Liberty Loop, 7/21/14

My FOS in Orange County Black-crowned Night Heron. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

My FOS in Orange County Black-crowned Night Heron. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

I had two sets of birding plans for this morning that were foiled. I was initially going to go down to New Jersey to chase the European Golden-Plover that had been reported, but all the reports I read and received indicated that it was likely that this bird had moved on. My second plan was to get out to Sullivan County with Linda Scrima to try for the Stilt Sandpiper that Karen Miller found yesterday – you can read about it at the Bashakill Birder. That plan was cut short with a couple of phone calls this morning from John Haas, letting me know that the bird had not been relocated. With a change of plans, we decided meet up with Maria Loukeris and walk the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. What a good decision that turned out to be; it was a very active morning with wading birds stealing the show. It started with Linda locating a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON from the viewing platform moments after our arrival. This was my FOS BCNH in Orange County so that was a bonus for me. In the distance we could see three Great Egrets in flight and as we began to walk the loop, it was apparent that Great Blue Herons were present in numbers. We eventually caught up with the egrets and they were quite accommodating, allowing for many photos. I am not thrilled with my results, but still it was great to see them.

I love how thin this bird looks from this perspective. Great Egret at Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

I love how thin this bird looks from this perspective. Great Egret at Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

Deuces wild! Two Great Blue Herons fly over two Great Egrets. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

Deuces wild! Two Great Blue Herons fly over two Great Egrets. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

A pair of Great Egrets in flight on the Liberty Loop, 7/21/14.

A pair of Great Egrets in flight on the Liberty Loop, 7/21/14.

The big news of the day, however, was a nice collection of shorebirds:

2 Solitary Sandpipers
3 Lesser Yellowlegs
1 Semipalmated Sandpiper
8 Least Sandpipers
12 Killdeer
1 Wilson’s Snipe

One of three Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

One of three Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

It was exciting to see that some shorebirds are moving through and it was a great morning of birding with a large variety of species being seen and heard – we had 47 birds on our list for the walk.

We had many Orchard Orioles while we were out. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

We had many Orchard Orioles while we were out. Wallkill River NWR, 7/21/14.

Playing Catch Up

A Green Heron strikes a pose at Denning's Point in Beacon NY, 7/20/14.

A Green Heron strikes a pose at Denning’s Point in Beacon NY, 7/20/14.

So, I have gotten out a number of times this week but have not had time to post. For the most part it was the expected cast of characters, but there were some exceptions. My best bird of the week was the PURPLE MARTIN, four of which were observed at Stewart State Forest on both 7/17 and 7/20. A close second place was a single HORNED LARK in the black dirt region on 7/16, and it was also really great to see some shorebird movement with  three LEAST SANDPIPERS and two LESSER YELLOWLEGS at the Camel Farm on 7/15 and three more LESA out in Sullivan County on 7/18. So, things are starting to happen, which is exciting. Here are my shots from the week:

BLACK DIRT REGION, WEDNESDAY 7/16/14

I don't normally crop this tightly, but it seems to hold up for me with this shot. Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 7/16/14.

I don’t normally crop this tightly, but it seems to hold up for me with this shot. Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 7/16/14.

HOLA in the Black Dirt, 7/16/14.

HOLA in the Black Dirt, 7/16/14.

STEWART FOREST, THURSDAY 7/17/14 & SUNDAY 7/20/14

Purple Martins in flight overhead at Stewart Forest, 7/17/14.

Purple Martins in flight overhead at Stewart Forest, 7/17/14.

COYE at Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

COYE at Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

Eastern Wood Peewee, a bird that I don't get many photos of. Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

Eastern Wood Peewee, a bird that I don’t get many photos of. Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

Eastern Towhee in the tree tops at Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

Eastern Towhee in the tree tops at Stewart Forest, 7/20/14.

BASHAKILL WMA, FRIDAY 7/18/20

I flushed this (and many more) Wood Duck while kayaking the Bash in the early morning fog. The heavy fog pretty much prohibited any good photos.

