First visit to Montezuma NWR

This afternoon I took my first trip to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a spot I will probably be visiting frequently. Montezuma has areas of extensive mudflats which make it one of the greatest places around central New York for shorebirds. Recent drool-worthy species include Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope and Wilson’s Phalarope.

I wasn’t lucky enough to find any of these birds however. Actually, soon after I arrived at the Know-Marcellus Marsh I got stuck in my car due to a big downpour that passed over.

Pouring outside

The rain was worth it, even though I was too far away from mudflats to see any birds. As it let up, a pretty stellar rainbow formed low over the mudflats. Soon it became a double rainbow which is barely given justice in the photo below. I am not sure if I have ever seen a rainbow this low. I looked for the phalaropes at both ends, but no luck.

The rainbows that made the rain worth it. Check out a panorama

Once the rain cleared I scanned the area from East Road. The shorebirds and waders are all at a decent distance so I will hopefully be quickly picking up the shorebird ID skills that have laid dormant while I birded in central PA. The numbers of shorebirds was definitely higher than I am used to with over 100 yellowlegs, mostly lesser. Around 200 Least Sandpipers and over 100 Pectoral Sandpipers made up the bulk of the birds, with a couple Semipalmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Semipalmated Plovers and one each of Stilt Sandpiper and Black-bellied Plover.

Another highlight for me at this spot is the large number of waders. The marsh is thick with Great Blue Herons (84) plus Great Egrets, Green Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons.

Before I left, I drove around the Wildlife Drive from the refuge headquarters and added Marsh Wren and Swamp Sparrow to my New York list, bringing it up to 115 for the year and 155 for my life list. It is fun getting to start all over with lists and be able to so easily add new species!