Facilitating spiritual and cultural transformation through connection with wild spaces, with the help of God and neighbor, to create a world where wildlife and wild spaces are known as neighbors worthy of our love, kindness, compassion and care.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Bog, a Mountain, and a River

A view of Whiteface Mountain from Bloomingdale Bog
December 26th 6:00am-noon: Driving northwards

I had plans to sleep in until 7am and depart Wellsboro around 8am, but woke up two hours before the alarm and was so eager to get to the Adirondacks that I was up at 5:15 and on the road by 6.

A long drive; but very interesting six hours. Through the northern tier of Pennsylvania, the southern tier of New York, skirted just east of the finger lakes and then continuing north with Lake Ontario to my west until reaching Watertown, at which point heading direct east into the Adirondacks region.

It was so awesome seeing the sign that said "Entering Adirondack Park."

December 26th Noon-3:30pm: 3 miles on the Bloomingdale Bog Trail

Upon my arrival at the Adirondack Park (which is huge!) my first stop was at the Bloomingdale Bog; a hot spot for boreal species of birds such as Canada jay, boreal chickadee, and my target species the black-backed woodpecker. I spent three-and-a-half hours walking the bog trail. It is a special place. Tall red spruce, black spruce, and balsam fir, along with a scattering of white birch, tamarack and a few other species of tree. The ground is wet at the bog, very soggy in a number of spots. But the ground was all snow-covered so you couldn't really tell.

Canada jay
Near the first open area I was greeted by a Canada jay. This wild neighbor perched on a branch protruding from a balsam fir at about eye level, just three yards away. I reached for one of the shelled walnuts in my pocket, held out my hand, and he/she alighted and perched on my hand with no hesitation. The jay took the piece of walnut and flew off with it.

Farther along and deeper into the bog wilderness I went, in search of the illusive black-backed woodpecker. I did not encounter it during this outing though.

Still, there is much I was thankful for during that walk in the bog. The friendliness of the Canada jay. The beauty of the boreal bog. The unique species composition of this place. Solitude and community all around.

December 26th 4:00pm: check-in at North Pole Lodge

 At 4pm I checked in at the North Pole Lodge. Sufficient facilities. A room with lights and a bed. A bathroom with its typical amenities.

The good thing is that I packed enough toastable waffles and microwavable food packets to last me two-and-a-half days.

But no toaster. No microwave. No refrigerator.

This was my own doing as I chose the cheapest of room available..

Not a problem though. I tend to be resourceful, perhaps even to the point of weird.

You know that ice bucket that is in all hotel/motel rooms? Fill it with hot water, put food packets in, put lid on, wait 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice and there's lunch and dinner cooked and ready! What can I say, what I lack in style I make up for in resourcefulness.

December 27th 8:00am-noon: Bloomingdale Bog seven mile loop

This was the big day. A seven-mile walk through the bog. For those familiar with the Bloomingdale Bog this was my route: From bog parking lot along Rt 55, I did a lollipop loop: walked the bog trail north, turned right on Bigelow Rd, left on Oregon Plains Rd, left on Merrill Rd, and left on bog trail straight back to parking at Rt 55.

Cloudy with rain today, temperature between 38-42 degrees Fahrenheit.

Snow covered ground. Rain coming down all around all day.

Black-backed woodpecker
Two miles into the walk tapping could be heard among the low branches of conifers next to the path. Sure enough, a female black-backed woodpecker was perched on the trunk of one of those trees! I stayed with this bird for 40 minutes, watching her meticulously work her way down the trunk of one fir tree. She started at about 25 feet up, and over the course of forty minutes she slowly made her way down to about eye level. She made me think of a metronome, as she'd cock her head back to the right, two taps, cock her head back to the left, two taps...left, two taps, right, two taps...do it again...

At one point one of the beard lichens growing on the side of the tree must have been in her way because she pecked it once, plucked it from the bark of the tree with her beak, and whipped it to the ground.

The only reason I ceased watching the black-backed woodpecker after forty minutes was because something even rarer showed up, as three white-winged crossbills flew directly overhead calling as they went, sounding like four small yet mighty car alarms!

