Beautiful Bird

 

 

 

 

~Rusty Blackbird at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/16/17.~

If you had a chance to be out this evening, you know it was a gorgeous night, cool and breezy with an amazing sunset. The only thing that could make it better is a beautiful bird, and the Rusty Blackbird is the kind of bird that can just make your day with their distinctive call and fabulous coloring. I ran into several of these beauties this evening at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary and I’m still smiling about it.

~A mixed flock in flight – most of these birds are European Starlings, and I see what looks like a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds and a single Rusty Blackbird. Great night to be out, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/16/17.~

Orange County GLOSSY IBIS, 08/29/17

~Glossy Ibis at Citgo Pond, 08/29/17.~ 

QUICK POST: While at work today, Bill Fiero reported to the Mearns Bird Club App a GLOSSY IBIS at Citgo Pond. I made plans with Linda Scrima to meet there after work and go for the bird. When we first got there, it appeared that the bird had moved on, but eventually we located it on the far side of the pond hanging out with the Mallards and the Canada Geese. We were able to get some documentary photos; the lighting was terrible and the bird was pretty distant. Meanwhile, I was also scanning the shorebirds present. Numbers were up considerably, with over 20 Lesser Yellowlegs present, a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers, a handful of Least Sandpipers, a single Killdeer and the shorebird of the day… a half dozen dowitchers. I think they are likely SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. I’m sort of playing the odds here because the time is right for SBDO rather than Long-billed, but also, the birds do not appear to be overly humpbacked and their undersides do not seem to be as solidly marked as found in LBDO. Please comment if you have any thoughts on the accurate identification of these birds – thanks. What a great evening of birding, I sort of wasn’t really expecting it! Huge thanks to Bill for locating and reporting the GLIB.

~Short-billed? Dowitchers at Citgo Pond, 08/29/17.~ 
~One more shot of the GLIB at Citgo Pond, 08/29/17.~ 
~I sort of like this photo – all you dowitchers get to the left, Lesser Yellowlegs to the right! Citgo Pond, 08/29/17.~ 

Wow, Orange County SNOWY EGRET!

 

~SNOWY EGRET at 6 1/2 Station Road’s Citgo Pond, 07/24/17.~

Put the summer doldrums on hold for a minute! With last night’s rainfall, I was optimistic that we might get a good bird today. Kyle Dudgeon and I were only half-joking about the outside possibility of a Roseate Spoonbill, since they’ve had one in New Jersey recently. Then I received a text from Linda Scrima – with an attached eBird report for a SNOWY EGRET at Citgo Pond, reported by a Kevin McGann at 8:23 this morning! I met Linda there after work to check it out; we were doubtful that the report would be accurate, not knowing Kevin McGann and having been burned on several inaccurate SNEG reports in recent years. We walked out to the pond, and sure enough there was a SNOWY EGRET! We put out the word and several birders were able to come join us in viewing the bird. Other highlights included hearing a Cooper’s Hawk calling from the trees (only my second time hearing the “kac, kac, kac” call), my first Lesser Yellowlegs in a couple of weeks, 10 (!) Green Herons, and a Red Fox on the far side of the shore, located by Kathy Ashman and Karen Miller.

~The bird was actively feeding and seemed to be successful. SNEG at Citgo Pond, 07/24/17.~

Staying Local

~Green Heron at Citgo Pond, 07/20/17.~

I’ve had a busy week, so I spent most of my birding time this week staying local. I went to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond several times; I have mostly been trying for shorebirds since conditions at the pond have been perfect. Although there has been good number of shorebirds present, the variety has been lacking: Least Sandpipers (30+), Semipalmated Sandpipers (2), Solitary Sandpipers (2), and Killdeer (12+).

~One of the two Semipalmated Sandpipers that I’ve had at Citgo Pond this week, 07/17/17.~

The trail and the pond have been birdy and I’ve been averaging 25-30 species of bird each visit, all expected species. Highlights include nine (!) Green Herons in a single visit. I also saw my first Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in ages and there are many young birds around (Song Sparrow, Eastern Kingbird, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Tufted Titmouse…). So, while the birding has been decent, I am ready for some more significant shorebird movement, which hopefully isn’t too far away. Here’s several shots from the week, enjoy.

~All week I’ve been hearing the “whit” call of a couple of Willow Flycatchers on the trail out to the Citgo Pond. Today I finally got a good look and some photos, 07/23/17.~
~Yellow Warbler at Citgo Pond, 07/22/17.~ 
~Young Song Sparrow at Citgo Pond Trail, 07/20/17.~

 

Orange County SANDHILL CRANE!

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~A distant shot of the Sandhill Crane today at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 10/26/16.~

QUICK POST: Huge thanks to Kathy Ashman, who texted while I was at work to let me know she had located a SANDHILL CRANE at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. I ran for the bird after getting out of work this afternoon; Maria Loukeris met me at the sanctuary and got me on the bird very quickly (thanks!). Which was a good thing, because shortly after my arrival, the bird picked up and relocated deep into the reeds and out of sight. The bird was distant, but I was still super excited to see this excellent bird and get some documentary photos. And, of course, it was great to get it in Orange County and add it to my year list (#208).

Orange County DUNLIN, 10/18/16

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~A single Dunlin at Citgo Pond, 10/18/16.~

QUICK POST: I got out to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond a little on the late side this evening; I had some things to take care of directly after work. But, when I eventually got out there, I finally had a new bird – a single DUNLIN. I got super looks at the bird in my scope, but the bird was a bit distant for any decent photos. I was super excited, I’ve been waiting for a while for something good to make its way to Citgo, and Dunlin were on my list for sure. This Dunlin is my 207th species in Orange County this year.

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~Dunlin with a couple of Least Sandpipers, Citgo Pond 10/18/16.~
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~One more shot of the Dunlin at Citgo, 10/18/16.~

Weekend Wrap Up, 10/2/16

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~A beautiful American Golden-Plover in the Black Dirt today, 10/2/16.~

I got out and did a fair amount of birding this weekend, especially because I didn’t count hawks at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday, due to the fog and light rain that persisted throughout the day.

BLACK DIRT REGION: I received reports from Bruce Nott and Ken and Curt McDermott on Saturday that the collection of plovers in the black dirt continued. Curt and Ken had a very nice count of 41 American Golden-Plovers and 5 Black-bellied Plovers. On Sunday, I met Linda Scrima in the late morning. The plovers were present, but distant. We lingered, and eventually they flew in closer, with a couple even landing on the road. We had a total of 34 AMGPs and 3 BBPLs. The highlight, however, was when a Killdeer flew over being chased by another smaller bird. Linda picked it up and got me on the birds. I stayed on the smaller bird and when it landed, I was thrilled to see it was an AMERICAN PIPIT! We eventually saw 3 more for a total of 4 AMPIs. The pipits were my 204th species in Orange County this year.

WICKHAM WOODLANDS TOWN PARK: I birded here on Saturday morning so I could stay close to Mt. Peter, in case the weather cleared up. The highlight for me was a trio of Ruddy Ducks. I also had a nice look at a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Mockingbirds and Northern Flickers were present in numbers.

 

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~American Golden-Plovers in flight with one Killdeer. Black Dirt Region, 10/2/16.~
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~Yes! AMERICAN PIPIT in the Black Dirt, 10/2/16.~
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~A Killdeer takes a bath in a puddle in the road. Black Dirt, 10/2/16.~

6 1/2 STATION ROAD, CITGO POND: I made three trips to the pond this weekend and finally on Sunday I had some new shorebirds:

4 Pectoral Sandpipers (one new bird)
3 Lesser Yellowlegs (one new bird)
1 Greater Yellowlegs (new bird)
11 Least Sandpiper (same number)

On Friday evening I had a Northern Harrier fly over the pond and a Sharp-shinned Hawk as well. Both kinglets were present on the trail into the pond. On Saturday I also went over to the Heritage Trail side of the sanctuary, where I had many Yellow-rumped Warblers and a pair of Black-throated Green Warblers.

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~One of 4 Pectoral Sandpipers at Citgo Pond on Saturday 10/1/16.~
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~Swamp Sparrow on the Citgo Pond Trail, 10/1/16.~

HIGHLAND LAKES STATE PARK: I made it out here for early Sunday morning. The place was very birdy and I had 27 species plus one unidentified flycatcher in just over an hour. Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and White-throated Sparrows were all quite numerous. Again, I had a couple of Black-throated Green Warblers, but besides that, not many noteworthy birds.

