Adirondacks 2017

~This is one of my favorite shots from the weekend – Common Loon in a swirl of waves, St. Regis Canoe Area in Santa Clara NY, 06/24/17.~

Kyle Dudgeon and I loaded the kayaks onto my VW Golf this past weekend and headed north to do some Adirondack birding. We were heading to Saranac Lake, where there are some excellent local birding hotspots and the St. Regis Canoe Area is less than a half hour away. This trip has become an annual one for me; I’ve gone the past four years in a row now, but for Kyle, this was his first birding trip in the Adirondacks. Our main goal was to photograph the Common Loons, and if that went well and the timing worked out, we would do some additional birding in the area.

~Loaded up and ready to go!~

We arrived at the boat launch late Saturday afternoon. The weather seemed good while we were on the road, with mostly sunny skies above us as we made the 4 1/2 hour drive. But, when we got out of the car it was really windy and we immediately saw that the water was extremely rough. As we debated on whether or not to venture into the water, an adult Bald Eagle swooped in by the boat launch and then perched on the other side of the small cove. That convinced us and we headed out in the kayaks. Once in the water, the eagle did not stick around for any photos and the water was rough enough for me to be concerned. I wasn’t worried for our safety, we had life vests and we are both strong swimmers, but between the two of us, we had a lot of camera gear to keep dry.

~Common Loon, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~

We eventually made it to some areas that were protected from the wind, making the waves at least tolerable. Unfortunately, we were not having much luck with loons, getting only a brief look at a single bird. I’ve been successful on every other trip, but here I was with Kyle and I was beginning to get worried. We paddled around the large pond, hoping our luck would change and eventually it did. We first heard a loon calling, and then four loons flew in and put down just across the pond from us. We made our way over to them and, as I’ve experienced in the past, the birds were comfortable with our presence and went about their business. The loons had put down in an area where the water was pretty rough, which made it really tough to take photos, but in the end I felt like the water movement really added to the photos. Later, as we paddled back to the launch, Kyle and I decided to definitely give it another try first thing in the morning, hoping that the wind would die down a bit and make for some easier paddling.

~Two of the four Common Loons from Saturday evening at St. Regis Canoe Area, 0624/17.~

We arrived at the boat launch right at sunrise on Sunday morning. And the water was like glass. What a difference a day makes! The light was gorgeous and the paddling was super easy. We spent 2 1/2 hours on the water; we did well with more Common Loons, including finding one that was on a nest. We were also hearing many songbirds along the shores of the pond and the islands in the pond. We had an excellent close encounter with a Blackburnian Warbler, but I somehow blew my photos of that bird. Kyle did better than I did, you can check it out, as well as all his photos from the trip here. The highlight of the morning, however, was an adult female Common Merganser with 8 of the cutest chicks you’ve ever seen!

~Kind of a heavy crop here, but I wanted all the droplets of water to be seen. COLO at St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~

It was still early when we finished up kayaking, so we hit a couple of hotspots to try and get Kyle some target birds. We were hoping for Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker. We made brief stops at both Bloomindale Bog and Bigelow Road. Both areas were birdy, but the birds were mostly heard and not seen. We had our best luck at Bigelow Road, where right near the trailhead we had a great look at a Nashville Warbler. Further on, we eventually heard a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers, which were frustratingly close to the trail, considering we never got even a glimpse. Then, on our way back to the car, we first heard and then saw a single young Gray Jay. The bird did not cooperate, so no photos. We wrapped up the weekend with a nice big, late, breakfast before getting on the road. It was another great trip to the Adirondacks, a place that I’ve grown to really love in recent years. Huge thanks to Kyle for joining me; he was great company.

~Common Loon in the waves, St. Regis Canoe Area 06/24/17.~
~A Common Loon spread its wings for us. St. Regis Canoe Area 06/24/17.~
~Kyle with a friend. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~Sunrise COLO, it’s hard to beat. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~Common Loon at St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~
~Common Loon on the nest. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~I’m not sure why exactly, but this is another of my favorite shots from the weekend. COLO shaking it off, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~
~Awwww! Common Merganser with chicks, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~And, finally, a songbird. Nashville Warbler at Bigelow Road in the Adirondacks, 06/25/17.~

Adirondack Teaser, 06/25/17





~A beautiful Common Loon at sunrise, Follensby Clear Pond, Adirondacks New York, 06/25/17.~

QUICK TEASER: Kyle Dudgeon and I took a trip up north this weekend for some awesome Adirondack birding. We took loads of photos (especially of Common Loons), so it may take me a little time to get through them. Stay tuned for a post in the next few days.

