Liberty Loop Shorebirds, 9/1/15

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~I only had a single Lesser Yellowlegs at the back pond of the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR today, 9/1/15.~

QUICK POST: I hope folks are not sick of shorebirds – I am obsessed with them. I made it out to Liberty Loop back pond at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge tonight looking for shorebirds. I entered from the south via Owens Station Road, so I did not check the west side of the loop for shorebirds. The shorebird highlight of the afternoon was getting a pretty good look at one of the 5 Wilson’s Snipe that I had for the day. Here’s my list:

Killdeer 15
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 40
Pectoral Sandpiper 7
Wilson’s Snipe 5

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~This Northern Harrier was causing havoc in the back pond, making 4 passes over the compound and shuffling the shorebird deck each time it did. Walkill River NWR, 9/1/15.~

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~This was a nice look at a Wilson’s Snipe, although the photos just turned out so-so. Back pond at the Liberty Loop, 9/1/15.~

Shorebird Update, 8/31/15

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~One of 3 Wilson’s Snipe at 6 1/2 Station Sanctuary, 8/31/15.~

QUICK POST: Here’s a list of the shorebirds I had tonight at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. I got my first Orange County Wilson’s Snipe of the season and my first Greater Yellowlegs for the season at the sanctuary. Numbers are serious guesstimates, as it’s tough to keep count while going back and forth from the Citgo Pond Trail and the Heritage Trail (both myself and the birds!):

Killdeer 10
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 4
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Least Sandpiper 35
Wilson’s Snipe 3

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~I ran across this little baby on the trail to the Citgo Pond, 8/31/15.~

Good Birding at the Liberty Loop, 8/29/15

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~A Northern Parula perches briefly on the west side of the Liberty Loop, 8/29/15.~

QUICK POST: I had a birdy visit this morning to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop Trail. The cool weather made for a pleasant walk and the clear skies helped with some nice light for photos. Birds are certainly on the move and I did pretty well with warblers (for me!) on the west side of the loop. Shorebird numbers seemed up to me, with a good number found on the west side of the loop (in addition to the back pond). My best shorebird was a single juvenile Semipalmated Plover located in the back pond. All in all, a good morning of birding with over 50 species seen or heard. I’ve included my species list at the bottom of this post.

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~This was a shoot first and ask questions later situation. When I got home I figured out that this was a Nashville Warbler, Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/15.~

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~I had several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers while walking the loop today. Walkill River NWR, 8/29/15.~

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~This is a nice bird that I wish I’d gotten a better shot of. Magnolia Warbler on the Liberty Loop Trail, Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/15.~

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~I got some nice looks at several Yellow Warblers this morning. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/15.~

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~With all the small birds in this post, I couldn’t resist posting this Great Egret flyover. Walkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/29/15.~

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~I can’t resist these wrens – they are numerous at the refuge right now and I keep taking pics! House Wren at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/29/15.~

Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Mallard
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Virginia Rail
Sora
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sand.
Least Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green W.
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
House Finch
American Goldfinch

 

 

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Weekend Wrap-up, 8/23/15

*Click on photos to enlarge*

I finally got a good look at not one, but two YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS! They were located on the west side of the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/23/15.~

I finally got a good look at not one, but two YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS! They were located on the west side of the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/23/15.~

SATURDAY

I spent a good part of the day on Saturday checking many of the usual spots for shorebirds, but the only spot that had any noticeable developments was the Citgo Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, where the highlight was 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS (Thanks John Haas for the heads up on the PESAs):

Semipalmated Plover 1
Killdeer 8
Lesser Yellowlegs 5
Least Sandpiper 15
Pectoral Sandpiper 4
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1

SUNDAY MORNING

Sunday morning I woke up not entirely sure of where I wanted to go birding, so I ended up doing the usual and walking the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It has been the hottest spot recently and the large variety of birds that are possible is always appealing. When I first arrived, I spent some time at the viewing platform with Kevin Kreischer where we photographed the usual cast of characters that have been found there lately: Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a Green Heron, and single Black-crowned Night Heron that did a perfect flyby for photos, but sadly, Kevin and I were both caught off guard and missed it. A little later the Green heron did the same, a little further out and I did a little better with that:

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~Green Heron in flight in front of the viewing platform at Liberty Marsh, Wallkill River NWR, 8/23/15.~

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~A Great Egret hunts in front of the platform in nice light. Liberty Marsh, 8/23/15.~

As I walked the loop with hopes of some shorebird magic in the back pond, it was quite birdy with a good showing of passerines that are on the move: I had a good number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (8), Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (12), and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (7). The back pond was disappointing: only Lesser Yellowlegs (5), Killdeer (7), and Least Sandpipers (9) were present as far as shorebirds go.

