Orange County White-winged Scoter

This evening after work, I stopped by Glenmere Lake and located what I believe was a single distant scoter. I was not sure which scoter it could be, but after watching the bird for a while, it did some preening and flapping of the wings which exposed the white secondaries – indicative of a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. In the above video (which I know is horrible), right at about the 5 or 6 second mark, you can catch a glimpse of white on the wing. Here’s a heavily cropped grainy photo of the bird; it was actually much darker out than the photo indicates.

White-winged Scoter at Glenmere Lake, 10/23/14.

White-winged Scoter at Glenmere Lake, 10/23/14.

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/17 & 10/19

Two Great Egret perch facing into the wind on Friday night. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/17/14.

Two Great Egret perch facing into the wind on Friday night. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/17/14.

I made it out to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary a couple of times over the weekend – Friday after work and then again on Sunday evening. My visits continue to be very enjoyable; I’m not finding many new birds, but there are many birds present. I did not do a list on Friday, but tonight in a short visit, I had 35 species. The light has been nice and I have just been enjoying being out and taking some photos. Both visits I spent some time with the very accessible Yellow-rumped Warblers that are present. Tonight it really paid off, as a Blue-headed Vireo suddenly appeared and I was able to get a shot.

Blue-headed Vireo at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Blue-headed Vireo at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

And of course, the Yellow-rumps gave me plenty of opportunities. I was enjoying trying to get shots of them through all the branches and leaves. Here’s some shots that I liked:

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/17/14.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/17/14.

Both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets were present over the weekend. I had ample opportunity with a Ruby-crowned tonight but I did not get any good photos. I did a little better with a Golden-crowned on Friday:

With just a hint of the crown showing, here's a Golden-crowned Kinglet. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

With just a hint of the crown showing, here’s a Golden-crowned Kinglet. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/19/14.

Here’s my species list for tonight (10/19//14):

Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird

Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14

One of 7 Cooper's Hawks, migrating past Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

One of 7 Cooper’s Hawks, migrating past Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

At long last, I finally had a good day at the hawk watch. I got my first migrating raptor before I even had a chance to unpack my gear as I arrived at the platform. Things stayed pretty steady for the rest of the day and in the end, I counted 109 migrating raptors. Thanks to Rob Stone and Rob Pirie (who I met for the first time today) for their help counting. Here’s my report from the day:

Mount Peter
Warwick, New York, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Oct 18, 2014
——————————————————————-

Species          Day’s Count / Month Total / Season Total
—————— ———– ————– ————–
Black Vulture               0            2             3
Turkey Vulture             0           46           49
Osprey                       3            27          102
Bald Eagle                  1             6            53
Northern Harrier         1            11            25
Sharp-shinned Hk     83          381          683
Cooper’s Hawk          7             36           53
Northern Goshawk     0             0              0
Red-shouldered Hk    0             11           16
Broad-winged Hk       0               8          5684
Red-tailed Hawk         0              5             6
Rough-legged Hawk   0              0             0
Golden Eagle              0              0             0
American Kestrel         6            26          105
Merlin                          5            11            15
Peregrine Falcon         1             4               9
Unknown Accipiter      0            0                0
Unknown Buteo          1             5              13
Unknown Eagle           0             0               0
Unknown Falcon         1             2                3
Unknown Raptor         0             4              19

Total:                        109         585           6838
———————————————————————-

Observation start time: 08:00:00
Observation end time: 16:00:00
Total observation time: 8 hours

Official Counter: Matt Zeitler

Observers: Rob Stone

Visitors:
Rob Pirie, Rob Stone, Anthony Stone, Kyle Dudgeon, and James & Darlene
Mussi.
Weather:
Cloudy and cool with W winds at approximately 20 km/hr. Temperatures ranged
from 12 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Raptor Observations:
Migrating raptors included: (1) Adult Bald Eagle, (1) Male Northern
Harrier, (5) Unknown American Kestrels, and (1) Female American Kestrel.

