My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

snow is melting

Bonapartes Gull in Flight

The snow is finally starting to melt with temperatures in the 40’s today. This evening I decided to head over to the Quaker side of Allegany State Park to do a little birding. Despite the rain that started falling, I saw some wonderful birds. Ospreys were fishing with only one dive attempt which came up empty. There were numerous loons and mergansers that I was able to see swimming around. I enjoyed finding a Double Crested Cormorant near the overspill, but wait . . . what is that flying?? Bonaparte’s Gull, CHECK first for the year!! Not one but three or four could be seen flying around the lake. This is the only time of the year which we can locate these gulls flying through this area and I was starting to worry that I would miss seeing them this year due to this crazy weather. All these gulls were adults in their alternate (breeding) plumage, like we typically find them in this area. I hope they stick around for my count that I am doing on Sunday.


Other ducks observed included Ring-necked Ducks, Horned Grebes and Buffleheads. I decided to drive over to where my bluebird boxes were located and thought I had seen a Kestrel up in the tree. I turned the truck around (so I can see better due to the rain and check out the Osprey Nest). I slowly made it back to the falcon and something wasn’t right?? Kestrels don’t have banded tails like that?? the color pattern isn’t right?? Could this bird be it a Merlin?? I pulled the field guide out! Sure enough, Merlin, CHECK first for the year!! This poor bird wasn’t enjoying the rain and very skittish. I tried to move my truck a little closer for a better photo and away it went. Not bad for a rainy day, at least it wasn’t snowing (whoops, it was snowing in the higher elevations).

16 responses

  1. Marg

    We’ve got wet snow right now!

    Tried to get out to band today, but no way too cold and windy-saw some Bonies too and we got the Kestrel 😀

    11 April 2007 at 9:06 pm

  2. A Kestral and a Merlin. Hmmm. You are living in a great place, Mon@rch. Yes, I need to travel more…

    Don’t you think the weather is very odd this year? After 5 days of freeze, we might see above freezing nights now and temps near 70 in the daytime. We had a great soaking rain today – first one in 4 weeks. Weird season…

    11 April 2007 at 10:09 pm

  3. I’m officially jealous! When did it get back, or has it been around in the winter? Because I’m wondering whether I should give up hope for the return of the pair that nested in my neighborhood (in Ithaca) last year. I could/can see the nest from my porch – but so far I haven’t heard a single ‘kikikiki’ this spring.

    11 April 2007 at 11:29 pm

  4. I was gonna say that didn’t look like a kestrel. Awesome. I have only seen a Merlin as a very small speck.
    The rain we had today (heavy, with strong wind and hail) might pass through your neck of the woods. Batten down the hatches!

    12 April 2007 at 12:06 am

  5. Oh, I experienced the change in weather first-hand yesterday when I started my bird walk in the snow and ended it soaked to the bone in the rain…
    Nice Merlin pic, they are hard to get close to!

    12 April 2007 at 8:05 am

  6. Being further north of your region; reading your site lets me know of what we have in store to come to; birdwise and weather wise… we now have Ospreys and Merlins… I am waiting for my first seasonal sightings of Kestrels and Tree Swallows; and 15 to 25 cm. of snow forecast to fall within the next 24 hours! Great Tree Swallow pictures you had posted previously; we host a family in our Tree Swallow birdhouse each year and they are wonderful to watch.

    12 April 2007 at 8:13 am

  7. @ Marg – I can’t wait to get out to do a little banding! wonderful time of the year, where else can you have mixed snow, great birds, ect..
    @ Mary – great birds are everywhere and you can be sure you have birds in your area that I would DIE to see!
    @ Marie – Our nesting merlins don’t typically return to the nesting site until May’ish. You still have quite a few weeks to wait for their return but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the area somewhere. Thanks for visiting my blog!
    @ Susan – That’s what I get for guessing without looking! Glad that I did take the time to look closer though. We have 3 or 4 pairs in the area that are nesting which I have a chance to see, but they still don’t like anyone to get close enough for a photo! Thanks for the heads up on the rain, lucky going to see Howie tonight (inside)!!
    @ Jochen – normally it is the other way around for me, start with the rain and then turns into snow (then freezing because wet and cold). Did you see any great birds? Will head over to your site to see!
    @ nature tales – Ugg, snow!! Be glad you don’t have the swallows, it isn’t good for them! I probably will check my boxes on Friday or Saturday!! Afraid to see what I will find. Hope I am wrong in my results.

    12 April 2007 at 9:51 am

  8. Very cool – I guess that’s one small plus for the lousy winter-like weather you’ve had. I’ve still not gotten a good look at a merlin. Nice shot – even if he does look miserable.

    12 April 2007 at 12:06 pm

  9. Just finished the post of yesterday an hour ago – right before lunch. Hope you like it, …

    12 April 2007 at 1:00 pm

  10. How incredibly cool that you saw a merlin. I’ve never seen one, but supposedly they’re here in our neck of the woods over winter. Glad your snow is finally melting. I hope your spring begins and stays.

    12 April 2007 at 2:15 pm

  11. I saw a Merlin last year for the first time. I thought it was a peregrine, but it was too low to the ground.

    12 April 2007 at 9:58 pm

  12. Corey

    Nice Bonaparte’s. I’ve only ever seen them in non-breeding plumage…I’m only across the state from you but the only time we usually get them anywhere near Albany is up on Lake Champlain heading south in fall (at least that I know of).

    12 April 2007 at 10:22 pm

  13. @ Marty – They are great falcon’s and trust me they don’t normally let me get too close.
    @ Jochen – check – looks great!
    @ Robin – they are great birds and I think my first time seeing them was back at hawk mt. many moons ago.
    @ Barb – they are now starting to nest all over western NY and western PA. Expect to see more in the near future!
    Corey – thanks and isn’t that funny we typically see them in the alternate plumage??

    13 April 2007 at 10:48 am

  14. Wow- a merlin would be a lifer for me! I need to start brushing up on gulls. I’m doing a Lake Superior birding trip coming up in May. It’ll be a big challenge for me as gulls usually make my eyes roll back in my head…

    13 April 2007 at 2:59 pm

  15. probably a bit like our LBJ Sparrows!

    13 April 2007 at 3:48 pm

  16. Nice birds!-good for you Monarch! I’ve never seen a Bonaparte’s Gull.

    13 April 2007 at 5:19 pm

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