I turned away from the woodpecker to watch the crossbills as they landed on the upper branches of American tamarack trees on the other side of the path.

Yeah, this is the kind of day I was having; OVERJOYED to be watching a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER work her way down the trunk of a balsam snag only to get DISTRACTED by a flock of WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS picking seeds from among tamarack cones just across the path!

A rare year-round resident of the bog (the woodpecker) twenty yards west of me and simultaneously three irruptives (crossbills) twenty yards east of me!

This felt like bog heaven for a birder!

White-winged crossbills are a very interesting wild neighbor with beaks designed in such a way that the top and bottom mandibles cross over each other near the tip. This acts as a special tool for efficiently removing the small seeds from between the scales of pine and tamarack cones.

White-winged crossbill
Furthermore, the white-winged crossbill is like a jack-in-the-box:

quietly feeding...
quietly feeding...
a few muffled notes...
quietly feeding...
and erupting in boisterous four-part song!

If it interests you, you have got to check this out! Click this link to listen to the call of the white-winged crossbill.

That 60 minutes was by far the most exciting of my four hours at the Bloomingdale Bog on Friday, but every moment of every hour held its own treasures.

Bog trail
Misty fog rises from the snow that I walk upon and that spruce and fir are rooted beneath on this gray and rainy day. But the bog is bursting with life in so many ways! Red squirrels feed, frolic, argue and defend. Lichens cling and dangle. Moss covers log, tree, and bog. All is well in the bog; a boreal symphony; a living masterpiece of divine creativity and love.

December 27th 2:00pm-dusk: Ausable River

Monument Falls at Ausable River
After cooking another meal in the ice bucket, I made my way along the West Branch of the Ausable River. This time of year the ice formed by snow, rain, and water spray along the margins of the river make for some of the most elegant sculptures. H2O is a molecule that evaporates, condensates, falls, flows, freezes, crystallizes and more.

At a side tributary I happened upon some of the most beautiful ice-bells I'd ever seen, the result of creek water splashing upon ice sheets above and freezing before it could drip back into the flowing water. This happens again and again through the consistent flow of the stream.
Ice bells, Ausable tributary stream
December 28th 7:30am-10:45am: Whiteface Mountain

Bottom of Whiteface Memorial Highway
The morning of December 28th I ascended Whiteface Mountain via Whiteface Memorial Highway. The highway which was covered in snow and ice increases 2,516 feet in elevation over the course of five miles. While it is closed to vehicles for the winter, walking the mountain road is permitted. I'm sure glad I did. And I approached it with a plan. I would walk from the bottom to the top and then ride down the mountain road on a $12 plastic sled which I'd purchased the evening prior and secured to my backpack for the trek upwards.

One of the remarkable things about ascending an Adirondack Mountain is experiencing stratified layers of habitat zones along the way. From the deciduous/mixed forest, up into the spruce-fir zone, transitioning higher into the Krumholz zone (the habitat zone of stunted windswept spruces), and up into the highest habitat zone, the alpine tundra.

Boreal chickadee
In particular, I most enjoyed watching a small mixed flock of boreal chickadees and cedar waxwings feeding among the branches of mountain ash trees where spruce-fir and Krumholz intersect.

As for the sled, it was a rush! All went well the first two miles down from the top; that is, until the plastic sled broke into a dozen or so pieces under the pressure of bumpy ice beneath the snow. I walked up five miles to the top. I sledded down two miles and walked the final three to the parking area at the bottom. Still, I call it success. Two miles is by far the longest sled ride I've ever taken!

These regal mountains, crowned with igneous rock and hardy fir, draped with snow and ice, howling with north wind and whispering with the call of boreal chickadees is a wild space that reflects the power, strength, and beauty of the King of all, the personal embodiment of the Source of Divine Creativity whose incarnation I'm celebrating during the Christmas season.

I saw myself in the rickety sled, in the hardy spruce, in the energetic chickadee.

I could stay a while longer in this wild space. I could easily stay the whole season if not the whole year long. There are so many treasures, so many wild neighbors, so many more mountains, valleys, bogs, and rivers to saunter.

Deciduous/mixed forest at the bottom of Whiteface Memorial Highway.
About halfway up Whiteface Memorial Highway.
Mountain ash.
Upper layer of the spruce-fir zone.
Krumholz zone.
Nearing the top.

