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Author Archive

Young Ones

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Goslings

By: Pat Coate

Been seeing lots of new families coming to our backyard feeder which reminded me that I had a few pictures of newborns/fledglings from earlier this spring to post.

These Canada geese had at least 14 in their brood, usually I see 6-8. Per various sources the average brood size seems to be 4-7.

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“Moosing” in Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario)

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Moose (adult female)

By: Pat Coate

Found a great new place in Algonquin Park to get my annual “moose fix” – this time by canoe. My husband and I took a two-day canoe trip to Hailstorm Creek, located on the western side of the North Arm of Opeongo Lake in the park. We did the 6-7 mile paddle from access point #11 (there are shuttles to the creek’s mouth available through various outfitters) the first day, then camped at a beautiful point near the creek. The next day we got an early start and headed up the river – didn’t go far when we got our first glimpse of this beautiful moose (I don’t think that is an oxymoron, though they can be gangly looking).

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Hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in the Adirondacks – Days 3 & 4

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Cedar Lake view

By: Pat Coate

On Day 3 we headed into the West Canada Lakes region, one of the most remote parts of the trail. Despite more climbing and a rougher trail with LOTS of blow-downs to circumvent, it was incredibly scenic and my favorite part of the trail so far.

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Hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in the Adirondacks – Days 1 & 2

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Silver Lake

By: Pat Coate

My friend Joyce and I decided to take on the 120-mile Northville-Placid (N-P) Trail that runs through the heart of the Adirondacks. We had done a trial backpacking trip a couple weeks ago on the West Rim Trail along Pennsylvania’s “Grand Canyon” to try out our gear and our legs. Making it through that hurdle, we semi-confidently set off last Friday from the Upper Benson trailhead, the N-P trail’s southern terminus (I don’t count the 10 mile road walk into downtown Northville).

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Pine Creek Rail Trail – through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

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Looking down on the PA Grand Canyon and Pine Creek Rail Trail from the West Rim Trail in Colton Point State Park

By: Pat Coate

Just back from a biking/camping trip with my husband on the Pine Creek Rail Trail in North Central Pennsylvania. The Pine Creek trail is an old rail trail that starts in Wellsboro, PA and runs about 60 miles to Jersey Shore, PA. We rode about 30 miles of the trail, from Darling Run to Black Walnut Bottom, camped at Black Walnut Bottom, and then biked back the next day. This part of the trail passes through Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks, aka “The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.”

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Happy Red, White and Blue!

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Northern Cardinal

By: Pat Coate

Hope you have a happy and safe July 4th.

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Herons, Egrets, Ibises and Interesting Behavior

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Great Egret

By: Pat Coate

Spent the weekend with my sisters in Chincoteague, Virginia visiting the National Wildlife Refuge. Fantastic time with lots of birding (sorry Kathy). There were tons of herons (green, great blue, little blue, tricolored), egrets (snowy, great), ibises (glossy, white) and we saw some interesting behavior among them, described at the end of this post.

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More from Muskoka

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Moose (female)

By: Pat Coate

Besides the very entertaining sandhill cranes, there were other nice wildlife sightings on a recent trip to the Muskoka Lakes area of Ontario. I really enjoy seeing the moose in this area and was happy to find a mom with her calf at the back of this bog. They were kind of far for photos but I had fun watching them via binoculars.

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Peacocks (or more properly, Peafowl)

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Close-up (male)

By: Pat Coate

While visiting my daughter we, along with a zillion school children, enjoyed an afternoon at the Milwaukee Zoo. The free-ranging peafowl (males are peacocks and females peahens) were a source of beauty and amusement throughout the park.

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Prothonotary Warblers

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Prothonotary Warbler (male)

By: Pat Coate

Made a short stop at Magee Marsh on the way to Milwaukee last weekend and, though it was past peak, I saw about eight warbler species including a nesting pair of prothonotary warblers.

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Dancing Sandhill Cranes

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Bow to your partner..

By: Pat Coate

I had the wonderful experience of watching two sandhill cranes “dancing” earlier this month. I saw them in a field in Ontario and they couldn’t have cared less that I was there. The dance was so much fun to see – full of bowing, leaping, running.

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Peek-a-boo and Warblers 2

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Northern Parula

By: Pat Coate

Happily a recent trip to Allegany State Park yielded a warbler that I don’t often see – a Northern Parula. It, along with several other birds, seemed to be playing peek-a-boo with me while working its way through this beautiful flowering tree. Some field marks for the Northern Parula visible to varying degrees in the photo include white crescents around the eyes, white wing bars (2), yellow neck and chest with a reddish bar across the chest, and grey-blue head and wings.

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Happy Thursday

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Chipmunk

By: Pat Coate


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Spring Warblers

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Prairie Warbler

By: Pat Coate

Great time of year for birding. Lots of warblers are moving through the area. Nine species so far, hoping to add some more this week.