Excellent OC Evening Birding, 05/01/17

~I’ve seen plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers this spring. I’m still working on getting a good shot. Wickham Lake, 05/01/17.~

After work today I headed straight to Glenmere Lake to follow up on a lead from Rob Stone – he had two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS there earlier in the day. And I just can’t get enough of sea ducks in Orange County, I find it fascinating. When I arrived, the birds were still present. I had distant but excellent looks in my scope and I managed to digiscope a few halfway decent shots with my phone. While I was there, I also had a remarkable 4 Ospreys flying over the lake and 2 Bald Eagles; one adult and one immature.

~Digiscoped WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, one of 2 at Glenmere Lake, 05/o1/17.~ 

From there, I headed over to Wickham Lake, following up on another tip from Rob; he let me know about a Northern Waterthrush that was near the parking area at Wickham Woodlands Town Park. At first I was having no luck, but after a while I heard the bird. I really wanted to see the bird, so I waited a long time… and eventually I caught just the briefest look. While I was waiting, the area was birdy and I had several other warblers: Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, and my first of the year American Redstart.

~Yellow Warbler at Wickham Lake, 05/01/17.~

I finally went to the shore of the lake to scan for waterfowl. I was not optimistic, but wanted to check before heading home. I was pleasantly surprised to first hear and then see a Common Loon out in the distance. What a great sound and sight! But that was just the beginning – I continued scanning and…wait let me count them… one, two, three, four RED-NECKED GREBES! They were in the company of 4 Ruddy Ducks. Again the birds were quite distant – I took some shots with my camera and I digiscoped some as well and got enough just to document. What a super night of birding, you just never know what you’ll find when you get out there!

~Two of the 4 RED-NECKED GREBES at Wickham Lake, 05/01/17.~
~Four Red-necked Grebes, all tucked in. Digiscoped at Wickham Lake, 05/01/17.~


OC Red-throated Loons!

~A pair of RED-THROATED LOONS at Wickham Lake, 04/06/17. I was thrilled to see these two birds. In the scope I had excellent views and they were just gorgeous as they worked their way around the far end of the lake, sticking close together the entire time.~ 

QUICK POST: I stopped by Wickham Lake after work this evening to try for the Red-throated Loon that Rob Stone had located earlier in the day. I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment and only had a few minutes, plus the rain was coming down pretty hard. I got to the lake, set up my scope, looked in and had not one, but two (!) RED-THROATED LOONS. As I was enjoying seeing the birds, it started to thunder and lightning. I high-tailed it to my car and went to my appointment soaking wet. Afterwards, I went back to the lake. The rain had stopped and the sun even came out briefly. I enjoyed much better looks of the RTLOs as well as a pair of Common Loons and a single Long-tailed Duck. Excellent birds!

~One more shot of the 2 Red-throated Loons at Wickham Lake, 04/06/17.~

Orange County Waterfowl Fallout, 03/27/17

~I spotted this Lesser Scaup in a small pond as I neared Wickham Lake – it was a small taste of what was to come! LESC in Warwick, 03/27/17.~

Last night’s rain must have had some good timing – it grounded a fair amount of waterfowl in Orange County. My first indication that it was going to be a good day was when I received a text around noon from Bruce Nott. He had a RED-THROATED LOON at Orange Lake. Which was followed shortly afterwards with a text that he had 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and a Common Loon at Washington Lake. Then, a half hour before quitting time I got word from Rob Stone that he had a slew of birds at Wickham Lake. I joined Bruce Nott, Kathy Ashman, and Linda Scrima at the lake to enjoy this waterfowl bonanza. Including the Canada Geese I had as I drove in, we had 17 (!) species of waterfowl!