On the way down (photo by Alexander Savich)
My poor sled, after the mountain.
December 28th 11:00am-4:45pm: Departure

I left Wilmington, NY at 11am and arrived back in Wellsboro, PA at 4:45pm

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Let's Celebrate Biodiversity during the 12 Days of Christmas!

During the Christmas season Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The author of the Gospel According to John writes of Jesus who he calls the Word, "God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone."

During these 12 days of Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I invite you to join me in celebrating God's gift of biodiversity which according to Christian tradition is a gift of God through Jesus.

The full diversity of life on planet earth billions of years in the making, and the Word who took on flesh in the person of Jesus is the source of it all.

Let us celebrate Jesus and celebrate God's gift of biodiversity.

During the 12 days of Christmas (December 25th-January 5th) you are invited to share your photos of wildlife and/or of wild spaces on the BestLifeCommunity Facebook page in celebration of God's gift of biodiversity!

Here's a couple of my photos of wildlife and wild spaces:

Cascade Mountain, Adirondacks August 2019

A yellow warbler in a boxelder tree, Tioga County PA May 2017

Monday, December 23, 2019

A little journaling at the Pine Creek Gorge (12/23/2019)

I've got that crazy-eyed look from too much work as I make my way towards the freedom and relief of wild spaces.

Traveling along route 660 West, I near the canyon during the last hour of this sunny day. A couple of ravens are flying high. I feel their welcome.

Upon my arrival at Leonard Harrison State Park I visit one of my favorite trees; a stunted American chestnut.

I'm greeted by chickadees.

Winter sun shines bright from westward angle, illuminating evergreen boughs of Eastern hemlock in poetic fashion.

Farther along the path, I've found a comfortable nook against the bark of a triple-trunked oak near Otter View Vista.

While squirrel chatter and the trickle of frozen crystal springs fills the air, peace fills my heart.

Once more I am at home with my wild neighbors in this wild space.

Nessmuk's "green woods and crystal springs" are Muir's "mountains" are Leopold's "land."

These wild spaces are places of endless discovery. They are places for finding God, self, and community.

Let the peace I've found here inspire my living, that, with the help of God and others, I may always cherish and protect God's precious gift of biodiversity. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Wildlife Tours Commence!

It was frigid!

It was great!

These are two ways to describe the first Wildlife Tour of the winter season that happened this morning at the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Both statements are true. As planned we completed a one-and-a-half mile stretch of the trail on an out-and-back route starting at the northern terminus of the PCRT at Stokesdale.

We heard the story of the role that glaciers played in the current direction of Marsh Creek and Pine Creek. We left tracks in the crunchy snow and noticed the tracks left by our wild neighbors, mouse, deer, fox, and bobcat.

This was a calm before the storm of the holiday season for some of us. This was a step towards enjoying the fullness of the winter season as much as the other three for some as well.

We became acquainted with boxelders, quaking aspens, and black willows.

Our neighbors chickadee, jay, cardinal, white-throated sparrow, and golden-crowned kinglet greeted us along our way.

We took moments to listen to some stories about Francis of Assisi, with whom we are kindred spirits in our love for animals both wild and domestic.

We experienced community with each other and with our wild neighbors in this wild space.

Thank you Amy, Anna, Beth, Cindy, Keith, Kevin, Laura, Les, Marge and Mick for joining me on the trail. This evening I'm thanking God for each of you and for all of our wild neighbors!

To all who are reading this, mark your calendars to finish out the year with the next Winter Wildlife Tour on December 31st- A New Years Eve Saunter, walking with Thoreau. If you can make it I hope to see you there.



Thursday, December 19, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbor: Lapland longspur

Lapland longspur (center), horned larks (right) at Brown Rd. Jan. 2018
The courtship display is a sight to behold, as the black-faced, rusty-collared male makes a flying, singing, gliding aerial display over the arctic tundra in June to gain the attention of a female.

Here is a link to a video that comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library of a lapland longspur's courtship display. It's worth taking 30 seconds to watch.

One of the most abundant birds breeding in the arctic tundra, you'd think that these sparrow-like birds would be easy to locate when they arrive at the wintering grounds (which includes Pennsylvania). That would be nice, except by the time these birds are headed south the male's bold breeding plumage is replaced with more subtle identifying features including streaking on the sides and a dark border to the face.

Furthermore, lapland longspurs express a strong association with horned larks. The bottom line is, when searching for longspurs in the winter, look for larks.

Part of the challenge of finding tundra birds like larks, longspurs, and snow buntings is that there can literally be hundreds of them in a wide open field of stubble and if they're hunkered down they might as well be invisible!

Fortunately, larks move around a lot in winter, swirling over big open fields; and when those fields become covered in snow the larks tend to spend time on the side of roads where they pick grits from roadside gravel to fill their gizzards for digestion.

So if you're up for the challenge, set out along roads adjacent to farm fields following the next decent snow storm. Look for flocks of larks flying over the fields where they pick for seeds, and watch for them ahead of you picking for grits on the road. If you can find the larks, scan through the flock one bird at a time. You may be so fortunate as to find a longspur.

Rough-legged hawks with bold shoulder patches hover over wide open spaces.
Tree sparrows tell of their presence with distinct jingled notes.
Herring gulls are a bold and boisterous presence on the lakeside.
Long-tailed ducks contribute a certain charisma to the open water.
Snowy owls bring a majesty to the tundrascape like none other.
Northern shrikes present a menacing beauty to shrubby field edges.
Common redpolls spark with an energy that puts the most rambunctious child to shame.
Snow buntings erupt over fields like a living snow squall.
Lapland longspurs blend and assimilate with larks and buntings; their presence and their beauty less obvious than these others. Yet, they too are our wild neighbors from the arctic tundra.

In our encounters with each of these Arctic Wild Neighbors, for a season the tundra is here. I hope we all can grow to appreciate and even to love our Arctic Wild Neighbors.

Lapland longspur (bottom), horned lark (top) at Brown Rd. Jan. 2018
There are two lapland longspurs in the mix with this flock of larks. Can you pick them out?

To learn more interesting facts about the lapland longspur, click this link.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Snow bunting

Snow buntings possess a striking plumage of white, black, and brown. On the arctic breeding grounds these sparrow-sized birds eat spiders and insects as well as the seeds of grasses and other plants.  Throughout the winter they must rely mostly on seeds, which explains their affinity for wide open spaces like farm fields and lake shores.

There's nothing quite like catching the view of a big flock of snow buntings as they whirl over an open field.

Here is a Haiku poem I wrote (using the typical pattern of 5, 7, and 5 syllables per line) as I reflected upon my experience watching a sizeable flock of snow buntings take flight over a field in the Middle Ridge area, about eight miles west of Wellsboro, PA:
Windswept tundrascape,
In a flurry brown and white,
The flock moves as one.

To learn more interesting facts about the snow bunting, click this link.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Common redpoll

Common redpoll at Ives Run Rec Area 12/22/2018
The common redpoll is another bird of the arctic tundra. In fact, this arctic species can be found around the entire circumference of the arctic from Canada to Siberia!

Fortunately for us, redpolls are an irruptive species. When food is sparse in the far north large flocks may make their way south in winter; even south of Pennsylvania.

Common redpoll at Ives Run Rec Area 12/22/2018
During the breeding season they'll eat lots of insects and spiders, yet throughout the winter their diet consists largely of seeds. Redpolls enjoy birch catkins. They are also quite fond of the catkins of speckled alder trees, as I've come to know through my observations of one sizeable flock about a year ago at Ives Run Recreation Area. Hammond Lake is lined with alders for a good portion of it so its a great place to get a look at redpolls when they're in town as well as other finches like American goldfinches and pine siskins. 

 Often its the distinctive "chit-chit-chit-chit-dzzzzz!" call that gives their presence away to the attentive observer of nature.

These wild neighbors are small, energetic, and flighty birds, and they move in flocks. I've never witnessed a solitary redpoll. If there's only one redpoll its probably in the mix with a flock of siskins or goldfinches.

For more interesting facts about the common redpoll, click this link.

