Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

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gbin
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Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » March 8th, 2014, 1:53 pm

My wife's birthday is in the first half of April, and because she enjoys birding - I'd say she's serious but not hardcore about it - I thought I'd surprise her with a trip sometime around then for that purpose. I did this once before, some years back when we lived in the DFW area of TX and I took her on the road for a couple of days to check out some bird fallout spots on the TX Gulf Coast, and she had a heck of a lot of fun. Now we live in the southeastern Adirondacks (not far from the NY-VT border), and I was similarly thinking we'd go somewhere to which we could drive and be back within a couple of days. (I'm afraid a trip to some exotic locale much farther away is out for this spring.) Any ideas?

Or any ideas that would afford particularly good viewing of wildlife other than birds? I'm sure she'd go for that, too.

Thanks!

Gerry

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Andy Avram
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by Andy Avram » March 8th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Can't be May huh? I would tell you to haul out to the Toledo area if you can push it back at all to May. One of the best neotropical migrating bird spots in the entire country. And some nice herpin' to boot.

For April though... I'd probably hit the coast somewhere. Or research when Bicknell's Thrush's return and climb an New England mountain.

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gbin
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » March 12th, 2014, 3:06 pm

Really, Toledo? I'd never heard anything about that, but then most of what I know of the birding world is only tangentially through my wife or other birders.

I figure we'll go look for Bicknell's thrush here in the Adirondacks' High Peaks sometime this spring, but I don't think that's really enough of a birthday outing for me to give my wife. Any particular spots/targets/timing you recommend for a birding/wildlife viewing trip to the coast? I'd already been thinking in that direction just for the fun of visiting the coast (we haven't done so since moving here last year) and because I know my wife loves coastal areas, but in searching the internet I haven't turned up any solid advice on what exactly to do and I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the possibilities.

Thanks again, amigo!

Gerry

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Andy Avram
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by Andy Avram » March 12th, 2014, 3:37 pm

Gerry,

Unfortunately no good coastal advice, but as my potential life birds in this country (especially the east) is fast dwindling and pelagics being a gaping hole in my life list I keep thinking of taking an pelagic bird trip one of these days. And I need those Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows!

Between Toledo and Sandusky, just north of the cornfields and on the shores of Lake Erie is an extensive zone of swamp forest and marshland, lots of it protected. All birds heading to Canada to breed bunch up there and one place in particular Magee Marsh is a birders paradise. 20-30 species of warblers a day can be expected in mid-May, along with tons of other neotropicals. Amazing area, so good that even Kenn Kaufman (writes field guides) moved out there ~10 years ago or so. Truly a trip I couldn't recommend enough. And the herps are excellent there. It is the Toledo areas ONLY saving grace...

Andy

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gbin
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » March 12th, 2014, 3:47 pm

Andy Avram wrote:... It is the Toledo areas ONLY saving grace...
"Ah, but let's not forget that the folks of Toledo unselfishly gave us the scale..."

(Sorry, I'm a lifelong John Denver fan. ;) )

Fair enough, Andy, I will definitely keep that area in mind if I end up whisking my wife away in May instead of/in addition to April, which certainly is a possibility. It sounds like it'd give her an excellent opportunity to put a book I gave her this winter - Tom Stephenson's The Warbler Guide - to use, too.

Gerry

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chrish
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by chrish » March 13th, 2014, 5:50 am

Gerry,

I don't know how the timing works in the NE, but on the Texas coast, mid April is really getting into peak migration time for warblers, etc.. I suspect, however, in the NE the timing is a week or more later for the big push. However, shorebird migration is in full swing by early April for many species. I think I would look at the timings for coastal migrant traps and find out from local audubon groups or ebird which ones produce good birds in mid-April.

Probably the best place to be looking would be to contact the local audubon societies in the areas you are considering to see if they have input or send out an RFI to one of the listservers or Facebook groups that covers the northeast areas. They should be able to tell you what is good in Mid April in those areas.

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Andy Avram
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by Andy Avram » March 13th, 2014, 7:18 am

chrish wrote:Gerry,
I don't know how the timing works in the NE, but on the Texas coast, mid April is really getting into peak migration time for warblers, etc.. I suspect, however, in the NE the timing is a week or more later for the big push. However, shorebird migration is in full swing by early April for many species.
Here in Ohio, which is a little southern in latitude from most of the NE Atlantic seaboard our passerine migration peaks in mid-May, anything in April is just some of the early migrants which will still be around in better numbers in May. I would assume anything from PA north would be about the same. I would agree that shorebirding should be good in April though (my thought behind hitting the coast recommendation).

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Andy Avram
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by Andy Avram » March 13th, 2014, 7:22 am

gbin wrote:
Andy Avram wrote:... It is the Toledo areas ONLY saving grace...
"Ah, but let's not forget that the folks of Toledo unselfishly gave us the scale..."