Canada Goose 45
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 3
American Wigeon 10
Mallard 6
Northern Pintail 20
Green-winged Teal 2
Ring-necked Duck 7
Bufflehead 12
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 3
Ruddy Duck 6
Pied-billed Grebe 2

How’s that for a waterfowl list?!? I was particularly happy to see Redheads in Orange County for the first time ever. This is the sort of day, as a birder, that I get really jazzed about, and Bruce, Kathy, and Linda all seemed equally excited about it. Another good bird we had while were there was a single BONAPARTE’S GULL, always a favorite of mine. The only downside was that, of course, the birds were quite distant. Scope views were pretty amazing but photos were nearly impossible. Huge thanks to Rob and Bruce, great birding for sure!

~Can you spot the Bonaparte’s Gull? A nice assortment of waterfowl at Wickham Lake, 03/27/17.~

OC Waterfowl Survey, Take 2

~One of my few photo ops today –  Merlin with prey at Wickham Lake, 03/25/17.~ 

Three weeks ago I did a waterfowl survey of 9 locations not too far from my home in Goshen. Today I repeated this survey, hitting the same 9 locations in the same order. The overall number of birds was down from over 950 to under 700 birds, but I had a little more variety today with 16 species of waterfowl (up from 14). I’ve included species lists by location below.

I was hoping for some more interesting birds, but all 16 species were what I consider the usuals. Things were better in that regard earlier in the week, when I had a trio of Long-tailed Ducks at Glenmere Lake, and yesterday when I had a single Common Loon at Wickham Lake:

~My FOY Common Loon at Wickham Lake, 03/24/17.~ 


Wood Duck 9
Mallard 2
Bufflehead 3
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 148
Ruddy Duck 5


Canada Goose 2
Gadwall 1
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 2
Northern Shoveler 1
Green-winged Teal 12
Ring-necked Duck 32
Bufflehead 6
Ruddy Duck 8
Pied-billed Grebe 1

I did not have many close up looks at ducks today, so not too many photo ops. This Bufflehead was near the shore of Round Lake as I pulled up, but it move out pretty quickly.


Canada Goose 2
Mute Swan 2
Hooded Merganser 4


Canada Goose 4
Ring-necked Duck 25
Bufflehead 14
Hooded Merganser 5
Common Merganser 6
Ruddy Duck 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 1

WALTON LAKE: No waterfowl present.


Canada Goose 12
Ring-necked Duck 7
Common Merganser 169
Ruddy Duck 6
Double-crested Cormorant 1


Canada Goose 4
Gadwall 4
Mallard 1
Ring-necked Duck 64

~Some of the many Ring-necked Ducks in the pond across the street from Warwick Town Hall, 03/25/17.~


Canada Goose 4
Mute Swan 2
Gadwall 4
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 6
Green-winged Teal 4
Ring-necked Duck 4
Hooded Merganser 1


Mute Swan 3
Wood Duck 2
Ring-necked Duck 45
Bufflehead 4
Common Merganser 6
Ruddy Duck 2

Orange County Long-tailed Ducks, 03/21/17

~Excellent birds! Three LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 03/21/17.~

QUICK POST: I was doing some lazy birding after work this afternoon. I stopped by Glenmere Lake and I was scanning the lake from my car and getting ready to leave, having seen just the usuals. But, then 3 ducks caught my attention; I half-thought they might be LONG-TAILED DUCKS, but it wasn’t until I got out of the car and put the scope on them that I really believed it. The birds were very distant, too distant for even documentary photos, so I walked the snowy trail that heads southwest along the shore of the lake to get a little bit closer. This did allow me to get some documentary photographs and some great looks at the bird, which were in beautiful light. I put the word out and although I had to leave, Karen Miller reported back that she too had gotten the ducks. Good (if lazy) birding!

Orange County Waterfowl, 03/04/17

~A male Common Merganser in flight at Wickham Lake, 03/04/17.~

I decided to do my own Orange County waterfowl survey of sorts this afternoon. I visited nine different locations not too far from my home here in Goshen. First thing I will say is that it was COLD out there today. The temperatures weren’t so bad, in the mid-twenties, but wind made it very cold, bringing tears to my eyes all day. I think if it was a little bit more comfortable out I would have been a little bit more thorough; I felt like I certainly could have spent some more time at some of the locations. That being said, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon and I ended up with 14 species of waterfowl and over 950 individuals. I had a Northern Shoveler and a Pied-billed Grebe at Brown’s Pond and both birds were my first of the year in Orange County. Scroll down to see my results by location.

