I've been hanging out mostly in Allegany County, New York. If you're not familiar with it, you're not alone; Allegany must be one of the least birded counties in the state. It sits in the western part of the state where Pennsylvania borders its southern edge, it's a couple of hours from Lake Erie and slightly less to Lake Ontario. Buffalo is to the NW and Rochester to the N. Here's the outline of where it is:
A perk to birding this county is that just about anything you eBird will fill a hole. I've always thought that birding is much more rewarding when you get to explore and find your own birds (and hotspots) instead of following people to mega-spots that are saturated with birders (although there are benefits to that too). And besides, just getting out and birding a lot almost always delivers some surprises, it doesn't matter where you are!
One such surprise came when Ashley and I were birding some hilltops around Wellsville, the town in which I was born. We spotted a very high hawk circling and photos revealed it was an adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK. Very cool! My photos, on the other hand, are crap:
Ok, by now in this post you might have noticed a theme... all the birds have talons. Talons. You know... like..
Here's a panoramic view from the it's-really-not-THAT-impressive dam:
We've seen about 65 species here at the lake which consists mostly of waterfowl. During our 10 visits to the lake, we've seen things like:
Horned & Pied-billed grebes
All 3 merganser species including some day totals of ~200 Hoodeds
5 gull species so far (including Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, Bonaparte's, etc)
5 species of Aythya ducks (LESC, GRSC, RNDU, REDH, and CANV)
In looking at past records on eBird, the lake has had other goodies such as Red Phalarope, all 3 scoters, 9 gull species including Franklin's, Northern Shrike, etc.
In truth, I haven't been taking many photos of the birds there. Of the few, here's a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER I digiscoped with my phone/scope one day: