55+ Living Guide Winter 2018 Winter 2018 55+ issue for Joomag - Page 21

Merlin Photo by Alan Peterson Hairy Woodpecker Black Crowned Night Heron Photo by Sandy Cutting Photo by Jorja Feldman Pine Siskin Photo by Richard Miller Some of our favorite winter birding locations are local ibas because they can offer spectacular opportunities that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Below are four to get you started, but for information on all of our local ibas, including bird lists, visit ny.audubon.org/iba. Fort Edward Grasslands– iba Located in Washington County and well-known for its wintering population of raptors, this vast 13,000 acre agricultural area offers exceptional grassland bird breeding and wintering. Last December, Short-eared Owls, a NY endangered species, were especially prevalent in Fort Edward and could be seen from the roadway rising from their ground roosts, making it possible to bird from the car. Northern Harriers, which are threatened in NY, can often be seen hunting in these fields, especially when snowfall doesn’t com- pletely blanket the ground. Other winter species include Snow Bunting; Horned Lark, a NY high priority species of greatest conserva- tion need; Northern Shrike; as well as the rare Snowy Owl; Peregrine Falcon, a NY endangered species; Barred Owl; Merlin and Bald Eagle. Year round species include Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and more. Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve –iba Popular with birders because of its easily observed marshes and ponds, this 600 acre preserve is located in Saratoga County, along the northern edge of the Mohawk River. An important stopover site for migrating birds, in the fall, this area supports significant concentrations of wading birds such as herons and egrets. Common winter species include Mallard, Ring- billed Gull, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and White- breasted Nuthatch, while the Northern Shrike, Northern Flicker, Barred Owl, Bald Eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, and two New York species of greatest conservation need, the Red-shouldered Hawk and Black-crowned Night Heron, are observed with less regularity. Albany Pine Bush Preserve– iba Rensselaer Forest Tract– iba Located in Albany County, this 3,200 acre preserve is one of only 20 inland pine barrens left in the entire world. With more than 55 New York State- designated species of greatest conservation need calling it home, including a suite of birds classified as at-risk by Audubon, the preserve’s globally- rare eco system offers easily accessible trails and prime habitat for birding and is complimented by a host of walks and public programs throughout the year. Winter birders will be treated to many species including Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Shrike, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Snow Bunting, Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll. A large and relatively unfragmented forest situated in the center of Rensselaer County on the Rensselaer Plateau, this IBA offers 100,000 acres of abundant wetlands, bogs and abundant conifers and hardwoods. The site supports a great abundance and diversity of forest breeders, including many at-risk species. Adventurous winter birders can find a variety of species here including, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-capped Chickadee, Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, and the more sporadic Pine Siskin, Common Redpolls and Red and White-winged Crossbills. To take up birding, you’ll only need a few things: binoculars, a notebook, a field list, bird guide, warm winter layers, and an adventurous spirit. 21