Carson C. Waxwing Update, 09/17/20

So, I finally connected with Giselle from the Avian Wildlife Center to get an update on Carson, the Cedar Waxwing Fledgling. If you missed this story, you can scroll back to mid August or check here, here, and here to catch up.

Carson is doing well, but has not be released back into the wild yet. When I dropped him off at the center, his feather condition was less than perfect, so they are going to wait for Carson to molt before the release him/her. Carson was also tested for fecal parasites, which came back positive, but it has been treated.

So, now it’s a waiting game, once Carson molts he/she will be released. The good news is that the center is currently housing several other Cedar Waxwings, so Carson will be in good company for the release. Stay tuned… I’ll update again when I can.

I hope Carson gets released soon – I’m running out of photos!

Black Dirt Shorebirds, 09/13/20

This weekend I was finally able to connect with some shorebirds in the black dirt. On Saturday, Jodi Brodsky reported an American Golden-Plover on Missionland Road. I was at the back of the Liberty Loop with birding bud Maria Loukeris when she reported it, but luckily the bird stuck around long enough for me to get it (thanks Jodi!). Then, this morning, after getting a relatively late start, I was able to locate 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on Skinner’s Lane. Initially I had them waaay out in a field; they flew shortly after I’d located them, and I thought they were long gone, but I was able to relocate them, and this time they were a little closer to road and I was able to get some shots, though most were ruined by the dreaded heat shimmer.

~Always a favorite – BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Skinner’s Lane this morning, 09/13/20.~

I’ve, of course, done some other running around, so I’ve included several shots from last Sunday and this weekend. Good birding!

~Wild Turkey Turtle Bay Road, 09/12/20.~
~Blue-winged Teal at the Liberty Loop back pond, 09/06/20.~
~Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the Liberty Loop, 09/06/20.~
~It’s always nice to catch up with a couple of Sandhill Cranes in the back dirt, 09/12/20.~
~I like this shot because along with the Green Heron, there are both the Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Liberty Loop back pond, 09/06/20.~
~Terrible documentary shot of the American Golden-Plover at Missionland Road, 09/12/20.~

09/05/20: Hawkwatch Begins and Ulster Co. Brown Booby

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s already time for the start of another season at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch. Today was my first day as official counter, and as early as it is in the season, it was expectedly slow with only 10 migrating raptors. But, there were some highlights – (8) Bald Eagle sightings, four of which migrated, a quick look at a couple of Cape May Warblers, a couple of lingering Black-throated Green Warblers, and my favorite part of the day: a messy ball of 11 Double-crested Cormorants flying high south of the viewing platform. You can see my report for HawkCount at the bottom of this post.

~A local Red-tailed Hawk makes a pass over the platform at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 09/05/20.~

Yesterday I got out of work a little bit early, so I decided to head up the the hottest hotspot in Ulster County: Ashokan Reservoir. There has been a White Pelican present for some time, and now there is a BROWN BOOBY. I took a nice drive up to the reservoir, and with some guidance from a quick call with John Haas, I was able to locate the bird easily. It’s quite a bird to see, and I had nice looks in my scope, but unfortunately it’s preferred perch is just a bit out of range for good photos. Consolation prize (in the photography dept) was a young Bald Eagle perched close to the road. I enjoyed the booby, and I was glad to add it to my NYS list – # 310.

~ Brown Booby at Ashokan Reservoir, 09/04/20.~
~A young Bald Eagle was unphased by all the folks walking along the road. Ashokan Reservoir, 09/04/20.~
~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 09/05/20.~

Liberty Loop Back Pond, 08/23/20

The back pond at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop has been one of the hottest birding spots in the area recently (this part of the loop is located in Sussex County, NJ for all of you concerned with which county and state the birds are located in). I spent a pleasant and productive morning there; I’m pretty sure I got all the recent good birds/rarities reported: GLOSSY IBIS (3), LITTLE BLUE HERON, SNOWY EGRET, and SANDERLING.

~GLOSSY IBIS striking a pose at Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Loop, Sussex County NJ, 08/23/20.~

My main goal of the morning was, of course, shorebirds. Although besides the Sanderling I did not find anything else out of the ordinary, shorebirds were plentiful in number of both species and individuals:

  • Semipalmated Plover (2)
  • Killdeer (30+)
  • Sanderling
  • Least Sanpiper (10+)
  • Pectoral Sandpiper (3)
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper (4)
  • Wilson’s Snipe (3)
  • Solitary Sandpiper (3)
  • Lesser Yellowlegs (20+)
~Immature LITTLE BLUE HERON at the Liberty Loop, 08/23/20.~

I left the refuge just before 10 am, just as it was starting to get a little warm. I finished the morning with 44 species; the only target bird I missed was Least Bittern, which I’ve been getting out there on a regular basis. Nice morning of birding, and some photo ops on top of it all.