I flushed this (and many more) Wood Duck while kayaking the Bash in the early morning fog. The  fog was so thick that it pretty much prohibited any good photos for most of the morning. Later this week, however, I will be posting a series of Great Blue Heron shots taken as the fog started to lift.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, FRIDAY 7/18/14

Least Sandpiper in Sullivan County, 7/18/14.

Least Sandpiper in Sullivan County, 7/18/14.

This Killdeer kept looking skyward, I'm not sure why. Sullivan County 7/18/14.

This Killdeer kept looking skyward, I’m not sure why. Sullivan County 7/18/14.

DENNING’S POINT, SATURDAY 7/19/14

Two Great Blue Herons spar just off of Denning's Point, with Bannerman Castle in the background, 7/19/14.

Two Great Blue Herons spar just off of Denning’s Point, with Bannerman Island Arsenal in the background, 7/19/14.

Eastern Screech-owl Release!

Last night, Tricia and I were fortunate enough to be present for the release of not one, but three EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS. The owls were all injured in the Warwick area and rehabilitated by Missy Runyan at the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center. Our friend Carol Linguanti, who is also a wildlife rehabber, was given the wonderful task of releasing the birds and invited me along to witness and take some photos. This, of course made me nervous about getting good shots, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity. Our first stop was at Homestead Village, where one of the birds was found on the lawn of a resident. Since the bird was brought in for rehabilitation a short time ago, it was released in the same spot where it was picked up. Here are some shots from the release:

An Eastern Screech-owl waits for its eyes to adjust to the light before being released. Warwick, NY 7/18/14.

An Eastern Screech-owl seems to be waiting for its eyes to adjust to the light before being released. Warwick, NY 7/18/14.

The EASO was out of the box before I knew it, but I did manage one silhouetted flight shot.

The EASO was out of the box before I knew it, but I did manage one silhouetted flight shot.

Tricia faired much better from the other side, getting this shot.

Tricia faired much better from the other side, getting this shot.

The owl perched on a nearby branch for probably less than a minute and then seemed to get its bearings and took off.

The owl perched on a nearby branch for probably less than a minute and then seemed to get its bearings and took off.

The second and third owls apparently had been in rehab for a longer period of time, during which, they bonded. They were to be released together on a large tract of land that Carol owns in Warwick. This release was made even more exciting with the sighting of TWO BEARS! How good can it get? Here are the photos from that release:

Getting ready to be free again, one rufous and one gray Eastern Screech-owls. Photo by Carol Linguanti, Warwick, NY 7/18/14.

Getting ready to be free again, one rufous and one gray Eastern Screech-owl.  Photo by Carol Linguanti, Warwick, NY 7/18/14.

This EASO behaved similarly to the first release, perching nearby for a short period of time before taking off into the woods.

This EASO behaved similarly to the first release, perching nearby for a short period of time before taking off into the woods.

The first bear we saw was relatively small, presumably a young bear.

The first bear we saw was relatively small, presumably a young bear.

The second bear was huge and Carol's husband Bobby was very excited when we watched the bear use the bridge that Bobby had built to get over a stream.

The second bear was huge and Carol’s husband Bobby was very excited when we watched the bear use the bridge that Bobby had built to get over a stream.

I really cannot thank Carol enough for inviting me to be part of this. It was so exciting to get to see these owls up close and fulfilling to know that they had been successfully rehabbed and now were back where they belonged.

 

 

Wolf Brook Multi-use Area and Neversink Unique Area

American Redstart at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

American Redstart at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

This morning I met John Haas out in Sullivan County and we birded Wolf Brook Multi-use Area and Neversink Unique area. We left my car at Katrina Falls Road Access and then took John’s car to the Wolf Brook Access. We hiked approximately 4 1/2 miles back to my car and I have to say that this place is loaded with birds. If you threw a rock you would certainly hit an Eastern Towhee as they were present in high numbers. Here’s a distant shot of a young towhee:

A young EATO at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

A young EATO at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

One highlight for me was seeing a mother Common Merganser with two young on the Neversink River. Our look was distant and partially obstructed, so no photos of those birds. Worth mentioning is that we did really well with warblers, with 12 species:

Yellow Warbler                                                Pine Warbler
Chestnut-sided                                               Warbler Prairie Warbler
Magnolia Warbler                                            Black-and-white Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler                           American Redstart
Black-throated Green Warbler                        Ovenbird
Blackburnian Warbler                                     Common Yellowthroat

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

This Black-and-white Warbler found one patch of bright sunlight on the trail. Of course my camera was set for being in the low light of the trail so this shot is overexposed but I tried to salvage it. Neversink Unique Area, 7/11/14.

