Good Birding at Wallkill River NWR, 4/18/17

~I got my Orange County FOY Savannah Sparrow this afternoon at Wallkill River NWR, 04/18/17.~

(ANOTHER) QUICK POST: I had an excellent evening of birding at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I ran for four VESPER SPARROWS that Rob Stone had located earlier in the day and miraculously the birds were still present and I was able to relocate them. When I returned to the platform at Oil City Road, I met up with Karen Miller and we birded from there for a while. The next good bird to come in was a pair of LESSER YELLOWLEGS, my first of the year. They seemed to fly over the entire marsh before settling in out of sight about 100 yards in front of the platform. Then Karen Miller saw a bird emerge from the grasses in the pool right in front of the platform – it was a COMMON GALLINULE!!! I snapped a few quick photos, and I’m glad that I did, because the bird stashed itself in the grasses soon afterwards and could only be seen through the scope. What an unexpectedly excellent night of birding!

~Super exciting bird! One of four VESPER SPARROWS at Wallkill River NWR, 04/18/17.~
~Another OC first of the year – one of two Lesser Yellowlegs flying over the platform at Wallkill River NWR, 04/18/17.~
~And one final FOY Orange County bird – COMMON GALLINULE. I’ve never had a COGA at Wallkill River NWR before today, 04/18/17.~ 

OC Connecticut Warbler Continues, 9/25/16

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~What?!? An unobscured photo of a Connecticut Warbler? Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 9/25/16.~

I met Linda Scrima out at Winding Waters Trail early this morning; I was hoping to get my first Lincoln’s Sparrow of the year, and we thought maybe we would get lucky with the Connecticut Warbler for Linda. Just a short way down the trail, Linda got me on a Lincoln’s Sparrow in very nice light. As we worked our way toward the area where the Connecticut Warbler has been seen, a group of birders caught up with us. It was Scott Baldinger, Karen Miller, Bruce Nott, Jody Brodski and Diane Bliss (who actually caught up with all of us further down the trail). I was thinking that I did not like our odds of relocating the CONW with such a large group, but we would try our best. It was a very birdy morning on the trail and having all the extra eyes helped locate many birds. We did particularly well with warblers; Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Black-throated Green Warbler were all seen well (it was my lifer Tennessee Warbler – woohoo!). The one warbler that was not cooperating was the Connecticut, at least not for a good while. Then, a bird popped up just to the left of me and Jody. We both got on the bird quickly and knew it was the CONNECTICUT WARBLER! It perched briefly and then moved further up and into another tree. We were trying frantically to get everyone on the bird, which then crossed the path and perched in some ivy high up on a tree trunk. It eventually showed itself very well on an open branch in good light and I was lucky enough to get a photo. AND, everyone in the group was able to get on the bird! I was really shocked that it worked out, and everyone was pretty giddy about it. The bird was a life bird for everyone in the group outside of myself and Scotty. Pretty exciting birding!

As a side note, Jody had a flyover of a Sandhill Crane in the Black Dirt Region on her way to Winding Waters. I ran around a little bit afterwards, as did Bruce and Jody, but as of this writing no-one had any luck relocating that bird.

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~A sweet looking Lincoln’s Sparrow at Winding Waters Trail, 9/25/16.~
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~Tennessee Warbler at Winding Waters Trail, 9/25/16.~
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~Not as good a photo, but I wanted to include this TEWA with prey,. Winding Waters Trail 9/25/16.~

Hidden Heron, 8/14/16

Just a week and a day after getting decent photos of an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron at DeKorte Park, I was pleasantly surprised by this juvenile that I saw this morning at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I inadvertently flushed the bird when I paused on the trail to watch an American Kestrel hunting. I watched as the heron briefly flew, then landed and stashed itself in the heavy vegetation. The bird does not look very hidden in this photo, but I can tell you that it took me a long while searching with my binoculars to relocate the bird, and that was after having seen where it had flown in. BCNHs are one of my favorites and it’s always a thrill to see one, especially in Orange County.

IMG_3989 - Version 2

 

Fourth of July Birding

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~I got a nice look at this Veery as I pulled into the Main Boat Launch at the Bashakill this morning, 7/416.~

This morning, I joined forces with John Haas and we birded the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area by kayak. We had a very enjoyable paddle with a decent number of birds (32 species), but we had no luck finding our target bird, the Least Bittern. I’m not sure at what point a bird becomes a nemesis bird, but I am certainly starting to think Least Bittern is officially a nemesis bird for me.