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Tree Swallows

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Tree Swallow

By: Pat Coate

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s AllAboutBirds.com gives a good description of tree swallows and their typical behavior, which I have observed often:

“Handsome aerialists with deep-blue iridescent backs and clean white fronts, Tree Swallows are a familiar sight in summer fields and wetlands across northern North America. They chase after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns, their steely blue-green feathers flashing in the sunlight.”

But recently I watched about twenty tree swallows repeatedly fly along a small stream and seemingly dip down to the water. I figured they were feeding on insects, but this next photo made me wonder if they might instead be getting a drink.

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Osprey Back and Building (again)

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Osprey

By: Pat Coate

There are now two ospreys hanging out together on the nesting platforms at the Birch Run DEC ponds. I presume one is male and the other female. However, I did not see the “dark necklace” that usually identifies the female on either bird. They have been busy adding new sticks to the nest.

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Waterfowl 1 – Northern Shovelers

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Male Northern Shoveler

By: Pat Coate

This has been a very good spring for waterfowl. There has been good quality and quantity locally as well as in birding spots near Buffalo and Rochester. The pictures shown here were taken at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.

The Northern Shoveler is easy to identify due to its large, spoon-shaped bill. Its bill has over 100 small, comb-like structures that are used as a sieve to filter small invertebrates from the water. Marshes are its preferred habitat.

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Elk of the Pennsylvania Wilds – Part 2

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Pennsylvania Elk

By: Pat Coate

Here are a few more pictures taken in the Benezette area of the Pennsylvania Wilds, which is considered the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country. Between a trip in mid-March and one this past weekend I ran into two herds totaling over 50 elk. One herd seemed very acclimated to people as the elk were grazing right on the lawns in the village, while the other herd was south of town in a more “wild” setting.

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Mallards

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Mallard (male)

By: Pat Coate

Based on how common mallards are, I think birders (me included) take them a bit for granted. But they are really quite beautiful birds, the male in particular displaying an impressive palette of colors.

Field marks for the male include:
• Shiny green head
• Bright yellow bill with black mark on tip
• Brown breast
• White ring around neck
• Silver on sides
• Blue speculum patch on wing (not always visible)
• Black and white in rear with a black tail curl
• Bright orange feet

All these field marks can be seen in the above or following pictures.

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Saw-whet Success

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Northern Saw-whet Owl

By: Pat Coate

Took advantage of my daughter flying into the Rochester airport to visit several birding spots in the area prior to her arrival. One stop was Owl Woods (part of Braddock Bay Fish & Wildlife Management/Braddock Bay Park) to search for migrating northern saw-whet owls. Success!

These owls are always a joy to see. They are only 7-8 inches tall and weigh in at a whopping 2-5 ounces.

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Hurricane Sandy Relief Continues

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Oceanfront home for sale in the Rockaways (NY)

By: Pat Coate

St. Bonaventure University has a wonderful service group called BonaResponds (http://bonaresponds.org/) that recently spent their spring break helping with Hurricane Sandy relief on Long Island and at the Jersey shore. The group is headed by a finance professor, was started shortly after Hurricane Katrina and has assisted at most national disasters since – as well as doing a lot of good work locally. I had the opportunity to join the group for the week.

I had been to Long Island with the Red Cross back in December. Though progress has been made there is still a tremendously long way to go. I was especially surprised by the amount of work to be done along the Jersey shore. We were in the Manasquan-Ortley Beach area and a good portion of this area looked largely untouched. There was a significant police presence and some utilities were not yet fully restored. We also noted that there were lots of billboards for lawyers offering their services to challenge insurance claim denials.

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Elk of the Pennsylvania Wilds – Part 1

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Pennsylvania Elk

By: Pat Coate

On my way home from a weekend trip to New Jersey I decided to stop by the Village of Benezette in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country to see what I could find. I got very lucky and ran into a herd of about 25 elk just outside of the village.

Hunting, logging and a growing human population drove the Pennsylvania elk to extinction in the late 1800’s. However, in 1913 elk were brought in from Wyoming and released into the Pennsylvania Wilds. For the first 50 years there was minimal population growth, but the past 50 years has seen the Pennsylvania elk population grow from about fifty to over five hundred.

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Turkey Vultures

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Turkey Vultures

By: Pat Coate

Turkey vultures are very common in most states (though some only during breeding season) including New York. The black vulture is a more southern U.S. species and had rarely been seen here in Western NY. But over the past several years black vultures are being reported more often as their territory seems to be expanding northwards.

One local area where black vultures are now consistently being reported, roosting in the same area as turkey vultures, is the Village of Lewiston. We made a quick stop there on our Buffalo-area birding trip. Though we didn’t see the black vultures there were about 20 turkey vultures in the area.

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Buffalo Area Birding

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Long-tailed ducks

By: Pat Coate

Had a lot of fun on Monday birding in Buffalo with Joe and Bert. We started at the Erie Basin Marina where the focus was on gulls. Using their scopes, Joe and Bert picked out Glaucous and Iceland gulls from the more run-of-the-mill and abundant Herring and Ring-billed gulls; Great Black-backed were also present. Among the ducks were Canvasbacks, a life bird for me.

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