Foggy Morning Great Blue Heron Lift Off

I’ve been wanting to post this series of photos for a while. I took these back on July 18th while kayaking at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It was an extremely foggy morning, so much so that until late in the morning, the fog prevented any good photos. This Great Blue Heron was shot just as the fog had lifted.

I allowed the kayak to just drift in the direction of this perched Great Blue Heron. Bashakill WMA, 7/18/14.

I allowed the kayak to just drift in the direction of this perched Great Blue Heron…

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I love this shot – you can barely see the bird as it compresses before lift off. I actually had one frame where the bird was not visible at all. 

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The heron seems to simultaneously leap and flap its wings to take off…

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Air born! Miraculously the bird took off straight to my left instead of away from me. I love the full extension in this photo. 

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I’m not sure if this is due to my crop or if the heron actually got a little closer as it passed by…

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…And one more shot as the bird passed to my left. 

Mt. Peter Hawk Watch 9/13/14

Five of the 336 migrating Broad-winged Hawks at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch, 9/13/14.

It’s not much of a photo, but here are five of the 336 migrating Broad-winged Hawks at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch, 9/13/14.

I did my first shift of the year as counter at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch last Saturday. I didn’t do a blog post because it was uneventful – I counted only 5 migrating hawks in 6 hours of observation. Today was quite a different story. Despite the cloudy and drizzly weather, I surpassed last week’s total in the first 10 minutes of the watch. The highlight was the third hour of the watch, when I had 301 Broad-winged Hawks pass through. To make it even better, the birds were flying relatively low and could be seen easily with the naked eye. I had two large kettles – one with 126 BWHAs and the other with 105. I was so involved with trying to get a good count that I neglected to take any photos. I had one more sizable kettle of 49 birds where I remembered to get the above photo. My total for the day was 337 migrating raptors. All were Broad-winged Hawks with the exception of a single Osprey. Here’s my report, as submitted to HMANA at hawkcount.org:

Mount Peter
Warwick, New York, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 13, 2014
——————————————————————-

Species / Day’s Count / Month Total / Season Total
____________________________________________
Black Vulture 0 / 0 / 0
Turkey Vulture 0 / 1 / 1
Osprey 1 / 18 / 18
Bald Eagle 0 / 10 / 10
Northern Harrier 0 / 2 / 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 0 / 31 / 31
Cooper’s Hawk 0 / 6 / 6
Northern Goshawk 0 / 0 / 0
Red-shouldered Hawk 0 / 2 / 2
Broad-winged Hawk 336 / 444 / 444
Red-tailed Hawk 0 / 0 / 0
Rough-legged Hawk 0 / 0 / 0
Golden Eagle 0 / 0 / 0
American Kestrel 0 / 13 / 13
Merlin 0 / 2 / 2
Peregrine Falcon 0 / 3 / 3
Unknown Accipiter 0 / 0 / 0
Unknown Buteo 0 / 4 / 4
Unknown Eagle 0 / 0 / 0
Unknown Falcon 0 / 0 / 0
Unknown Raptor 0 / 5 / 5

Total:                337 / 541 / 541
____________________________________________

Observation start time: 08:00:00
Observation end time: 13:30:00
Total observation time: 5.5 hours

Official Counter: Matt Zeitler

Observers: Carol Linguanti

Visitors:
Visitors included: Karen Miller, Carol Linguanti, Carol Pastushok, and
Grace Woleslagle.
Weather:
Cool and cloudy with a light drizzle beginning in the third hour of the
watch and developing into rain on and off during the last hour and a half
of the watch. Winds were from the East at 10 km/hr and temperatures ranged
from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.

Raptor Observations:
During the third hour of the watch, 301 Broad-winged Hawks were observed.
Kettles formed to the northeast of the platform and most birds flew
directly over the viewing platform – low for Broad-winged Hawks, all could
be seen easily with the naked eye.

Non-raptor Observations:
Other bird species observed: Northern Cardinal (2), Black-capped Chickadee
(5), Tufted Titmouse (2), Downy Woodpecker (2), American Crow (4), Canada
Goose (3), American Goldfinch (3), Pileated Woodpecker (1), Blue Jay (4),
Chimney Swift (5), Gray Catbird (1), Red-bellied Woodpecker (2),
Black-and-white Warbler (1)

**ONE YEAR AGO ON THIS DATE AT ORANGEBIRDING.COM: American Golden-Plovers in Pine Island.**

More Kids Playing

So, after talking to some of the other counters at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch and getting some feedback from John Haas, the consensus was that the two Lesser Yellowlegs in the previous post were just two young birds playing in such a way that it will prepare them for adulthood.