(Sorry, I'm a lifelong John Denver fan. ;)
There is an interesting story that when Conant was writing "Reptiles of Ohio" while working out of the Toledo Zoo the owner of the Toledo Zoo company invited him out to the Lake Erie Islands to collect water snakes. He dropped Conant and a friend off at an uninhabited island and promptly forgot about them the next day. A passing boat rescued them. Years later at the Philly Zoo(?) Conant needed to weigh a Gorilla so wrote to the owner of the Toledo Scale Company, reminded him how he deserted them on the island. The promptly got a scale and were able to weigh the gorilla at 400+ lbs.
Just to relate this thread to herps and all...

Andy

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gbin
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » March 13th, 2014, 7:37 am

Great advice, Chris and Andy - and great story, Andy! I really appreciate y'all's help! :beer:

I'll narrow my research down to the coast, look specifically into some of the information sources you suggested and see what I come up with.

Gerry

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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by J-Miz » March 13th, 2014, 2:00 pm

I also second Andy's recommendations. The warbler fallouts in nw Ohio can be amazing, and yes...there are some good herps there, as well. If doing a northeastern trip in April, however, I again agree with Andy. I'd imagine shorebirds, waterfowl, and migrating raptors would be in good numbers.

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pete
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by pete » March 13th, 2014, 3:59 pm

If you head to the coast, hit up the cape and hit the ptown truro areas. Good chances of right whales close to the beach a well as returning shearwaters and terns. Still quite a few sea ducks migrating north as well

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gbin
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » March 15th, 2014, 6:58 am

Thanks, pete and J-Miz!

Gerry

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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by mikez » March 29th, 2014, 3:02 pm

Hey Gerry, long time...Didn't know you were in the northeast.
I second Pete's suggestion to check out the outer Cape Cod area. Great birding with shots at oddballs as well as beautiful and romantic while being relatively deserted at that time of year.

Also suggest you plug into the Birder Grapevine via the various web sites no matter where you go. One thing birders have all over herpers and fishermen is the sharing of info. You can get up to the minute reports with specific locations.

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gbin
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Re: Know a good NE bird trip around the 1st half of April?

Post by gbin » April 24th, 2014, 1:05 pm

Yeah, Mike, I moved to the Adirondacks from TX last fall. I'm loving it!

I left my wife to choose what kind of birthday trip she wanted (big of me, eh? ;) ) and she decided she wanted to go up to Parc nacional du-Mont Tremblant, somewhat north of Montreal. I pointed out to her that winter likely still held more than a little sway up there, but that remained her pick.

Sure enough, there was over a foot of snow almost everywhere, and the lakes were still almost entirely iced over. We tried snowshoe hiking one of the park's accessible trails on our first day there but the snow was too much of a combination of slush, snow and ice for us to get very far. Almost the entire next day there was a chilly rain and mist everywhere. The last day was nice enough and the rain had cleared enough of the slush and ice, though, that we were able to hike another park trail pretty well without snowshoes by carefully walking on top of the ridge of hard-packed snow left by the winter's previous snowshoe trekkers. That hike paid off with an extended, close-up opportunity to watch a river otter hunting a deep, clear pool on a stream and then water-slide down the stream's rapids, too. (You'd think they'd end up all bruised and battered they way they allow themselves to bounce off all those rocks in that rushing water!) The loud water, along with our careful approach to every water body we saw, helped keep the otter from knowing it had an audience to its shenanigans. :D The best way we could think of to enjoy the cold, rainy/misty day was to cruise the park's accessible road, and that did at least turn up several ruffed grouse (no spruce grouse as we were hoping for) and also my first wild snowshoe hare (almost entirely white with one small spot already turned brown). On a river running alongside the road we also saw some Canada geese, and on another river outside our cabin we saw some buffleheads and common mergansers.

On the drive back, too, we swung quite a bit east to look for waterfowl around a well-known stretch of the St. Lawrence River. Found plenty! I haven't looked at my wife's pictures yet to see whether any look good enough to share here, but there were countless snow geese, quite a few Canada geese (didn't see any brants or other Canada goose look-alikes, that I could tell) and a lot of ducks. The ducks I saw were more bufflehead, northern pintail (probably my favorite species), gadwell, ring-necked, (I believe lesser) scaup, green-winged teal and American black. Oh, and mallard, of course. I believe my wife saw at least a few more species (which I can't think of), but she worked it harder than me. There were also a couple of northern harriers hunting a marshy spot - and a peregrine falcon flying menacingly low over an especially duck-rich area! It sure looked as if the peregrine was hunting, but if so, why didn't it grab any one of the many (literally) sitting ducks assembled beneath it?

Hey, a few snow geese just flew by my window overlooking Lake George, even as I wrote this! As I said, I'm loving it!

Thanks again to y'all for your recommendations even though we didn't end up using any of them. We'll definitely keep them on hand for another trip soon.

Gerry

P.S. added by edit: I know my wife was really hoping to see some wolves in the national park - she's always hoping to see wolves whenever we're within their range, and I nearly lost her to a graduate project on the species in far northern Labrador back when we were dating - and though we weren't that lucky, we did find some tufts of fur and a few tracks that we feel pretty sure were from the species. Maybe next time...

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