This past weekend I went birding in the Champlain Valley with some friends and one of our stops was at Noblewood Park in Willsboro. Noblewood’s sandy spit may be best known for attracting shorebirds during the late summer, but we were interested in anything that might be stopping through on a fall day, beginning our time with a pileated woodpecker at the parking area. We often see them in the tall trees at Noblewood.
The wood’s at Noblewood were in full color with a mosaic of colors shifting the sun as it shone down through the leaves. I stopped for a few photos and my friends found a few hermit thrushes in the eastern hemlocks. We continued our walk down to the lake and found a mixed flock of birds which including black-capped chickadees, ruby-crowned kinglets, a brown creeper, and yellow-rumped warblers. A little further down the trail we heard golden-crowned kinglets.
We walked out to the sand spit created at the mouth of the Boquet River where there was a small group of gulls assembled. Sometimes we find an odd species mixed in with the usual gulls, but on this day we only found the common species, including two Bonaparte’s gulls. We also scanned the choppy waves of Lake Champlain for any ducks, but not many have moved into the area just yet. We found only three common mergansers.
We did, however, find ducks on the opposite side of the Boquet River – which had a similar sandbar. We had already spooked four green-winged teal off the Boquet as we had walked to the spit, and we found about 10 on the far side – perhaps including the original four. There were also good numbers of mallards and at least one American black duck.
What was most interesting, though were the lingering shorebirds we found – still remaining given all the warm weather we’ve had of late. At first I noted a lesser yellowlegs and a handful of killdeer. As we continued looking, however, we found three dunlin, a medium-sized shorebird which migrates a little later in the season than most other shorebird species. The three had been partially blocked from our view by a log, and they came out and began feeding in the open. As we continued looking, a pectoral sandpiper joined them and a short distance away we found a greater yellowlegs. That gave us five species of shorebirds – a nice total for October.
Happy with this we kept scanning, but didn’t manage to pull anything else from the far sandbar. But it was pleasant just standing there with the wind out of the south and the waves lapping on the shore. Eventually I spotted a red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead, the bird disappearing into the blue sky. We turned to go, finding another small songbird flock as we hiked out.