Sterling Valley Loop, 06/03/18

~Blue-winged Warble singing its heart out. Sterling Valley Loop, 06/03/18.~ 

I usually like to post on Sunday nights, or at least once over the weekend, but last night I was having some computer issues, so this post had to wait until today.

I got a nice early start on Sunday morning. I headed to Sterling Forest State Park, where I was going to walk the Sterling Valley Loop, an eight mile hike that I have done several times and is typically quite birdy. I use the end of Ironwood Drive as the trailhead, which is nice as that spot is usually very active with birds, particularly with Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. I was surprised by the number of cars in the parking area and by the number of birders and photographers lingering around the power cut. This made me switch gears a little bit, and instead of birding the area before heading on the trail, I hit the trail immediately (not to worry, I picked up BWWA and GWWA out on the trail).

~How cute is this little dude? Young Louisiana Waterthrush at Sterling Valley Loop, 06/03/18.~ 

You don’t go on a hike like this, at this time of year, especially in the overcast conditions we were having on Sunday, expecting to see and photograph all that many birds. Large stretches of the trail were flat out dark (ISO set to 4000+), and much of my birding was done by ear with the occasional nice surprise of tracking down a bird. I feel like I really appreciate seeing birds so much more when they are harder to come by. I began to rack up the number of species and individuals. The most numerous species were likely American Redstarts and Red-eyed Vireos. Highlights included: hearing a remarkable 6 ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS hearing both species of cuckoo and seeing my first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO of the year, hearing 4 CERULEAN WARBLERS and finally being able to track one down for at least a documentary photograph, and watching a young Cedar Waxwing get fed by and adult. The best moment of the day came when a young LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH landed on a branch just off the trail to my left. This bird was so stinkin’ cute!

I ended the hike with what I thought was a respectable 56 species. You can see my complete list of species here.

~All spring I’ve been hearing Cerulean Warblers at Sterling Forest SP. I FINALLY tracked one down on the Sterling Valley Loop, 06/03/18.~ 

Goosepond Mountain State Park, 05/26/18

~One of several Blue-winged Warblers we had at Goosepond Mountain State Park, 05/26/18.~

On Saturday morning, I met up with Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris and we headed to Goosepond Mountain State Park to try our luck. We parked at the Laroe Road entrance to the trail, which has been renovated since the last time I was there – the parking area is better with fresh gravel and the entrance to the trail has been cleared of all overflowing vegetation. I was on a bit of a tight schedule, but we still managed to walk a pretty good portion of the trail, walking nearly a mile and a half in before turning around.

~This was my first chance to photograph an Eastern Towhee this year. Goosepond Mountain SP, 05/26/18.~ 

It was a birdy walk, but with all the trees leafing out, we certainly had more birds heard than seen. We had many BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS; they were mostly heard but we did track down several of them and they all were, indeed, Blue-winged Warblers (no hybrids, no Golden-winged Warblers). American Redstarts were numerous, as were Eastern Towhees, one of which provided a nice photo op. We didn’t know it at the time, but our best bird of the day was a flycatcher, perched high on a dead tree snag. The sun was on the other side of the bird, causing it to be severely backlit. We spent some time trying to turn it into an Olive-sided Flycatcher, but in the end we left the bird unidentified. That is, until Maria got home and looked at her photos. In the pics she could see that the bird had white  tufts on its back – indicative of an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER! I never even knew this was a field mark for OSFL! When I got a chance to look at my photos and lifted the shadows, sure enough the tufts were quite evident (see photo below). I thought it was really nice work by Maria to pick up on it and I was happy to have taken a few photos of the bird – you never know! I’d had some possible OSFLs in the past – all out at the Bashakill, but I was never certain enough to count them – so this bird is a lifer for me : )

~Olive-sided Flycatcher at Goosepond Mountain, 05/26/18.~ 

AND A FEW PHOTOS TO CATCH UP FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK:

~Not the best shot, especially since I think this is a very photogenic bird; Eastern Kingbird at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop, 05/20/18.~ 
~Flycatcher Sp. at Citgo Pond, 05/22/18. My suspicion is that this is a Willow Flycatcher, based on the crest and the long tail, but this bird never called while I was there.~ 
~Great Blue Heron at the Liberty Loop last Sunday, 05/20/18.~ 

