Friday, August 20

Beginning an Odyssey in Ithaca

Since settling in at Cornell on the 20th of August, I've had about two weeks of classes, done two loads of laundry, walked around Beebe lake a dozen times, and missed about a dozen dozen opportunities to see Buff-breasted Sandpipers, despite my best efforts. Despite that depressing fact, I've been enjoying my classes, especially starting Spanish (it's amazing how quickly you can learn an easy language with immersion from day 1 and 6 years of Latin) and my writing seminar, "International Conservation."

The community of birders around Ithaca and at the Lab of Ornithology is quite an awesome one. I'll be working at the Lab on Neotropical Birds, an online guide to all the birds that occur south of the States, that is a work in progress. My role is to find and crop photos for the accounts. Since there is a paucity of good photos of neotropical birds on the web, I personally believe it would be much more efficient to send...someone...on a photo expedition to the heart of darkness- but that's just my two cents :)

Most of my birding has consisted of wandering around campus, and particularly around Beebe Lake. So far, the more interesting things have included a few Wilson's Warblers, an Ovenbird, Solitary Sandpipers, and diving Ospreys- overall, though, it's been very quiet.

I have had some chances to get off campus, thanks to Jay McGowan and his car. We've spent a couple Saturdays at Montezuma NWR, about an hour north of Ithaca, at the north end of Cayuga Lake. On the past visits, we've been able to enjoy large flocks of pretty good shorebird variety, including many Baird's, White-rumped, Pectorals, and Stilt Sandpipers, Red-necked Phalaropes, Black-bellied and Golden-plovers, Sanderlings and a Red Knot.

But, wait, there's more! The last time we went to Montezuma (Saturday the 11th), there was more to be seen, including...

A sad, one-legged American Golden-plover...

...And more importantly, a very obliging Buff-breasted Sandpiper!! Finally!!
(Also exciting was my lifer Ruff- a very pretty Eurasian species, its bright, buffy breast and dark cap, short bill and squat posture visible through distant scope views).

And, less importantly, a really cool looking butterfly: a Bronzed Copper.

And, least importantly, many, many, many Lesser Yellowlegs. But they're still awesome.

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