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…


Least Sandpiper (3)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (2)


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.~


Texas Teaser




~~Willets were plentiful in Sargent, Texas, so I took the opportunity to try for some flight shots, 03/31/17. ~

QUICK POST: Tricia and I returned last night from family birding vacation in Sargent, Texas. We joined Tricia’s sister Carolyn, her husband Bill, and their daughter Cameron for 6 days in this very birdy area. I have over a thousand photos to get through, so I anticipate getting a post together for this weekend… stay tuned.

The Jersey Shore Doesn’t Disappoint

~Sanderling at Morgan Avenue Mudflats, 02/05/17.~

Maria Loukeris and I spent a fantastic day of birding down at the Jersey Shore today. Our first stop was at Morgan Avenue Mudflats in Middlesex County. We dipped on our target bird – the Black-headed Gull which had been reported as recently as Friday, but we did get lucky with a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. We got great looks at the bird and some documentary photos.

Our second stop was at Manasquan Inlet in Ocean County. I knew it would be a good stop when I stepped out of the car and photographed a Common Loon at close distance. We worked our way out onto the jetty and I saw a very white bird on the water, not far from the jetty. “Is that a gannet?” It was a NORTHERN GANNET; we had several while we were there, and one in particular spent a large amount of time not far from the jetty. We reached the end of the jetty and Maria found the bird of the day, a RAZORBILL! The bird was very close to the jetty; I could barely believe it. We got super looks at the bird, and even some decent shots. It was definitely the highlight of the day.

~The bird of the day, RAZORBILL at Manasquan Inlet 02/05/17.~ 
~It was nice to see this Lesser Black-backed Gull at Morgan Avenue Mudflats, 02/05/17.~ 

Our final stop was at Shark River in Monmouth County. As it was last year when we were there, the place was absolutely loaded with birds. We never located the Eurasian Wigeon that had been reported, but we did pretty well with waterfowl (and a couple of shorebirds too):

Canada Goose 55
Brant 250
Mute Swan 85
Gadwall 55
American Wigeon 45
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 12
Bufflehead 125
Hooded Merganser 65
Red-breasted Merganser 25
Ruddy Duck 1
Black-bellied Plover 3
Dunlin 7

We ended the day with a total of 30 species from the three locations. Good birding!

~Here’s a favorite. Brant at Morgan Avenue Mudflats, 02/05/17.~ 
~Yup, another favorite. Common Loon at Manasquan Inlet, complete with water droplets, 02/05/17.~ 
~It’s always good to see some Purple Sandpipers. Manasquan Inlet 02/05/17.~ 
~Red-throated Loon at Manasquan Inlet, 02/05/17.~
~Red-breasted Merganser at Manasquan Inlet, 02/05/17.~
~I was having flashbacks to my pelagic trip! Northern Gannet fishing near the jetty at Manasquan Inlet, 02/05/17.~ 
~NOGA at Manasquan Inlet 02/05/17.~
~NOGA in full tuck just entering the water. What a blast to watch this bird! Manasquan Inlet 02/15/17.~ 

Orange County DUNLIN, 10/18/16

~A single Dunlin at Citgo Pond, 10/18/16.~

QUICK POST: I got out to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond a little on the late side this evening; I had some things to take care of directly after work. But, when I eventually got out there, I finally had a new bird – a single DUNLIN. I got super looks at the bird in my scope, but the bird was a bit distant for any decent photos. I was super excited, I’ve been waiting for a while for something good to make its way to Citgo, and Dunlin were on my list for sure. This Dunlin is my 207th species in Orange County this year.