~Male Bufflehead at Wickham Lake, 03/04/17.~ 


Wood Duck 5
Common Merganser 122


Canada Goose 43
Mute Swan 9
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 54
Northern Shoveler 1
Green-winged Teal 12
Ring-necked Duck 23
Hooded Merganser 2
Pied-billed Grebe 1


Canada Goose 9
Mallard 3


Canada Goose 5
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 7
Greater Scaup 1
Ring-necked Duck 8
Bufflehead 14
Common Merganser 165

~Northern Shoveler at Brown’s Pond, 03/04/17.~ 


Bufflehead 1
Common Merganser 7


Canada Goose 17
Wood Duck 5
American Black Duck 28
Mallard 3
Bufflehead 7
Common Merganser 275


Canada Goose 2
Gadwall 33
Mallard 6
Ring-necked Duck 23
Hooded Merganser 2

~A pair of Common Mergansers in flight, Wickham Lake 03/04/17.~ 


Canada Goose 10
Mute Swan 2
Mallard 10
Ring-necked Duck 6
Hooded Merganser 2


Canada Goose 5
Ring-necked Duck 47
Bufflehead 14

Ring-necked Ducks


~A male Ring-necked Duck shows off his namesake, the maroon ring around his neck. Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~

It’s not very often that I get good photo ops with ducks because, as we all know, ducks tend to keep their distance. I think it would take some work, planning, and likely a photo blind to actually get really good shots of most ducks (at least from the shore – I’ve had much better luck from the kayak). Yesterday afternoon I found a group of Ring-necked Ducks at Upper Greenwood Lake that just didn’t seem to care. I saw the birds from my car, I pulled over and parked, but unfortunately the only way to approach was on foot. I did so slowly, fully expecting the birds to swim in the opposite direction, leaving me wanting. I must be on a roll because they did no such thing and instead just carried on as before. I photographed them for about 20 minutes; when I left they were still in the same area going about their business. I then continued towards the black dirt, where I was going to spend the evening participating in the DEC’s Raptor Survey. It was an excellent pit stop which yielded a nice series of pics of these RNDUs, in really nice light.

~RNDU at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~I think this female Ring-necked Duck has some admirers… Upper Greenwood Lake 03/02/17.~
~This is one handsome devil. RNDU at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~The females are a little less dramatic but just as attractive to me. RNDU female at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~RNDUs at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/20/17.~
~RNDU drake at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/20/17.~

Rye, New York 02/18/17

~A Fish Crow lets me know it is NOT an American Crow “uh-uh, uh-uh”. Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/18/17.~

I spent this beautiful Saturday morning out at the Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye, New York. Although I saw only the expected birds, I had an excellent morning with 43 species observed. I guess if you are going to get the usuals, it’s good to be in a place where there are a lot of “usuals”. As expected, I did best with waterfowl, seeing 18 different species. It had been over a year since I’d been to the sanctuary and although I was feeling like I was having a good day, I was wondering how it compared to the previous years. Since 2013, I’ve visited the sanctuary 5 times, always in January or February. My average number of species for those visits is 34, and I’ve never had more than 36. And what makes it even more interesting is that this was the first time I’ve been there and the feeder station was not filled up. In past visits that feeder station would really be hopping and I’d get several species right there. Today, all the feeders were empty and I didn’t get a single bird. One bird that I was really hoping for was Purple Sandpiper since it’s a good spot for them, but today I came up empty. I did add seven birds to my New York State year list, which was nice. I’ve included my list of species at the bottom of this post. Good birding!

~One of my favorites, too bad it is backlit. One of many Long-tailed Ducks at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/18/17.~


~A male Hooded Merganser in the pond at the Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/18/17.~
~Bufflehead butt with pink feet, Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/18/17.~
~Red-bellied Woodpecker, a bird that I see and hear constantly but don’t get many photos of. Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/18/17.~
~American Black Ducks do a fly by at the Rye Town Park, 02/18/17.~

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Sparrow