Orange County Weekend

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~I love this bird. Black-crowned Night-heron at Frank Masterson Memorial Park, 4/19/15.~

I think my expectations for this weekend might have been a little bit high coming in, because somehow I felt a little disappointed in the weekend’s birding, even though I did get several year birds and was able to get some decent photos. I got out for a little bit on each of the last three days:

Friday 4/17/15, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary: After work on Friday, I first made a quick stop at Greenwood Lake which was a complete dud. Then I went to Glenmere Lake, where I had a single Common Loon and that’s it. Afterwards, I picked up Tricia at the house and we headed over to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. The highlight there was getting my first warblers of the year – 5 Palm Warblers, and 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers.

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~Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/17/15.~

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~Palm Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road. Tricia impressed me by calling this bird in no time at all.~

Saturday 4/18/15, Wallkill Rive National Wildlife Refuge: Early Saturday morning I met Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris out at the refuge. We walked the west side of the Liberty Loop where our highlight was seeing pair of Wood Ducks perched in trees, coincidentally not long after having a discussion of how we never see them in the trees until they are already flying from their perch.

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~A male Wood Duck up pretty high in the trees. This is my first time seeing this and getting photos, it was really cool!  Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR, 4/18/15.~

We did pretty well for other waterfowl on the loop as well: American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, and a likely Pied-billed Grebe (we got a brief look at the bird but never were able to relocate it to confirm the ID). I was hoping for some warblers, but none were to be had. We went over to Winding Waters Trail afterwards and we walked the entire trail, including a part of the trail that I did not know existed but is really nice because it continues along the river instead of cutting across the field. It was on this section of the trail that we had a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a good look at a Great Blue Heron on a nice perch.

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~Great Blue Heron on the Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River NWR, 4/17/15.~

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~Northern Rough-winged Swallow at Wallkill River NWR, 4/18/15.~

Frank Masterson Memorial Park, Sunday 4/19/15: I met Bruce Nott at the park Sunday morning to try for the Black-crowned Night-heron that he had located there on Saturday afternoon. Before looking for the heron, Bruce took me up the road to the marshy area off of Lake Washington to show me the nine Wilson’s Snipe that he had seen there earlier in the morning. The snipe were still present and we got good looks in spite of the birds doing all they could to stay camouflaged. I took photos, but none came out very good. We went back to Masterson Park and located the BCNH in the photo at the top of this post. While we were at it, we had a Pileated Woodpecker come in nice and close – too bad it was backlit!

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~This is the first time a Pileated Woodpecker has actually flown closer to me! Masterson Park, 4/19/15.~

Bruce and I decide to head over to Benedict Farm in Montgomery, NY to follow up on a couple of sighting reported by Bill Fiero: Grasshopper Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow. John Haas eventually joined us and Ken McDermott showed up as well with the same idea, but unfortunately we came up empty-handed on both counts. I headed back to southern Orange County and checked in on Glenmere Lake, which had plenty of boats and kayaks and no birds. I then went to Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, where I had 14 Broad-winged Hawks migrating in the 45 minutes I was there. The birds came from the south and were heading north/northeast. Most were distant specks in the sky, but a couple of birds passed over low enough for decent looks.

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~Tree Swallow at Benedict Farms, 4/19/15.~

A Little Catch-Up

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~I have this as a Greater Scaup based on the shape of its head – to me it has a pretty evenly domed rear crown. Glenmere Lake, 4/15/15.~ 

QUICK POST: There has been some interesting waterfowl movement in Orange County in recent weeks, which I have not posted about here on the blog. I have reported a couple of times recently to the Mearns Bird Club, but between not having much time and honestly not getting any good photos (most birds have been quite distant), I haven’t posted here. Here’s list of highlights from some of my recent sightings:

4/9/15, Greenwood Lake: 11 Common Loon

4/9/15, Glenmere Lake: 11 Bufflehead, 3 Common Merganser, 1 Ruddy Duck, 6 Common Loon, 1 Red-necked Grebe

4/14/15, Glenmere Lake: 10 Bufflehead, 8 Scaup (Lesser??? I’m not sure, these birds were very distant), 3 Common Loon, 9 Horned Grebe

Today – 4/15/15, Glenmere Lake: 3 Bufflehead, 1 Greater Scaup, 2 Common Loon

*One final exciting thing for me – my Canon 70D is repaired and has been shipped back to me. I’m not sure when it will arrive, but hopefully for the weekend!

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~I have seen many Common Loons this spring, but I’m yet to have one close enough for a decent photo. This one was at Glenmere Lake on 4/14/15.~

I came across this Red-tailed Hawk in my travels yesterday on Mt. Eve Road.

I came across this Red-tailed Hawk in my travels yesterday, 4/14/15, on Mt. Eve Road.

 

Crested Caracara Part II

Huge thanks to Mary B. for giving me a call this evening to let me know that the CRESTED CARACARA was actively feeding on a poor dead possum. I rushed out there and was able to get some much better shots than I did yesterday.