Non-migrating raptors included (4) Red-tailed Hawks, many Turkey and Black
Vultures, and a Peregrine Falcon which was seen several times to the north
of the platform but was not seen moving through.

Non-raptor Observations:
Other Species: Blue Jay (112), Tufted Titmouse (4), Black-capped Chickadee
(6), Palm Warbler (1), Canada Goose (84), American Goldfinch (24), Rock
Pigeon (4), American Robin (2), American Crow (23), Red-bellied Woodpecker
(2), Pileated Woodpecker (1), Downy Woodpecker (1), Northern Flicker (1),
Common Raven (2), and Monarch Butterfly (18)

One of 3 migrating Osprey at Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

One of 3 migrating Osprey at Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

Highlight of the day for me: FIVE migrating Merlins. These birds just cruise past the watch, so awesome! Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

Highlight of the day for me: FIVE migrating Merlins. These birds just cruise past the watch, so awesome! Mount Peter Hawk Watch, 10/18/14.

 

Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14

A Swamp Sparrow does its thing at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

A Swamp Sparrow does its thing at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

The Winding Waters Trail out at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge continues to be loaded with birds. Sparrows dominate, lead by Song Sparrows and to a lesser extent Swamp Sparrows. I particularly enjoyed seeing several Field Sparrows and three Lincoln’s Sparrows.

I am seeing Field Sparrows in a new light this fall. I think they are a pretty good looking bird. Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

I am seeing Field Sparrows in a new light this fall. I think they are a pretty good looking bird. Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

A Lincoln's Sparrow in the shadows at Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14. This is a bird that I would like to get a decent photo of.

A Lincoln’s Sparrow lurks in the shadows at Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14. This is a bird that I would like to get a decent photo of.

When I entered my observations into eBird, I was surprised that I only had 19 species for the day. I guess with the high number of sparrows (they were everywhere!), I thought I would have more birds for the day. Here’s my list for the evening:

Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Lesser Yellowlegs
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Tree Swallow
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

I finally got a shot of the Belted Kingfisher that has been hanging around WW Trail. Not a good one, but what can you do? Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

I finally got a shot of the Belted Kingfisher that has been hanging around WW Trail. Not a good one, but what can you do? Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail, 10/16/14.

Fall Sparrows 10/12/14

White-crowned Sparrow on Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 10/12/14.

White-crowned Sparrow on Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 10/12/14.

I got out a fair amount this weekend, and sparrows seemed to be everywhere. The hottest spot for me was definitely Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, which I visited three times and where I totaled 8 different sparrows:

Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

I am, of course, still struggling with my sparrow identifications; at times I felt confident and capable and at other times I felt clueless. Here are my photos from the weekend – I am confident with all my IDs with a couple of exceptions which I have noted in the captions. Also noteworthy, I had my first Dark-eyed Juncos of the season on Saturday morning at Cascade Lake (which was also loaded with Ruby-crowned Kinglets – 15+).

Savannah Sparrow at Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/11/14.

Savannah Sparrow at Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/11/14.

This bird has me a little stumped. I was thinking first winter Swamp Sparrow, but now I am leaning towards and hoping for Lincoln's. Any thoughts on this bird would be appreciated. This was taken Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

This bird has me a little stumped – I am thinking it is a hatch year Swamp Sparrow. Any thoughts on this bird would be appreciated. This was taken Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

It was great to see several Field Sparrows at Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

It was great to see several Field Sparrows at Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

This photo is not very representative of how it looked when I saw this bird. This was taken on Friday night and it was nearly dark out. I had my ISO cranked up to 3200 and somehow the photo is not too noisy. White-throated Sparrow,Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

This photo is not very representative of how it looked when I saw this bird. This was taken on Friday night and it was nearly dark out. I had my ISO cranked up to 3200 and somehow the photo is not too noisy. White-throated Sparrow,Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

THIS, I believe is a Lincoln's Sparrow. I did not ID it as such in the field, but looking at the photos I am thinking Lincoln's. Taken Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

THIS, I believe is a Lincoln’s Sparrow. I did not ID it as such in the field, but looking at the photos I am thinking Lincoln’s. Again, any thoughts on this bird please comment! Taken at Winding Waters Trail at the Wallkill River NWR, 10/10/14.

