Saturday Birding Bonanza 4/12/14

Horned Grebe at Glenmere Lake, 4/12/14.

Horned Grebe at Glenmere Lake, 4/12/14.

Glenmere Lake, 8:00 am

I was hoping that some additional waterfowl might have been grounded by the overnight rain. This proved not to be the case, but there was still a decent showing of waterfowl, including:  Canada Goose (15), Lesser Scaup (9), Bufflehead (6), Wood Duck (4), Common Loon (1), Double-crested Cormorant (1), and the highlight of the stop, (6) Horned Grebes, two of which swam right up to me while I was looking through my scope. I was shocked because while Glenmere Lake is a great spot for birds, it is typically not very good for photos. I was pleased to have those grebes so close.

Pine Warbler, Glenmere Lake 4/12/14.

Pine Warbler, Glenmere Lake 4/12/14.

Other birds of note at the lake included a couple of Pine Warblers, my first of the year Palm Warbler, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker works the shady side of a tree. Glenmere Lake, 4/12/14.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker works the shady side of a tree. I never did get a shot of the bird in the sun.  Glenmere Lake, 4/12/14.

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – Liberty Loop, 9:45am

I found a half dozen Turkey Vultures enjoying some roadkill on Pumpkin Swamp road, on my way to Wallkill River NWR, 4/12/14.

I found a half dozen Turkey Vultures enjoying some roadkill on Pumpkin Swamp road, on my way to Wallkill River NWR, 4/12/14.

I walked the Liberty Loop next, with my main goal to see if the Eurasian Wigeon was still present. I was unable to locate the bird, or any wigeon at all, so I am thinking that maybe these birds have moved on. The wigeon may have moved on, but there were still many waterfowl present:

IMG_6308

Canada Goose
Snow Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Mute Swan
American Coot
Peregrine Falcon at Wallkill River NWR, 4/12/14.

Peregrine Falcon at Wallkill River NWR, 4/12/14.

Two Snow Geese were a pleasant surprise, as was my first Peregrine Falcon of the year. I finally located a Peregrine (it had been ages!) and the bird was not only severely backlit, but it had the fullest crop I’ve ever seen!

Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 3:30 pm

Osprey at the Bashakill, 4/12/14.

Osprey at the Bashakill, 4/12/14.

I spent the afternoon at Haven Road in the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. I ran into a birder from New York City, Lee, and we enjoy some really good birds. Many raptors were seen, some local and others that seemed to be moving through. We had: Turkey Vulture (12), Bald Eagle (1), Osprey (1), Red-tailed Hawk (4), Red-shouldered Hawk (1), Peregrine Falcon (1), and flying very high overhead, I believe that I had a pair of Broad-winged Hawks.

Waterfowl numbers were way down from last week when I was there. Most migrants seemed to have moved on with the exception of small flock of Ring-necked Ducks. A Pied-billed Grebe was seen on the north side of Haven Road:

Pied-billed Grebe seen from Haven Road at the Bashakill, 4/12/14.

Pied-billed Grebe seen from Haven Road at the Bashakill, 4/12/14.

Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, 6:00 pm

I had a single Short-eared Owl at the grasslands tonight, 4/12/14.

I had a single Short-eared Owl at the grasslands tonight, 4/12/14.

My final stop of the day was the Shawangunk Grasslands. I recently looked back at my posts from last April and I did pretty well with a pair of American Kestrels during the first week of April last year. I didn’t have any good photo ops, but I did have 4 kestrels out there. It looks like two pairs using the nesting boxes at the refuge. I also had 3 Northern Harriers, one Short-eared Owl, and my first of the year Eastern Meadowlarks.

 

 

 

 

Orange County Midweek Update

My FOS Greater Yellowlegs at the small pond near Glenmere Lake, 4/10/14.

My FOS Greater Yellowlegs at the small pond near Glenmere Lake, 4/10/14.

On my way out of work today, I received a text from my fellow hawk counter Carol Linguanti, telling me she had located an active Red-tailed Hawk nest in Warwick. I stopped by to check it out and it was really cool to see it:

Huge thanks to Carol for the heads up. Red-tailed Hawk on the nest, Warwick NY, 4/10/14.

