I had an unexpected opportunity to torture myself some more today when my job (you know, the thing you do between birding expeditions) required me to be in Champlain, a small town way up in the northeastern-most part of New York State. It wasn’t the visit to the town that was torturous but what I decided to do on the roundabout route home…spend more time looking for Black-backed Woodpeckers.

As I mentioned in a recent post, despite numerous trips to the Adirondacks, I can’t find the cursed birds this year. But this time I thought things would be different. I was entering the Adirondacks from the north in a sneak attack that I figured the woodpeckers would never expect. And I would be birding Duane Road, California Road, and Debar Pond, locations I had never visited but had high hopes for after reading their descriptions on the Franklin County Birding Trail Map: “Black-backed Woodpecker frequents open stands of conifers…Black-backed Woodpecker occurs in spruce-balsam along the access road.”

So did I see my much-sought-after target bird? Did you read the title of this post? Of course I didn’t! Someone or something must have tipped the woodpeckers off to my plan!

In fact, the late afternoon July heat kept most birds quiet and out of sight. With the exception of a mixed flock that included several Black-capped Chickadees, at least seven Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Blue-headed Vireo and a Yellow-rumped Warbler I saw very few birds. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker making odd noises briefly lifted my spirits but as soon as I got the binoculars up I knew it wasn’t my quarry.

Peek-a-boo

a Red-breasted Nuthatch investigating my spishing

A quick drive down Oregon Plains Road and a stroll down Bigelow Road, my fifth visit to that area this year, yielded me a single White-throated Sparrow.

Next time I’m going to wake up really early and do the birding before work!

Hopefully I’ll be able to break my streak of nearly two weeks without a New York Year Bird on Saturday morning at Jamaica Bay.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.