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~This is a sweet and sad looking bird. Rose-breasted Grosbeak female, a bird that I was happy to finally get a decent photo of. Liberty Loop, 8/23/15.~

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~These Wood Ducks were not too bothered by my presence on the trail by the back pond of the Liberty Loop, 8/23/15.~

As I was leaving the back pond, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Green Heron perched in the tree on the right side of the trail. I was already pretty close to the bird by the time I saw it; I wasn’t sure why it hadn’t flushed yet. Then I noticed that it was watching something overhead; the following shots show the bird’s reaction to a Turkey Vulture that was circling not too high overhead:

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~Green Heron perched along the Liberty Loop Trail, 8/23/15.~

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~The bird watched an overhead Turkey Vulture very intently, Liberty Loop 8/23/15.~

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~Including watching as the raptor flew directly overhead. Green Heron at the Liberty Loop Trail, 8/23/15.~

My best bird of the day was actually a pair of birds: YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS. They were located on the west side of the loop, just south of “Mosquito Alley”. Cuckoos are truly one of my favorite birds and it has been a frustrating year where I have heard many, many cuckoos but not gotten a really good look at one.  It was a really enjoyable morning of birding with several good photo ops and a good number of birds, with total of 46 species on my list.

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~This Eastern Kingbird perched right next to me while I was shooting the Green Heron, so I couldn’t resist taking a few shots. Liberty Loop Trail at Wallkill River NWR, 8/23/15.~

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~Northern Harrier in flight over the marsh. This photo was actually taken Saturday night but I wanted to include it. Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR, 8/22/15.~

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~Lesser Yellowlegs in flight over the back pond at the Liberty Loop, 8/23/15.~

SUNDAY EVENING

I went looking for shorebirds at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary in the evening. I walked out to the pond at the Citgo Trail and found only a handful of shorebirds there. Then I walked the Heritage Trail, and all the shorebirds were on that side of the sanctuary. It was tough to get a handle on the number of birds out there, the birds were distant and moving around a lot, plus it’s tough to get clear looks from the trail these days because it’s so overgrown. I guesstimate 40+ Least Sandpipers, 15+ Killdeer, 3 Pectoral Sandpipers, and 4 Lesser Yellowlegs.

~Shorebirds in flight (likely Least Sandpipers) at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/23/15.~

~Shorebirds in flight (likely Least Sandpipers) at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/23/15.~

Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop 8/16/15

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~Green Heron at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/16/15.~

I drove through a heavy fog this morning, heading out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – Liberty Loop, so I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little fog present when I pulled into the parking area. I was even more pleased to see the above Green Heron striking a pose on the measuring stick just to the left of the viewing platform.

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~It was pretty exciting for me to see this Black-crowned Night-Heron first thing this morning. Walked River NWR, Liberty Marsh 8/16/15.~

I started to think that it might be a good morning when I got over to the platform and saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron hunting just across the water. I had taken some initial photos of the bird and gotten great looks in my binoculars, when Bruce Nott arrived. Shortly after his arrival, Bruce was scanning the marsh when he picked up a Peregrine Falcon in flight. Bruce alerted me and I was able to pick up the bird as it passed right in front of the platform:

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~A noisy shot of a Peregrine Falcon in flight. This is the third time I have seen this bird (I am assuming it’s the same bird) in the last week or so. This is the first halfway decent shot I’ve gotten. Liberty Marsh viewing platform, 8/16/15.~

Before heading out to walk the loop, we enjoyed seeing the large group of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons that have been regulars lately out in front of the platform, especially first thing in the morning. We also had a second Green Heron, several Least Sandpipers, and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs.

We walked the loop and it was quite birdy with many active birds. In the back pond, the shorebird count was a little bit disappointing with only Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs being seen. The west side of the loop was a highlight of the loop, with many active passerines being seen or heard. Highlights for me included super looks at: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (several of each!). It was a super morning of birding, and although we didn’t exactly beat the heat (we were out there until 11:00 am), it was totally worth the sweat. By my count we had a total of 46 species for the morning.