This Black-and-white Warbler found one patch of bright sunlight on the trail. Of course my camera was set for being in the low light of the trail so this shot is overexposed but I tried to salvage it. Neversink Unique Area, 7/11/14.

As birdy as the walk was, the best part of the hike was certainly seeing the falls. At about 30 feet high, they are really spectacular to see and my photos don’t do justice in the slightest. Also, it is wonderfully cool with a nice mist coming off the falls, accompanied with small rainbows. It’s really a great experience and I recommend it highly.

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This panoramic shot was taken with the Photosynth app on my iPhone.

This panoramic shot was taken with the Photosynth app on my iPhone.

I want to thank John for showing me this great hike, one that I will surely take for years to come, and also for all his help identifying birds by ear today. As we walked, I wondered from time to time just how many birds I would be able to identify if I was doing it on my own? I guess I’ll find out next time….

 

7/9/14 – 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary

I made it out briefly this evening to the trail on the Route 17M side of 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary and got some shots of young Wood Ducks.

A young Wood Duck at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/9/14.

A young Wood Duck at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/9/14.

This looks like a young male WODU, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/9/14.

This looks like a young male WODU, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/9/14.

Another hightlight for me was a Least Flycatcher which I was able to identify by its “whitt” call. I was not able to get any good photos, but here’s a soft shadowy shot along with my list for the afternoon:

Canada Goose 35IMG_2541
Mute Swan 2
Wood Duck 10
Mallard 8
Great Blue Heron 2
Killdeer 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 4
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
Tree Swallow 8
Marsh Wren 6
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 4
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 5
Cedar Waxwing 6
Yellow Warbler 2
Song Sparrow 4
Swamp Sparrow 8
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Northern Rough-winged Swallows, 7/6/14

A young Northern Rough-winged Swallow waits to be fed, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

A young Northern Rough-winged Swallow waits to be fed, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

I only got out for an hour this morning – I met Karen Miller and Maria Loukeris at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. The highlight of this short outing was definitely watching a group of young Northern Rough-winged Swallows being fed by a couple of adults. Thanks to Karen who located the birds – this is the second NRWS photo opportunity this year that I have her to thank for!

NRWS at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

NRWS at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

Not the greatest shot, but a food exchange between 2 NRWS,6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

Not the greatest shot, but a food exchange between two NRWS, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

One more shot of a young Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

One more shot of a young Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 7/6/14.

Independence Day 2014

Skunk Kit on the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

Skunk Kit on the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I woke up early on this rainy Independence Day and walked the Liberty Loop at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It rained on and off as I walked the loop, but it was quite birdy with high numbers of many of the expected species. The highlight of the morning, however, was not bird related. I was walking the east side of the loop and I saw a skunk up ahead on the trail. It was very white and I believe it is likely the same skunk that I photographed at the same location back in March. I hustled to try to catch up to the skunk and at some point I realized that the skunk was actually heading towards me, rather than away, and that it had something in its mouth – a young skunk! I stepped off the trail and waited. The pair of skunks got pretty close before the adult (mother?) went off trail with her kit still in her grasp. I moved ahead quickly, thinking that she wanted to continue down the trail but didn’t because of my presence, but she never reemerged. I continued along the east side of the trail and saw two more skunk kits on the trail in the distance. In my binoculars I could see no movement; I thought something had happened and they were both dead. Once I reached them, I realized that I was mistaken, they were both fine. I snapped a few pictures of the kits and I was checking behind me to see if the mother was coming back for them. I moved past the kits to a safe distance and the mother eventually did come back. I watched as the she collected one of them and then headed back the way she came. I did not stay to watch her pick up the third kit, but I was thinking that I was happy it was a rainy morning and that she would not likely be disturbed again this morning as she relocated her kits.

