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 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:
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 included: Karen Miller, Carol Linguanti, Carol Pastushok, and
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.
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.
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.**
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?
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…
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:
I guess the bird had eaten enough and it flew (not very far!), and perched in a tree on the roadside:
A few more shots of the bird:
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 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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
LITTLE BLUE HERON
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.