Huge thanks to Carol for the heads up. Red-tailed Hawk on the nest, Warwick NY, 4/10/14.

Next I headed over to Glenmere Lake to see what was going on. The water was extremely choppy and there were not nearly as many waterfowl present. Of note I had a single Common Loon, 9 Lesser Scaup, a single Bufflehead, and 6 Mute Swans. There is a small pond not too far from the lake and I went there to check for waterfowl. There was small number of Green-winged Teal present, a pair of Mallards and a pair of Mute Swans. The highlight of the stop (and maybe the day) was a Greater Yellowlegs, my first of the year.

My last stop for tonight was at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. My best birds there were a pair of Blue-winged Teal that did not seem to know I was present. I shot many photos through the grasses:

One of my favorite ducks, a pair of Blue-winged Teals at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/10/14.

One of my favorite ducks, a pair of Blue-winged Teals at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/10/14.

Other notable waterfowl present included: Ring-necked Ducks (21), Green-winged Teal (18), and Pied-billed Grebe (2).

WEDNESDAY 4/9/14

Yesterday I made it back out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to walk the Liberty Loop. I mostly wanted to check on the Eurasian Wigeon, which continued on the west side of the loop, well into Sussex County. I was finally able to get a shot that is somewhat identifiable:

Eurasian Wigeon at Wallkill River NWR, 4/10/14.

Eurasian Wigeon at Wallkill River NWR, 4/10/14.

Not long after taking this shot, all the waterfowl lifted up. I looked for an eagle or perhaps a Peregrine Falcon but never found the source. I lost the EUWI in the process, but did manage an interesting shot of Green-winged Teals in flight.

Waterfowl in flight! Wallkill River NWR, 4/9/14.

Waterfowl in flight! Wallkill River NWR, 4/9/14.

I should note that there was still a good number of waterfowl present at the refuge, including: Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, Mallard, Canada Goose, Pied-billed Grebe, and Blue-winged Teal.

Black-capped Chickadee at Wallkill River NWR, 4/9/14.

Black-capped Chickadee at Wallkill River NWR, 4/9/14.

 

Caspian Tern Double Encore

One of two Caspian Terns at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 4/8/14.

One of two Caspian Terns at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 4/8/14.

A few notable sightings from today:

I stopped by Glenmere Lake after work today and located TWO CASPIAN TERNS. Bruce Nott, Ken McDermott and Curt McDermott also got to see the birds. Also present was a group of approximately 20 Lesser Scaup and 4 Horned Grebes.

I left Glenmere Lake and went over to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and walked out the west side of the loop where I was able to relocate the EURASIAN WIGEON. I tried for that bird yesterday without success but did get my first of the year Wilson’s Snipe and Pine Warbler.

Finally, I spoke to John Haas, who had four BONAPARTE’S GULLS at the main boat launch at the Bashakill. I did not have time to make it out there tonight, but I might try for them tomorrow.

The two Caspian Terns together - shot with the iPhone through my scope. Glenmere Lake, 4/8/14.

The two Caspian Terns together – shot with the iPhone through my scope. Glenmere Lake, 4/8/14.

Sunday Shots 4/6/14

The big news of the day was that Tom Burke had located a EURASIAN WIGEON at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I was birding at the Bashakill with Karen Miller when I received a call from John Haas, letting me know about it. Tricia and I finally made it out to the refuge in the early afternoon and walked the west side of the Liberty Loop and joined several other birders that were looking at the bird in scopes. We got great looks in the scope, but photos were really tough. On our way out, more birders were on their way in to get a look at the bird. Here is a pretty awful photo of the bird:

Eurasian Wigeon in the top third of the photo a little to the right. Click here to see what the bird actually looks like.

Eurasian Wigeon in the top third of the photo a little to the right. Click here to see what the bird actually looks like.

