Red-headed Woodpecker, Ulster County NY, 2/22/14.
I headed up north this morning to Ulster County just for a change of pace. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and warming up nicely. I took the back roads and had an enjoyable ride, scanning for birds all the while. My first stop was for the Red-headed Woodpeckers. I hadn’t been up to see them in a while, and never in the winter. When I arrived, the only birds present were the steady stream of crows overhead. I was beginning to think I might strike out with the RHWOs, when I finally spotted one in my binoculars. Eventually the bird worked its way closer to me and I was able to get some decent photos. Besides the crows, I did not have another bird in that swamp this morning besides the single Red-headed Woodpecker.
RHWO in Ulster County NY, 2/22/14.
I kept waiting to try to get flight photos of the bird. This is the best I could do. RHWO in Ulster County NY 2/22/14.
I finally left the Red-headed Woodpecker behind and headed to my favorite birding spot in all of Ulster County – the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. Although all the birds there were quite distant, I had an enjoyable stop there with 6 species: (6) Rough-legged Hawks, (4) Red-tailed Hawks, (1) Bald Eagle, several Turkey Vultures, a constant movement of American Crows going through, and (2) American Tree Sparrows.
On my way to the grasslands I happened upon this beauty of a Wild Turkey on the road. Ulster County NY, 2/22/14.
My final Ulster County stop of the morning was at Lippincott Road in Wallkill. I was hoping for a new waterfowl species for the year, but it was not to be. It was still a good stop, highlighted by the presence of (15) Common Goldeneye, (5) Common Mergansers, and (2) Hooded Mergansers.
These Common Goldeneyes are very sensitive. As soon as my car slowed down they were moving out. This is the best shot I could muster through the trees. Lippincott Road, 2/22/14.
I stopped home for a quick sandwich and then headed back out, this time in Orange County. I spent the afternoon into the evening hitting some of my usual spots and then finishing up at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to go for the Short-eared Owls (who came up late, a couple minutes after 6:00 and only four birds). Generally speaking the county seemed a bit quiet to me, and the birds I did see tended to be a bit distant. Here’s my list for the afternoon:
American Black Duck
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
American Tree Sparrow
Canada Geese in an awesome sunset at Wallkill River NWR, 2/22/14.