~Dunlin with a couple of Least Sandpipers, Citgo Pond 10/18/16.~
~One more shot of the Dunlin at Citgo, 10/18/16.~

Orange County Black-bellied Plovers, 9/29/16

~A distant look at one of four Black-bellied Plovers, along with two Killdeer. Black Dirt Region, 9/29/16.~ 

QUICK POST: Every once in a while you go out looking for a specific bird and you find it. That’s what happened to me tonight when I went out to the Black Dirt hoping for Black-bellied Plovers. I had located a collection of plovers – many Killdeer and a good number of American Golden-Plovers. There were 4 plovers that were slightly larger than the AMGPs, with a noticeably more substantial bills. I was feeling pretty sure that they were BBPLs; I waited it out and eventually a couple of them took short flights, exposing the black wing pits diagnostic of BBPLs! I put out the word and Maria Loukeris and Kathy Ashman both ran for them. All three of us enjoyed good scope views of the birds, even if photos were tough. My final count was 23 American Golden-Plovers, 4 Black-bellied Plovers, and approximately 40 Killdeer. Excellent evening of birding!

Sussex County STILT SANDPIPER, 9/1/16

~STILT SANDPIPER at Wallkill River NWR, 9/1/16.~

I went out and walked the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop trail to follow up on an eBird report of a Short-billed Dowitcher in the Sussex County portion of the trail. I relocated the SBDO, but I also was fortunate enough to find a STILT SANDPIPER. The bird was feeding most of the time I saw it, head going up and down like a sewing machine. I was feeling lazy and walked the trail without hauling my scope with me, and I really regretted it as the birds were far enough out to make IDing them with binoculars tough. The pond was loaded with shorebirds, in addition to the STSA and the SBDO I also had Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpipers, and Pectoral Sandpipers. Other highlights included a quick look at a young Black-crowned Night-Heron and a beautiful male Northern Harrier hunting over the marsh.

~Thanks to the water droplet, you can see the length of the STSA’s bill in this shot. Wallkill River NWR, 9/1/16.~
~I’ve included this shot to give a sense of the size of the bird, as compared to the Lesser Yellowlegs on the left and the Short-billed Dowitcher just to the right. Stilt Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Loop, 9/1/16.~

Great Birding in the Black Dirt, 8/29/16






~I used my car as a blind (hiding behind it rather than being in it, in this case), and this Northern Harrier made a close pass. Black dirt, 8/29/16.~

QUICK POST: It’s late so I have to make this quick. I had some great birds and some darn good photo ops while birding the black dirt this evening. Highlights included: 2 BUFF BREASTED SANDPIPERS, 9 American Golden-Plovers, a Northern Harrier close encounter, and a late evening Common Nighthawk flyover. Here’s some of my shots from the day.

~A plane doing stunts overhead actually flushed several American Golden-Plovers closer to me! Black Dirt, 8/29/16.~
~And this blew my mind. Two Buff-breasted Sandpipers flew all the way across a field to land approximately 30 yards in front of me. I was freaking out and trying to take photos without moving a muscle! Black dirt, 8/29/16.~
~BBSA in the Black Dirt, 8/29/16.~
~American Golden-Plover in golden light. Black Dirt 8/29/16.~
~I was not really happy about the lack of sharpness in my BBSA shots; I think the camera has a hard time picking up the bird versus the similar background. Black Dirt, 8/29/16.~
~One more Buffie. I love this bird. Black Dirt 8/29/16.~

Good OC Shorebirding Continues, 8/28/16

~A Lesser Yellowlegs feeds at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond, 8/27/16.~

I spent nearly all my birding time this weekend looking for shorebirds in Orange County. Saturday was a bit of a bust, in spite of favorable overnight winds. Today was another story. I got out to the black dirt early while it was still on the cool side. At my first stop I had a small shorebird flyover with a small flock of Killdeer. I watched the bird in my binoculars until it was out of sight, never to be identified. At my second stop, I had a similar experience, but this time the bird put down about three fields over. I got on it with my scope and it looked like a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER! I followed the bird, walking on the road as the bird worked the field. I would stop every so often when the bird would come to an area unobstructed by grasses and put down my scope for a look or to take some photos, becoming more and more convinced that it was a BBSA. I eventually lost the bird, so I walked the road to the other side of the field to try and relocate it. At first I could not find it, but I did see in the middle of the field, a single AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER! Very exciting! Of course, at the time I wasn’t sure exactly which plover it was (American Golden or Black-bellied), I figured that out later. I eventually relocated the Buff-breasted Sandpiper and it was with a second Buffie. Then I heard a call I was unfamiliar with – I looked away from the scope to see 3 more American Golden-Plovers coming in! I took photos as the birds came in to land on the field – showing clear wing pits (not black as would be seen in Black-bellied). I had put the word out earlier, but unfortunately, before anyone arrived to see the birds, a low flying plane flushed first the plovers, followed shortly afterwards by the Buffies. Kathy, Scotty, Bruce, and I combed the area but came up empty. Sorry for the poor photos of these birds, but they were extremely distant and the heat shimmer was terrible.

