03/04/12 – Vassar Farm Hike

Red-tailed Hawk

It’s taken a little longer than normal, but I finally had some time to write about my hike at Vassar Farm last Sunday.  It was one of my better hikes and exactly what I needed after several quiet weekends.

I didn’t spend as much time at the front pond as I normally do, mainly because the five common mergansers I spotted took off pretty quickly.  I was able to get some good shots before that though.  I didn’t see much else either.

On my way to the fields from the pond, a european starling was peeking from a hole in the barn in the parking lot.  After a few moments, another poked its head out too, watching me as I walked by.  I couldn’t resist taking some photos of them too.  I was also greeted by a house finch.

It was at this point that I turned around and realized just how beautiful it was outside.

Vassar Farm

I was just amazed at the cloud patterns in the sky, it looked like a painting.  A sundog even appeared at several points during the hike, which is always exciting.  Through the fields, I had several opportunities at observing bluebirds picking up food off the ground and flying to nearby perches.  There was also a red-tailed hawk perched on the power lines running through the field.

Now, if you’ve followed my blog, you’ve heard me talk about my nemesis birds (species that are somewhat common but a pain to photograph).  Would you believe I ran into my top three all in the same day. #1 on the list, the belted kingfisher, made a quick appearance at the back pond while #2, a pileated woodpecker, laughed from the woods.  #3 makes an appearance later.  That wasn’t everything at the back pond though!  I also photographed my first of season red-winged blackbird and eastern painted turtle.

Red-winged Blackbird

I continued to the field station, but the blue trail was closed off, so I went back the way I originally came.  Other than some more bluebirds, it was a little more silent on the way out from Vassar Farm.

It wasn’t until I was back at the parking lot until nemesis #3 flew overhead.  The funny thing about it was I didn’t even realize it until I got home.  You see, I saw a flock of ducks circling over the front pond, but they were too far away to identify, so I snapped two photos to look at later.  I still walked back to the front pond to observe the new arrivals, but nothing was there.

When I got home, I looked at the shots of my mystery birds on my computer to see they were wood ducks, my #3 nemesis, another first of season sighting!  What a way to cap off the day.  Full sighting list below:


  1. Canada Geese
  2. Wood Duck
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Cooper’s Hawk
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Belted Kingfisher
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Pileated Woodpecker (heard only)
  11. Blue Jay
  12. American Crow
  13. Black-capped Chickadee
  14. White-breasted Nuthatch
  15. Eastern Bluebird
  16. American Robin
  17. Northern Mockingbird
  18. European Starling
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. White-throated Sparrow
  21. Northern Cardinal
  22. Red-winged Blackbird
  23. House Finch (heard only)
  24. American Goldfinch
  25. House Sparrow

Other Notables:

  • Eastern Painted Turtle
  • Eastern Chipmunk
  • Gray Squirrel
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