Blue-winged Teals and Northern Shovelers at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary

One of four Northern Shovelers takes a lap around the Citgo Trail pond at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

One of four Northern Shovelers takes a lap around the Citgo Trail pond at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

I had an appointment cancelled, so I got to do some unexpected birding after work this afternoon. I had forgotten my binoculars at home, so I stopped by to pick them up and headed to the closest spot – 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. I was thinking about sparrows as I took the Citgo Trail, but the wind had picked up pretty good and sparrows were scarce. I had a few pleasant surprises when I got to the pond – a nice sized collection of shorebirds: 22 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Greater Yellowlegs, and 1 Solitary Sandpiper. The highlight, however, was seeing my first Northern Shovelers (4) and Blue-winged Teal (3) of the fall. A Northern Harrier cruised through at one point and picked up many of the waterfowl and shorebirds. I think it was about 3 years ago that I would get a harrier at this location regularly, but this is the first one I have seen there in a while. It was a gorgeous night and I had some decent birds, which made me happy. Here’s some more photos and my list for the night:

Eastern Bluebird, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

Eastern Bluebird, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

A Lesser Yellowlegs takes flight when a Northern Harrier flew over. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

A Lesser Yellowlegs takes flight when a Northern Harrier flew over. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

I had nearly 20 Tree Swallows tonight. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

I had nearly 20 Tree Swallows tonight. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/6/14.

Canada Goose 65
Mute Swan 4
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 16
Blue-winged Teal 3
Northern Shoveler 4
Green-winged Teal 25
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 8
Northern Harrier 1
Killdeer 9
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 3
Lesser Yellowlegs 22
Blue Jay 4
American Crow 8
Tree Swallow 18
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin 4
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 85
Common Yellowthroat 1
Palm Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 12
Song Sparrow 2
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Common Grackle 20
House Sparrow 25

**One Year Ago at Orangebirding.com: Long-billed Dowitchers at 6 1/2 Station Road and Black Scoters in Orange County. **

A Snowy Forecast?

With the changing of the seasons and the cooler temperatures, I don’t think I’m alone in starting to think about Snowy Owls. I feel so spoiled after last year’s historic irruption; I want more Snowies! So, what will this winter bring? Well for what it’s worth, I have found a couple of items that encourage me to thinking we may see a least a snowy or two in our area. The first is an email from Project Snowstorm, where Scott Weidensaul reported:

…a record number of owl nests on Bylot this summer. Whether that will translate into another irruption is far from certain — much depends on weather, and Bylot is almost 900 miles (1,400 km) farther north of the region of Quebec where the breeding boom took place last summer.

The second item is from Michael Britt’s Blog. I don’t really know much about Michael Britt, he is a New Jersey birder that also spends some time in Orange County. I mostly know his name from seeing it on eBird reports. I like what he says about Snowies, mostly because it encourages me to fantasize about another winter filled with these beautiful birds. Michael writes:

“Snowy Owls are known to regionally irrupt, every 3-5 years. Winter 2000-01 was my first taste of a Snowy Owl invasion. Thereafter, I accurately predicted invasions prior to Winter 2004-05 and Winter 2008-09. A four-year cycle was the norm, for the first eight years of the millennium. Then, in Winter 2011-12, Snowy Owls staged a large continental invasion, seemingly everywhere BUT New Jersey. We all had to crowd over (not me…I refused to go see that bird), the Merrill Creek bird. I was not optimistic for winter 2012-13, thinking we probably got shafted, the previous winter. With that said, Winter 2013-14, took us all by surprise! I CONSERVATIVELY saw 19 different birds.