 

Before the wigeon excitement, I had a nice morning of birding out at the Bashakill with Karen. We started at Haven Road, where my best bird was a Pied-billed Grebe seen in the distance on the north side of the bridge. There was a good number of Tree Swallows present, so I spent some time trying to photograph them in flight. They are not only a small bird, but so quick and unpredictable. Here’s a couple shots:

Tree Swallow in flight at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow in flight at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Our next stop was the Main Boat Launch, where I got to see Ed Morse for the first time of the season; it was great to see him back at it, keeping a close eye on the Bashakill Eagles. We checked on the eagle’s nest, saw 12 Horned Grebes in the distance, and then walked the Birch Trail. On the way we ran into Scotty Balding who informed us that he had seen an additional 16 Horned Grebes from the lookout, and a raft of 172 Ring-necked Ducks just a bit further down the trail. I spoke to Scotty again later in the day and his total count for Horned Grebes was 33! Pretty amazing that the Bash has had so many HOGRs for so long. Karen and I enjoyed the walk and had some relatively close encounters with some of the Bashakill’s more familiar residents:

A pair of Wood Ducks flying by the Birch Trail at the Bashakill, 4//6/14.

A pair of Wood Ducks flying by the Birch Trail at the Bashakill, 4//6/14.

It's such a thrill when you get a Bald Eagle hunting so close to the trail. Bashakill, 4/6/14.

It’s such a thrill when you get a Bald Eagle hunting so close to the trail. Bashakill, 4/6/14.

 

This last photo is from earlier in the week but I didn’t have a chance to post it (it was on Thursday, the same day as the Caspian Tern sighting). Rob Stone had called to let me know there was a good photo opportunity for Common Goldeneyes at Greenwood Lake. I never got a Common Goldeneye close enough for good shots, plus the lighting was not great, but I do like this shot of a Bufflehead taking off:

Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 4/3/14.

Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 4/3/14.

 

 

 

Saturday 4/5/14

At Orange & Rockland lake there were three Ring-necked Ducks that were very accommodating, 4/5/14.

At Orange & Rockland lake there were three Ring-necked Ducks that were very accommodating, 4/5/14.

I made it out to three locations this morning. My first stop was a quick ride around the Orange & Rockland Lake. There was not too much going on there really, but I was able to get some photos of three Ring-necked Ducks that for some reason did not mind my presence. My best bird was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that flew over as I was pulling away. Here’s my list:

Canada Goose  6
Green-winged Teal  2
Ring-necked Duck  3
Bufflehead  1
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  1
Tree Swallow  8

My second stop was at Glenmere Lake, in hopes that the Long-tailed Ducks that had been seen there were somehow still around. I had tried for them unsuccessfully the night before. Well, I struck out again with the LTDUs, but it was still a worthwhile stop. Photos were really not an option between the grey rainy weather and most birds being quite distant.

Canada Goose  20
Mute Swan  2
Wood Duck  6
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  3
Ring-necked Duck  45
Greater Scaup  4
Lesser Scaup  8
Bufflehead  12
Common Merganser  1
Common Loon  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Ring-billed Gull  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
American Robin  10

Downy Woodpecker at Wallkill River NWR, 4/5/14.

Downy Woodpecker shot through the branches, Wallkill River NWR, 4/5/14.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I headed over to my third stop of the day – the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to walk the Liberty Loop to see if there were any new waterfowl present. I had walked about halfway up the west end of the loop and was scanning the waterfowl when Linda Scrima and two other folks caught up with me. Linda introduced me to her friends and fellow birders, Jean and Ray, and the four of us continued down the trail for a while. We all got our first RUDDY DUCKS (2) of the season before Ray and Jean headed back. Linda and I continued walking the loop where we eventually ran into another birder named Mike, who was having trouble identifying a bird that he had seen in the back pond along the trail to Owens Station Road. He was sure it was a grebe, but it was diving at all. We eventually relocated the bird, which ended up being my first PIED-BILLED GREBE of the year. Mike continued back to the parking lot and Linda and I  ended up walking that trail all the way to Owens Station Road and birding the pond over there as well. The sun had come out and it warmed up a bit as we headed down the east side of the loop back to our cars. It was a nice walk and in the end I totaled 32 species for the refuge and Owen Station Road combined:

This Red-tailed Hawk was harassing the ducks for a short time, making many of them pick up. Wallkill River NWR, 4/514.

This Red-tailed Hawk was harassing the ducks for a short time, making many of them pick up. Wallkill River NWR, 4/514.

