04/15/11 – Vassar Farm Hike

American Kestrel

I stopped at Vassar Farm after work today to continue my search for springtime birds.  Not only did I get my first warbler shots of the season, I got a great shot of an american kestrel (pictured), and also saw broad-winged hawks.  It was quite a day.

I started at the front ponds as usual, hoping to see a heron or the wood ducks from last week, but neither were there.  Sightings there included a mallard, a song sparrow, a pair of house sparrows, a pair of mockingbirds, and a few crows.  I could hear the red-winged blackbirds and common grackles, but I wasn’t able to find them either.

As I made my way back through the parking lot, I happened to look straight up to see several birds gliding through the sky.  They were pretty high up and I assumed they were vultures.  Thankfully, I took a few photos and when I looked at them at home, they were all broad-winged hawks, fourteen in total!

It didn’t end there either.  I took the grassy trail instead of the paved road to the fields, which didn’t yield many sightings, only a pair of brown-headed cowbirds.  It was when I decided to hang a left at the gate towards that dead end area that leads into the Greenway Services entrance, that’s where I found the kestrel.  As I was photographing an eastern cottontail, that’s when I noticed I was standing near the kestrel.  I couldn’t believe he stuck around with me being so close!

Palm Warbler

When I finally made my way into the fields, two fellow birders let me know they saw a few palm warblers (if either of you visit my blog, thanks for the tip!!) by the eco ponds.  I made back there and was greeted to three of them!  It was the first warbler I’ve seen this season so far.

I tried my best to stick with them, but they are fast little birds.  The only thing harder to photograph was a ruby-crowned kinglet that I spotted while observing the warblers.  I somehow managed to get a decent one of the kinglet too.

All in all, it was a superb day, much better than I expected.  Now that I’ve seen a warbler, it’s time to try and get out early in the morning for better sightings.

Full Sighting List:

  1. Mallard
  2. Broad-winged Hawk (New species for me! #110)
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Mourning Dove
  5. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  6. Downy Woodpecker
  7. Northern Flicker
  8. Eastern Phoebe
  9. American Crow
  10. Black-capped Chickadee
  11. White-breasted Nuthatch (heard only)
  12. Ruby-crowned kinglet (first of season sighting)
  13. Eastern Bluebird
  14. American Robin
  15. Northern Mockingbird
  16. European Starling
  17. Palm Warbler (first of season sighting)
  18. Chipping Sparrow (heard only)
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. White-throated Sparrow
  21. Northern Cardinal
  22. Red-winged Blackbird (heard only)
  23. Common Grackle
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird
  25. House Sparrow
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One Response to 04/15/11 – Vassar Farm Hike

  1. Deb Kral says:

    What a difference a few hours makes – I went to
    Vassar Farm around 1pm, travelled the same path you took except I didn’t go back to the ponds – I saw about 5 Song Sparrows and a single bluebird! Great image of the kestrel, my nemesis bird!

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