In spite of dipping on the LEBI, it was a fun morning of birding. It is awesome to bird with John, he is really great company and an absolute wealth of birding knowledge; every time I bird with him, I learn so much. Plus we did alright with some of the more expected birds: Eastern Kingbirds were numerous and seemed to be at every bend in the channel, we heard at least 10 Common Gallinules, saw 2 Belted Kingfishers, and we got really great looks at one adult and two young Bald Eagles.

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~A Bald Eagle chick perched over the channel. The young eagles were still begging the adults for a handout, which did not seem to be forthcoming. Bashakill, 7/4/16.~

In the afternoon, I received a call from Ken McDermott; he had a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at the viewing platform at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I jumped into the car and made my way out there, but unfortunately the bird had flown north shortly before my arrival. Ken also had a Lesser Yellowlegs a little earlier, which had also moved on. So, I joined Ken and Maria Loukeris (who had also run for and missed the SBDO) for a while and we had an interesting afternoon/evening of birding. Shorebird highlights included Spotted Sandpiper (2), Solitary Sandpiper (2), Least Sandpiper (4), and many Killdeer, including 4 chicks. Other than shorebirds, we had many Great Blue Herons, several Green Herons, Cedar Waxwings, and one of the last birds of the day was an adult Bald Eagle that flew directly over the platform. The 2 Great Egrets that I had there earlier in the week were nowhere to be seen. All in all, a good day of birding, with the promise that shorebird migration is already underway! Huge thanks to Ken for the call.

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~Great Blue Heron in flight a Wallkill River NWR, this shot was from Saturday, 7/2/16.~ 
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~Killdeer chick in the muck at Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/16.~ 
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~Solitary Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/16.~ 
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~Also from a couple days ago, Great Egret with a snack at Wallkill River NWR, 7/2/16.~ 

Catch Up Hodge-podge, 12/28/15

~I am totally loving the Tree Sparrows this year, I just think they are a super looking sparrow. Walked River National Wildlife Refuge, 12/28/15.~
~I am totally loving the Tree Sparrows this year, I just think they are a super looking sparrow. Walked River National Wildlife Refuge, 12/28/15.~

Although the birding has been less than outstanding, I have gotten out and birded Orange County several times in the past week or so. Of note, I finally got a Brown Creeper for the county yesterday (#197 on my county list) just outside of Port Jervis. And then today I finally got my first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK of the season in Pine Island. Not much else has been noteworthy, but it has still been good to get out. I’ve included several photos from the past week or so.

~Adult Bald Eagle in Pine Island, 12/19/15.~
~Adult Bald Eagle in Pine Island, 12/19/15.~
Always a favorite and usually not in such good light - Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Wickham Woodlands Town Park, 12/19/15.~
Always a favorite and usually not in such good light – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Wickham Woodlands Town Park, 12/19/15.~
An American Kestrel fans its tail in an effort to keep its balance on a windy day. Pine Island, 12/27/15.~
An American Kestrel fans its tail in an effort to keep its balance on a windy day. Pine Island, 12/27/15.~
I am pushing the limits of cropping an image here. Rough-legged Hawk, my first of the season, moments before successfully hunting prey. Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 12/28/15.~
I am pushing the limits of cropping an image here. Rough-legged Hawk, my first of the season, moments before successfully hunting prey. Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 12/28/15.~
~There are still approximately 20 American Coots right near the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 12/28/15.~
~There are still approximately 20 American Coots right near the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 12/28/15.~
~Red-tailed Hawk at Wallkill River NWR, 12/28/15.~
~Red-tailed Hawk at Wallkill River NWR, 12/28/15.~

Liberty Loop, 12/13/15 – The Usuals

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~I know I’ve posted a lot of Red-tailed Hawks in flight lately, but hopefully folks aren’t too sick of them. RTHA at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop 12/13/15.~

I was a little bit at a loss as to where to bird this weekend. I ran around to multiple locations on Saturday and did not have many birds at all. I ended the day with a stop at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, where I ran into Karen Miller. It was a nice evening but not a good one for photos. We had 4 Short-eared Owls, 6 Northern Harriers, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, and my personal highlight – a Wilson’s Snipe.

This morning I walked the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop with Maria Loukeris. It was beautiful, warm morning and it was a birdy walk but all the birds we saw were expected species. I had a three target birds – Brown Creeper, Fox Sparrow (I need both for my 2015 Orange County list), and Rough-legged Hawk (because typically I would seen many of them by now). I failed to locate any of my target birds, but we had a nice walk where we had 27 species. I’ve included the morning’s list of birds below.