Today, out at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, I came across two more young birds interacting – first a curious young Northern Harrier that flew in close to me. He was joined shortly after by a young Cooper’s Hawk and the two tangled for a bit. More playing/training?

IMG_7460 IMG_7498 IMG_7519 IMG_7520 IMG_7521 IMG_7539 IMG_7540 IMG_7548 IMG_7552

Lesser Yellowlegs Antics

This evening I stopped by the small pond at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary and was treated to a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs doing who knows what for nearly five minutes. It involved a lot of hopping around and chasing one another. I really enjoyed seeing this; the photos are distant and heavily cropped, but I really like them. Any thoughts on this behavior are certainly welcome…

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Broad-winged Hawk – 9/3/14

Broad-winged Hawk in Pine Island NY, 9/3/14.

Broad-winged Hawk in Pine Island NY, 9/3/14.

I had an interesting and fun experience in Pine Island yesterday afternoon watching a young Broad-winged Hawk hunt for insects. The bird was either unaware of my presence (I was using my car as a blind), or just didn’t care. Very close by, the hawk successfully hunted for about a half dozen insects, each of which the bird dismantled and patiently ate. While I was watch ing the bird in the field, I was pretty sure it was a Broad-winged Hawk. But, then when I got home and I thought about doing a post with the photos, I started to ask myself  – “why is this a Broad-winged and not a Red-shouldered Hawk?” Thinking about it, probably the main reason I was thinking BWHA was the size of the bird. To me, the bird appeared small in size – likely the smallest buteo that I have ever seen perched. The hawk’s behavior was another reason; a BWHA hunting insects in a field made sense to me, though I’m not sure why, perhaps Red-shouldered Hawks are just as likely to do this? I also think that at some level I was thinking about the fact that BWHAs are just starting to migrate through our area. For me to post about this bird, I needed to have a more positive identification, so I did a google search and found a very useful comparison of juvenile Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks, provided by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. The following photos illustrate some of the field marks exhibited by this bird that lead me to believe that the bird is indeed a Broad-winged Hawk:

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According to the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Raptor ID Series, juvenile Broad-winged Hawks have a malar mark on the cheek and a pale bluish spot on the lower part of the upper mandible. I can see the bluish spot clearly, and I guess the dark area that starts at the base of the bill and goes down and away is the malar mark. Click on the link to see the comparison between the two hawks more clearly.

Again,

Again, according to the IWRC Raptor ID Series, juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks have a reddish panel in the primaries, while Broad-winged Hawks do not.

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And, finally, and also according to the IWRC Raptor ID Series, the markings on the underside of the wing are consistent with a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk: narrow dark bars across the secondaries and inner primaries. Check the link to see how the underwing compares to that of a RSHA.

I guess the bird had eaten enough and it flew (not very far!), and perched in a tree on the roadside:

BWHA in Pine Island, 9/3/14.

BWHA in Pine Island, 9/3/14.

A few more shots of the bird:

BWHA hunting insects. I'm still not sure what the insects were. Pine Island, 9/3/14.

BWHA hunting insects. I’m still not sure what the insects were. Pine Island, 9/3/14.

Eating bugs can be a messy business. BWHA in Pine Island, NY  9/3/14.

Eating bugs can be a messy business. BWHA in Pine Island, NY 9/3/14.

Broad-winged Hawk in flight. Pine Island, NY 9/3/14.

Broad-winged Hawk in flight. Pine Island, NY 9/3/14.

Friday’s Photos

Black-crowned Night-Heron in flight. One of four located at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/29/14.

Black-crowned Night-Heron in flight. One of four juveniles located at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/29/14.

I got out of work a little early on Friday for the holiday weekend, and I ended up having a really interesting and fun afternoon of birding. The highlight was certainly seeing four juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons right from the viewing platform at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop. The birds were very close, and relatively active, allowing for some decent photos.

I'm not sure how this bird stayed in focus. BCNH through the vegetation, Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14..