Canada Goose  85
Wood Duck  8
American Wigeon  12
American Black Duck  10
Mallard  25
Blue-winged Teal 1
Northern Shoveler  3
Northern Pintail  90
Green-winged Teal  85
Ring-necked Duck  100
Bufflehead  1
Common Merganser  15
Ruddy Duck  2
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  2
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  12
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  2
Ring-billed Gull  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
American Crow  14
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Eastern Bluebird  3
American Robin  15
European Starling  20
Song Sparrow  10
Red-winged Blackbird  60
Common Grackle  8
Belted Kingfisher 1

Orange County Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern in flight over Glenmere Lake, 4/3/14.

Caspian Tern in flight over Glenmere Lake, 4/3/14.

I went out to Glenmere Lake this evening to go for the two Common Loons that had been seen out there and to see if anything else had moved in. I was pleasantly surprised to find a tern perched on the far shore of the lake, among a group of approximately 15 Ring-billed Gulls. I made a quick call to Rob Stone to help with the ID and he and Anthony later joined me to confirm that it was a Caspian Tern. John Haas and Karen Miller joined us shortly after that and we all got good looks at the bird in our scopes. The bird was distant for the most part, but flew close enough to get some halfway decent shots (after some heavy cropping).

Caspian Tern at Glenmere Lake, 4/3/14.

Caspian Tern at Glenmere Lake, 4/3/14.

The two Common Loons were present and when I first arrived they were calling, which I just love.

A distant and dark shot of one of two Common Loons present at Glenmere Lake tonight, 4/3/14.

A distant and dark shot of one of two Common Loons present at Glenmere Lake tonight, 4/3/14.

Waterfowl Wednesday

One of 43 (!!!) Horned Grebes at the Bashakill WMA today, 4/2/14.

One of 43 (!!!) Horned Grebes at the Bashakill WMA today, 4/2/14.

It started with a phone call from Karen Miller today while I was at work today. She had taken the day off and was birding with John Haas and Scott Baldinger. She called to rub in the fact that they had seen 43 (!!!) HORNED GREBES at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. I headed towards the Bashakill after work and when I arrived at Haven Road, I immediately located group of 8 Horned Grebes in the distance. I was able to get some decent shots of a couple of the birds, but then I moved on, heading back to Orange County. For more details on birding at the Bashakill today, go to the Bashakill Birder to read John Haas’ post.

After the Bash, I hustled over to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to see if we had had any similar luck in Orange County. I was going to meet Karen at the refuge, and when I arrived, Karen was already there and Joyce DePew was there as well. From the viewing platform we got a good look at a trio of American Coots – my first of the year.

My FOY American Coot, one of three at the Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

My FOY American Coot, one of three at the Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

We also had a Killdeer fly over in good light:

Killdeer at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

Killdeer at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

We walked the loop, and the marsh was loaded with waterfowl:

Canada Goose  80
Mute Swan  4
Wood Duck  2
American Wigeon  35
Mallard  30
Blue-winged Teal  5
Northern Shoveler  2
Northern Pintail  75
Green-winged Teal  85
Ring-necked Duck  100
Bufflehead  4

I was very conservative with these numbers because for me, it becomes difficult to keep track of all the bird numbers when you are also having conversations. I had a great time –  good company, perfect weather, and plenty of birds – very hard to beat it.

The Northern Pintails were making a sound in flight that I don't remember hearing before. It was new to Joyce and Karen as well. NOPI at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

The Northern Pintails were making a sound in flight that I don’t remember hearing before. It was new to Joyce and Karen as well. NOPI at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

 

 

3/31/14 – Catch Up

Song Sparrow at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 3/31/14.

Song Sparrow at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 3/31/14.

Okay, so it’s time to play a little catch up. I’ve been getting out a bit in the last week but haven’t been organized enough or had the time to do posts. I’ll start with tonight after work – I stopped by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary right here in Goshen. I  am happy to say that all the ice has melted and the sanctuary was relatively birdy. It was nice to be on foot once again as well. Here’s my list for the night:

Canada Goose  85
Wood Duck  2
American Black Duck  3
Mallard  15
Green-winged Teal  3
Ring-necked Duck  12
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  5
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  35
American Tree Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  12
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  6

So, that was tonight. Now for the catch up over the last week. No great photos to speak of, but I guess that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Monday 3/24/14

IMG_2789Monday I was out in the Black Dirt Region sorting through Canada Geese with no luck. I was happy to see that 4 Short-eared Owls were still around though.

