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highlights from a bird walk - #1: bloomingdale bog, franklin county, new york (1 Viewer)

JoeGBirder

formerly WoodpeckerMaster
United States
Bloomingdale Bog is a trail located where a railroad track once was. It is now a biking/nature trail, surrounded by countless species of coniferous trees, lichen, moss, and animals. My tour guide, who went by the name of Rich, was great. He was full of info and since there were only two other people besides me, it was very personal and I was able to ask many questions. Here are the main highlights of the walk.

At one point, he pulled out a bag of raisins and peanuts and told us to stop walking for a second. He had me grab a handful out of the bag, and hold my hand out as still and flat as I could. Canada Jays, (which was a lifer for me) starting flocking around us. A group of five was watching me. One of them started flying from one tree to the next. It would fly directly over my hand, and then cling onto a tree. He was testing me. After about a minute of this, the jay finally landed on my hand. It clung on for a good 15 seconds, helping itself to the peanuts. Hands down one of the best experiences while birding I've ever had.

After a while, we made our way to an area of the Bog that was much more of an open marsh. When we first arrived, we already saw something none of us (even the experienced guide) had ever seen. A pair of Cedar Waxwings landed on a small, dead Red Spruce and began passing a bug back and forth to eachother. One would give the insect to the other, hop a few inches away, and eat a small part, and then give it to the other. They repeated this until they had eaten the last piece. Definetely something you don't see every day.

We eventually came to a bridge, which would be our turnaround point, but I noticed something. A large hole in the sand, maybe 3 inches deep at the most. There were broken turtle eggs inside, which, were soft (it looked like the shells cracked about a day ago. We could tell it was attacked because there were prints that we concluded were most likely from a raccoon around it. But then, we noticed snake tracks around it. We decided we just will never know, and were starting to walk towards the bridge, when I noticed something moving. By far, the largest garter snake any of us had ever seen. It looked almost three and a half feet long. We decided it was probably a raccoon that killed the turtle eggs, and the giant snake came along and learned it was late to the party.

We sat at the bridge for around 20 minutes, and we saw lots of stuff. The first interesting thing was a bunch of baby Hooded Mergansers (a life bird for me) swimming. The interesting part is that I never saw any adult, just the babies. There were 5 or 6 of them in total, and we smiled and watched until they swam out of view. A short experience, but memorable.

The most interesting sighting of the entire trip is probably the sandhill cranes. There had only been one other case of sandhill cranes in the area in the last ten years, according to the walk guide. We were walking back from the bridge, and sure enough, we heard a raspy call that suddenly reminded me of my time in florida over spring break. Two of them, flying at least 180 feet up in the air. They circled around the treeline of the marsh for about 3 minutes, with us watching the entire time. The tour guide was beyond excited. Eventually, they vanished behind the black spruce trees in the distance. But, we could still hear them. Sandhill crane calls can travel over 2.5 miles away.

Then, on our walk back, I accidentally kicked up a rock. The rock looked odd. It had a strange pattern on it. I picked it up, and suddenly, five strange things popped out the sides. It was not a rock at all, but in fact, a baby snapping turtle. No bigger than a U.S. Half Dollar Coin, we let it crawl around in our hands for a little while, and decided to let the little guy head back on his way. We gave him a little boost by putting him closer to his destination and left.

Finally, the last interesting encounter was with a rare and local butterfly. The tour guide had mentioned several times how there are people who travel from other states just to see the Jetta Arctic, and he said we might not even see it. But, as we were walking back, I said, "Is that the rare butterfly you mentioned?" I noticed it didn't like all the other butterflies I had been seeing. Rich, the hike guide, said it sure was. We stared at it, admired its beauty (I will admit, it's not all that physically beautiful, but the value of this sighting makes it beautiful.)

That was all the highlights. Thanks for reading it, I reccomend going to Bloomingdale Bog if you're ever in the area.
Ebird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S112168891
 

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