Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Birding Hotspot near Elmira

I so often find myself chasing the latest bird hotspot on the internet and wondering what I am missing close to home.  So, I've recently explored  the Newtown Battlefield Reservation State Park near Elmira.  First, it is extremely quiet so I felt like I had the park to myself each time.  That makes for undisturbed birds. 

Second, it is a very good woods for breeding birds.  The first time, I hiked without camera to get a maximum distance explored.  The high point was a Hooded Warbler some fifteen feet away.  (.. and no  camera!) Also had juvenile Wood Thrush being fed by a parent, vireos, veeries, and many other warblers.

The last two times, I photographed from my car and never had a single vehicle pass me.  I could have parked in the middle of the road had it been necessary to get the right position for the photograph.   Birds come very close to a car without locating the person inside.

Here are a few of the many birds I photographed.

Red-eyed Vireo

 As I listened to the nearly constant singing by the vireo, I realized which bird the nearby Gray Catbird most often was imitating, the Red-eyed Vireo.  So, I have to include a Catbird singing.

Gray Catbird

Next was arguably  the most  precocious warbler in the woods.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Near the stone obelisk there is a parking lot edged by rows of bushy cover, mostly Rosa palustris and Elderberry.  It was alive with several birds.  First were the large and rowdy Brown Thrashers.

Brown Thrasher

The Thrashers seemed to alternate between foraging inside the rose bushes and on the mowed lawns.  

My attention was suddenly pulled away to a surprise visit on the Elderberry bushes. A Cedar Waxwing came in to feed on some of the unopened flower buds.  What a surprise!

Cedar Waxwing

My final visitor was a Northern Cardinal male that perched in a very artistic setting.

Northern Cardinal

I've learned that it is impossible to anticipate the one incredibly short moment when the bird's eye has the little highlight and the beak is holding the tiny berry perfectly poised with a clear background.  But, at four frames a second, I  have a chance to get the perfect shot.  These five images represent the select few of  more than 450 images. This is only possible with a digital camera and a very big memory card. But, I also had to be up just a little after 5 a.m. It was worth it.

Further bird images are on my SmugMug website at:

Gallery of Perching Birds

My next visit will be on one of the side-hill trails where I can be level with the tree tops.  My thinking is that I can get images of the small warblers that prefer to feed in the upper tree level.   Wish me luck.

Paul Schmitt

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