Common redpoll at Ives Run Rec Area 12/22/2018

Common redpoll at Ives Run Rec Area 12/22/2018

Monday, December 16, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Northern shrike

I'm at Slaughterhouse Road in Tioga County, PA in winter.  

Northern shrike at Slaughterhouse Road near Wellsboro.
All is calm, all is bright. 

But if the juncos and white-throated sparrows foraging in the underbrush only knew the truth of who was watching, that would not be the case. A winged creature with the body of a songbird and the beak of a falcon surveys the roadside thicket from atop a tall snag. 

Same northern shrike at Slaughterhouse Road near Wellsboro.
This mockingbird look-alike is the most menacing of song birds. The stereotypical bandit wears a black mask, and so does the shrike. An arctic breeder with gray body sharply contrasted by black wings, tail, and face mask, the northern shrike's black mask is fitting for this crafty assassin. 

Northern shrike in southern New York.
In addition to superficially resembling a mockingbird, it is able to mimic the calls of some other birds. Unlike a mockingbird, the northern shrike eats other birds for dinner.  The northern shrike's diet consists of insects, birds and small mammals and it uses its sharply hooked beak to dispatch its prey.

Same northern shrike in southern New York.
If you'd like to get a look at this Arctic Wild Neighbor I'd suggest looking over thick shrubby areas like the one along the east end of Slaughterhouse Road which is about six miles to the south of Wellsboro, PA. 

I wish I could say that northern shrikes follow a pattern, returning to the same wintering spot year after year. But the truth is that you're very fortunate to find one in the eastern United States in winter. However, if you're regular about keeping an eye out for them when passing shrubby habitat, there's a good chance you'll happen upon one.

If you'd like to learn more interesting facts about the northern shrike, click this link.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Snowy owl

A snowy owl that showed up in a Bradford County field in January 2017.
For many the snowy owl may be the quintessential bird that comes to mind when thinking about the arctic. This is fitting, as the snowy owl is an arctic breeder whose diet is sustained almost exclusively on lemmings when and where they are readily available. The snowy owl is also known to eat other mammals and birds.

Every year there are snowy owls that show up in the United States. However, some years it's just one or two rare sightings in Pennsylvania, and some years a dozen or more are reported in the keystone state. They are an irruptive species which means that snowy owls make irregular pushes south of Canada in response to increases in population and limited food availability.

The following is my memory of my first snowy owl sighting in December 2013 at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA:

Wind whipped snow covers sand dunes while white-tipped waves crash upon the icy shore. Fifteen degrees feels like twenty below while exposed to the elements at Gull Point. Not to worry. A flurry of snow buntings enliven this lake-shore tundrascape and my heart as well; Dancing over frozen dunes with the enthusiasm of the Energizer bunny, the winged mass of white, brown, and black moves left then right then magically vanishes in plain sight in the thick of low-growing browned for the winter vegetation. A few more steps and there I stand, totally mesmerized by the bold yellow eyes of a snowy owl at rest. Snow white complexion, breast and wings barred brown, I'm in the presence of a wild neighbor whose beauty is beyond words. There is a wisdom in that gaze that is mysterious and wild. The snowy owl is of the arctic tundra, and through her confident stare the tundra visits me.

 The photo in this post is of a snowy owl that was seen in Bradford County, PA in 2017. One was reported in Tioga county, PA last year. This is the time of year when they are likely to show up, so keep a lookout for them in open fields and adjacent to large bodies of water.

If you do locate a snowy owl, please take care to be respectful of this remarkable wild neighbor by giving them plenty of space. I recommend maintaining a buffer of about 50 yards so as not to over-stress the bird.

To learn more interesting facts about the snowy owl, click this link.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Long-tailed duck

A female long-tailed duck on the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey.
The long-tailed duck is a sea duck; a notable wild neighbor that breeds well into the heart of the arctic circle. But when the sea freezes over, this interesting duck can be viewed on large open bodies of water from the Great Lakes to the Finger Lakes to the Atlantic coast of New York and New Jersey shore. And occasionally we are fortunate enough to get a brief stop-over visit here in north-central Pennsylvania.

The male of this species has a long pointed tail, while the female does not. Both sexes contain plumage that is patterned with spots of black, white, and brown. Of course, also of note is the red eye and pink band on the bill of the male.

