Orange County BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, 8/25/16

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~Very exciting! BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~ 

I ran into Karen Miller and Diane Bliss this afternoon – we were all heading in to check out 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond. We arrived at the pond and set up our scopes, and as luck would have it, the first bird in my scope was a beautiful BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! We were all super excited and enjoyed great looks in our scopes as we put the word out. John Haas, Bruce Nott, and Kathy Ashman all ran for the bird, which ended up being very confiding, allowing for great looks and some decent photos too. Shorebirds were numerous at the pond, here is our count:

Killdeer (6)
Greater Yellowlegs (1)
Lesser Yellowlegs (5)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (3)
Least Sandpiper (34)
BAIRD’S SANDPIPER (1)
Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
Wilson’s Snipe (1)

What an excellent afternoon/evening of birding! I love this time of year!

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~One more shot of the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, Citgo Pond 8/25/16.~ 
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~Look at all those scopes! These birders come prepared! Checking out the shorebirds at the Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~

 

 

Poor Man’s Pelagic, 8/21/16

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~I got my lifer Cory’s Shearwater today on the Viking Fleet’s Whale Watching Excursion, 8/21/16.~

I joined John Haas, Karen Miller, and Lance Verderame on what has been called ‘the poor man’s pelagic’. We took a whale watching trip through Viking Fleet in Montauk, New York. It was a long day; we left Goshen at 5 a.m. and I didn’t get home until after 9 p.m., but it was worth it. We had basically 4 pelagic birds for the day:

Cory’s Shearwater (3)
Great Shearwater (1)
Cory’s/Great Shearwater (3)
Wilson’s Storm-petrel (46)
Red-necked Phalarope (12)

For John and Lance, they each added 4 birds to their New York State year lists. For Karen, all 4 were life birds. And for me, I also added three birds to my NYS life list (I’d had RNPH in NY before) and, most excitingly, I got my lifer Cory’s Shearwater.

I need to keep this short, but I have to mention that the water was a little bit rougher than they predicted, and many folks got seasick. And not everyone made over the side of the boat either. The real kicker, for most people on the boat, was that we never did get to see any whales! Which didn’t matter much to us – it was a great day with some excellent birds, but I’m exhausted, I’m still rocking to the ocean waves, and it’s past my bedtime.

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~Five of the 12 Red-necked Phalaropes we had off the coast of Long Island, 8/21/16.~
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~Photos were taugh today, so this is a crop of the above shot, RNPH off shore from Montauk, NY 8/21/16.~
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~Wilson’s Storm-petrel over the water. These birds are TOUGH to photograph! Especially today, because most birds were not very close to the boat. Viking Fleet Whale Watch, off the shore of Montauk, 8/21/16.~
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~A look at the backside of a WISP – note the legs and feet extend past the tail. Off the shore of Montauk, NY 8/21/16.~
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~This was the 2nd COSH of the day. Note the pale upper parts. Offshore from Montauk, NY 8/21/16/~
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~We saw plenty of Double-crested Cormorants and we left and returned to the dock in Montauk. 8/21/16.~

Orange County Black Tern, 8/16/16

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~BLACK TERN in flight at Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~

Okay, so I guess I can keep calling the blog Orange Birding. This evening I just wanted to make a quick stop at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond to check the water levels, because when I was there on Friday the levels were too high and there were no shorebirds present. Well, the water levels were still high and there were still no shorebirds, but I found a welcome surprise: a BLACK TERN! When I arrived the bird was perched on the ground, but it took flight not long after I got on the bird and never set down again. The bird flew around the pond, hunting continuously and splashing into the water from time to time. I put the word out and John Haas, Karen Miller, and Diane Bliss were all able to run for the bird. Bad weather was moving in quickly, so we ended up having to hustle out of there to beat storms. It was a nice looking bird and we got good, if slightly distant views – all my pics are cropped within an inch of their lives. This is my 193rd species for Orange County this year.

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~BLTE, wings down at Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~
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~Black Tern right after splash down on the water. Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~

Wow! WILSON’S PHALAROPE at DeKorte, 8/15/16

 

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~Love, love, loved this bird! WILSON’S PHALAROPE at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~

Okay, so at what point do I change the name of this blog to Bergen Birding? Over the weekend, another GREAT bird – a WILSON’S PHALAROPE, was located at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. I didn’t go for it then, I but today after work, I ran for the bird and luckily the bird not only stuck around, it was very accommodating for photos. I was talking with Chris Takacs while viewing the bird, and he indicated that this was likely a young bird. The bird is absolutely beautiful, white as white can be with a long very thin and pointy bill. It fed nearly the entire time I was there, only stopping to preen and then relax for a short time. This is the second time I’ve seen a Wilson’s Phalarope, my lifer was at the Liberty Loop back in April of 2013.