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~Crested Caracara with its meal, Montgomery, NY 4/12/15.~

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~Whenever a car would pull into the area, the bird would flee…

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… and go perch in the trees.~

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~But the bird would come back: It’s my possum! Crested Caracara in Montgomery NY, 4/12/15.~

 

Weekend Wrap-up 4/12/15

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

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~A sweet looking Ruddy Duck at Piermont Pier, 4/11/15.~

The highlight of the weekend was, of course, the Crested Caracara in Montgomery, which I saw Saturday afternoon (I’ve received reports that this bird continued at the same location on Sunday 4/12). While looking for the caracara on Saturday, I came across many raptors and I was lucky enough to get a decent photo of a couple American Kestrels. Later that evening, Tricia and I went to Piermont, NY to go out for her birthday dinner. We did not have tons of time, but we made a quick stop at Piermont Pier where we got very appropriately lucky with the very blue-billed Ruddy Duck at the top of this post (appropriate since Ruddies are Tricia’s favorite, the blue bill was the icing on the cake!).

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~American Kestrel on River Road in Montgomery, NY 4/11/15.~

On Sunday morning, I joined Karen Miller and Sharon Dewey Scavatto (who drove in that morning from Massachusetts) and we birded the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It started out on the chilly side with enough of a cold breeze to make my hands uncomfortable as we birded Haven Road first thing. Highlights at Haven Road included: 1 Common Goldeneye, 2 Northern Shoveler (first ones at the Bash this year), and 4 Blue-winged Teal (my first of the year). From there, we headed over to the Nature Trail, hoping for the Red-necked Grebe and the Common Loon that had been seen there. We struck out with the RNGR, but we did get brief but good looks at the Common Loon. We also heard a Barred Owl from across the Bash, and I got my first Golden Crowned Kinglets of the year. Our next stop was the Deli Fields where I got my FOY Field Sparrows. Our final stop was at the Main Boat Launch to go for the Horned Grebes that have been there. We got very good scope views in perfect light of 4 HOGRs. We walked part of the Birch Trail and I got my FOY Swamp Sparrows. By my record we had 44 birds for the day, I’ll put the list at the bottom of this post.

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~Yet another one of my favorites, it was great to see my first Blue-winged Teals of the year, Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 4/12/15.~

Bashakill State WMA

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~I’m not sure why American Kestrels love to perch on wires so often. This one was located on East Searsville Road in Montgomery, 4/11/15.~

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eastern Screech-Owl
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Orange County Crested Caracara!

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~Wow wow wow! CRESTED CARACAR in Montgomery NY on 4/11/15.~

Early this afternoon, I finally caught up with the rare CRESTED CARACARA which was found by Curt McDermott yesterday morning. I tried for it yesterday after work but I had horrible timing and missed it twice! You can go to John Haas’ blog to see more details about how yesterday went down.

Today looked like more of the same; I received several calls and texts that the bird had been seen, but I kept missing it. Just around one o’clock, while I was making a final sweep of the area by River Road (where the bird was first located), I got a call from Karen Miller. The bird had been relocated near the intersection of Route 208 and Route 17K! I’m not entirely sure who exactly relocated the bird, but huge thanks to them! And also thanks to Al (whose last name I never got and who relocated the bird several times today!), Dan Whalen, and Karen Miller for keeping me in the loop which made it possible for me to see this bird. At first the bird was in very thick trees and photos were nearly impossible. Then the bird repositioned, a little further out, but with a less obstructed view. It was incredible to see this bird! It’s a lifer for me (#320) and to see it in Orange County was just awesome.

To see just how far out of its range this bird is click here for a range map.

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Montezuma NWR (hand) Delivers

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

~ After being released into the wild, a recently rehabilitated male Canvasback caught mid wing flap, Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

~ After being released into the wild, a recently rehabilitated male Canvasback enjoys a vigorous wing flap, Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

On Saturday, the day before Easter, my brother-in-law Bill and I made it out to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge by the early afternoon. We started at the visitor’s center and drove Wildlife Drive and then hit many of the usual spots at the refuge, including May’s Point Pool, Tschache Pool, and East Road. We did well in spite of many of the pools still being frozen over and up until that point we had 35 species for the day:

~One of nearly 20 American Coots seen from Wildlife Drive at Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

~One of nearly 20 American Coots seen from Wildlife Drive at Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
Gadwall
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

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~Bill located this very confiding Pied-billed Grebe on our way out of Wildlife Drive, Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

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~Tunda Swan splashdown, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 4/4/15.~