Adult skunk transporting a kit down the trail. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

Adult skunk transporting a kit down the trail. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

As far as the birding went, I had a nice morning seeing the expected birds and I totaled 29 species for the day. My best bird for the day was a young Red-bellied Woodpecker, a bird that I’ve never seen before:

I have this as a young Red-bellied Woodpecker. This shot is a little soft, but it was low light all morning with the rainy conditions. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I have this as a young Red-bellied Woodpecker. This shot is a little soft, but it was low light all morning with the rainy conditions. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I was just saying recently that I never get shots of Northern Cardinals in the field. NOCA in the swamp, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I was just saying recently that I never get shots of Northern Cardinals in the field. NOCA in the swamp, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

This Downy Woodpecker was in the same tree as the young Red-bellied. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

This Downy Woodpecker was in the same tree as the young Red-bellied. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I feel like I am getting very few opportunities to shoot Great Blue Herons this year. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I feel like I am getting very few opportunities to shoot Great Blue Herons this year. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

It was an enjoyable morning for me, I have been busy lately so I haven’t gotten out as much. I am finding that I appreciate getting out much more at times like this. Here is my list for the morning:

Canada Goose 44IMG_2073
Wood Duck 5
Mallard 35
Great Blue Heron 5
Green Heron 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Killdeer 3
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 4
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Kingbird 4
Blue Jay 8
American Crow 1
Barn Swallow 15
Wood Thrush 3
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 8
European Starling 35
Common Yellowthroat 2
Yellow Warbler 6
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal 3
Indigo Bunting 5
Bobolink 3
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
American Goldfinch 6

Grasshopper Sparrow – 6/29/14

Early Sunday morning I made it back out to the Appalachian Trail in Vernon. I met Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris out there so they could get the Grasshopper Sparrows. We did well with one GRSP and I feel like the light was a little bit better than when I was there on Friday.

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW – APPALACHIAN TRAIL, VERNON NJ, 6/29/14

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Appalachian Trail and Route 94

Singing Grasshopper Sparrow on the AT near Route 94, in Vernon NJ, 6/ 27/14.

Singing Grasshopper Sparrow on the AT near Route 94, in Vernon NJ, 6/ 27/14.

I was off work today, but I am in the middle of painting my house so I only got out very briefly this morning. I headed over to the Appalachian Trail where it intersects Route 94 in Vernon NJ. I was shown this spot last year by Judy Cinquina and the “New Jersey Crew” and I can’t thank them enough. It is a really great spot to bird this time of year, with GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS being the highlight. There were at least 2 present and likely a third. It is also an amazing place for Prairie Warblers, last year I only got distant looks, but this year I got much closer looks and some photos too. Finally, it is also a great place for Field Sparrows, with nice close looks.

GRSP at AT in Vernon, NJ, 6/27/14.

GRSP at AT in Vernon, NJ, 6/27/14.

Field Sparrow on the Appalachian Trail in Vernon, NJ, 6/27/14.

Field Sparrow on the Appalachian Trail in Vernon, NJ, 6/27/14.

I've been trying for a good Prairie Warbler shot all spring, I sort of like this one. AT at Route 94, 6/27/14.

I’ve been trying for a good Prairie Warbler shot all spring, I sort of like this one. AT at Route 94, 6/27/14.

One more of the Grasshopper Sparrow. I love this bird. AT in Vernon NJ, 6/27/14.

One more of the Grasshopper Sparrow. I love this bird. AT in Vernon NJ, 6/27/14.

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One of three Black-capped Chickadees. I haven’t gotten a good shot of one of these in a while. Appalachian Trail in Vernon NJ, 6/27/14.

Here’s my list for the day:

Great Blue Heron 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
American Crow 2
Barn Swallow 5
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Wood Thrush 2
American Robin 4
Gray Catbird 4
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 3
Prairie Warbler 6
Field Sparrow 6
Grasshopper Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 2
Common Grackle 3