Huge thanks to both Maria Loukeris and Denise Farrel, who kept me posted with the alerts for this bird today.

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~Beautiful bird. Wilson’s Phalarope at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~
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~WIPH at DeKorte, 8/15/16.~
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~I had to include at least one water flick shot. Wilson’s Phalarope at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~
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~There were many other shorebirds close by too, but I barely paused to take their photos. Lesser Yellowlegs at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16. ~
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~And for comparison, a Greater Yellowlegs at DeKorte Park 8/15/16.~
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~This is not a bird I’ve been this close to before. Short-billed Dowitcher at DeKorte, 8/15/16.

Hidden Heron, 8/14/16

Just a week and a day after getting decent photos of an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron at DeKorte Park, I was pleasantly surprised by this juvenile that I saw this morning at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I inadvertently flushed the bird when I paused on the trail to watch an American Kestrel hunting. I watched as the heron briefly flew, then landed and stashed itself in the heavy vegetation. The bird does not look very hidden in this photo, but I can tell you that it took me a long while searching with my binoculars to relocate the bird, and that was after having seen where it had flown in. BCNHs are one of my favorites and it’s always a thrill to see one, especially in Orange County.

IMG_3989 - Version 2

 

Shooting Shorebirds, 8/13/16

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~Semipalmated Sandpiper in the mud on one of the islands at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

In an effort to beat the heat and catch the good light, Kyle picked me up at my house at 5:30 this morning. We loaded up the kayaks and headed for Morningside Park, which is undoubtedly the best local spot to photograph shorebirds. We arrived just after 6:30 and the air was relatively cool and the light was perfect. We paddled out to the islands where throughout the morning we had 5 species of shorebird:

Semipalmated Sandpiper (2)
Least Sandpiper (6)
Wilson’s Snipe (1)
Solitary Sandpiper (1)
Spotted Sandpiper (1)

As usual, the peeps were super cooperative for photos. The other birds not so much, although I was able to get one shot of the snipe. We spent some time shooting the peeps and also just paddling around the lake to see what other birds might be around – we totaled 27 species on the lake for the morning.

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~Least Sandpiper with reflection, Morningside Park 8/13/16.~
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~We weren’t sure if this Wilson’s Snipe would stay like the peeps do or flush. It flushed. WISN at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~
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~Least Sandpiper on a nice perch, Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~
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~Semipalmated Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~
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~Semipalmated Sandpiper on the move. Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

On our way back we stopped at the Bashakill; I had to meet up with Linda Lou Bartle and we figured we’d do some quick birding while we were there. Surprisingly, it was a great morning for raptors there, we had:

Turkey Vulture (1)
Red-tailed Hawk (1)
Red-shouldered Hawk (3)
Broad-winged Hawk (2)
Cooper’s Hawk (1)
Bald Eagle (3)
Osprey (1)

You know with all those raptors that Kyle and I were both very happy! Hawkwatch starts in less than 3 weeks!

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~A Red-shouldered Hawk flies over the Deli Fields at the Bashakill, 8/13/16.~

Red-tailed Hawk Flight Series

When this Red-tailed Hawk actually took flight TOWARDS me, it was so unexpected that I almost panicked. I picked up the bird fairly early as it took flight (shots #1 and #2). Then I lost focus for a moment but was able to get it back again as the bird came closer (shots #3, #4, and #5). After shot #5, I lost focus again, but this time I think the bird may have been too close for my focus setting. Pretty exciting to get an opportunity like this and to not completely blow it!

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#3
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Excellent Birding at DeKorte, 8/6/16

 

 

 

 

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~A juvenile LEAST BITTERN hunting at DeKorte Park, 8/6/16. I can’t get enough of this bird! ~

Birding in Orange County has been a little bit slow all week, so Kyle, Linda, Maria, and I piled into my Volkswagen Golf and headed south to Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. We all seemed to be in the same mood, ready spend the morning at a spot that has no shortage of birds and also offers up great photo opportunities. We were not disappointed and had 41 species for the outing. LEAST BITTERNS were high on the priority list – we were hoping to get Kyle his lifer, which we achieved through a fly-by very early on. We saw several LEBI while were there, and we spent some quality time viewing and photographing one young bird that was in nice light and wasn’t too far away.

