.



Tom and Colleen Williams


Re: Century run info


Larry Alden

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: "roundywaves35 via" <roundywaves35@...>
Date: 5/17/20 12:28 (GMT-05:00)
Subject: [hmbirds] Century run info

Could someone remind me who I send my century run list to?  I can't remember.

Century run info


Could someone remind me who I send my century run list to?  I can't remember.

Century Run - Albany County only

Larry & Penny Alden

“Team ABC” (Alden, Bogardus, and Chorvas) ran our usual Albany County Century Run yesterday to pleasant weather. Our haul totaled 126 species.

We found a good mix of warblers throughout the day (20 species), although not in huge numbers, with the exception of yellow-rumps, which were abundant.

Bitterns and rails put on a good showing at Black Creek Marsh, but some late migrants haven’t shown up yet.

Highlights included surprise encounters of Caspian Tern on Alcove Reservoir, Eastern Whip-poor-will and Great Horned Owl calling from Black Creek Marsh, and a drop-in Hooded Merganser on the Normanskill.

Some species took a lot of work (Common Loon on Alcove comes to mind). We encountered only two Indigo Buntings and only a handful of Yellow-throated Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, and Great Crested Flycatchers.

There were expected species which we missed: Fish Crow, Brown Creeper, and Bank Swallow. Through the years I’ve learned this is the nature of a Century Run.

And finally, we found a big ol’ pile of bear poop between the railroad tracks at Black Creek Marsh, proving that they don’t just do it in the woods!

I’ll be compiling results from all the teams or individuals who took part. (People who were out, please send me your info.) Look for articles in future issues of Feathers.

Larry Alden