Category Archives: Birdwatching

Canada Warbler

G and I are preparing for a trip to Nova Scotia. We are planning to ride The Leonid Meteor Shower (aka our tandem bicycle), the length of the Nova Scotia peninsula and the rough circumference of Cape Breton Island. We have been looking at maps, making lists of potential destinations, locating knitting shops (me), and gathering essential components for Leonid (G).

Our upcoming travels are already influencing my knitting, and last week I knitted a hat inspired by the plumage of the Canada Warbler. This little bird will soon be arriving in Nova Scotia to breed in the moist deciduous-coniferous forests. This hat, however, is staying here in Buffalo with a friend.

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On Ravelry here.

Snow Geese

Each March, our families and a few good friends make a pilgrimage to the Adirondacks. Last Friday, G and I got on the I-90 in the late afternoon. The wind was blowing fiercely across the open landscape, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining.

After two hours, we were north of New York’s Finger Lakes. G was asleep in the passenger seat and I was in a typical highway trance when a small flock of high flying birds caught my eye. Something subtly different in the shape of their silhouettes made me pay attention. As my eyes shifted across the sky, I spotted more birds until suddenly there were hundreds, moving swiftly west and north in loose Vs.

“Wake up! Snow Geese!”

There are few things that lift my heart like seeing snow geese flying overhead on a clear winter day. It feels like something magical and timeless is occurring. How fortunate we were to be in just the right place at just the right time to see their migration.


The rest of the weekend was spent on cold mountains and by warm fireplaces. Of course, knitting was present at all time, and near the summit of Mount Baker, my sister posed for a few project photos. These hat and mittens are for a generous family friend.

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On Ravelry here.

Back to Tifft

Spring is slowly returning to Western New York.

The sun is out, and the snow is melting.

With the red ants and stinging nettle still dormant for the winter, it is the perfect time of year for walking around Tifft Nature Preserve.

G worked at Tifft in 2013, assisting the staff ecologist with a massive tree planting and watering project. Here he is explaining the history of Tifft’s “mounds” to our friend. These hills are anything but natural. They are actually built of waste from the coal industry, capped, and planted.DSC_0506

We walked out to the far side of preserve for an open view of Tifft Marsh. Mostly consisting of cattail, this marsh is precious ground for herons, bitterns, and egrets in our area.DSC_0507

On the edge of the water and of the trails, there is evidence of an abundant beaver population. Some new, and some old, as on this tree.DSC_0508

The chickadees there are a tame as ever…DSC_0510and it only took a few patience moments before this one…DSC_0516 …came to see if we had any food.DSC_0518She was out of luck- no seeds from us today (or ever).

Tifft Nature Preserve

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Buffalo!

I spent the afternoon with a friend at Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo.

DSC_0384DSC_0383Tifft is a perfect place for a winter walk. It is easy to get to from the City, the trails are sheltered from the wind, and there are birds in every season. Today we saw woodpeckers, a Great Blue Heron, Cardinals, Robins, and this adorable chickadee…

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who landed right on my friend’s outstretched hand.

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There were several other walkers and birders there…DSC_0389

…and across the street at the Harbor, we met a man on the look-out for a Snowy Owl. He said that there was one on the breakwalls, but our binoculars were not strong enough for a good sighting.

We did see these adorable Coots!

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Devil’s Hole

IMG_20141122_144817905This weekend, I visited the beautiful Niagara Gorge – another Wilderness Weekend in Western New York (see previous post for more information on WWWNY).

The Gorge can be accessed by a number of stairways on the American side. Some of the stairways are newer and smoother than others, but they are all steep and slippery in the snow. I chose to descend into the Gorge from Devil’s Hole State Park.

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IMG_20141122_140840472_HDRThe stairs end at the Great Gorge Railway Trail.

The Great Gorge Route Pamphlet - Back CoverThis Trail is the former route of a rail line, which gave scenic tours from 1895 to 1935. Having a railway run along the steep slopes of the ecologically sensitive Niagara Gorge was never the best idea. Fortunately, land slides took out part of the route in September 1935, and it was never repaired.

The highlight of my walk along the rail-to-trail was this wonderful gull gathering:

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The gulls, mostly Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed, took off when I came closer…IMG_20141122_141039041 …and then quickly resettled on their rocks.

Most visitors to Niagara Falls do not know about the Gorge Trails, which is really a shame. I tell everyone that I know about them!