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~Lucky shot – Black-capped Chickadee in flight at the Liberty Loop, 12/13/15.~
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~I think these American Tree Sparrows are gorgeous. This is the first year that I am taking notice of this.  ATSP at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop 12/13/15.~

Here’s my list for the morning:

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~Downy Woodpecker at the Loop, 12/13/15.~

Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
American Coot
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Bluebird
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch


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~We enjoyed watching the Northern Harriers hunting over the marsh, Liberty Loop 12/13/15.~

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~This shot is actually from last weekend – Northern Mockingbird at Lower Wisner Road in Warwick, NY 12/6/15.~
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~Also from Lower Wisner Road in Warwick, taken yesterday, 12/12/15.~

Thanksgiving Weekend 2015

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~American Coot at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty Loop 11/29/15.~

This afternoon, upon my arrival home after a fun but busy Thanksgiving weekend up in Syracuse, I headed out to do some birding and enjoy the beautiful weather. I was undecided on where to go, but excited to get out locally. I tooled around the black dirt to see what I could find; it was a birdy ride, and I hit many of my usual spots and I eventually made my way out to the Camel Farm, where I ran into Karen Miller. We caught up, trading Thanksgiving stories and we sorted through the nearly 1200 Canada Geese that were present. A Red-tailed Hawk flew right over us, calling the whole time. We did not locate anything different among the Canada Geese, and I kept moving eventually making brief stops at the Wallkill River NWR’s Winding Waters Trail and Liberty Loop. I was happy to find over a dozen American Coots in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop, in very nice light so I took some photos. For the afternoon I had a total of 29 species, I’ll include my list below.

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~A Red-tailed Hawk flyover at the Camel Farm, 11/29/15.~ 
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~I like the look on the the face of this Northern Cardinal, she does not seem entirely pleased. Black Dirt Region, 11/29/15.~

Black Dirt Region 11/29/15:

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~Downy Woodpecker at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail, 11/29/15.~

Canada Goose
Mallard
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Sparrow

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~Two more cute coots at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop, 11/29/15.~

Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, my brother-in-law Bill and I went out to one of my favorite birding spots – Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. It was a terrible day for photos and tough for viewing distant birds as it was very gray and dark all day long. The refuge was loaded with waterfowl and we had 17 different types of water birds: Canada Geese, Tundra Swan, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Coot! We did not get a large number of raptor species, but we had plenty of individuals, with several Northern Harriers and over a half a dozen of both Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks. As I mentioned, it was a tough day for photos, but here are a few shots from the morning:

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~Red-tailed Hawk at Montezuma NWR, 11/28/15.~
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~It was exciting to get close up looks at this young Bald Eagle, unfortunately it was tough light to photograph. Montezuma NWR, 11/28/15.~
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~A nice look at a Northern Shoveler at Montezuma NWR, 11/28/15.~

Liberty Loop, 11/22/15

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~A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead at the Wallkill River NWR Liberty Loop Trail, 11/21/15.~

I’ve had a busy weekend, but I did get manage to get out and do some birding early Saturday morning. I met Maria Loukeris over at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, and we walked the Liberty Loop trail. It was a gorgeous morning, crisp with nice light and just a little bit of a breeze. We found plenty of birds to make the walk interesting, but I did not manage to see any of my target birds – Brown Creeper, Fox Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird, all three of which I need for Orange County for this year. The highlight of the morning for me was seeing hundreds of waterfowl (Canada Geese, American Black Ducks, Mallards, Northern Pintails, and Green-winged Teals) pick up, circle around the refuge and then put back down again. We did alright with raptors with a Turkey Vulture, several Northern Harriers, an adult Bald Eagle, and 3 Red-tailed Hawks. My list for the day includes 26 species; nothing amazing, but it still made for a nice morning of birding that I was grateful to have.

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~My first American Tree Sparrow shot of the season, Liberty Loop Trail, 11/21/15.~
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~Red-tailed Hawk at the Liberty Loop, 11/21/15.~

Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Winter Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
European Starling

 

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Ninety-one Green-winged Teal take a lap around the refuge, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge Liberty Loop Trail, 11/21/15.~
~On the southern leg of the loop, we saw this tree that had been worked on pretty heavily by a beaver. Liberty Loop Trail, 11/21/15.~
~On the southern leg of the loop, we saw this tree that had been worked on pretty heavily by a beaver. Liberty Loop Trail, 11/21/15.~

Sunday’s Shots, 10/18/15

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~A Great Blue Heron preens in a channel off of Liberty Lane at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 10/18/15.~

QUICK POST: Here are a few shots from this morning when I walked Liberty Lane and part of Winding Waters Trail at the Walllkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It was an unremarkable morning bird-wise. There were enough birds around to keep me entertained (mostly sparrows, of which I had 5 species: Song, White-throated, White-crowned, Swamp, and Field), but I mostly just enjoyed a walk in the cool crisp weather.

