A Good Morning at Morningside Park, 08/17/17

~There is probably a good reason that there were very few shorebirds present this morning…. let me think…. hmmm… MERLIN at Morningside Park, 08/17/17.~ 

I put my kayak into the water at Morningside Park just as the sun was coming up over the trees this morning. My goal was to photograph migrating shorebirds in the early morning light, but unfortunately there were not all that many present (are you sensing a theme this fall?). I had a single Spotted Sandpiper, 2 Solitary Sandpipers, and 3 Least Sandpipers, but that’s it for shorebirds. There was a MERLIN present that was tearing around and keeping the shorebirds on their toes, which was exciting but doesn’t help when your target birds are its prey. The small falcon perched for a while in a nearby tree and I was happy to get some decent photographs; it’s been a while since I’ve seen or photographed a Merlin.

~I know they are not super exciting, but I love these little Least Sandpipers; they are just little beauties. Morningside Park 08/17/17.~

Otherwise, I ran into just “the usuals”, with plenty of Green Herons and Great Blue Herons to photograph in the beautiful morning light. I spent just about 2 hours in the water and had 30 species in that time, which made for some pretty good birding.

~The Solitary Sandpipers and the Spotted Sandpiper were not like most shorebirds out at Morningside Park. Most shorebirds are extremely confiding when you approach in a kayak; you can get very close without disturbing them at all. The SOSAs and the SPSAs, however, flush very easily so I took a few shots early on and left them in peace.~ 
~Green Heron on a nice perch, Morningside Park, 08/17/17.~
~Spotted Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 08/17/17.~
~Great Blue Heron at Morningside Park, 08/17/17.~ 
~One of 2 Solitary Sandpipers at Morningside Park this morning, 08/17/17.~
~There were plenty of Green Herons around to photograph, so I was enjoying them. Morningside Park, 08/17/17.~ 

Shorebird Report, 08/13/17

~One lonely Least Sandpiper in the Black Dirt. I was really enjoying seeing this bird today – fortunately the bird was foraging close to the road so I able to get close looks and some photos. Black Dirt, 08/13/17.~

SHOREBIRD REPORT: Well, there is actually not very much to report, but it’s not for lack of trying. I am more than ready for some shorebirds to show up in Orange County, but really, the birds have been sparse. Here’s the latest:

Friday 8/11: I had a single Greater Yellowlegs at the Camel Farm, where conditions are finally shaping up a bit for shorebirds.

Saturday 8/12: The Camel Farm was a bust, but I had a single Semipalmated Plover at one location in the Black Dirt, and I had three Lesser Yellowlegs and a single Least Sandpiper at another location in the BD (as well as hundreds of Killdeer).

Sunday 8/13: I had a single Least Sandpiper in the Black Dirt that was very accommodating for photos, the Camel Farm had no shorebirds, and Citgo Pond had 5 Least Sandpipers. All the recent rain has made conditions at Citgo less than ideal, so I was happy to have the 5 LESAs. I ran into Jeff Goulding and Bill Fiero at Citgo, and they informed me that they had several Lesser Yellowlegs at the Liberty Loop earlier in the day. They also informed me that the LITTLE BLUE HERON continues at that location. And, finally, John Haas had 20 Least Sandpipers, 2 Solitary Sandpipers, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper at Morningside Park in Sullivan County this morning. I plan on getting out to that location in the upcoming days for sure. Check out his post here.

~One of the MANY Killdeer in the Black Dirt right now, 08/1/17.~ 
~Another look at the Least Sandpiper in the Black Dirt, 08/13/17.~
~Two Lesser Yellowlegs at Turtle Bay, 08/12/17.~ 
~When looking for shorebirds, it seems much more likely to find falcons. American Kestrel in the Black Dirt, 08/13/17.~ 
~A young American Kestel perched on some farm machinery – I don’t mind the man made perch in this case. Black Dirt, this one if from a couple weeks back, 07/29/17.~ 
~The Little Blue Heron at Liberty Loop continues through today. This shot was taken on Friday, 08/11/17.~

Uppy Update, 08/07/17

~One of 2 UPLAND SANDPIPERS in the Black Dirt, 08/07/17.~

After work today, I went out in the rain and checked the Black Dirt for shorebirds. Right where I had a single Upland Sandpiper last Wednesday, today I located a pair of them. The big difference is that this time around the birds were pretty close to the road, AND I had my camera, so I was able to get some decent shots. I put the word out and Linda Scrima was able to join me.

We photographed the birds from our cars for a while, until I saw a white bird fly across one of the fields. I jumped out of my car and snapped some shots. It was a swallow of some sort; I am guessing leucistic rather than albino since there was hints of brown on the underside of the bird. It was flying with a single Barn Swallow, so I am guessing that it might be one as well. Any thoughts on the ID of this swallow, please comment.

~Uppy in the Black Dirt, 08/07/17.~ 
~A shot of both UPLAND SANDPIPERS together. Black Dirt, 08/07/17.~
~Unidentified swallow in the Black Dirt – possibly a Barn Swallow? ~
~Uni Swallow, Black Dirt 08/07/17.~
~One more of the uni swallow, blurry but showing the tail. Black Dirt 08/07/17.~ 

Orange County LITTLE BLUE HERON, 08/05/17

~Excellent bird for the county – the LITTLE BLUE HERON feeds in the pool in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop, 08/05/17.~ 

QUICK POST: This morning I ran to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh to see the juvenile LITTLE BLUE HERON that Linda Scrima had relocated (the bird was originally reported to eBird yesterday by Ken Witkowski). Linda had put the word out, so several other local birders also got to see the bird: Joyce DePew, Kathy Ashman, Karen Miller, John Haas, and Scotty Baldinger were all present as some point while I was there. The bird spent most of it’s time conveniently right in front of the viewing platform, out maybe 75 feet or so. It did relocate a couple of time and at one point it came back to the pool in front of the viewing platform; as it came in, it snagged a large frog mid-flight! I’ve never seen a wader do that before! Check out the bottom pic in this post to see it. Huge thanks to Linda for finding the bird and for getting the word out. More good OC birding!

