A Full Day of Birding, 10/13/18

~Cape May Warbler at Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/13/18.~ 

This morning’s rain delayed the start of hawkwatch, so I spent the morning in the black dirt looking for shorebirds. Although it was not raining all that hard, the weather was tough on my gear today. The humidity must have been through the roof, because frustratingly, every time I lifted my binoculars to my eyes they seemed to fog over. I had two sets out and I was alternating just to be able to see with any consistency. Even my scope developed some moisture between the filter and the lens, leaving a perfect circle of condensation which lasted for most of the day. Regardless, I ran around for shorebirds and here’s what I had:

Skinner Lane: 4 American Golden-Plovers

Missionland: 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, 18 Killdeer

Turtle Bay: 1 Least Sandpiper, 15 Killdeer

Camel Farm: 20+ Wilson’s Snipe, 4 Killdeer, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 12 Lesser Yellowlegs

Pine Island Turf Nursery: 18 Killdeer

~Lesser Yellowlegs at Missionland. This shot was from Friday evening, 10/12/18.~ 

The rain let up and I was up at Mount Peter for Hawkwatch at 11:45. It was a really good day to be on the mountain, with cool temperatures and a steady northwest wind. Birds were flying and I had a decent number of birds (total of 83 migrants), with very good variety (11 species). Linda Scrima, Rob Stone, and Bob Klenk all visited and helped me out. Sharp-shinned Hawks were the number one migrant, and highlights for me included a couple of Merlins, a Peregrine Falcon, and a couple of Northern Harriers ( a bird we see frequently in our area, but to me it’s awesome to see them flying high over the hawkwatch in migration). Non-raptors had some good highlights too, with a couple of CAPE MAY WARBLERS, and two skeins of BRANT flying over. See my full report at the bottom of this post.

~BRANT! I was super pumped to have a couple skeins fly over the watch today, Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 10/13/18.~ 

After hawkwatch, I stopped at Glenmere Lake, where the Mearns Bird Club was holding a big sit. They spent the whole day, sunrise to sunset, at the lake counting birds. I joined Kathy Ashman and Karen Miller, who had a long but good day of birding along with 12 other members of the club. They finished the day with 47 species, which I thought was pretty good.

I headed home, tired but happy with a full day of birding behind me.

~Ahhhh… the obligatory Turkey Vulture photo returns. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 10/13/18.~ 
~One more Cape May Warbler shot, Mt Pete, 10/13/18.~

Rain Shortened Hawkwatch and More Good Shorebirding

~BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER in the Black Dirt Region, 09/08/18.~

I had a pretty good hawkwatch today while it lasted, a nice combination of migrating songbirds and raptors. Fellow counter Denise Farrel joined me up at Mount Peter; I had my first 4 migrating Osprey of the year, as well as a couple of Broad-winged Hawks and a single Cooper’s Hawk. As for passerines, a couple of mixed flocks moved through quickly –  I was able to pick up several American Redstarts, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Prairie Warbler, a Red-eyed Vireo, two Palm Warblers, a likely Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Northern Parula (you can see my complete list of birds in my hawkwatch report below). The rain began during the third hour of the watch and was light at first, but then it started fall a little more steadily, so at 2 o’clock I packed it in.

~Ahhhh… the obligatory Turkey Vulture shot. These guys got up early today; I had them in the air right after my arrival, at 9:10 am.~

I took the opportunity and spent the rest of the rainy afternoon looking for shorebirds. My first stop was at the Liberty Loop’s southernmost pool, where a few good birds were seen yesterday (Wilson’s Phalarope, Baird’s Sandpiper, and Little Blue Heron). I whiffed on all three of those birds, but I was lucky enough to locate a STILT SANDPIPER, the first one I’ve seen in quite a while. This is a bird I’ve been talking about wanting to see lately, so it was nice for it to happen.

~Nice bird. STILT SANDPIPER (with Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs in the background) at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop, 09/08/18.~

Afterwards, I headed to Skinner Lane where I had a trio of good birds: BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER (5), BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER. The big difference today is that, finally, the birds were not absolutely miles out. So, I was able to get some really good looks (especially in the scope), as well as some decent shots. All in all it was quite a good day of birding – a little bit of everything.

~It was nice to finally get a good look at these birds, and some photos too. Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Skinner Lane, 09/08/18.~
~One lonely American Golden Plover in the black dirt, 09/08/18.~
~One more Buff-breasted Sandpiper shot, 09/08/18.~
~I think this is a Palm Warbler, but I would not be surprised if I didn’t have it correct. Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 09/08/18.~

Beautiful Baird’s Sandpiper, 09/05/18

~Beautiful bird – BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Apollo Plaza, 09/05/18.~ 

When I saw John Haas’ report this morning that he had a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Apollo Plaza, I knew there was a good chance I’d be heading to Sullivan County after work. While it’s been an excellent year for me with shorebirds in Orange County, photo ops have been very few. So, with that in mind, I raced towards Apollo Plaza after work and luckily the bird was still present. At first I didn’t think I would get any photos because the BASA was staying mostly hidden in the grasses, but eventually the bird worked its way out and into the open. What a difference from see them a couple hundred yards out like we have been in the black dirt! What a beautiful bird; huge thanks to John for posting and to Patrick Dechon, who originally located the bird on Monday.

