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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Sterling Forest, NY with members of New York City Audubon

Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) a.k.a Yellow Poplar

(Photo credit - Rob J)

If not for ear-birding, searching for birds in Sterling Forest during the breeding season would be an exercise in futility. Unlike New York City’s parks, the state park’s borders protect an impressive area of dense hardwood forests. The bird species present at this time of year are in breeding mode and are more often heard then seen. Of the 68 species tallied today 18 remained hidden from view as they sang from within their territories. Fortunately we managed to have nice views of one Golden-winged Warbler while a few more were only appreciated for their insect-like song. One the blue blaze trail, a short distance from the visitor’s center, we heard a Cerulean Warbler singing non-stop from the top of an oak tree. The foliage from surrounding trees made it impossible to locate him and we eventually gave up looking. American Redstarts were the most abundant wood-warbler encountered today and the easiest to actually see as they were usually foraging in the understory to midstory.

I began my morning in Brooklyn where it was cool and drizzly. The prospect of rain caused a few people to cancel coming on the trip. It was their loss as the sky began to clear as we arrived at the meeting place near Tuxedo, New York. It turned into a sultry day more appropriate for August than early-June. We drove to four different locations within the park including a stop at the visitor’s center on Sterling Lake. Because many birds were tough to see some of our time was spent practicing song identification. We also tried to identify some butterflies, dragonflies and a few reptile species. The most unusual creature encountered was a Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe). We watched this impersonator unfurl his incredibly long feeding tube as he sipped nectar from a Japanese Honeysuckle.

-Click to view a quicktime movie of a Hummingbird Moth- (Movie credit - Tim Doyle)

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We had an interesting experience on a trail at Blue Lake. Near the end of the “sand pit” trail is a small pond. We had been hearing Yellow-billed Cuckoos and their peculiar calls throughout the day. As we relaxed next to the pond we heard, what I thought might have been another one, in a close tree. Suddenly there were two calling, then another, and another; the volume increased like an orchestra tuning up. The layered croaking noise surrounding our group moved like a wave around the water hole. The chorus subsided just as abruptly as it began. We realized that the noise wasn’t a cuckoo but actually some type of frog. Mildred said that it was likely a treefrog so I began scanning a birch tree next to us to see if I could find one. Two gray lumps in a horizontal branch lost their camouflage when the wood’s knots became eyes and ridges in the bark became legs. A gall turned out to be a frog’s throat sac.

Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor)

Find the two frogs
(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to hear Gray Treefrogs (scroll down the page that opens)-

As we left Blue Lake, our final location before returning to the city, there was one last bird for the day. At the end of the dirt road that intersects with Long Meadow Drive was a Common Raven. The Red-tailed Hawk-sized crow seemed to be exploring something on the ground. The bird flushed as we slowly approached but I noticed a chipmunk with overstuffed cheeks at the edge of the road. Perhaps the raven was looking for a little rodent for lunch.

It was a great day of exploring and learning in Sterling Forest. New Yorkers (and the flora and fauna of SFSP) are very fortunate that, due to the hard work of many conservationists, Sterling Forest was saved from bulldozers and chainsaws.

American Toad (Bufo americanus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn the difference between a frog and a toad-

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

North American Millipede (Narceus americanus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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Sterling Forest State Park, 6/4/2005
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Wild Turkey
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Heard, various locations.)
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker (Heard, Indian Hill trail.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Heard, various locations.)
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher (Heard, various locations.)
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo (Heard, Indian Hill trail.)
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee (Heard, various locations.)
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren (Heard, near visitor's center.)
House Wren (Heard, near visitor's center.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Heard, various locations.)
Veery (Heard, various locations.)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Heard, near visitor's center.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Heard, Indian Hill trail.)
Prairie Warbler
Cerulean Warbler (Heard, near visitor's center.)
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird (Heard, various locations)
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler (Heard, various locations.)
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Heard, Ironwood Rd.)
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee (Heard, near visitor's center.)
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (Heard, Ironwood Rd.)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (Heard, East Mombasha Rd.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds like a lot of fun...let me know when your next outing is.

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope