|The 13 Bridges Trail at Rockefeller State Park Preserve|
I posted yesterday about my plans to do a #RockefellerBigDay as part of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's #GlobalBigDay event. I could still really use your support, both in getting the word out and raising some funds for bird conservation (which is a really important goal, even if you're not a big bird fan). Bird species serve as great indicators for overall environmental health and preserves that protect them provide habitat for other animal and plant species and space for human recreation. No where is this more apparent than the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. See yesterday's post for more details. Today, as promised, I'm going to outline my plans for the Big Day and how I hope to get 100+ species within the Rockefeller State Park Preserve complex.
I've determined that 83 species should be pretty easily doable. There are several solid ways to come to that number. The remaining 17 or so will be the tough ones. I'll have to be lucky and pick up some species that are rare or at least not easily found. Here is my rough plan for the route:
I'll do some listening from the road around Rockwood Hall and the Eagle Hill areas of the Preserve in the hopes of picking up some late calling owls (Great Horned or Screech). Then I'll proceed to the parking lot for Lucy's Loop. If I can pick up those two species during this time, it will be a godsend, but I don't have high hopes with it being late in the season for hooting owls.
I'll proceed to the top of Buttermilk Hill, listening for owls (I know Screech is in the area) and early singing birds along the way. I might pick up Robin or some of the other thrush species which are known to start the dawn chorus very early.
Starting at first light, I'll make my way back down Buttermilk Hill. This should be a great spot to pick up most of my woodpeckers (including possibly a Pileated). This is also my first potential spot for a knot of warblers. Even without a knot, I expect to pick up Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, and Black and White Warblers here, plus Northern Parula. There was a Nashville Warbler at the base of this hill on Wednesday, so I'm hoping it is still hanging around. Other warbler species it would be great to pick up here (but not guaranteed) are Magnolia, Blackburnian, Wilson's, Chestnut-sided, and lingering Pine and/or Palm. Any other rarities will be a big bonus. Also at the base of the hill is the most reliable spot to pick up Brown Thrasher. I might pick up some more human commensals and open space species in the agricultural area at the bottom of the hill. Then through Lucy's Loop, where I have another chance to pick up some more warblers, including a Hooded Warbler spotted on Wednesday. This also brings another chance to catch some thrush species and provides the first reliable spot for a Louisiana Waterthrush. On the way out to the parking lot, if I haven't gotten them already, I'll have a chance to pick up Gray Catbird, Blue-winged Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, and perhaps a Prairie Warbler if I'm lucky. If all goes well, I should have upwards of 45 species coming out of this stop and if it went really well over 50-55 species.
~6:45 - ~8am
I'll proceed to Swan Lake next. I'll be doing Brother's Path around the lake, Overlook Trail, and Ash Tree Loop. This gives me another chance to pick up the common warblers, as well as knots that might include some less common species. I hope to pick up Mallard, Wood Duck, DC Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, and possibly Green Heron on or by the lake. Unfortunately the last few remaining female Bufflehead seem to have finally moved on late this week, so I don't think I can count on them anymore. This will also be a great location for both Orioles, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak if I didn't already get them. I should be able to locate 4 species of vireos at this location. Tree Swallows and a Bluebird are likely here, if I haven't picked them up already.
~8:15 - ~9:45am
Next stop is the Eagle Hill area. Another great place for the common warblers and probably the best place to find big knots with less common species included. Another potential location for Nashville, Blackburnian, and Magnolia Warblers if I don't have them yet. Second chance for Wood Duck if I haven't picked them up yet. I will go up Eagle Hill, both to get the nesting Red-tailed Hawk if I don't have any raptors yet, and to look for Carolina Wren, Wild Turkey, and more warblers if I need them. I have a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest here, if I still need that species. The river might provide some Northern Rough-winged Swallows and I'll venture over onto Rockefeller land if I feel like I'm hurting for sparrows, swallows, or woodpeckers at this point. When I leave here, I should be getting very close to at least my goal of the solid 83 species. If not, the day is not going well.
~10 - ~11:30am
I will then proceed to Rockwood Hall. Here I up to pick up some species that may be along the river that are unusual in other parts of the Preserve (eagles, gulls, raptors, ducks, herons, Fish Crow). I will probably bring my scope out to scan the Hudson. At this location I'll have another chance to grab some human commensals and more open country birds if I still need them. This may be my best chance to locate Worm-eating Warbler, if I haven't yet.
~11:45am - ~1:00pm
From there I'll hit the Stone Barns area and Ferguson's Lakes area. Here I hope to pick up species such as Killdeer and Barn Swallow, if I haven't got them. I'll scan for raptors (there are frequently Cooper's Hawks in this area and Sharp-shinned have been reported). This will might be a place to locate any missing finches or sparrows. In the woods I'll try to locate any still missing forest species.
~1:15 to Civil Twilight
This time period I'm leaving pretty open. I will definitely visit 13 Bridges Trail at some point during the late afternoon - early evening. But other locations (some will definitely be revisits of the same area I've been over) will be determined after looking at my bird list and seeing which important holes need to be filled. Even if I've already reached my goal of 100 species, I'll keep on pushing until the end.