Birding: Good birding at Genesee County Park & Forest
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Birding: Good birding at Genesee County Park & Forest

Nov 18, 2018

I love to go to Genesee County Park & Forest in any season of the year. It’s a beautiful wooded park with nice trails, diverse habitat and a very nice interpretive center.

Early last Sunday, Leslie and I took a nice walk there. It was a calm, frosty morning, and the birds were very active. There was snow on the ground from the day before, and overnight many beech leaves had fallen on the snow making for a really pretty picture.

We are often filling the feeders on the trail behind the Raymond Road winter Recreation area parking lot – mainly over toward the old Braille trail. There is a large bird feeder there that I constructed many, many years ago that holds quite a bit of feed. It’s always been a great spot to attract a nice variety of birds.

Last Sunday was no exception. Our first stop was at that feeding station where we filled the big feeder and several smaller ones with peanuts, sunflower, suet and more. From there, we hiked several trails and enjoyed the beauty of the park and the morning tranquility. It wasn’t long before we heard the familiar call of the raven, which is a regular at the park and its surroundings. Ravens are really neat birds, actually quite different from crows. Their call is a loud croaking noise – much different from a crow.

Along the trails, we encountered several tufted titmice, chickadees and nuthatches. Robins were pretty plentiful as well. These could be robins from the north that will likely make the park their winter home. They like the thickets for protection from the cold winter weather, and they also know where to find berries for their winter diet. The flickers were also around and are likely to stay for the winter, though most go south.

As we approached a small pine woods, I made a little swishing noise and instantly had several birds pop up out of the brush to see what was going on. We were thrilled to notice that one of them was a fox sparrow. They pass through here on their way south. Not an uncommon bird but often difficult to find or notice. You may have a fox sparrow under your bird feeder and sometimes they even spend the winter. They are usually alone.

A little further along the trail, we noticed several white-throated sparrows enjoying the safety of the shorter thickets. At the same time, we heard several golden-crowned kinglets working the spruce trees. Kinglets are smaller than chickadees and their call is difficult for most people to even notice. They do not visit bird feeders or suet feeders, even though they seem to forage on the evergreen branches for the same food as nuthatches and chickadees.

We enjoyed seeing blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers and juncos as we proceeded. On our way back, we came back to the Braille trail feeding station not only to pick up our bird feed pails, but also to see what birds might be present. Well, before we arrived there, we stopped at a distance to see what was there before disrupting the birds there. This is where having binoculars comes in handy. This allowed us to see a yellow-bellied sapsucker enjoying the peanut feeder – a neat bird for this time of year as they are primarily migratory. A few do spend the winter. It may be too early to tell if this one will, though the habitat of the park would be very conducive. The goodies at the feeding station might help, too.

On our walk, we did stop by the Interpretive Center’s grounds, and those feeders were also very busy. The ACORNS group does so much to enhance the nature experience at the park, and they have this awesome, little bird and nature viewing site so nicely set up. You should check it out.

Yes, the Genesee County Park & Forest is a wonderful place to enjoy nature any time of year. What a wonderful place indeed. See you there … and don’t forget your binoculars!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

What to watch for in November: First snow buntings appearing in large flocks in open and grassy fields; rough-legged hawks from the north, the size of red-tails, but hovering in one place in the sky; wild turkeys searching for corn in harvested corn fields; migrating waterfowl on ponds and lakes, including tundra swans; late season bluebirds and robins appearing here and there; more action at your peanut and suet feeders; mockingbirds in shrubby roadside pastures and open yards; bald eagle flying by most anywhere – keep looking up!; first arrival of the tree sparrows; pine siskins and other winter finches appearing at the sunflower and nyjer feeders; juncos appearing at your feeding station when the first major snowfall hits; lone northern shrikes and kestrels perched on power lines; possible evening grosbeaks – some around already this year.

To do list: make sure you have feeders that offer a good variety of seeds – avoid milo and wheat – white millet is OK; make sure your feeders are ready for the winter winds and snow; make sure you have peanuts and suet out for the birds as winter nears; make sure your older loved ones’ feeders are also in order for them to enjoy; clean out your bird feed storage bin, before you restock it with new feed; make a brush pile near your feeding station for the birds; plan on where you might put your discarded Christmas tree for the birds; create a ground and/or a platform feeding tray for the ground feeders – maybe under an evergreen; sign up for Cornell University’s Project Feeder Watch Program; keep a journal of your bird observations; take country roads to see more birds; keep binoculars and field guide handy.

Hans Kunze of Wyoming writes the birding column that runs on the second Saturday of each month. 

By HANS KUNZE, Batavia Daily News

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