While Snowy Owl invasions average out to every four years (3-5), what has been a relative constant, is what I call, a “residual flight.” I’m sure there is a more technical term for this and if so, please enlighten me. In general, I have found Snowy Owl flights to be “two years on, two years off,” much like Short-eared Owls, whose flights do not always occur in tandem. While the residual flight is always smaller, last year’s flight was of such magnitude (certainly the largest in the last 90 years) that Winter 2014-15, will likely outshine all recent incursions, barring last winter of course…”

Well, time will tell. Keep your eyes open, starting right around Thanksgiving week.

x

Snowy Owl on Dune Road, Long Island onDecember 27, 2013. 

Sullivan County Baird’s Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper, located by John Haas at Apollo, 9/29/14.

Baird’s Sandpiper, located by John Haas at Apollo, 9/29/14.

I received a text today from John Haas that certainly improved my Monday – he had located a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Apollo Plaza in Sullivan County. I headed over after work and I was not disappointed. The bird was easily located as there were only two birds present, the other being a Killdeer. I parked and took some shots of the bird and fortunately the bird kept slowly working its way towards me. This is a beautiful bird, I guess  I say that often, but while I was there I couldn’t stop thinking it. Huge thanks to John for locating the bird and alerting me!

Baird's Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

Baird’s Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

I typically do not like shots of birds head-on, but I sort of like this shot, plus it shows the interesting shape of this bird's body. Baird's Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

I typically do not like shots of birds head-on, but I sort of like this shot, plus it shows the interesting shape of this bird’s body. Baird’s Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

x

…but no – the Killdeer goes after the Baird’s Sandpiper. 

x

Only two birds present, you would think they could get along…

Northern Flickers

I only had time for a quick stop by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary on this Sunday evening. The place was loaded with birds, mostly American Robins, Blue Jays, European Starlings, and, to a lesser degree, Northern Flickers. It would be hard to put a number on the robins, starlings, and jays, but definitely close to 100 for the robins and starlings and over 50 for the jays. I had a much more modest number of flickers, but to me, 6 is still a decent number for Northern Flickers. All the birds were quite active, moving around a lot, feeding and a large group of starlings were bathing just off the trail. The flickers were jumpy at first, but then seemed to get used to my presence and I got a few shots.

A female Northern Flicker takes a brief break from feeding in the grass. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

A female Northern Flicker takes a brief break from feeding. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

A male Northern Flicker feeds in the grasses along the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

A male Northern Flicker feeds in the grasses along the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

Other noteworthy observations: The only shorebirds present were several Killdeer and what looked like one Least Sandpiper. Great Egrets are still present in numbers, with approximately 15 present tonight.

Self portrait with all my gear - taken with my iPhone. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

Self portrait with all my gear – taken with my iPhone. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/28/14.

6 1/2 Station Shorebirds

Two Lesser Yellowlegs sandwich a Greater Yellowlegs. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

Two Lesser Yellowlegs sandwich a Greater Yellowlegs. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

I had a nice collection of shorebirds at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary tonight. The birds have seemingly totally abandoned the pond at the end of the Citgo Trail and can now be seen easily in the mud flats of the marsh from the Heritage Trail. Here’s my list:

Greater Yellowlegs (1)
Lesser Yellowlegs (2)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (4)
Least Sandpiper (8)
Pectoral Sandpiper (12)

Two Pectoral Sandpipers with what I believe is a Semipalmated Sandpiper. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

Two Pectoral Sandpipers with what I believe is a Semipalmated Sandpiper. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

Pectoral Sandpiper at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

Pectoral Sandpiper at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/26/14.

**One year ago this week at www.orangbirding.com: On September 29, 2013, I also had a Pectoral Sandpiper – this time at Morningside Park in Sullivan County. See that post here. **

**Two years ago this week at www.orangebirding.com: I had American Kestrels and Sparrows at Wallkill River NWR. Check it out here. **