~Lesser Yellowlegs were plentiful in the back pond this morning. Liberty Loop 08/23/20.~
~Green Heron at the Liberty Loop, 08/23/20.~
~One more Glossy Ibis shot; I was pleased to have these birds in pretty close. That came to an end when a dog walker came by and flushed them. Liberty Loop, 08/23/20.~
~This Northern Harrier was keeping the shorebirds on their toes. I’m not sure what it was hunting, but the shorebirds were flushed by it several times this morning. Liberty Loop 08/23/20.~
~Semipalmated Plover in the early morning fog. Liberty Loop 08/23/20.~
~Tree Swallow from earlier this week. Black dirt 08/20/20.~

Cedar Waxwing Fledgling Update, 08/21/20

I called the Avian Wildlife Center this morning to get an update on the Cedar Waxwing fledgling. I spoke with Giselle and so far it’s all good news. The bird is comfortable and eating well. In fact, the bird has begun eating on it’s own out of a bowl. Next step is to introduce fruit on the vine to allow the bird to practice eating more like in the wild. The bird is still begging for food, opening wide whenever food is being given, and it won’t be until this stops that the bird will be released. Also, Giselle never releases a single Cedar Waxwing. They are a social bird and she has found that they do much better with other CEWAs. Fortunately, there is another CEWA at the center, so if all goes well they will be released together. The two birds are not together yet as “my” fledgling still needs to have a stool sample tested for parasites. So far, so good. I’ve got my fingers crossed, I’m knocking wood, etcetera…

~What a little sweetie. Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

I also wanted to apologize for my delayed response to many of the comments on the last post. The site has been updated, and as with many updates, there have been some issues. For some reason it is not notifying me via email of new comments. I’ll try to work out that bug, until then I’ll try to check for comments more diligently.

Cedar Waxwing Update & Sunday Shots, 08/16/20

I went back to Beaver Pond first thing this morning. When I arrived, there was no sign of the fledgling Cedar Waxwing. But, after about 10 minutes, I heard the bird calling. Not long after that, as I walked with my scope horizontally on my shoulder, the bird came down and landed on the legs of the scope. It didn’t stay long, the legs were wet from the rain and the bird didn’t seem to like it.

~I’ve come to love this little dude. It’s amazing how small they are when seen in the hand. Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, on its way to Avian Wildlife Center, 08/16/20.~

So, I got in touch with Giselle Smisko from the Avian Wildlife Center in Wantage NJ . I told her my story, and she believed that the bird had been cared for by someone as a nestling and was perhaps released too soon. She said that any typical fledgling would never go to a human but that nestlings will just open their mouth for anyone to receive food. We agreed that if I could capture the bird, I would bring it to her, so it would get the proper professional care it needs. *Important note: Giselle said never to feed a bird wet cat food – it’s not good for their digestive system. Dry food is okay, if moistened. High protein is best.*

~I had plenty of opportunity to photograph this bird, but really, I didn’t take advantage of it. Here’s one shot from Saturday, when I first arrived at Beaver Pond and saw the bird for the first time.~

Meanwhile, Bruce Nott and Karen Miller had arrived to search for shorebirds. The fledgling did not come to me the entire time they were there, but within 5 minutes of their departure, the bird flew down and landed on my scope. I worked it onto my fingers and was able to take it in my hand. I spoke with Giselle again to make arrangements and she said to feed it berries or grapes if I could. I went to the QuickChek once again, and bought some grapes. I broke up a couple of them into manageable sizes and fed the fledgling – it gobbled it up like it was going out of style! It was a really excellent experience. I had to kill a little time before Giselle would be able to take the bird; it was excruciating for me – I just wanted to get the birds into her hands. Eventually, I successfully dropped it off at the center. Giselle said the bird looked well and that its feathers were in good condition. I am able to call in and check on it, so I will. Fingers crossed all goes well. I also wanted to mention that Avian Wildlife Center is privately operated; it does not receive any funds from the government. Tax deductible donations are welcome; you can visit their website here.

~Great Blue Heron at Beaver Pond, 08/16/20.~
~Young Bald Eagle at Esopus Lighthouse Park in Ulster County, 08/15/20.~
~Soft photo of a Sandhill Crane flyover (fly through?) at the Liberty Loop, 0/10/20.~
~Not a great shot, but my first Great Egret of the year in Orange County, at Beaver Pond to be more precise. 08/16/20.~

Beaver Pond Craziness, 08/15/20

I certainly had an interesting afternoon and evening at Beaver Pond on Pines Hills Road in Chester. I went to try for shorebirds of course, but when I arrived there was a bird on the wires that, as I pulled up I wasn’t sure what it was. I got out of my car, and the bird flew down and landed on my car door – it was a Cedar Waxwing fledging. It only stayed for a moment and then went and perched in a small tree.

~iPhone shot of Cedar Waxwing fledgling in hand at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20. All pics in this post were taken with my iPhone.~

So, I went about my business of searching for shorebirds, and it was fairly productive with 5 species of shorebird present: Lesser Yellowlegs (4), Solitary Sandpiper (3), Least Sandpiper (2), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), and Killdeer (6). But then, the fledging Cedar Waxwing flew across the road and landed on my scope; I put my hand up and he hopped onto my hand. The bird was begging for food the entire time, mouth wide open, neck straining. I didn’t have any food, so I walked over to my car, CEWA in hand, and poured some water into my free hand. The bird drank from the water three times and then flew back to the tree across the road.