Orange County BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, 08/31/18

It’s not very often that I do a post without a photo, but I was excited tonight to finally track down a pair of BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS. I got out of work a couple hours early, so I was able to cover the more active spots in the black dirt. It wasn’t until my final stop – at Skinner Lane – that I had any shorebirds other than Killdeer.

Shortly after my arrival at Skinner, Ken McDermott joined me. We enjoyed some decent views of a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER in a grassy field amongst some Killdeer and a handful of Least Sandpipers. Clay Spencer arrived and we got him on the Baird’s. I’d been focusing my efforts mostly on the side of the road where we’ve had the most birds this year. I decided to quickly scan the other side and I noticed a good number of birds in the distance. I went through them with my scope, and sure enough there were a pair of Buff-breasted Sandpipers with them. Clay and Ken both got looks through my scope and then Clay got them in his scope as well. Kathy Ashman arrived right after a helicopter had lifted all the shorebirds up, but thankfully Clay was able to relocate the BBSAs and we got Kathy on them. Unfortunately, the birds were just too far out for photos; maybe there will be photo ops in the coming days if they stick around.  More excellent OC shore birding – it’s really been some August for shorebirds in the area!

Orange County Little Blue Heron, 08/30/18

~LITTLE BLUE HERON at Stewart Forest State Park, 08/30/18.~ 

QUICK POST: After work today, I ran for the LITTLE BLUE HERON at Stewart Forest SP, that was located and reported by Bill Fiero earlier in the day.  I had an event to attend in the evening, so I made a quick pit stop for the LBHE (which was super cooperative – out in the open and close enough to get some decent shots). The bird was in the Maple Lane wetland, which is about 1/4 mile down from the Ridge Road North parking lot. Go left down the paved road and the wetland is on the right. Huge thanks to Bill for finding and reporting.

~Little Blue Heron at Stewart Forest, 08/30/18.~ 

 

More Good OC Shorebirds, 08/19/18

~Beautiful birds! Two BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS make their way through the grasses at Skinner Lane, 08/19/18.~ 

This morning was yet another productive morning for shorebirds in Orange County. I went straight to Turtle Bay first thing; Rob Stone had located a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER there the evening before. The place was loaded with birds and I had a total of 10 species of shorebird: Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpiper, and I was able to relocate Rob’s WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. That’s a good list of shorebirds for Orange County for sure! Maria Loukeris and Linda Scrima joined me and also got the bird; several others got the bird later in the morning.

~BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, Skinner Lane 08/19/18.~ 

From there, Maria, Linda, and I headed to Skinners Lane, where we ran into birding buds and fellow Mt. Peter Hawkwatchers Judy Cinquina, Tom Millard, and Rick Hansen. The place was pretty dead, so they headed for Turtle Bay after hearing our report of the birds there. Linda headed home, but Maria and I lingered. I’m glad we did – while scanning I saw some movement in a field with some taller grass. It ended up being a Killdeer, but moments after getting on the Killdeer, a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER walked into my field of vision. And then a second one! A good number of folks got to see the birds: Linda, Rob, Judy, Tom, John Haas, and returning from the dead, Bruce Nott (always good to see you Bruce!), which made me happy. It was a good day of birding and for seeing some of my favorite birding buds.

~A distant shot of the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER with a Killdeer, Turtle Bay 08/19/18.~

Double UPPY, 08/18/18

~UPLAND SANDPIPER at Skinner Lane, 08/18/18. This is a super distant shot, cropped within pixels of its death.~ 

QUICK POST: The crazy weather and the good shorebirding continued in Orange County this afternoon. Another substantial storm rolled through, so I ran back out to see if I could get any more good shorebirds. My first stop was Skinners Lane where I had several Lesser Yellowlegs, one Greater Yellowlegs, several Least Sandpipers, and the ever present hordes of Killdeer. I was on my way out and I checked one more area – I was thrilled to locate an UPLAND SANDPIPER, one of my favorites for sure. I put the word out, shortly afterwards a second UPPY joined the first. It didn’t stick around for long – it took flight and I didn’t follow it because I wanted to keep and eye on the bird that stayed. Linda Scrima and Rob Stone joined me and we all enjoyed nice scope views of the remaining Upland Sandpiper. Good shorebirding continues in the OC!

~Two UPLAND SANDPIPERS at Skinner Lane, 08/18/18.~ 

More OC Shorebirding, 08/18/18

~Hmmmm, why are there no shorebirds around…. American Kestrel in the Black Dirt Region, 08/18/18.~

I made the rounds in the black dirt this morning, searching for shorebirds of course. I was once again optimistic after last night’s storms. The best spot of the day was Turtle Bay, where there were many shorebirds present. I ran into Kathy Ashman out there early and we sifted through some quite distant birds and had 5 species of shorebird: Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, and Killdeer. I checked back a little later and ran into John Haas, who had located an additional, excellent species: SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER. The bird of the day for me, however, was a single AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER out at Skinner Lane. The bird was close enough for some decent photos, and at one point was kind enough to confirm its identity with a nice wing stretch, exposing clear wing-pits. Kathy Ashman and Linda Scrima both ran for the bird and enjoyed good looks at the bird as well.