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~Bruce and I got amazing looks at several Red-eyed Vireos. A nice couple had just walked up to us asking what birds we had been seeing and they got quite the treat when the vireos came close enough for great looks naked eye! Liberty Loop, 8/16/15.~

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~Great Crested Flycatcher perched near the back pond of the Liberty Loop, 8/16/15.~ 

More Morningside Park, 8/15/15

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~A Least Sandpiper just after sunrise at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

Kyle Dudgeon and I headed to Morningside Park early this morning and arrived just as the sun was rising. We unloaded the kayaks and hit the water hoping to do well with shorebirds. It was a gorgeous morning with a little bit of cool breeze; it was supposed to be a hot day, so it was good to be out ahead of the heat. We paddled out to the small islands that form in the west end of the lake at this time each summer, which attract migrating shorebirds. On this day, unfortunately, shorebird numbers were down, we had 1 Killdeer, 5 Least Sandpipers, 2 Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs which made a brief appearance before moving on. Kyle and I were not deterred and we made the best of it by taking many photos of the Least Sandpipers which were very accommodating. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating – seeing the shorebirds at Morningside Park by kayak is quite a treat. You can get SO close to the birds who simply go about their business as if you were not there at all. We also paddled a good portion of the rest of the lake; we had good looks at Great Blue Herons, a couple of Green Herons, and we finally got Kyle his lifer Belted Kingfisher – he was surprised at how big they are! We got great looks at a kingfisher, unfortunately it was in poor light so no photos to share. What a great morning of birding!

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~This shot is nearly full frame, I cropped it a little bit just to improve the composition. Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~This is my favorite shot from the morning – Least Sandpiper leg and wing stretch! Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~Look at the feet on this bird! Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~LESA at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~This is a cute look to me. Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~I love this shot, unfortunately the camera has focused on the bird’s right foot, making the eye/head a little soft. LESA at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~We had one lone Killdeer while we were there. I was curious to see if this bird would flush when we approached in our kayaks, but it did not. Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~A rare Green Heron photo! Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~A Great Blue Heron in the vegetation at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

Sullivan County WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER!, 8/9/15

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~White-rumped Sandpiper at Morningside Park in Sulllivan County, 8/9/15.~

I was pretty darn happy this morning when I received a text from John Haas, alerting me that he had located a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Morningside Park in Sullivan County (click here to read John’s account of locating the bird).

I finished what I was doing and then headed home. Yes home… to get my kayak. Morningside Park offers a rare opportunity in our area to see shorebirds up close, and the key is to bird by kayak. I followed John’s directions and located the bird almost immediately and enjoyed taking many photos.  It was pretty exciting for me to get such a good shorebird, hopefully it is the first of many for this season. And, what a good looking bird; it was super to get such good looks at it. There were also several Least Sandpipers present, so I got some shots of them as well.

I’ve also included some photos from the week, most are from the Liberty Loop, where I have been spending most of my birding time lately.

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~I love the crossing primaries as seen in this photo of the bird. White-rumped Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/9/15.~

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~One more good look at the White-rumped Sandpiper as it feeds on one of the islands located in the lake at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 8/9/15.~

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~Least Sandpiper coming this way! Morningside Park, 8/9/15.~

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~It’s hard to believe how very small these birds are when you get this close to them – they are just little peanuts! Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 8/9/15.~

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~This is just a small portion of the crowd of Great Egrets in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop this morning, 8/9/15.~

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~Ha ha! Finally got a shot of a Marsh Wren! Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/9/115.~

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~Great Blue Heron takes a short flight at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop, 8/4/15.~

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~Scarlett Tanager on the west side of the Liberty Loop, 8/8/15.~

Shorebird Update, 8/6/15

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~I’m thinking American Golden-Plover along with this Greater Yellowlegs, but not positive about the ID. It was exciting to see this bird today, I will get out tomorrow and try for it again. Liberty Loop back pond, 8/6/15.~

UPDATE 8/7/15: Since I posted, I have received feedback from several better birders than myself, agreeing with AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER for the above bird. Then this afternoon I saw that my report to eBird had been confirmed by the reviewer. American Golden-Plover it is!

QUICK POST: Karen Miller and I walked the Liberty Loop this evening and had a good showing of shorebirds. The west leg of the loop had the first decent collection of shorebirds that I’ve seen there this season: 1 Killdeer, 6 Solitary Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 4 Least Sandpipers, and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. For those who care, all these birds were in Sussex County (they’re edging towards Orange!). Most of the shorebird action, however, was still in the back pond. The highlight was a distant look at a plover that I am thinking was an American Golden-Plover (rather than Black-bellied). Black wing pits in flight are diagnostic for BBPL; I saw this bird take two short flights and did not notice black wing pits. The bird was quite distant and the flights brief, so I am not 100% about this (I wish I was!). One of the reasons I think I am doubting this ID is that the bird appeared to be on the large side for an AMGP My impression of the bill size in the field is that it was small enough for AMGP, but that’s a tough call for me to make, especially at the distance we were viewing the bird. Please comment if you have any thoughts about this bird or if anyone gets out to see it, I would be curious as to what they think.