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~Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Citgo Pond Trail, 10/1/16.~
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~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Highland Lakes State Park, 10/2/16.~
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~Not a great photo, but I wanted to show the black wing-pits of one of the Black-bellied Plovers in the Black Dirt Region, 10/2/16. Also notice that the bird is slightly larger than the neighboring AMGPs.~

Good OC Shorebirding Continues, 8/28/16

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~A Lesser Yellowlegs feeds at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond, 8/27/16.~

I spent nearly all my birding time this weekend looking for shorebirds in Orange County. Saturday was a bit of a bust, in spite of favorable overnight winds. Today was another story. I got out to the black dirt early while it was still on the cool side. At my first stop I had a small shorebird flyover with a small flock of Killdeer. I watched the bird in my binoculars until it was out of sight, never to be identified. At my second stop, I had a similar experience, but this time the bird put down about three fields over. I got on it with my scope and it looked like a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER! I followed the bird, walking on the road as the bird worked the field. I would stop every so often when the bird would come to an area unobstructed by grasses and put down my scope for a look or to take some photos, becoming more and more convinced that it was a BBSA. I eventually lost the bird, so I walked the road to the other side of the field to try and relocate it. At first I could not find it, but I did see in the middle of the field, a single AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER! Very exciting! Of course, at the time I wasn’t sure exactly which plover it was (American Golden or Black-bellied), I figured that out later. I eventually relocated the Buff-breasted Sandpiper and it was with a second Buffie. Then I heard a call I was unfamiliar with – I looked away from the scope to see 3 more American Golden-Plovers coming in! I took photos as the birds came in to land on the field – showing clear wing pits (not black as would be seen in Black-bellied). I had put the word out earlier, but unfortunately, before anyone arrived to see the birds, a low flying plane flushed first the plovers, followed shortly afterwards by the Buffies. Kathy, Scotty, Bruce, and I combed the area but came up empty. Sorry for the poor photos of these birds, but they were extremely distant and the heat shimmer was terrible.

I did check 6 1/2 Station Road’s Citgo Pond in the early afternoon, but I did not locate any new birds – I found basically the same birds as were present on Thursday, minus the Baird’s Sandiper and the Greater Yellowlegs.

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~One of the hundreds of Killdeer in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
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~American Golden-Plover in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
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~Three American Golden-Plovers coming in for a landing. Notice the lack of black wing pits, indicating AMGP. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~ 
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~A distant partially obstructed shot of  a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Note the small squarish head on a slim neck and the bird’s erect stance. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~ 
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~In the scope the bird’s yellowish legs could be made out. BBSA in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
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~A young Cooper’s Hawk seen while searching for shorebirds. No wonder there were none at this location. Black Dirt 8/27/16.~ 
~It was good to see some Horned Larks this weekend. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~
~It was good to see some Horned Larks this weekend. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~

Orange County BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, 8/25/16

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~Very exciting! BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~ 

I ran into Karen Miller and Diane Bliss this afternoon – we were all heading in to check out 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond. We arrived at the pond and set up our scopes, and as luck would have it, the first bird in my scope was a beautiful BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! We were all super excited and enjoyed great looks in our scopes as we put the word out. John Haas, Bruce Nott, and Kathy Ashman all ran for the bird, which ended up being very confiding, allowing for great looks and some decent photos too. Shorebirds were numerous at the pond, here is our count:

Killdeer (6)
Greater Yellowlegs (1)
Lesser Yellowlegs (5)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (3)
Least Sandpiper (34)
BAIRD’S SANDPIPER (1)
Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
Wilson’s Snipe (1)

What an excellent afternoon/evening of birding! I love this time of year!

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~One more shot of the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, Citgo Pond 8/25/16.~ 
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~Look at all those scopes! These birders come prepared! Checking out the shorebirds at the Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~

 

 

Orange County Black Tern, 8/16/16

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~BLACK TERN in flight at Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~

Okay, so I guess I can keep calling the blog Orange Birding. This evening I just wanted to make a quick stop at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond to check the water levels, because when I was there on Friday the levels were too high and there were no shorebirds present. Well, the water levels were still high and there were still no shorebirds, but I found a welcome surprise: a BLACK TERN! When I arrived the bird was perched on the ground, but it took flight not long after I got on the bird and never set down again. The bird flew around the pond, hunting continuously and splashing into the water from time to time. I put the word out and John Haas, Karen Miller, and Diane Bliss were all able to run for the bird. Bad weather was moving in quickly, so we ended up having to hustle out of there to beat storms. It was a nice looking bird and we got good, if slightly distant views – all my pics are cropped within an inch of their lives. This is my 193rd species for Orange County this year.

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~BLTE, wings down at Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~
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~Black Tern right after splash down on the water. Citgo Pond, 8/16/16.~