Two male long-tailed ducks on the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey (note the long tails).
Long-tailed ducks are diving ducks. They dive deep underwater to dine mostly on aquatic insects and mollusks.

A typical dive is about 30 feet below the surface of the water, but long-tailed ducks are known to have the ability to exceed a depth of 200 feet (deeper than any other species of duck), giving them the title of "Duck-diver extraordinaire!"

Given its extreme underwater talent, it is just as likely to make a dive as it is to take flight when avoiding predators.

In my experience watching long-tailed ducks, I know that when my presence causes one to make a dive, it's likely to resurface a long way off from where it went under.

It's striking plumage, comical sound, and outstanding maneuverability in big water make the long-tailed duck an Arctic Wild Neighbor worth keeping an eye out for.

To learn more about this wild neighbor from the arctic, click this link.

Here is a video that I found on YouTube of a flock of long-tailed ducks on Lake Ontario:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Arctic Wild Neighbors: Herring gull

The herring gull is a large very adaptable gull. It prefers to be around other gulls, except when there's food.

When it comes to food, herring gulls are incredibly opportunistic. They'll eat fish, grains, carrion, and just about anything else that can be found reasonably palatable. On their breeding grounds (which includes the area from the Great Lakes northwards to the southern edge of the arctic circle) they'll raid the nests of other birds to eat the eggs and chicks. They'll also raid the dumpsters of fast food restaurants, and they are not above stealing food from other birds as well.

There are few things in nature more entertaining than watching a group of four or five herring gulls bicker over a fish or some other tasty morsel.

Just today I was very entertained as I watched a herring gull steal a fish from a common merganser at Hammond Lake. When the herring gull took flight with its booty, four other herring gulls followed in aerial pursuit of the thief. One of the gulls caused the other to drop the fish into the choppy waters. Then another of the herring gulls snagged the dropped fish out of the water like it was picking up a fumbled football and took off towards the parking lot like a running back headed towards the end zone. An all out sprint on the wing. But just then a bald eagle swooped in to take part in the action. Knowing better than to challenge an eagle, the fish was dropped into the water again as the gulls scattered. The fish was then promptly picked up by the eagle, clearly the apex predator (or should I say apex thief) in this lakeside ecosystem.

Gulls have got character, that's for sure!

I missed the initial shot of the fish being stolen from the common merganser duck, so enjoy them from here...

Five herring gulls tussle over one fish.

The first year gull's got it!

Talk about a full mouth!

Bald eagle shows up, gull drops fish, eagle daintily picks it up.

Nobody's challenging him/her!
The herring gull is a four year gull, meaning that it takes four years to reach maturity. The variability in plumage during the four years from egg to adulthood is one of the things that makes identifying herring gulls very fun and challenging.

 For more facts and photos of the herring gull click this link.

A first winter herring gull.
A first or second winter herring gull.
A second or third winter herring gull.
An adult herring gull standing next to the smaller and much more abundant ring-billed gulls.
I highlighted the herring gull here because part of the population breeds within the arctic circle and because it is the arctic breeding gull that is most-likely to be encountered during a Pennsylvania winter. However, there are two additional species that breed in the arctic who show up in very small numbers during the Pennsylvania winter each year; Iceland gull and glaucous gull. Each of these are rare compared to herring gull, but well worth looking for.

You can read more about Iceland gull and Glaucous gull by clicking the following links:

Iceland Gull

Glaucous Gull

And lastly, I leave you with this photo, which (to me) shows just how challenging and exciting gull watching and identification can be. Not only are there varying ages of gulls present represented by different plumages, but there are also a number of species present, each with its own distinctive shape, size, and plumage characteristics for different ages.

Mixed flock of gulls containing at least four species: Herring, ring-billed, glaucous, and Iceland.
 If you'd like to get a look at herring gulls and try your luck for glaucous and Iceland gulls head on over to the shore of one of our big lakes like (in Tioga county) Hammond Lake, Tioga Lake, or Cowanesque Lake. Better yet, if you want to up your chances make a trip to the finger lakes (starting at Stewart Park at the south shore of Cayuga Lake would be my recommendation).

Happy birding!