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. **

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary – Good Birding Continues

This Yellow-billed Cuckoo made my morning. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

This Yellow-billed Cuckoo made my morning. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

I had some things to take care of at the house this morning before getting out, so I got a little bit of a late start. Because of this, I decided to go to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary again, since it is only a few minutes from the house. I was not disappointed. The highlight was getting great looks at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, one of my favorites to see and photograph. Other good birds for me included this Blue-headed Vireo, a bird that I have not had much luck photographing:

Blue-headed Vireo on the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

Blue-headed Vireo on the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

I also got what I think is sort of an unusual life bird for me at this point in my birding (#314). While walking the Heritage Trail, I had a pair of PURPLE FINCHES. This is a bird that for some reason, I have never gotten a good enough look at over the past few years to report with confidence. I got a great look today and I also managed a couple of photos:

I was happy to get this bird in pretty good  focus through all the branches. Female Purple Finch, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

I was happy to get this bird in pretty good focus through all the branches. Female Purple Finch, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

A little more distant look at the male Purple Finch at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

A little more distant look at the male Purple Finch at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

Other notable observations include an apparently growing number of Green-winged Teals in the small pond at the end of the Citgo Trail. Shorebirds have abandoned the small pond and today I located several Killdeer and a likely, but too distant to be sure, Least Sandpiper on the far side of the large marsh (looking from the Heritage Trail). I will keep my eye on this area for sure. I ended the morning with 37 species which is not too bad. You can see my list at the bottom of this post. Here’s one more shot of the cuckoo:

YBCU at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

YBCU at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Cooper’s Hawk
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Marsh Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary 9/18/14 (And Some Catch Up)

Scarlet Tanager at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

Scarlet Tanager at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

I stopped by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary after work today. It started out slowly, particularly because I was hoping for shorebirds and found NONE. But, in the end, it was a relatively productive day with 25 species being identified. Here’s my list for the day and some more photos:

Six and a Half Station Rd. Sanctuary, Orange, US-NY

I finally got a shot of one of my photo-nemisis birds - Pileated Woodpecker at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

I finally got a shot (not a good one yet!) of one of my photo-nemisis birds – Pileated Woodpecker at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

Sep 18, 2014 4:45 PM – 6:05 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
25 species

Canada Goose 35
Mute Swan 4
Wood Duck 10
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 8
Green-winged Teal 15
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 13
Turkey Vulture 1
Common Nighthawk 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 7
American Crow 5
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 3
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 2
European Starling 12
Common Yellowthroat 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 2
Scarlet Tanager 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Bobolink X Heard
American Goldfinch 5

Black-throated Green Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

Black-throated Green Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/18/14.

 

And now to catch up a bit. On Sunday evening I got this shot of a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron at Wallkill River NWR:

I was happy to see these guys are still around. BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 9/14/14.

I was happy to see these guys are still around. BCNH at Wallkill River NWR, 9/14/14.

Then, on Monday of this week, I stopped by Mount Peter Hawk Watch and got some decent birds including an adult Bald Eagle and a juvenile Northern Harrier. On my way out, Linda Scrima alerted me to the fact that there were some shorebirds at the Wallkill River NWR:

One of these things is not like the others.... L

One of these things is not like the others…. 6 Lesser  and one Greater Yellow legs at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 9/15/14.  Totals were 8 Lessers and 2 Greaters. 

Lesser Yellowlegs - Wallkill River NWR, 9/15/14.

Lesser Yellowlegs – Wallkill River NWR, 9/15/14.

On Tuesday I stopped by Mount Peter again and got very lucky. Tom Millard and I had a total of 278 Broad-winged Hawks and 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks from 4:00 to 5:00. Then on  Wednesday I had some business in Wappingers Falls NY, so I stopped by Denning’s Point on my way back. It was not very birdy, but I did get a shot of this young buck:

Denning's Point, 9/17/14.

Denning’s Point, 9/17/14.

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…

x

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. 

x

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

x

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

x

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

x

…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…

IMG_7170IMG_7175IMG_7181IMG_7183IMG_7191IMG_7195IMG_7197IMG_7232IMG_7233IMG_7243

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:

x

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.

Fin

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.