I did check 6 1/2 Station Road’s Citgo Pond in the early afternoon, but I did not locate any new birds – I found basically the same birds as were present on Thursday, minus the Baird’s Sandiper and the Greater Yellowlegs.

~One of the hundreds of Killdeer in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
~American Golden-Plover in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
~Three American Golden-Plovers coming in for a landing. Notice the lack of black wing pits, indicating AMGP. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~ 
~A distant partially obstructed shot of  a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Note the small squarish head on a slim neck and the bird’s erect stance. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~ 
~In the scope the bird’s yellowish legs could be made out. BBSA in the black dirt, 8/28/16.~ 
~A young Cooper’s Hawk seen while searching for shorebirds. No wonder there were none at this location. Black Dirt 8/27/16.~ 
~It was good to see some Horned Larks this weekend. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~
~It was good to see some Horned Larks this weekend. Black Dirt 8/28/16.~

Orange County BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, 8/25/16

~Very exciting! BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~ 

I ran into Karen Miller and Diane Bliss this afternoon – we were all heading in to check out 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond. We arrived at the pond and set up our scopes, and as luck would have it, the first bird in my scope was a beautiful BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! We were all super excited and enjoyed great looks in our scopes as we put the word out. John Haas, Bruce Nott, and Kathy Ashman all ran for the bird, which ended up being very confiding, allowing for great looks and some decent photos too. Shorebirds were numerous at the pond, here is our count:

Killdeer (6)
Greater Yellowlegs (1)
Lesser Yellowlegs (5)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (3)
Least Sandpiper (34)
Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
Wilson’s Snipe (1)

What an excellent afternoon/evening of birding! I love this time of year!

~One more shot of the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, Citgo Pond 8/25/16.~ 
~Look at all those scopes! These birders come prepared! Checking out the shorebirds at the Citgo Pond, 8/25/16.~



Wow! WILSON’S PHALAROPE at DeKorte, 8/15/16


~Love, love, loved this bird! WILSON’S PHALAROPE at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~

Okay, so at what point do I change the name of this blog to Bergen Birding? Over the weekend, another GREAT bird – a WILSON’S PHALAROPE, was located at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. I didn’t go for it then, I but today after work, I ran for the bird and luckily the bird not only stuck around, it was very accommodating for photos. I was talking with Chris Takacs while viewing the bird, and he indicated that this was likely a young bird. The bird is absolutely beautiful, white as white can be with a long very thin and pointy bill. It fed nearly the entire time I was there, only stopping to preen and then relax for a short time. This is the second time I’ve seen a Wilson’s Phalarope, my lifer was at the Liberty Loop back in April of 2013.

Huge thanks to both Maria Loukeris and Denise Farrel, who kept me posted with the alerts for this bird today.

~Beautiful bird. Wilson’s Phalarope at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~
~WIPH at DeKorte, 8/15/16.~
~I had to include at least one water flick shot. Wilson’s Phalarope at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16.~
~There were many other shorebirds close by too, but I barely paused to take their photos. Lesser Yellowlegs at DeKorte Park, 8/15/16. ~
~And for comparison, a Greater Yellowlegs at DeKorte Park 8/15/16.~
~This is not a bird I’ve been this close to before. Short-billed Dowitcher at DeKorte, 8/15/16.