I’m not sure how this bird stayed in focus. BCNH through the vegetation, Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A Black-crowned Night-Heron shifts position. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A Black-crowned Night-Heron shifts position at the Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A fluffed up BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A fluffed up BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

I didn’t walk the loop that afternoon, I mostly stayed on the platform where I also had a Glossy Ibis in flight, a Northern Harrier and a Merlin tangling, and my first Common Nighthawk in a couple of years.

Glossy Ibis flyover, Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

Glossy Ibis flyover, Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A distant look at a Northern Harrier and what I believe is a Merlin. At first I though Peregrine, but the bird seemed too small. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

A distant look at a Northern Harrier and what I believe is a Merlin. At first I was thinking Peregrine, but the bird seemed too small. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

This was an exciting bird to see - it had been a couple of years since my last Common Nighthawk. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

This was an exciting bird to see – it had been a couple of years since my last Common Nighthawk. Wallkill River NWR, 8/29/14.

Before any of the above happened, I was on my way to the Liberty Loop, passing through Warwick, NY when I saw the leucistic Red-tailed Hawk flying a little low. I found a spot to pull over and got some shots. I have posted this bird before, but any chance I have to take some photos of this bird I will take it. All in all, an interesting day of birding for me, and, of course, so much fun.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Warwick NY, 8/29/14.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Warwick NY, 8/29/14.

Orange County Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 8/30/14

Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the Black Dirt Region, 8/30/14.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the Black Dirt Region, 8/30/14.

This morning a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER  was located in the Black Dirt Region by Jim Schlickenrieder (who I just met for the first time today). Not only that, the bird was moving around the Black Dirt pretty good, and Jim was able to relocate the bird two more times! To me this is pretty incredible, and thanks to his diligence and John Haas alerting me, I was able to see this amazing bird. Shortly after parting ways, Jim contacted John again to say he had located an American Golden-Plover. Wow, pretty good morning of birding for Jim!

 

Orange County American Golden-Plovers

One of nine American Golden-Plovers, Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

One of nine American Golden-Plovers, Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

I left work this afternoon with one objective: to scour southern Orange County until I found some new shorebirds. Well, I got lucky, and at my fourth stop, which was the Old Warren Sod Farm, where I located 9 American Golden Plovers. The birds were quite distant and I was struggling to ID them. My initial thought was that they were Black-bellied Plovers and  it wasn’t until John Haas showed up and the birds took flight that it became clear that they were AMGPs (no black wing-pits). The birds were quite restless and moved around quite a bit and luckily at one point they landed close enough to us for some photos. Linda Scrima also made it out a little later, and though the birds were a bit distant at that point, she got good looks in the scope.

Other shorebirds present included:  Killdeer (100+), Least Sandpipers (2), Pectoral Sandpiper (1), and Lesser Yellowlegs (1).

AGPL at Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

AMGP at Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

Lesser Yellowlegs in some nice light. Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

Lesser Yellowlegs in some nice light. Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

Pectoral Sandpiper at Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14. Photo by John Haas. I had a camera meltdown when John located this Pectoral Sandpiper and was unable to get a shot. Thanks to John for giving me this one.

Pectoral Sandpiper at Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14. Photo by John Haas. I had a camera meltdown when John located this Pectoral Sandpiper and was unable to get a shot. 

Four of the nine AGPL was the best I could do in one photo. Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

Four of the nine AMGPs was the best I could do in one photo. Old Warren Sod Farm, 8/28/14.

Maine 2014 – Odds and Ends

Common Eider at Bar Harbor, Maine, 7/27/14.

A very relaxed looking male Common Eider at Bar Harbor, Maine, 7/27/14.

I finally got through the last of my photos from our trip to Maine. There is no common thread, these are simply photos from the trip that did not fit into any previous posts, but that I wanted to share.

A female Common Eider rests on a rock on the shore. Bar Harbor, Maine 7/27/14.

A female Common Eider rests on a rock on the shore. Bar Harbor, Maine 7/27/14.

We saw this Common Eider from the Shore Path at Bar Harbor, Maine 726/14.

We saw this Common Eider from the Shore Path at Bar Harbor, Maine 726/14.

I was happy to discover this Black Guillemot so close to the shore while we where having a delicious meal at Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine 7/31/14.

I was happy to discover this Black Guillemot so close to the shore while we where having a delicious meal at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine 7/31/14.

Also seen from Thurston's Lobster Pound, I love this shot of a Common Tern - it is SOOC (straight out of camera).

Also seen from Thurston’s Lobster Pound, I love this shot of a Common Tern – it is SOOC (straight out of camera).