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~These Semipalmated Sandpipers are sharp looking to me. Look how white this bird is in spite of foraging in the mud all day long! DeKorte Park, 8/6/16.~

Other highlights included a nice look at a couple of male Ruddy Ducks in breeding plumage, and a young, large, (probably a female) Peregrine Falcon that absolutely ripped onto the scene and took what appeared to be a Forster’s Tern. Those PEFAs are killing machines and are fascinating to watch in action. For shorebirds, we had what I suspect are the expected species – Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, and Lesser Yellowlegs. Other good birds included three Black-crowned Night-herons, a couple of Osprey, two Great Black-backed Gulls, and several Snowy Egrets. It was an excellent morning of birding in great company!

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~Beautiful Bird. A male Ruddy Duck at DeKorte Park, 8/6/16.~
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~An acrobatic Forster’s Tern hunting at DeKorte Park, 8/6/16.~
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~One of my favorites! I’ve been wanting to get some photos of these guys in OC, but it hasn’t panned out just yet. Black-crowned Night-heron at DeKorte Park, 8/6/16.~
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~A young Forster’s Tern cruising overhead at DeKorte Park, 8/6/16. I’m not sure if other folks find this plumage as attractive as I do, but I think this is a good looking bird.

WOW! LIFER RUFF!

 

 

 

 

 

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~Wow! RUFF at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst NJ, 8/21/16.~

QUICK POST: I’m going to try to keep this short because it’s late and I’m tired. It’s remarkable to me how much luck plays a part in birding. After work today, thanks to some prodding from Maria Loukeris, I ran for the RUFF that has been reported in recent days out at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. I searched for the bird for over 2 1/2 hours from the Transco Trail, along with several other birders and then I decided to head home. On my way back to my car, I ran into Chris Takacs on the boardwalk; Chris had originally located the bird over a week ago. While we were talking, a group of yellowlegs flew over and Chris commented that it looked like the Ruff might have been in with them. Moments later, he received a text – he was right, the Ruff had just come in! We headed back out to the Transco Trail and sure enough the bird was still present! What an incredible bird, and I was so lucky to get it! I got great scope views and tried to take some photos and video – none came out very well, but I did get to document it. The Ruff is life bird #368 for me. Huge thanks to Maria for letting me know the bird had been relocated today, and also to Chris Takacs for all his help out there.

 

Searching for OC Shorebirds, 7/31/16

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~Least Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16. I’m loving the markings on this bird.~ 

After running for a trio of Little Blue Herons that were reported at Riverfront Park in Montgomery and coming up empty, I spent a good portion of the day searching for shorebirds in southern Orange County. I stopped at Turtle Bay Road on my way to Wallkill River NWR and, although conditions looked good with muddy puddles present, I only had Killdeer there. At Wallkill River NWR, the pool in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop had water levels that seemed to high for shorebirds and I did not locate any. I walked out Liberty Lane and in spite of the high water levels there, I had one Killdeer, (3) Solitary Sandpipers, and (2) Lesser Yellowlegs. On my way back, I had a single Least Sandpiper foraging on the puddles on Liberty Lane, which allowed for a good photo op. A walk to the west side of the loop did not result in much – I had another Solitary Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and only a single Great Egret.

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~Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, down Liberty Lane, 7/31/16.~

I made my way back to Goshen, checking some areas of the black dirt, where conditions were good with plenty of puddles. I had many Killdeer on Skinner Lane. The Old Warren Sod Farm was the most productive spot; aside from many Killdeer, I also had one Solitary Sandpiper, one Semipalmated Sandpiper, and my most exciting bird of the day, a Semipalmated Plover. Unfortunately all of these birds were too far out for photos.

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~One more of the Least Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16.~ 

The rain started to fall pretty heavily, so I headed home and took a break. I waited for the rain to subside (it never really did!) before heading back out to the Citgo Pond in the evening. I was curious to see how the water levels would be there, normally they would be very high with all the recent rain, but a during quick check on Friday afternoon I saw that the water level was lower than I’ve ever seen it (by the way I had several LEYE and KILL, many LESA, and two likely SESA on Friday). Well, when I got out there, not only was the water level high at the pond, the trail itself was flooded as well. Needless to say, I had no additional shorebirds there. With all the rain that is falling, the black dirt looks to be the best spot in OC for shorebirds for the next few days at least.

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~Killdeer at Skinner Lane, 7/31/16.~ 
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~A nice size comparison – Lesser Yellowlegs on the left and Solitary Sandpiper on the right, Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16.~