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~A young White-crowned Sparrow strikes a pose on Liberty Lane, 10/18/15.~
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~Swamp Sparrow on the Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River NWR, 10/18/15.~
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~White-throated Sparrow on Liberty Lane, 10/18/15.~

Wow, What a Day!

~This made Kyle Dudgeon happy - Northern Harrier in flight in the Black Dirt, 10/3/15.~
~This made Kyle Dudgeon happy – Northern Harrier in flight in the Black Dirt, 10/3/15.~

It was a rainy, wet and cold day for starters. I woke up early with the plan to get out early before heading up to Mt. Peter for my Saturday hawkwatch. I wanted to go to Owens Station Crossing to try for the tern I saw last night and also to try for the Red-necked Phalarope that Ken Witkowski had reported seeing in the back pool of the Liberty Loop. As I drove through a pretty steady rain, I was surprised to get a call from Maria Loukeris; she and Linda Scrima were already at Owens Station Crossing and wanted to try for the phalarope. And Marianne O. was on her way. Four birders out on the worst rainy morning in recent memory? Sounds good to me!

Shortly after arriving at Owens Station Crossing, I relocated the tern in the distance, perched on a stump in the lake. The tern flew for us one time (before I even had my camera out!!), but it gave us some good looks, coming closer in decent light. We were in agreement that the bird was likely a COMMON TERN. Perched, the bird did not stand tall and appeared to have a short neck, a hint of a dark carpal bar could be seen, dark primary/wing edges were very apparent, and the tail did not extending past wingtips. In flight, the wings were strongly angled back, and showed a dark trailing edge on the primaries.

We headed down the trail that leads to the back pond of the Liberty Loop. Shortly after arriving, Marianne located a Short-billed Dowitcher. Linda was the only one with a camera out due to the steady, continuing rain and she provided me with a photo of the bird. We continued to scan for quite a while, getting very wet and cold. Eventually, I located the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in my scope! Marianne got on it quickly with her scope and Linda got a quick look in my scope, but unfortunately the bird disappeared into some grasses before Maria got her turn on a scope. It took a while to relocate the bird; when Marianne finally did, Maria got a look and we all got some better looks, but they were by no means good looks, through wet lenses and the bird coming and going through the vegetation. This was a life bird for both Maria and Linda, congrats to them both!

When we got back to the Owens Station Crossing parking lot, we could not relocate the Common Tern; had it moved on already? The weather was trying to break at this point, but the rain continued, just a little lighter than before.

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~Short-billed Dowitcher at the Liberty Loop Trail, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 10/3/15. Photo by Linda Scrima.~

I went home and changed into some dry clothes. It appeared that the rain might stop, so I was going to head to Mt. Peter. Once on the road, it became clear that it was still raining pretty good. Kyle Dudgeon was home from college for the weekend, we exchanged texts and decided to try to get the phalarope for him. We tried for a while at the back pond of the Liberty Loop, but we were unable to relocate the bird, even with the help of a Sussex County birder named Kevin who was out for the bird as well. Kyle and I decided to hit the black dirt to try for shorebirds (me) and raptors (Kyle). We were successful in both searches. American Kestrels were extremely numerous, we didn’t keep count but figured by the evening that we had seen over 30 kestrels! We also saw several Northern Harriers including one Gray Ghost, and we had one immature Bald Eagle fly over. For shorebirds we struggled for the most part with not many being seen, but eventually Kyle’s young eyes located three birds I am thinking might have been BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS; I’ve included a photo of one them below.  And then a little later, way out in a field he spotted 23 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS! (Several of these birds lifted their wings to show wing pits that were not dark). What a day of birding! Crazy weather and awesome birds; it’s usually a good combination.

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~I have this as a Black-bellied Plover – the bill and head look large enough to me?  I’m not sure why I struggle so much to differentiate the plovers?! Any thoughts on this bird would certainly be appreciated.  Black Dirt Region, 10/3/15.~