~Cedar Waxwing fledgling perched on my scope at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

The next time the bird came down, it landed directly on my arm. I worked it to my hand and again gave it water to drink from my cupped hand. It drank, but clearly the bird wanted to eat, not drink, and it flew across the street again, this time perching in a lower bush.

I continued to scan for shorebirds, but I was preoccupied by the fledging calling and calling from across the street. I looked online quickly and it looked like the general consensus was to leave fledgling birds be, that their parents were likely nearby and it amounted to kidnapping rather than saving. But, I’d been at the pond for nearly 3 hours at that point, and there was no sign of any adult birds. I didn’t want to “kidnap” the bird, so I ran to the QuickCheck and bought what I’d just read was one of the foods you can feed young birds: wet cat food. I also grabbed a coffee stirrer to feed with.

~Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

When I returned, the fledging was still in the bush, calling, calling, calling. I walked across the road to the bush and the bird came out to me mouth wide open. At first it was unsure of the cat food, but eventually it ate 3 large mouthsful and then moved up and further into the bush. It was the first time since I’d arrived that the bird wasn’t calling.

I’m going to go back and check on the bird first thing in the morning. I’m not sure exactly what my plan is; I’m going to do some additional research this evening and see what my options might be. Hopefully the adult(s) will have returned and all is well, but we shall see.

OC Shorebird Update, 08/09/20

We’ve had some decent shorebirds in the county this week. It started with some post-tropical storm Isaiah puddling at Turtle Bay Road. Right after the storm, Linda Scrima was on the scene and located a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER as well as: 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 3 Pectoral Sandpipers, 4 Least Sandpipers, 3 Semipalmated Plovers, a Spotted Sandpiper, and of course a bunch of Killdeer. Not a bad haul! A couple of days afterwards, I finally made it over, and fortunately the dowitcher had stuck around, as did the Semipalmated Plovers. Turtle Bay continues up to today as pretty much the only good shorebird spot that I know of in southern part of the county, and although the SB Dowitcher has moved on, I had as many as 8 Pectoral Sandpipers over the weekend. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts, as the spot is getting dryer by the day. Meanwhile, Beaver Pond and the Camel Farm appear to have water levels too high for optimum conditions. I haven’t been out to Citgo Pond, but I’m assuming the same holds true there. Let’s hope they dry up enough for good conditions soon.

~I tried Pine Island Turf Nursery on Saturday and had a grand total of one shorebird, this Solitary Sandpiper. PI Turf Nursery 08/08/20.~
~Short-billed Dowitcher at Turtle Bay Road, 08/06/20.~
~A typical Orange County look at shorebirds: two Pectoral Sandpipers WAY downtown. Location Turtle Bay Road, 08/09/20.~

Hurricane Birding on the Hudson, 08/04/20

QUICK POST: Today would have been a good day to get out of work early. As it was, I had a hellacious work day and ended up working pretty late. I did make it out the Newburgh Waterfront in time for one darn good bird late in the evening: a hatch year LAUGHING GULL. The bird was hanging out with a number of Ring-billed Gulls on the docks by Blue Pointe restaurant. Earlier in the evening, I missed some good birds. Rob Stone had two SOOTY TERNS fly south along the river, as well as another unidentified tern. Also, Bruce Nott, after putting in a lot of time at the river, went to Washington Lake and located a Common/Forster’s Tern there. And finally, while not not on the river, Linda Scrima had a Short-billed Dowitcher in the puddles at Turtle Bay. Once again, bad weather = good birds.

~Juvenile Laughing Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 08/0420.~
~One more shot of the Laughing Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 08/0420.~

Sunday Shots, 07/12/20

The weekend wasn’t very exciting compared to Friday. I went to the Hudson River early on Saturday morning and met up with Bruce Nott and then Karen Miller joined us a little later. Bruce and I had 3 distant Caspian Terns and the three of us had another unidentifiable distant tern after that. This morning I went to Goosepond Mountain SP to do some atlasing. I did well and confirmed 4 additional species (Baltimore Oriole, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and one that really made my day – Blue-winged Warbler). I have had rotten luck with photos at that place. I was close to having several opportunities with Blue-winged Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler, but the birds, while close, just never showed well. Anyways, here are some shots from the week.

~Mallard Duckling at the Newburgh Waterfront, 07/11/20.~
~I FINALLY caught up with one of the YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS in Middletown. I believe this was my 6th attempt at these birds, 07/09/20.~
~American Redstart at Goosepond Mountain, 07/12/20.~
~We have had 3 fawns and 3 does frequenting our yard recently. Two of the three fawns, Goshen NY 07/11/20.~
~I am a fan of photos where somehow the camera gets the subject in focus through whatever is in the foreground. Indigo Bunting female at Goosepond Mountain, 07/12/20.~