Here’s a list of all the shorebirds we had for the day:

?American Golden-Plover? 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Killdeer 25
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Solitary Sandpiper 11
Greater Yellowlegs 4
Lesser Yellowlegs 12
Least Sandpiper 15

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~American Golden-Plover? Liberty Loop, Sussex County NJ, 8/6/15.~

A BIG Day Photographing SMALL Birds

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~For some reason this is a bird that I have struggled to photograph in the past couple of years – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/2/15.~

Well okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT big, but I did do pretty well photographing passerines today. I walked the Liberty Loop at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge early this morning, and the birds just seemed to make themselves a little more available than they have lately, particularly two birds that I never seem to get a good shot of: Yellow-throated Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Additionally, the early morning light was nice for photos and I seemed to catch most birds in full or nearly full light on a nice dark background, which is a look I personally like. It was a nice walk with over 50 species seen or heard; I will include a species list at the bottom of this post. As usual, I was curious to see if any new shorebirds had moved in – I was happy to see at least one of the Semipalmated Plovers that Kyle Dudgeon had let me know about earlier this week was still around – that was my first of the season. Other than that, no new shorebirds to report, in fact numbers and variety of shorebirds both seemed to down; I did not located any Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, nor Pectoral Sandpipers. Most the shorebirds were located in the back pond of the loop and in the WAY back of that pond, to boot. I did have one Lesser Yellowlegs just to the left of the viewing platform, where water levels have dropped a bit, so that was nice.

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~This was a treat for me! A Yellow-throated Vireo that ventured out of the treetops! Liberty Loop, 8/2/15.~

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~Here’s another flycatcher that I’m going to have to leave unidentified. Any thoughts on this bird, please comment! Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR, 8/2/15.~

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~Common Yellowthroat just off the trail at the Liberty Loop, 8/2/15.~

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~A sweet looking Downy Woodpecker at Wallkill River NWR, 8/2/15.~

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~Here’s another bird I don’t get too many shots of – House Wren on the east side of the Liberty Loop, 8/2/15.~

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~Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the Liberty Loop, 8/2/15.~

Here’s my list for the morning:

~One of only 2 Orchard Orioles I had on the day, they seemed to have moved through for the most part. Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty Loop Trail, 8/2/15.~

~One of only 2 Orchard Orioles I had on the day, they seemed to have moved through for the most part. Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty Loop Trail, 8/2/15.~

Canada Goose
Mallard
Wood Duck
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Peewee
Unidentified Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Am. Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Am. Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Am. Goldfinch

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~One more shot of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Liberty Loop 8/2/15.~

Weekend Wrap-up, 7/26/15

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~A Great Blue Heron at Clark Pond, New Windsor NY 7/25/15.~

I got out both Saturday and Sunday mornings, mostly looking for shorebirds. First thing Saturday, thanks to Bruce Nott, I went to a new spot for me – it’s a small pond near Stewart Airport that is now a mud flat. Shorebirds present included Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs. There were many Great Blue Herons and a couple of Green Herons also present. It looks like a spot with some good potential, so I will keep checking back. Next I went to Lake Washington where I struck out with shorebirds – a quick stop yielded only a Great Blue Heron and a Green Heron. Bruce saw a Great Egret and a Black-crowned Night-Heron out there earlier in the week. My final stop was a total bust – I wanted to check the mud flats on the Hudson River just north of Cornwall-On-Hudson. The problem is that there is no real good spot to view that area, and there are “No Parking” signs everywhere. I eventually got frustrated with the situation and bailed on it.

Sunday morning I went back to the usual – I walked the Liberty Loop. It was a birdy morning where I had over 40 species. Shorebirds in the back pond remained basically the same as my last shorebird report, with the addition of a second Pectoral Sandpiper, and my first 2 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS of the season. Waders were numerous, particularly Great Egrets (8), and Great Blue Herons (12). I also saw several Green Herons and managed a distant photo of one.

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~Great Egret in flight at the Liberty Loop, 7/26/15. This crop doesn’t show very well on the blog – click on the photo to have a better look.~

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~Least Sandpiper in the back pond of the Liberty Loop, 7/26/15.~

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~Great Blue Heron in flight at Clark Pond in New Windsor, NY 7/25/15.~

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~I’m trying to mix it up with all the Lesser Yellowlegs photos – half submerged LEYE at the Liberty Loop, 7/26/15.~

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~Green Heron in the ditch alongside the back pond at the Liberty Loop, 7/26/15.~

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~An unidentified flycatcher on the west side of the Liberty Loop, 7/26/15.~