A Small But Productive Window, 05/19/18

~Flycatcher Sp. at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/19/18. I suspect this is an Eastern Wood-Pewee as I had heard one call earlier; I did not witness this bird calling however.~ 

I have some things going on this weekend, so my birding window was a brief one early this morning. I made the best of it – I went to Laurel Grove Cemetery, which was quite birdy. Best birds were: a family of Common Mergansers (one adult female with 7 young), Blackpoll Warblers (6+, my FOY), Cape Warbler (1), American Redstart (1), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Pine Warbler (2), Yellow-rumped Warblers (4), and most exciting – Bay-breasted Warblers (2, my FOY).

~I always loved Cape May in the rain. When we were kids, we spent the summers in Wildwood, NJ. On rainy days we would head to Cape May and wander around looking at the shops – usually getting candy or ice cream. Cape May Warbler in the rain at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/19/18.~

On my way out, I was contacted by Rob Stone; he had 10 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and 3 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS at the Camel Farm. I ran for the birds on my way home, meeting up with Linda Scrima. Unfortunately I was pressed for time, so I was only able to take a quick look at the birds before I had to run, but still it was great to see them and add them to my 2018 Orange County list. I also saw my FOY Bobolink as I was leaving the Camel Farm. Not bad for a quick morning in the field!

~Short-billed Dowitchers and on the far left, a single White-rumped Sandpiper, at the Camel Farm, 05/19/18.~ 

WARBLERS!

~There were plenty of Black-and-white Warblers at Sterling Forest the past couple of days. This one is from this morning, 05/05/18, at Ironwood Drive.~ 

From Friday evening to Saturday evening, I’m pretty sure I had my best 24 hours of warblers ever. In that span I had 19 species of warbler in three different locations: Sterling Forest State Park’s Ironwood Drive, Sterling Forest’s Old Forge Road, and Pochuck Mountain State Park.

Black-and-white Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Ovenbird: All three locations

~Ovenbird at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/05/18.~ 

Nashville Warbler: Pochuck

Worm-eating Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Louisiana Waterthrush: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Northern Waterthrush: Ironwood Drive

Black-throated Blue Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

~Male Black-throated Blue Warbler at Sterling SP, 05/05/18.~ 
~Female Black-throated Blue Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/05/18.~ 

Blue-winged Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Common Yellowthroat: Ironwood Drive

Hooded Warbler: Ironwood Drive

~I still need a good Hooded Warbler Photo. Sterling Forest, 05/04/18.~ 

Cerulean Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Northern Parula: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

Blackburnian Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Yellow Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

~American Redstart at Sterling Forest SP, 05/04/18.~

American Redstart: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Black-throated Blue Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

Black-throated Green Warbler: Pochuck

Yellow-rumped Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Prairie Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Golden-winged Warbler: Ironwood Drive

~Golden-winged Warbler at Sterling Forest, 05/04/18.~ 

Maybe more remarkably, in that same 24 hours, I added a total of 27 new species to my Orange County year list. Highlights (outside of the warblers) include: Virginia Rail (Liberty Loop), Broad-winged Hawk (Sterling SP), Green Heron (Sterling SP), and Baltimore Oriole (Pochuck).

~I like this pic – Blue-headed Vireo at Sterling Forest SP, 05/05/18.~ 
~Ruby-crowned Kinglets were numerous at Sterling Forest today – I had at least 20 of them.~ 

 

Excellent Birding at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18

~What a little cutie – Golden-crowned Kinglet at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~

I really didn’t have much in the way of expectations for my first day of birding in 2018. I knew I wanted to get up early to try for the two ROSS’S GEESE at Glenmere Lake, but beyond that I didn’t have a plan. It was zero degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up, but I managed to rustle myself out of bed and get to the lake before the geese left. When I arrived, there were several other birders that had the same idea as me: Karen Miller, Diane Bliss, Mike Mallon, Rick Hansen, and Kathy Ashman were all present, getting their Orange County Ross’s Goose for the new year. I waited with Karen, Diane, and Mike for the geese to pick up, since the 2 Ross’s spent most of the time with their heads tucked in. On my way out, I was talking to Kathy in the parking lot and we decided to walk the trail. Kathy had already walked it earlier with Rick, but was game for some more birding.

