When we left off our exhausted team, having birded for over 13 straight hours already, was headed north from Coxsackie with a little over 100 species for the day. A quick stop at the Dunn Memorial Bridge in our third county of the day, Rennselaer County, to pick up the nesting Peregrine Falcons was successful when we spotted an adult and a chick in the nest box.
Next was that familiar haunt of mine, Papscanee Island. A cruise along the north entrance road revealed what we had feared: the water was almost completely gone. In the small amount of suitable habitat remaining we did spot Least and Solitary Sandpipers and a Lesser Yellowlegs, all birds we had already checked off.
The road along the south entrance was no better but once we were in the preserve proper our luck slowly began to change. No, we didn’t get the hoped for Carolina Wren, Cerulean Warbler or the inexplicably difficult-to-find Hairy Woodpecker, but we did finally get everyone on a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. A Yellow-throated Vireo was our fourth and final vireo species of the day, joining Red-eyed, Blue-headed and Warbling on our checklist.
As we prepared to leave Papscanee we had our first debate about our next destination. We could head to the Albany Pine Bush (Indigo Bunting, possible Black Vulture and Pine Warbler) and then to Vischer Ferry and Cohoes or we could go to the Rennselaer Tech Park (Orchard Oriole, possible Indigo Bunting) and then hit Cohoes, Vischer Ferry, and Cohoes again. The tech park route won out when we realized that to get to the pine bush we would be expending way too much time.
And the Rennselaer Tech Park paid off! We got one of our target species there, the Orchard Oriole, which I have seen several times at the tech park but Will had never managed to see (he’s finally a believer). To our dismay, however, an Indigo Bunting failed to materialize.
We recrossed the Hudson to the west bank and drove up 787 to the Cohoes Flats where we would finally add our three common gull species, Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed. We were extremely excited that we managed to add a fourth gull, a dainty Bonaparte’s! Also present at the flats was Larry’s team, which remained the only team we would bump into over the course of the day.
On our ride to Vischer Ferry the rain that had been sprinkling down off and on all day long started to get steadier and heavier and we were worried we might get completely washed out but we persevered.
Come back tomorrow for the grand finale of the Century Run Saga!
If we had gone to the Pine Bush we would have gotten all those species and won… But hey, live and learn.
My WSB team missed Hairy Woodpecker one year when we had a n e s t staked out! No such thing as an easy bird on a big day, alas.
This is exciting stuff, Corey. I’m looking forward to the final count.