Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

My birding blog site


  Finally Greater White-fronted Geese

Published: February 27, 2019
Tags: General Observations, greater white-fronted goose, brown-headed cowbird, pine siskin, wood duck, northern mockingbird, common raven, woodlawn beach, lake erie, ice storm

Prior to this year, it's been difficult catching up to a Greater White-fronted Goose in Erie County.  I only added this species to my county list just last year when I came upon a small group at Winter's Pond (read my blog post about that find).

This year, however, has been entirely different.  For the first time that I know of, there have been multiple sightings already this winter.  I don't know what's causing more of these Arctic geese to visit Erie County, but it's very nice of them!

I chased a couple of reports of these small, dark geese.  Both reports were from Grand Island - a single goose and a group of four.  I had no luck in at least three, maybe four searches until last Friday, when I finally found the group of four at Beaver Island SP (many thanks to birder, Josh Ketry, who offered some search tips).  A little later on in the day, I found my own group - this time a whole lot CLOSER and there were ten of them!  It's always especially rewarding to come upon your own sighting.  These geese must have just dropped in for a couple hour visit as I heard they weren't there later in the afternoon when others tried to find them.

This species of goose breeds in the tundra and once in awhile, during migration, we infrequently get to see them.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (see their range map), their migration route doesn't even come through the Western New York region.  So, it's a fortunate day when we DO get a visit!

After finding the two sets of geese, I took my time at Beaver Island SP and enjoyed birding there for a few hours altogether.  I saw quite a few birds that day, including a lot of waterfowl, several Tundra Swans (even a Mute Swan), three Bald Eagles soaring in the sunshine overhead, a Belted Kingfisher, and a surprisingly large flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds.  Blackbirds must be on the move, which is a sure sign of spring!

The next day, I came upon a few Pine Siskins as I headed through Emery Park on my way southward.  Along the way, I also saw my first of the year (FOY) Common Grackle - another blackbird on the move!  Later that same day, I stopped at Sturgeon Point and had a flock of about 40 Red-winged Blackbirds flyover.  I think I'm convinced now that spring will be here soon, in spite of the weather.

And the weather - ugh!  We had a huge, two-day wind storm a couple of days ago, with gusts reaching as high as 75 mph in some areas.  Great mounds of ice is piled high from the crashing waves that deposited broken-up chunks along the shore of Lake Erie.  I did a little birding yesterday along the lake just to see what things looked like.  I was amazed at some of the sights; I'm including a few photos taken with my cell phone from Woodlawn Beach SP.  Thankfully, throughout the day, I saw that lots of bird life remains and our feathered friends seem to have made it through those icy blasts.  It's certainly never dull living in Western New York!

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Just arriving...

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Coming out of the water to rest on the water's edge

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A zoomed-in closer look at two of them

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And another closer look...

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A portion of the large flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds (with a few starlings mixed in)

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Pine Siskins at Emery Park

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I crossed paths twice with this Common Raven - once at Times Beach NP and again at the Seaway Slip. It's already my 5th of the year, which is a lot for me.

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A very handsome Wood Duck at the Botanical Gardens

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A Northern Mockingbird at the Botanical Gardens

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Some of the ice that was thrown along the shore of Lake Erie - all taken from Woodlawn Beach SP

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More ice - taken from Woodlawn Beach SP

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More ice - taken from Woodlawn Beach SP

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More ice - taken from Woodlawn Beach SP



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