~I have to say I was definitely surprised to see Yellow-rumped Warblers on the trail today. Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~

I haven’t spent much time birding the trail at Glenmere, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We ended up having an incredible morning with nice variety of songbirds and some close encounters. How’s this for some good birds on January 1st: Golden-crowned Kinglet (many!), Yellow-rumped Warbler (7), Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Bluebird (12), and six different species of woodpecker! (Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied, N. Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Pileated). Of the likely woodpeckers, we only missed the Red-headed Woodpecker (which is still present, Judy Cinquina, Tom Millard, and Maria Loukeris all saw it today).

~Hermit Thrush at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~

At one point, I had a Golden-crowned Kinglet feeding just inches from my right shoulder! I stayed completely still and just enjoyed it; I couldn’t believe how close the bird was, nor could I believe how very tiny they are when you see them that close – they are just little peanuts! We walked the trail until it opens up to a field. The field was very active and we weren’t sure where to look for the next bird. Then a Pileated Woodpecker flew out of the trees right towards us, banking right over our heads before landing on a nearby tree. It really was a super morning of birding and in the end we tallied 28 species for the morning. I’ve not birded one on one with Kathy much before this, and I have to say it was a joy and she is really good – always a step ahead of me picking up birds all around us. Good birding for sure and a great way to start the year.

~One of my favorites! Brown Creeper at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~
~Big, dinosaur like bird – Pileated Woodpecker at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~
~The 2 ROSS’S GEESE take off from the lake just after 8 am. Glenmere Lake, 01/o1/18.~
~Mike Mallon picked up two coyotes crossing the lake in the distance. Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~
~One more butter-butt. Yellow-rumped Warbler with a snack at Glenmere Lake, 01/01/18.~
~In the afternoon, I headed back out. I met up with Kyle Dudgeon and we cruised the black dirt. Kyle picked up his lifer Lapland Longspur, and we both got shots of this awesome Merlin. Black Dirt Region 01/01/18.~

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.~

Foggy Saturday, 10/14/17

~One of the many young Cedar Waxwings at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch today, 10/14/17.~

Mount Peter was fogged in this morning, so I took the opportunity to bird a couple of nearby spots before the fog cleared out. My first stop was Cascade Lake, which was very birdy. The most numerous bird was definitely Ruby-crowned Kinglet; I had over a dozen easily. Among the kinglets I had a couple of warblers. One was a Black-throated Green, but the other I haven’t been able to ID. I’ve posted a couple of shots of the bird – if any one has any ideas, please comment. I was surprised to also do well with raptors while there; I had an Osprey, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a Cooper’s Hawk.

~Any thoughts on this bird? Cascade Lake, 10/14/17.~
~Another look at the same bird.~

Next, I went to Wickham Lake, where Yellow-rumped Warblers were the bird of the day; they were seemingly everywhere. Other birds of note included a Pied-billed Grebe and my FOS Ruddy Ducks and Gadwall.

~I wasn’t sure if I would get my weekly Turkey Vulture shot – this was the only TUVU to make a pass close to the viewing platform. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/14/17.~

I headed back up to Mt. Pete just before noon. By 12:15 the fog was thinking about clearing out and I began the day’s hawkwatch. I had 7 migrating raptors in the first 45 minutes, which had me thinking it might be a good flight. Alas, it was not to be and I had only 2 additional migrating hawks in the next 4 hours! This has not been my year for hawkwatching so far, but I’m hoping that changes starting next Saturday.

~Black-capped Chickadees were numerous at Mt. Pete today. This one is enjoying a snack. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/14/17.~

Orange County NELSON’S SPARROW!

