Friday, February 22, 2008

White Breasted Nuthatch

I can't believe I have not made a post since the first of the month! Well I don't think I could have a better return to the blog photo than this White Breasted Nuthatch. We have had four at once at our feeders. I can't recall ever having more than two at any one time before this. This guy is a great specimen. Nice markings and loud "Peep". He was also willing to sit still and hang out for quite some time. The weather has been erratic. One morning when I was heading off to work at 5:30AM the temperature was 50 degrees and within 24 hours the mercury had plummeted to 6 above! That's February for ya! Anyway, we've had a pretty good count streak lately. Twenty-two Blue Jays at one time and several Carolina Wrens. Let's hope for another great weekend count. We have 3-4 inches of new snow here in Millport, NY. I will try not to be away as long before the next post.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Banner Counting Day

What a day! Pouring-Freezing Rain and birds galore. The feeders were busy all day today. The weather must be the key. We had freezing rain all night and all day. It is still pouring here at 5:20PM (est). Along with the usual suspects like the Blue Jays, Chickadees, Titmice and Juncos we had the pleasure of seeing three different sparrows; 5 Song Sparrows, 3 Chipping Sparrows and 4 White-Throated Sparrows. Our mystery Wrens paid us a visit as well. What we thought were House Wrens are probably Carolina Wrens or maybe Winter Wrens. The staff at Cornell advised us after we had entered House Wrens for one of our weekly counts that they are not normally on our area at this time. So after a closer look they are as I said more than likely Carolina's.
If that wasn't enough (which it was) we treated to a super special visit from a passing flock of 20-25 Waxwings. We were not able to get a good enough look to positively ID them as Cedar or Bohemian. The day here in Millport has been gray and dreary all day. I was able to sneak out behind our storage shed and click off a bunch of pictures through my 75-300mm to at least provide a poor photo to Cornell to see if they can make an ID for us. I
have posted the photo to the right. The birds looked like they were hunkering down during a
hard rain. They were nestled in a couple of Sumac Trees near the apple tree in our backyard.
We are hoping the Waxwings will stick around for another day and present
themselves for a better photo opportunity.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Return Of The Birds...Bigtime!

Finally after a very slow two weeks the birds are back. We had an incredible bird count topped off by nearly twenty Blue Jays that brought fresh life and unusual color to our hibernating Apple Tree. We also had the return of our Northern Cardinals, Dark-Eyed Juncos, American Gold Finches, Tufted Titmice, Black Capped Chickadees and a half a dozen Tree Sparrows. The Red Belly even made an appearance, though he only quickly hit the suet feeder and took to the wing.
With temperatures in the high teens and low twenties this morning it wasn't too bad to sit out and shoot a few photos.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No Birds!!!

This has been pretty much a "Bird-Free" week here in Millport.
While the mild weather could very well be part of the reason, I can't
recall in recent years this long of a bird drought. Today wasn't a total
washout as I did spy a pair of Downy Woodpeckers heading toward
the suet feeders. This being said, my usual routine of backyard bird
photography did not happen this week so I took the show on the road.
I didn't do very well capturing any worthwhile bird photos, but did
get a pretty nice nature scene. It features Newtown Creek looking south
from Latta Brook Road in Horseheads. So in lieu of the birds I hope
you get some enjoyment from this.
Better luck to all my fellow FeederWatchers!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I guess the weather has been so out of character this last week or so that I can count all of the birds that visited our backyard on two hands (please note the photo at the right). I had noticed in the FeederWatch email Digest that others had noticed the same thing. Is it because with the warmer days other naturally occurring foods are available? I am not sure, but that sounds right. Hopefully the weather will get more seasonal in the next few days and they birds will be back. I was lucky enough to see two big Hawks feeding on an old deer carcass. It looked like the carcass was recently revealed by the newly melted snow and this pair of great birds were filling up. I am quite sure they were Red Tails as their tail feathers were a distinctive red/rust color. I did not have my camera with me, but I do have a picture of the same type of Hawk I was able to photograph last year. I will try and post it soon. I wish better luck to all the other Backyard Bird Counters out there!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Oops! My Mistake

Horseheads Holding Point (Corrections)

Three cheers to my Dad who remembers personally the things I have only
been told about. So let me correct the couple of mistakes I posted yesterday.
First; The Holding Point was just that...a holding point. There was actually
no manufacturing at the site. My Dad recalls him and his friends going there
and watching the trains pull out with there various cargos. He remembers
flatbeds with tanks, large field guns, and massive wooden crates marked
AMMO. So mistake number one...Rectified!
Number Two: The famous Horseheads Bricks were not made at The Holding Point, but
nearby. (The Horseheads Brick Yard is among the most extensive establishments for the manufacture of bricks in the State. It was originally started by a man named Albright, on a small scale, about 1840. In 1855, William Westlake operated it to the extent, perhaps, of 1,200,000 per annum. In 1858, Benjamin Westlake, the present proprietor, purchased the yard and surrounding land, and since then has added improved machinery and increased the business to 6,5000,000, with a capacity for at least 10,000,000 per annum, There are six tempering pits and six moulding machines, run by a steam-engine of fifty horse-power, and giving employment to sixty men and ten teams. Mr. Westlake has recently added improved facilities for cleaning the clay, which will add greatly even to the present excellent quality of brick made by him, and will place his productions among the best for hardness and durability.)
I was right that the Horseheads Bricks were and are highly sought after. Other brickyards made there bricks to a "Horseheads Brick Standard". So mistake number two...Rectified!
In the future I promise to do more research

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cold Snap!
Man did it turn into January this morning and it didn't get much
toastier as the day went on. By the time I left work at 2:30PM it had
peaked out at 19 degrees. I cut through the industrial park in Horseheads.
It's called The Holding Point. It was just that amd more during World War
II. They manufactured all kinds of goods for the war effort. They made "HH"
Bricks at one time that people still clamor over.
Anyway it has a marsh with a medium size pond. I think it is a national wetland.
It is a breeding area each Spring for thousands of Canadian Geese and many
species of ducks. I have even seen a pair of swans here. During the warmer
months when the water is not frozen there are a couple of Ospreys that
hunt here and up the creek.
I have quite a collection of photos from this particular area. I can always
turn up something to photograph here.
More To Follow...