~Pretty bird. AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER at Skinner Lane, 08/18/18.~ 
~Streeeetch. American Golden-Plover, Skinner Lane 08/18/18.~ 
~Linda Scrima and I got a real kick out of seeing several young Horned Larks this morning. We had a  total of nearly a dozen HOLAs at Pine Island Turf Nursery.! 

Wow! More Good OC Shorebirds, 08/14/18

~Dowitcher Species at Pine Island Turf Nursery*, 08/14/18.~

QUICK POST: I have to keep this one short because it’s late and I’m exhausted. I had another good evening for shorebirds in the Black Dirt Region. My first stop was at Turtle Bay, where, among many Killdeer, I had 12 Semipalmated Plovers. I think that might be the most I’ve ever had at a location in Orange County. Then I headed to Pine Island Turf Nursery*, where I located a Dowitcher Species. I have good photos of this bird, so I know it will be identified, but I think I need to put some work in to learn how to differentiate between the Long-billed and the Short-billed. According to eBird, it is much more likely to be a Short-billed as their bar chart doesn’t have LBDOs coming through until Mid-September.  But, tonight is not the night to learn this, I’m too tired and I have to get up early. I’ll leave it unidentified for the moment, if anyone has thoughts on this bird, please comment or email me. Rob Stone and Linda Scrima both ran for the bird and got it. As a bonus, we got to enjoy a double rainbow when the rain finally let up a bit.

~Dowitcher Sp. at PITN*, 08/14/18.~

On my way home, I stopped at Skinner Lane. It was almost to dark to see, but luckily I had a good bird right near the road – BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! I cranked up the ISO and was at least able to get some documentary shots. What a night! In case you couldn’t tell, I just LOVE shorebirds in the OC.

*Please remember that you have to get permission to bird at Pine Island Turf Nursery! Ask at the office – they are really nice people!

~I picked this shot because it showed the rain so well. Dowitcher Species at PITN*, 08/14/18.~
~One more of the Dowitcher, standing at attention. PITN*, 08/14/18.~
~Baird’s Sandpiper at Skinner Lane, 08/14/18.~
~One more of the Baird’s Sandpiper at Skinner Lane, 08/14/18.~
~Double rainbow! Black Dirt, 08/14/18.~

BLACK TERNS in the Black Dirt!

~Three of the 7 BLACK TERNS in the pouring rain at Skinner Lane this evening, 08/13/18. Usually I’m not a fan of farm machinery in my shots, but in this case it seems perfect.~ 

Wow, what a crazy evening of birding I had tonight! I was feeling optimistic as I headed out to the Black Dirt Region after work. Severe storms had moved through the area and appeared to have dropped a lot of water; I was hoping this would make for some interesting birding. I was planning on covering a fair amount of territory, but my first stop – Skinner’s Lane –  ended up being so good, I never left until it was dark. It was raining pretty hard. In fact, it rained pretty good for almost the entire evening, only letting up when I was getting ready to leave. When I arrived, there was a pretty good collection of shorebirds present: BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS (3), Semipalmated Plovers (4), Least Sandpipers (3), Killdeer (many), and one bird that I initially thought was a Semipalmated Sandpiper but for the moment I’m leaving unidentified (see below).

~Photos were tough, but this one turned out halfway decent. Black Terns at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~

I was just about to leave when I noticed a group of peeps had flown in without my seeing them. It was a group of what I’m pretty sure were Semipalmated Sandpipers. Then things got crazy. A small flock of larger birds flew in – they circled the field once and then flew to the south and out of sight. By this time, all my gear was wet and really, I had now idea what the birds were because I just couldn’t get a good look. But, then they came back – I jumped into my car and grabbed my camera to get some shots. They circled the field 3 more times and then headed northeast and did not return. I must have been a little frazzled because I looked at the pics and still couldn’t ID them… I shot a quick photo to Rob Stone who identified them as BLACK TERNS! I was freaking out! I looked at my photos to get a count – I had a single shot with 7 in it!

~BLACK TERNS in the black dirt, 08/13/18.~ 

More shorebirds arrived after the terns had departed – I added 2 Wilson’s Snipe, 7 Pectoral Sandpipers, and another group of Semipalmated Sandpipers to my list for the evening. What a great night of birding; once again, bad weather=good birds.

~I like this shot because you can really see the rain coming down. It’s a grainy, rainy shot of BLACK TERNS at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~ 
~BLACK TERNS at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~ 
~I’m not sure what this bird is. I’m wondering if it’s a Sanderling – I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo, but the bird had hints of rufous on its head and back, and the size seems possibly good for Sanderling (see photo below with Killdeer as reference). Any thoughts on this bird, please leave a comment – thanks! ~