Birding By Amtrak
On Friday my job required me to be in Manhattan for meetings all afternoon. Seeing as I still live in Albany, didn’t relish the idea of driving into Manhattan and finding parking, and then driving to Daisy’s apartment in Queens, I took an Amtrak train on the Adirondack line. This choice of transportation had the added bonus of allowing me to count all the birds I saw en route and in the city towards my Anti-Global Warming Big Year.
The first new bird for the list that I saw from the train was a female Common Merganser with the flashing white patches on the trailing edge of the wings making her easy to identify. She was flushed by the train from a small open patch of water on a creek near the tracks. Shortly after that I spotted an adult Bald Eagle eating something on the ice while being attended by a coterie of American Crows. It was the first of seven Bald Eagles that I would spot on the ride! As the train chugged south the rain started falling, making it difficult to see much of anything though the rain-streaked windows. Nonetheless, the mostly frozen Hudson yielded a small flock of Common Goldeneye. And as we pulled into the Hudson train station I spotted a flock of gulls in a a parking lot next to the Hudson River that included Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed, the latter two new for my year list. Some passerines flew over that I’m pretty sure were American Robins but not sure enough to count them. Rock Pigeons and European Starlings were more easy to identify but I ignored them, trying to find something else as the train pulled out of the station.
Further south the Hudson River wasn’t as icy and more waterfowl were visible, if not identifiable. Distant Mute Swans were easy though, as were Bufflehead and Hooded Mergansers in the river close to the tracks. Then the rain got much thicker and I focused on the newspaper rather than birds but once we reached the city I was glad to see some American Black Ducks in the river. I also spotted some birds that might have been Canvasbacks near where Mike tends to see them during the Bronx Christmas Bird Count but I couldn’t be sure at all.
For the two-and-a-half hour train ride I saw seventeen species I could identify of which nine were new for the year when I’m not using a car to bird. Not a bad birding morning, though not as fun a ride as Birdchick’s from a while back. The unfortunate thing is that I arrived in Manhattan a bit early for my first meeting and hoped to make a quick trip over to Union Square Park and find the Scott’s Oriole again but the heavy cold rain squashed that idea for the day…but I had the whole weekend. To be continued…