WWNP Group Visit to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge [NWR], Alabama, NY

As we are still in the height of the spring migration of waterfowl, today was a follow-up from our visit last week to the Montezuma NWR, which is about 100 miles E.S.E. from Iroquois.  These two preserves, however, do tend to have a different complexion to each other.

The southwest corner of Cayuga Pool at Iroquois NWR.  Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.
The s.w. corner of Cayuga Pool at Iroquois. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Iroquois NWR on a fairly regular basis for the past 12 years or so, which has let me see the seasonal variations in a little detail, and so we met this morning at the Cayuga Pool Overlook.  The downside of Cayuga is that the birds tend to be quite distant, which drastically reduces the photographic opportunities, but the upside is the wealth of species that can be viewed, using binoculars, spotting scopes or — of course — longer lenses on one’s camera.

Blue-winged Teal. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.
Blue-winged Teal. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

My own species list from today is as follows, but I hope anyone in the group who saw other birds will e-mail me so they can be added here:

Osprey. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.
Osprey. Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

 

Briefly kidnapped for a photo! (Leopard Frog). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren.  All rights reserved.
Briefly kidnapped for a photo! (Leopard Frog). Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.
  •  Canada Goose
  • American Wigeon
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Redhead
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Bald Eagles (at nest)
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • American Coot
  • Killdeer
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Mourning Dove
  • American Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • American Robin
  • Song Sparrow
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • American Goldfinch
Tree Swallows at nest box. Copyright 2014, Kathryn Fenna. All rights reserved.
Tree Swallows at nest box. Copyright 2014, Kathryn Fenna. All rights reserved.

One of the commonest but many would say most delightful birds to be seen arriving at ponds and lakes each April is the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor).  The “bicolor” part of its scientific name refers to the fact that the refractive sheen on this bird’s back changes from typically being more blue in spring to green in fall.

In spring, however, some birds appear to have only the back of their head showing colour, with their back being a drabber brown. These are first-year females that are just coming up to their ‘first birthday’.

Tree Swallows at nestbox. CVopyright 2014, Cherie St. Pierre. All rights reserved.
Tree Swallows at nestbox. Copyright 2014, Cherie St. Pierre. All rights reserved.

As at least two of our group photographed tree swallows during this outing, I’ve included some photographs here.

I’ve also added an older photo of my own, taken in May 2011 at the same location (Cayuga Pool), just to make the point that even pocket-sized, point-and-shoot cameras can occasionally be used to get acceptably pleasing bird photos.

Tree Swallow emerging from hole in post. Copyright 2011, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.
Tree Swallow emerging from hole in post. Copyright 2011, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

The shot in question (below left), of a tree swallow emerging from a nest hole in an old post, was taken with a Pentax Optio 80 camera, and despite the angle may show one of the first-year females I referred to above.

More photographs from this visit to the Iroquois NWR will be posted on the next page of this write-up [link to follow shortly], but for anyone wanting to visit the refuge on their own, you can be sure it is well worthwhile (otherwise it wouldn’t have that “national” importance in its title!).

The three primary habitats to be found at Iroquois are:

  • emergent marsh
  • forested wetlands
  • grasslands

On this occasion, our own WWNP group visit focussed almost entirely on the areas of open water but we will certainly be going back to look at the other environments, including a ‘warbler walk’ in May. To contact the WWNP group and potentially join us for various outings, please e-mail wwnp [AT] eddiewren [DOT] com — replacing the ‘at’ and the ‘dot’ with the relevant symbols and leaving no spaces. (This is done to cut down on spam e-mails.)

You may view more photos from this visit to Iroquios, by Esther Kowal-Bukata, here.

Useful web  pages are here:

Plan your Visit

Wildlife and Habitat

Seasons of Wildlife (i.e. what you might see)

The best map of the Iroquois Refuge (pdf)

Eddie

 

4 thoughts on “WWNP Group Visit to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge [NWR], Alabama, NY”

  1. Like the map link, but I don’t see Kumpf Marsh and I have seen some local birders refer to this area…do you know what area they might be speaking of since I don’t see it listed?

    Have liked this area in the past and look forward to going in the future.

    1. As I understand it, Andrea, Kumpf Marsh is directly below Sutton’s Marsh, as shown on the map, and starts where the Feeder Road first bends to the left after one has walked along the straight section of the Feeder Road from the parking lot at the start of the Kanyoo Trail. I’m confident that we (i.e. the WWNP group) will be going back to Iroquois in the near future, although given how many places there are to visit and species to see during the glorious month of May, some of the outings might not be on Sundays — they’ll be additional.

  2. I had a very enjoyable time on Sunday. Although I am not a birder I enjoyed learning about the birds we were seeing and thought some of them were very cool to see like the Tree Swallows and the Osprey carrying food. I also liked learning my way around to the different overlooks for returning in the future. The leopard frog was of course fun to see since I like seeing any type of frog.

    After the group disbanded we walked the Swallow Hollow trail and saw five water snakes. Two of them were wound up in the branches of shrubs over the water and one was a small baby. I was guessing there are multiple types of water snakes, but some internet research leads me to believe we only have one type in our area – the Northern Water Snake. They were a cool sight. I wondered if they had a nest in that particular area.

    We also heard a ton of frogs in Swallow Hollow. Lots of spring peepers and tons of what I think were leopard frogs. It was amazing how loud they were in some areas.

    Thanks for organizing such an enjoyable outing!

  3. Jaigh, I’m delighted you enjoyed the morning as much as you did. That, indeed, is the objective of the group.

    Also, to the very best of my knowledge, you are correct about us only having one species of watersnake in WNY. There is actually a Lake Erie sub-species but I believe it is found only on some islands off the PA shore of that lake. None-the-less, the Northern Watersnake is a very interesting species: Completely non-venomous but very aggressive if cornered or touched. They will bite repeatedly and their saliva apparently contains an anti-coagulant, so anyone who gets bitten is likely to need treatment to stop the bleeding, even though there is no life-threatening danger.

    Thanks for adding your very welcome comment. Now that you have had this one approved, your future comments will be cleared automatically (it’s just a way in which WordPress helps us reduce spam-type comments).

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