One more Common Tern shot. This seems to be a tough bird to get a good photo of, I took a LOT of tern photos in Maine and only a very few were any good. This was also at Thurston's Lobster Pound in

One more Common Tern shot. This seems to be a tough bird to get a good photo of, I took a LOT of tern photos in Maine and only a very few were any good. This was also at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine 7/31/14.

I finally got a puffed up egret shot. Snowy Egret at Ogunquit Beach, Maine 7/26/14.

I finally got a puffed up egret shot. Snowy Egret at Ogunquit Beach, Maine 7/26/14.

One of six life birds I got during the trip - Piping Plover at Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

One of six life birds I got during the trip – Piping Plover at Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

Very cute bird - Piping Plover at Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

Cute bird – Piping Plover at Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

Piping Plover at Ogunquit Beach, 7/26/14.

Piping Plover at Ogunquit Beach, 7/26/14.

One of my favorites, I happy to finally get close enough for a decent shot. Bonaparte's Gull at Ogunquit Beach, 7/26/14.

One of my favorites, I happy to finally get close enough for a decent shot. Bonaparte’s Gull at Ogunquit Beach, 7/26/14.

Sweet bird. Bonaparte's Gull in Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

Sweet bird. Bonaparte’s Gull in Ogunquit, Maine 7/26/14.

On our last day in Bar Harbor we walked a trail near Indian Point, Maine and found a pair of Spotted Sandpipers on the rocky beach. 8/2/14.

On our last day in Bar Harbor we walked a trail near Indian Point, Maine and found a pair of Spotted Sandpipers on the rocky beach. 8/2/14.

Orange County Glossy Ibis – A Learning Experience

A Glossy Ibis picks through the small pond south of the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

A Glossy Ibis picks through the small pond south of the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

So, yesterday afternoon I located an ibis the small pond to the south of the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. Having just had a very good look at the three Glossy Ibis out at the Liberty Loop just last week, this bird seemed a little different to me. This bird had white at the base of both the upper and lower bill, legs that appeared to be light orange in color (as opposed to the darker legs on the three LL ibis), a much redder overall look that was less iridescent, and to me, the bill appeared to be slightly larger. With all this in mind I started to think about the possibility of a White-faced Ibis. I did some quick, inconclusive research on my phone app and then called Rob Stone and John Haas for some guidance. Apparently, both the legs and the facial skin of a WFIB should be red/pink in color, but the key for this ID, was to see the color of the bird’s eye. If the iris was red then it would make it a White-faced, if dark it would be a Glossy. Well, this bird does not have a very large eye, and I was viewing it from just under 150 yards away, which was going to make it difficult to determine. John showed up in no time at all, but by that time, the had bird picked up and move further out by about another 40 yards. Karen Miller, Linda Scrima, Bruce Nott, and Kathleen Ashman had also showed up. We all agreed that the bird was too far to see the eye color. It was getting darker by the minute, so it was decided that John and I would work our way around the pond to get a closer look. When we did so, it was still tough to determine the eye color; I think the setting sun was playing some tricks on us. Scotty Baldinger eventually joined us, and not long after that we felt confident that the bird’s iris was not red and the bird was therefore a Glossy Ibis. It was really a fun evening for me, spending time observing such an interesting and beautiful bird and to do so with some great people made it that much better.

GLIB at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

GLIB at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

One last thing – John wrote an interesting post about this bird on his blog, and reading it, I learned about another important identifying feature: according to the Crossley Guide, the white at the base of the bill always disappears behind the eye, as opposed to the complete white surround of the White-faced Ibis.

This photo shows that the white does not continue behind the eye. Glossy Ibis at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

This photo shows that the white does not continue behind the eye. Glossy Ibis at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

 

LITTLE BLUE HERON

I did not strike out two days in a row with the Little Blue Heron located in the pond near the intersection of Routes 302 and 17K in Bullville, 8/20/14.

I did not strike out two days in a row with the Little Blue Heron located in the pond near the intersection of Routes 302 and 17K in Bullville NY, 8/20/14.

It was an eventful afternoon of birding; before I went to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, I went for the LITTLE BLUE HERON in Bullville again. This time I did not come up empty handed, the bird was easily located and though it was little far out, I got great looks in my scope and the photos were not too bad. This bird had a lot of personality to me – if I was a little closer (and it wasn’t backlit), I could have had some nice photos for sure because the bird kept striking interesting poses.