Solanco CBC wrapup

The day started at 4am with a couple productive hours of owling around Octorara Lake. Using calls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s recent release, Voices of North American Owls, we managed to hear (but not see) 5 species of owls; 6 N. Saw-whet Owls, 6 E. Screech Owls, 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Great Horned Owls and 1 Barn Owl. The new CD proved particularly useful in getting responses from the saw-whets which are often hard to find. The variety of calls, particularly one which we dubbed the pewp (or poop) call, were very good at eliciting responses.

Once daylight arrived we walked a long loop through some conifer plantations and scrubby area and were quite pleased with the 18 dapper looking Fox Sparrows that we saw. Other highlights included both Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Killdeer, Eastern Towhee and several Winter Wrens. We also scanned the lake and managed to find a Cackling Goose among the flock of Canada Geese and at least 5 Bald Eagles.

With 87 species for the morning we headed off to lunch at Beli Busters to tally up the count. After a big lunch we headed back to the lake to look for additional duck species when we got the call. There was an empid closeby and it was a possible Dusky Flycatcher! This being a possible first state record we hurried off to see if we could find it. No luck, it hadn’t appeared for quite some time. Long story short, some pictures were taken and it looks like it is probably a Least Flycatcher. Not near as exciting but a December Least is still a good bird.

So we ended up the day on the Susquehannah River, chucking old bread to the gulls as they streamed in by the hundreds. Rumor has it that several Great and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls showed up as well. Cameron and I headed back to the lake to try to refind the Long-eared Owls and managed to get only a Barred Owl to respond, my sixth owl of the day.

Good ole Christmas Bird Counts!