I did a solo Century Run on Saturday May 15 with walking stops at Black Creek, Papscanee Island, my property in Nassau, Pebbles Island, Cohoes Flats, Vischer Ferry, Saratoga Battlefield, Lock 4 Park in Schaghticoke, and Schodack Town Park with drive-by stops along the way at Round Lake, Saratoga Lake, Luther’s Forest, Wright’s Loop, Knickerbocker Loop, Tomhanock Reservoir, and Nassau Lake. It was a long day covering 140 miles by car traversing an enormous loop across 4 counties with 13.5 miles on foot that yielded 119 species for the day.It was a near perfect beautiful day but like most of the other runners I spoke with it was a slog. Most of the birds I saw were permanent or returned migrant residents with an occasional small flocks of mixed migrants passing through.
The morning started with the Barred Owls in my neighborhood calling as I head out for Black Creek for a pre-dawn run on the tracks. I was in and out before sun-up to pick-up the specialties I had scouted two days before. I was surprised that American Bitterns were not calling but the Least appears to have staked claim to the area immediately east of the pond on the south side and was audible. The March Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, Sora and Virginia Rails were also calling but overall the marsh was quieter than I expected.
Arriving at Papscanee about 6 am, it was much nosier than I had heard it earlier in the week but not more productive. The highlight of the day came when my wife called to tell me that the flock of seven Evening Grosbeaks (1 male and 6 females) that had visited my feeders earlier in the week had reappeared at my feeders so I ran home at 7:30 am from PI and found all seven on the back deck. While watching them I heard the field sparrows and grasshopper sparrows in the farm fields behind the house and walked up the fields to see them and nearly stepped on a pair of Wilson Snipe.
Heading out again about 9ish I ran to Troy for the Peregrin at the Hoosick Street Bridge on my way Cohoes Flats and Peebles Island. A nice sized mixed group of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipal Plovers, and Least Sanpipers, were close in-shore behind the U-Haul but I didn’t stay long to scope the area as there were several groups fishing the flats (and more arriving at the time). PI was already crowded when I arrived but the trails were mostly empty. A short way out from the parking area I ran into my first and best mixed flock of the day with a very active mixed group of about 30 birds working the over buds and berries. Within a couple minutes I had Redstart, Palm, Cape May, Parula, B&W, Nashville, Yellowthroats, BTG, and BTB as well as Warbling and Red Eyed Vireos. I walked the perimeter loop trail and the interior cross trails to find almost nothing new (best birding is always in the parking lot!).
From PI I head up the river road along the Mohawk, over the river and out to VF. Parking at the eastern Cluett Dry Dock parking area I walked the main trail to Whipple Bridge adding a few new birds for the day the highlight of which was a pair of Wood Duck and a lone Cedar Waxwing along River Road about 100 yards from my car (after a 2 hour hike!). I did not have a real plan for the afternoon and after checking the list I was already over 100 and had seen almost everything I had scouted out over the previous six days. My best chance for more species appeared to be waterfowl and/or shorebirds so I made the mistake of deciding to go north.
Round Lake and Saratoga Lake were a bust with dozens of pleasure boaters and fishermen enjoying the beautiful afternoon. The battlefield was very nice and I was greeted upon arrival by a Hermit Thrush (1st for the year) working over the picnic area by the Visitors Center. The fields were full of Field and Savannah Sparrows, Bobolink, Meadowlarks, and Goldfinch but nothing exotic appeared (where are the Uppies??!). Wright’s Loop was a dustbowl. Knickerbocker Loop was similarly dry but I did catch a pair of American Mergs on the Hoosick River just upstream of the confluence with the Hudson. Hoping the Mergs meant more waterfowl might be found on the River, I ran up to Lock 4 park but got nothing but Canada Geese and Mallards.
I didn’t have much energy left or hope for more waterfowl but decided to go home via the Tomhanock and Nassau Lake and was rewarded with a Loon on the Tom. The last seen bird of the day was the Mute Swan’s at Nassau Lake at about 8 pm. After a shower and some dinner, as I compiled my list, I finished the day as I had started by listening to the Barred Owls in my back yard.