~LBHE in flight, coming back to the pool in front of the Liberty Loop viewing platform, 08/05/17.~ 
~LBHE at Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Marsh, 08/05/17.~ 
~Little Blue Heron with prey – a large frog that it snagged mid-flight! Wow! Liberty Marsh, 08/05/17.~ 

A Rare Opportunity

~Wow! LEAST BITTERN! Richard W. DeKorte Park, 07/30/17.~

Maria Loukeris, Linda Scrima, and I birded Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, New Jersey this morning. It was good birding and we had 32 birds, all the expected species for this time of year. I was happy, since I got a decent shorebird fix, with Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Short-billed Dowitchers all present.

In some regards, we were a little unlucky. We missed the American White Pelican when we first arrived by a mere 1o minutes. And, we missed the Least Terns that were reported after we had left. But, really, we were the lucky ones. We followed up on a tip that another birder (sorry we never got her name) gave to Linda, that there was a LEAST BITTERN near one of the blinds on the boardwalk. I was not optimistic – this is a Least Bittern after all, how long is it going to be out in the open? And would we even find it in the first place? And surely if we did it would be super distant. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The bird was present, and it was just a few feet off of the boardwalk and happily feeding on what appeared to be a healthy supply of small fish. We took many photos and other birders and walkers came and went and the LEBI continued to hunt. After a good while, the bird must have been content and it slowly turned and made its way into the reeds. What an incredible experience! I really just couldn’t believe it; I can still hardly believe it. Excellent birding!

~Least Bittern at DeKorte Park, 07/30/17.~
~Head on look at the Least Bittern, DeKorte Park 07/30/17.~
~Least Bittern with prey, Richard W. DeKorte Park 07/30/17.~ 
~Least Bittern making its move. DeKorte Park, 07/30/17.~

FOY Black-crowned Night-Heron, 07/28/17

~Digiscoped shot of one of the two juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS at the Liberty Loop this evening, 07/28/17.~

I met Linda Scrima out at the Liberty Loop viewing platform just after 7:00 this evening. My goal was to try to finally get my first BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON of the year in Orange County. Early on, Linda located some small shorebirds way in the back of the pool in front of the view platform. I got on them with my scope and we had 4 Least Sandpipers, and my first PECTORAL SANDPIPER of the fall migration. A little later, we had nearly twenty Great Egrets pick up from the southernmost part of the loop and relocated into some nearby trees, presumably to roost. And then, not too long after that, we had a single distant BCNH flying high on the east side of the loop, followed by a second one that flew from the middle of the marsh, straight towards the viewing platform and eventually settled in behind some vegetation a little ways out in the pool in front of the platform. I didn’t even try to take photos with my camera, but I was able to get a few decent looking digiscoped shots of the bird. I typically see this bird earlier in the year (I had my first in the month of June, three of the last four years). The BCNHs were my 199th bird in Orange County so far this year.

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.~

 

Wow! Orange County WHITE IBIS!

~One of the 5 White Ibis at Wickham Lake this evening, 07/16/17.~ 

QUICK POST: Well, Rob Stone strikes again. This evening he somehow managed to relocate the five immature WHITE IBIS that had been reported in Orange County earlier this week, but had not been seen for several days (I thought those birds were long gone!). I, of course, ran for the birds and when I arrived, Rob got me on them immediately. They appeared to be getting ready to roost in the treetops on the shore of Wickham Lake. I have to say that seeing WHIB, in Orange County, in the treetops, just blew me away. It was so awesome! Linda Scrima showed up shortly after I did, and then Curt McDermott and Karen Miller not long after her. Curt had been Kayaking at Glenmere Lake, so he had his kayak. I was really excited when he pretty much insisted that I get the first run in the kayak to get some photographs while the light was still good. I paddled out and got great looks at the two birds at the very top of the trees and, of course, clicked away. Huge thanks to Rob for relocating the birds and to Curt for the kayak. What a night!

~Two WHITE IBIS yucking it up in the treetops on the shore of Wickham Lake, 07/16/17.~ 

Camel Farm Shorebird Bonanza!

Wow, what a night at the Camel Farm! I went out to check for shorebirds after work; I was not feeling optimistic but wanted to just check just to see if anything was going on. Surprisingly, there was a good number of shorebirds present. Shortly after I began scanning the big pond, I located a single RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, followed shortly after by a second one! I was completely freaking out and I put the word out. Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, Karen Miller, John Haas, and Scotty Baldinger all joined me and we had what we considered quite a good list of shorebirds…

RED-NECK PHALAROPE (2)

Least Sandpiper (3)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (2)

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (6!)

Spotted Sandpiper (1)

Lesser Yellowlegs (1)

Killdeer (4)

…until Rob Stone called me later this evening, just before it started getting  dark, and amazingly added a WILSON’S PHALAROPE, a Dunlin, and three Short-billed Dowitchers! What an incredible night for OC shorebirds! I’m floored by it, and I’m trying to figure out a way to get out and check on the these birds first thing in the morning, especially the WIPH, I’d love to get a look at that bird!

~Documentary Shot of two Red-necked Phalaropes at the Camel Farm, 05/30/17.~