The highlight of the day, however, came at our last stop of the day. We made our way over to the ‘Potato Fields’ to get a better look at the Snow Geese that we had seen from East Road. We were scanning the fields, I was hoping to turn some Tundra Swans into a Trumpeter, which was one of the birds I was really hoping to see. A car pulled in behind us and a couple got out. They asked us if we had seen any Trumpeter Swans and I said no but I was really hoping for one. The woman responded by saying she had a Trumpeter with her. I had no idea what that could possibly mean. The woman’s name was Cynthia Page, and she explained that she was a wildlife rehabilitator from the Page Wildlife Center in Manlius NY. She had not only a Trumpeter Swan, but also two Canvasbacks and a Redhead which had all been rehabilitated and she was releasing them. What a great opportunity!  We got great looks at these fabulous birds as she released each of them into the water. The Redhead wasn’t on the ground for more than a few moments before she took flight. The two Canvasbacks lingered enough for some photos and then took off. The Trumpeter Swan, which was released last, took her time getting reoriented and I took many photos and really enjoyed seeing this big beautiful bird. Cynthia expained that the swan had been hit by a car and had lost one eye. The experience was fascinating and I thought, very lucky.

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~Another rehabilitated bird enjoys a wing flap, Trumpeter Swan at Montezuma NWR, 4/415.~

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~Trumpeter Swan at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 4/4/15.~

 

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~Tell me this guy doesn’t seem happy to be back in the wild? Canvasback released into the wild, Montezuma NWR, 4/4/15.~

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~Here’s a look at the Trumpeter Swan’s missing eye. She kept her good eye on us almost the entire time.~

 

 

Montezuma NWR Sneak Peak

*Click on photos to enlarge*

~A Tundra Swan comes in for a landing at the Potato Fields at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 4/4/15. Note the Snow Geese in the background.~

~A Tundra Swan comes in for a landing at the Potato Fields at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 4/4/15. Note the Snow Geese in the background.~ 

As we traditionally do, Tricia and I made it up to Syracuse for the weekend to celebrate Easter with her family. Which means a visit to one of my favorite birding spots – Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, we got home very late on Sunday night and then I worked late tonight, so I was not able to put a post together yet. Montezuma is a super birding spot which has never disappointed me, and this year there was an additional surprise… full post tomorrow!

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary 4/1/15

 

I got a nice look at this Red-tailed Hawk at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/1/15.

I got a nice look at this Red-tailed Hawk at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/1/15.

I made a quick stop by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary this afternoon. I am happy to report almost all the ice has finally melted and there was some waterfowl present, including the highlight of the day, a pair of COMMON GOLDENEYES. Here is my list for the afternoon:

~Song Sparrow in nice evening light, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/1/15.~

~Song Sparrow in nice evening light, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/1/15.~

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye 
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
American Crow
Tree Swallow 
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Saturday 3/28/15

~One of 9 Bald Eagles at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 3/28/15.~

~One of 9 Bald Eagles at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 3/28/15.~

On this cold, windy Saturday morning, I left the house without much of a game plan. I wandered around, hitting several spots in southern Orange County before ending up at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area.

GLENMERE LAKE: Highlights included 42 Ring-necked Ducks and 4 Common Mergansers.

SCHERVIER PAVILLION, WARWICK: 10 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers, Canada Geese, and Mallards.

~ A pair of male Hooded Mergansers at Schervier Pavilion in Warwick NY, 3/28/15.~

~ A pair of male Hooded Mergansers at Schervier Pavilion in Warwick NY, 3/28/15.~

WARWICK TOWN HALL PONDS: Ring-necked Ducks too spread out and numerous to count (maybe 60+?), Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canada Geese, and a single American Coot

SANFORDVILLE ROAD, WARWICK NY: 1 American Kestrel and 2 Red-tailed Hawks (including the one pictured below with some super markings).

~Red-tailed Hawk perched on a dirt pile off of Sanfordville Road in Warwick, NY 3/28/15.~

~Red-tailed Hawk perched on a dirt pile off of Sanfordville Road in Warwick, NY 3/28/15.~

LAUREL GROVE CEMETERY, PORT JERVIS NY: Highlights included 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Common Goldeneyes, and over 40 Tree Swallows, my first ones of the year!

~It was great to not only see the Tree Swallows, but to also get a decent photo of one. Laurel Grove Cemetery, 3/28/15.~

~It was great to not only see the Tree Swallows, but to also get a decent photo of one. Laurel Grove Cemetery, 3/28/15.~

BASHAKILL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA, SULLIVAN COUNTY NY: I got my best bird of the day here – a pair of FOX SPARROWS located at the Deli Fields. I tried desperately for photos because I haven’t had a Fox Sparrow since sometime in 2013! The birds would not cooperate and in the end this was my best shot:

~Fox Sparrow at the Bashakill Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~Fox Sparrow at the Bashakill Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

Other highlights included 9 (!) Bald Eagles including one cooperative one that seemed to be playing while flying above Haven Road. And I also had 4 Tree Swallows and I able to get a decent photo of an Eastern Bluebird.

~An immature Bald Eagle flies over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~An immature Bald Eagle flies over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~Eastern Bluebird at the Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~Eastern Bluebird at the Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~This eagle seemed to be playing as it flew. Bald Eagle over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~This eagle seemed to be playing as it flew. Bald Eagle over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~