~NELSON’S SPARROW at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty Loop, 10/20/17. Photo by Linda Scrima.~ 

I received a text from Linda Scrima while I was at work today – she had located a NELSON’S SPARROW at the Liberty Loop! After work I headed straight to the loop. This is only the second record of a NESP in Orange County, and as I was driving, I was hoping that I would have better luck than I did with the first one: It was mid-October in 2013, and Rob Stone had located one at the Citgo Pond; I went for that bird several times and never got it.

When I arrived at the loop, Linda was there with Karen Miller and Lance Verderame. They had just seen the bird but it was back down in the grasses. Almost immediately it took a short flight, but I did not pick up any field marks. I waited it out and eventually the bird perched up right in front of us for maybe 10 seconds – enough time for me to get a good look, but certainly not enough time for a photo. I was so excited! I didn’t let myself think that I would actually get the bird this time around, so I was pretty happy. I’m hoping the bird sticks around, I would love to get better looks and maybe some photos. too. Huge thanks to Linda, who just keeps finding great birds in the county.

~One more of the NESP, Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop, 10/02/17. Photo by Linda Scrima.~ 

Mt. Peter Hawkwatch and Some Odds and Ends

~I didn’t even think I would manage a Turkey Vulture shot this week – luckily this TUVU came close enough for a decent look. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 09/30/17.~

I feel like I’m sort of in a birding slump these days – things have just been slow and it feels like ages since I’ve taken a decent photograph. Saturday’s hawkwatch at Mt. Peter was more of the same; I had a total of only 21 migrating raptors for the day. That being said, the weather was excellent (it actually felt like fall!), and I had a pleasant day on the mountain. Most of my highlights are not raptor related: I had my best bird of the day before I even unpacked my gear – a Blackpoll Warbler in the evergreen right next to the platform. Throughout the day, I had 24 skeins of Canada Geese fly over, with a total of over 1000 geese, which was exciting to me. I’m looking forward to sifting through some geese this winter. As far as raptors go, I had 4 Osprey pass over in an hour’s time and my first migrating Peregrine Falcon of the year. Here’s my report with the season totals:

~Northern Parula at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 10/01/17.~

Odds and Ends:

I’ve been checking on the shorebirds at Citgo Pond regularly, but unfortunately I’ve been finding pretty much the same birds all week. I did have my first Bald Eagle there in a while on Thursday. On Wednesday I tried for shorebirds in the black dirt, but ended up finding more falconers than shorebirds.

Fall warblers have pretty much been a bust for me this year, but I did manage to get a few this weekend. As I mentioned above, I had a Blackpoll Warbler at Mt. Peter; I also had an American Redstart and Northern Parula this morning at Winding Waters. Other good birds at Winding Waters today included a Blue-headed Vireo, several Eastern Towhees, and 6 species of sparrow: Song, Swamp, Lincoln’s, Field, Savannah, and White-throated.

Anyways, the good thing about a birding slump is that it has to come to an end. I’m looking forward to the next big thing, maybe next Saturday I’ll get an excellent flight at Mt. Pete – I’m due.

~I haven’t even thought about taking a Downy Woodpecker shot in an age. Here’s one in the early morning light at Winding Waters Trail, 10/01/17.~
~Same goes for a Tufted Titmouse. This is one of several at Mt. Peter, 09/30/17.~
~One lonely Great Blue Heron in the Black Dirt, 09/27/17.~ 

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 09/24/17

~Palm Warbler at Wallkill River NWR, 09/24/17.~

I met Linda Scrima at the Liberty Loop this morning for a brief outing. My target bird was LINCOLN’S SPARROW, which I got relatively easily as Linda had had them out there several times earlier this week (big thanks to Linda – this is two years in a row that she helped me get my LISP). We got excellent looks at a couple of birds and photos too. Other good birds for the morning included: Merlin, Cooper’s Hawk, a trio of cooperative Palm Warblers, several Savannah Sparrows, and a Pied-billed Grebe right in front of the viewing platform. The Lincoln’s Sparrow was bird #210 for me this year in Orange County.

~A beautiful LINCOLN’S SPARROW at Wallkill River NWR, 09/24/17.~
~Common Yellowthroat at Wallkill River NWR, 09/24/17.~