Tuesday 3/25/14

IMG_2877Tuesday I was out looking for geese in Pine Island and came across a small flock of Snow Geese – approximately 400 birds. This group continues and was seen at the Camel Farm by a couple of people today (3/31/14).

Wednesday 3/26/14

IMG_2921Wednesday was so cold and windy  that I did not stay out very long at all. Really, just long enough to get some shots of this mixed flock of blackbirds. This pic looks like all Red-winged Blackbirds, but when I was looking at the birds on the ground there were definitely some Brown-headed Cowbirds in the flock.

Thursday 3/27/14

IMG_3039

I actually got it together and did a post on Thursday from my visit to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge but did not include this Turkey Vulture shot. See Thursday’s post here

Saturday 3/29/14

I had Nature Watch Training at the Basha Kill in the morning and I got out for a little while in the afternoon. Notable observations included 3 Snowy Owls in the Black Dirt and the continuing flock of 400 to 500 Snow Geese as well.

Sunday 3/30/14

IMG_3296On Sunday, I only had a brief window to bird early in the morning. I headed over to the Hudson River to look for waterfowl. On my way over I stopped by the Heron Rookery across from Stewart Airport and noticed that several Great Blue Herons had taken up residence there. There was not many waterfowl to be seen from the Hudson, but I did have 15 or so Tree Swallows hunting over the river, seen from Plum Point. On my way back I stopped at Brown’s Pond, and although it was still mostly ice, there were some waterfowl to be found, including: Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, American Wigeon, Bufflehead and Mute Swan.

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge 3/27/14

Ring-necked Ducks in flight at Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

Ring-necked Ducks in flight at Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

Tonight after work, I walked the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in ages. It proved to be quite birdy, and a good showing of waterfowl was certainly the highlight:

Canada Goose (1500)
Wood Duck (35)
American Wigeon (4)
American Black Duck (30)
Mallard (60)
Northern Pintail (75)
Green-winged Teal (50)
Ring-necked Duck (120)
Hooded Merganser (6)
Other highlights included 14 Turkey Vultures that appeared as if they might have been moving through, and I also had an attractive looking Skunk that I was able to get a couple of mediocre shots of. It felt really good to be on foot, taking a hike, and out of the car for a change. It has been a long cold winter of car-birding.
Thanks to the gentleman on the trail that gave me the heads-up about this skunk. Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

Thanks to the gentleman on the trail that gave me the heads-up about this skunk. Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

 

More RNDUs in flight at the Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

More RNDUs in flight at the Wallkill River NWR, 3/27/14.

Sunday Shots 3/23/14

Some of my shots from the past week:

This Hooded Merganser took a back seat to the Red-necked Grebe at Algonquin Park, 3/22/14.

This handsome Hooded Merganser took a back seat to the Red-necked Grebe at Algonquin Park, 3/22/14.

Saturday afternoon I walked some of the trails at the Basha Kill and found this Eastern Bluebird.

Saturday afternoon I walked some of the trails at the Basha Kill and found this Eastern Bluebird.

These Snow Geese are from Thursday evening, 3/20/14. Today, 3/23/14, I had a small flock of 200 fly over when I was at the Camel Farm.

These Snow Geese are from Thursday evening, 3/20/14. Today, 3/23/14, I had a small flock of 200 fly over when I was at the Camel Farm.

At least one Snowy Owl continued in the Black Dirt as of Friday night, 2/21/14.

At least one Snowy Owl continued in the Black Dirt as of Friday night, 2/21/14.

One last shot of the sleepy Red-necked Grebe at Algonquin Park, 3/22/14.

One last shot of the sleepy Red-necked Grebe at Algonquin Park, 3/22/14.

Notable Observations

The biggest news of the weekend was John Haas locating TWO CACKLING GEESE at Haven Road at the Basha Kill. Visit his blog to get the full scoop – it is actually an amazing story.

For myself, the best bird of the weekend was definitely the Red-necked Grebe. Additionally I had a few first of season birds this weekend: Tree Swallows (Basha Kill 3/23), Sharp-shinned Hawk (Celery Ave 3/22) and Eastern Phoebe (Algonquin Park 3/22).