WHEN: Monday, January 1, 2024 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm WHERE: Canadice Lake Parking area off Purcell Hill Road, Town of Canadice, Ontario County GPS: 42.744292,-77.573654
Start the New Year the way you mean to go on – come for an inspiring hike along Canadice Lake! This is an easy, 1.8-mile each way hike along the shore of the lake; the trail is level and well-maintained and the lake views are lovely. For most hikers it will be a walk along the lake for an hour or so, and then back the same way; more enthusiastic hikers can veer off on Rob’s Trail that leads over the ridge and down to Hemlock Lake – this is a moderate to hard trail with several steep uphill and downhill sections. We’ll take a roll call the day of the hike if anyone wants to walk Rob’s Trail. We’ll arrange for transport back for those who only want to walk one way. Dress appropriately for the weather, carry water and some energy food, and carry a walking pole if it helps. Leashed pets are welcome.
This is not a “routine” Sunday hike – it’s special because the hike is promoted by the NYS DEC, and is part of a larger program of First Day Hikes to encourage people to get out and experience the magnificent Sate of New York that they live in. The DEC, State Parks, and the Canal Corporation invite New Yorkers to kick off 2023 by participating in one of the many hikes being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the Empire State. All hikers will leave with a memento of the hike and will be eligible to win an Empire Pass the allows entry to most state parks across the state.
Please note that the First Day hike this year is at 2:00pm Monday, giving everyone a little more time to get over the night before.
The Meet-Up Location
All First Day hikers should meet at the parking area off Purcell Hill Road, Town of Canadice, Ontario County. Google Maps (leaves this website) Click here for directions.
March 19, 2023 – Tomorrow is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring astronomically. Ecologically, we are still pretty solidly in winter. We moderns use calendars to mark our way through the year. Primitive peoples, and those few humans still living indigenous lifestyles, undoubtedly relied on seasonal natural events as well as astronomical observations. Migrating birds are a natural phenomenon which is readily noticeable, and reflects seasonal change. With that in mind, I examined one group, the ubiquitous native sparrows, to see what they could tell me about the coming of spring.
Emberizidae is the scientific term for the family of New World Sparrows, and does not include the introduced House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Emberizidae are those little brown birds that are the bane of amateur birders because they are small and blend into brushy backgrounds. They occupy varied habitats, consuming mainly seeds and insects. All have the interesting behavior of scratching and hopping backward as they search for food. Each has a distinctive song.
Here in the Finger Lakes, if you just consider sparrows that come to feeders, there are eight common Emberizidae which are not too difficult to identify visually. First look at the breast. If it is streaked, the bird is either a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), or a Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). Much commoner Song Sparrows usually have a noticeable mid-breast dark spot; while Fox Sparrows are large, distinctly reddish, with gray around the face and head. If the belly is white, and the rest of the bird gray to black, it is a Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hymenalis). If the breast is not streaked, but does have a dark central spot, and the upper beak is dark but the lower beak is yellow, it is an American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea). If the breast is totally without markings, turn your attention to the head. If there is a reddish cap, below which is a prominent white streak, and below that a black streak going through the bird’s eye, it is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerine). If the breast is plain, or even has a tinge of color but not streaked, the head has a reddish cap but the face is gray, and the bill all yellow, it is a Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla). If the breast is plain, and there is a white patch beneath the beak, and a spot of yellow between the beak and eye, you have a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). Finally, if the breast is plain, and the head has a thin white cap, bordered by a black streak, below which is a prominent white streak, it is the White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys).
Searching 13 years of my Project Feederwatch data, I found that certain native sparrows reliably reveal spring dates; but others were not helpful. Dark-eyed Juncos are here all year, so not helpful. American Tree Sparrows are only around in winter, mostly January and February. White-throated Sparrows could be here all through feeder season (mid-November through April), and sadly, were more reliably so in the past, but their presence is spottier in the past 3 years. And Fox Sparrows seem to stop only on migration, either in November or in March, with a rare sighting in January and February.
However, some other sparrows can signal the month by their arrival. Song Sparrows only show up at my feeder in March, as they did last week. The average date was March 14, with the range March 4 to March 28. Chipping Sparrows arrive in April, the average date being April 10. That said, I had the very rare sighting of a Chipper in January. The other April Sparrow is the Field Sparrow, the average arrival date being April 16. And finally, the White-crowneds always arrive the first week of May; and when they move on, I take down the seed feeders.
I wonder why these Emberizidae, closely related evolutionarily and in habits, vary in their appearance at my feeders. Obviously, some have adapted better to winter. As stated above, these birds eat either seeds or insects. Regarding those migrators, it would be interesting to discover if the later arrivals are more dependent on insects, which should be more numerous when they arrive. I would be interested to hear if other feeder watchers had similar observations concerning native sparrows. Happy birding.
Known for its several intense waterfalls, Clark Gully runs from South Hill Road down to Sunnyside. While the best time to view the waterfalls is Spring, the area also encompasses lovely forest overlooking breathtaking, scenic vistas of the surrounding hills and two large fields of wildflowers.
From Naples, take Rte 21 N to Rte 245, make right onto 245, go 3.9 miles, then left onto Sunnyside Road. Parking lot is on right-hand side.
From Wayland and Springwater, take Rte 15A south to Rte 21N, make left onto 21N, then follow directions from Naples.
From Honeoye, take CR36/West Lake Road south to Rte 21, make a left onto Rte 21/Main Street and follow directions for Naples.
From Canandaigua, take Rte 21S past Woodville, left onto Parrish Road (just past Monica’s Pies), left onto Rte 245, left onto Sunnyside.
From Rochester, take 490E to last Victor exit (right before Thruway). Take Rte 96 through village of Victor. Make right onto Maple Avenue/Rte 444. Take left onto Rtes 5/20, right onto Rte 64S. Follow 64 to left as it winds around, right after Bristol Springs, then dumps into Rte 21S. Continue on 21S through Woodville them make left onto Parrish Road, left onto Rte 245 and left onto Sunnyside.