More Morningside Park, 8/15/15

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~A Least Sandpiper just after sunrise at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

Kyle Dudgeon and I headed to Morningside Park early this morning and arrived just as the sun was rising. We unloaded the kayaks and hit the water hoping to do well with shorebirds. It was a gorgeous morning with a little bit of cool breeze; it was supposed to be a hot day, so it was good to be out ahead of the heat. We paddled out to the small islands that form in the west end of the lake at this time each summer, which attract migrating shorebirds. On this day, unfortunately, shorebird numbers were down, we had 1 Killdeer, 5 Least Sandpipers, 2 Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs which made a brief appearance before moving on. Kyle and I were not deterred and we made the best of it by taking many photos of the Least Sandpipers which were very accommodating. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating – seeing the shorebirds at Morningside Park by kayak is quite a treat. You can get SO close to the birds who simply go about their business as if you were not there at all. We also paddled a good portion of the rest of the lake; we had good looks at Great Blue Herons, a couple of Green Herons, and we finally got Kyle his lifer Belted Kingfisher – he was surprised at how big they are! We got great looks at a kingfisher, unfortunately it was in poor light so no photos to share. What a great morning of birding!

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~This shot is nearly full frame, I cropped it a little bit just to improve the composition. Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~This is my favorite shot from the morning – Least Sandpiper leg and wing stretch! Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~Look at the feet on this bird! Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~LESA at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~This is a cute look to me. Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~I love this shot, unfortunately the camera has focused on the bird’s right foot, making the eye/head a little soft. LESA at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~We had one lone Killdeer while we were there. I was curious to see if this bird would flush when we approached in our kayaks, but it did not. Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~A rare Green Heron photo! Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

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~A Great Blue Heron in the vegetation at Morningside Park, 8/15/15.~

Sullivan County WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER!, 8/9/15

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~White-rumped Sandpiper at Morningside Park in Sulllivan County, 8/9/15.~

I was pretty darn happy this morning when I received a text from John Haas, alerting me that he had located a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Morningside Park in Sullivan County (click here to read John’s account of locating the bird).

I finished what I was doing and then headed home. Yes home… to get my kayak. Morningside Park offers a rare opportunity in our area to see shorebirds up close, and the key is to bird by kayak. I followed John’s directions and located the bird almost immediately and enjoyed taking many photos.  It was pretty exciting for me to get such a good shorebird, hopefully it is the first of many for this season. And, what a good looking bird; it was super to get such good looks at it. There were also several Least Sandpipers present, so I got some shots of them as well.

I’ve also included some photos from the week, most are from the Liberty Loop, where I have been spending most of my birding time lately.

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~I love the crossing primaries as seen in this photo of the bird. White-rumped Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/9/15.~

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~One more good look at the White-rumped Sandpiper as it feeds on one of the islands located in the lake at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 8/9/15.~

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~Least Sandpiper coming this way! Morningside Park, 8/9/15.~

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~It’s hard to believe how very small these birds are when you get this close to them – they are just little peanuts! Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 8/9/15.~

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~This is just a small portion of the crowd of Great Egrets in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop this morning, 8/9/15.~

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~Ha ha! Finally got a shot of a Marsh Wren! Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 8/9/115.~

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~Great Blue Heron takes a short flight at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop, 8/4/15.~

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~Scarlett Tanager on the west side of the Liberty Loop, 8/8/15.~

Bashakill Common Gallinules, 7/4/15

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~An adult Common Gallinule at Haven Road in the Bashakill WMA, 7/4/15.~

I have to say that it felt great to get out after several days of not feeling well and being stuck inside recuperating. Kyle Dudgeon joined me this afternoon and we headed out to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area to try for the Common Gallinules that John Haas had posted about in his blog earlier in the week. We went directly to Haven Road, which is still flooded. We walked slowly through the water and over the bridge before we saw our first family of Common Gallinules, which consisted of one adult and 3 chicks. Fortunately, they were not too far out for photos, although the vegetation did make focusing on the birds a little bit difficult. It was super to get such a good look and photos of  these birds, which are typically much tougher than this to locate. And, it was Kyle’s lifer COGA, so that was exciting too. There was an additional 6 Common Gallinules in open water out in the distance, and I could hear other COGAs in at least two other locations. Huge thanks to John for posting – what a great birding opportunity.

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~A Common Gallinule chick on a precarious perch at the Bashakill WMA, 7/4/15.~

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~COGA chick at the Bashakill WMA, 7/4/15.~

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~One more of the adult Common Gallinule, Haven Road at the Bashakill, 7/4/15.~

Just Because They’re Cute…

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~Killdeer chick at Apollo Plaza, 5/25/15.~

This afternoon, Tricia and I took a drive to Apollo Plaza to see and take photos of the Killdeer chicks. What a joy to see these little fuzzballs with their over-sized legs and feet. I think I missed out on photographing any Killdeer last year, so when I saw one in the distance at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary this morning, it got me thinking that I should not miss out again this year. Just because they’re cute.

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Saturday 3/28/15

~One of 9 Bald Eagles at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 3/28/15.~

~One of 9 Bald Eagles at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 3/28/15.~

On this cold, windy Saturday morning, I left the house without much of a game plan. I wandered around, hitting several spots in southern Orange County before ending up at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area.

GLENMERE LAKE: Highlights included 42 Ring-necked Ducks and 4 Common Mergansers.

SCHERVIER PAVILLION, WARWICK: 10 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers, Canada Geese, and Mallards.

~ A pair of male Hooded Mergansers at Schervier Pavilion in Warwick NY, 3/28/15.~

~ A pair of male Hooded Mergansers at Schervier Pavilion in Warwick NY, 3/28/15.~

WARWICK TOWN HALL PONDS: Ring-necked Ducks too spread out and numerous to count (maybe 60+?), Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canada Geese, and a single American Coot

SANFORDVILLE ROAD, WARWICK NY: 1 American Kestrel and 2 Red-tailed Hawks (including the one pictured below with some super markings).

~Red-tailed Hawk perched on a dirt pile off of Sanfordville Road in Warwick, NY 3/28/15.~

~Red-tailed Hawk perched on a dirt pile off of Sanfordville Road in Warwick, NY 3/28/15.~

LAUREL GROVE CEMETERY, PORT JERVIS NY: Highlights included 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Common Goldeneyes, and over 40 Tree Swallows, my first ones of the year!

~It was great to not only see the Tree Swallows, but to also get a decent photo of one. Laurel Grove Cemetery, 3/28/15.~

~It was great to not only see the Tree Swallows, but to also get a decent photo of one. Laurel Grove Cemetery, 3/28/15.~

BASHAKILL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA, SULLIVAN COUNTY NY: I got my best bird of the day here – a pair of FOX SPARROWS located at the Deli Fields. I tried desperately for photos because I haven’t had a Fox Sparrow since sometime in 2013! The birds would not cooperate and in the end this was my best shot:

~Fox Sparrow at the Bashakill Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~Fox Sparrow at the Bashakill Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

Other highlights included 9 (!) Bald Eagles including one cooperative one that seemed to be playing while flying above Haven Road. And I also had 4 Tree Swallows and I able to get a decent photo of an Eastern Bluebird.

~An immature Bald Eagle flies over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~An immature Bald Eagle flies over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~Eastern Bluebird at the Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~Eastern Bluebird at the Deli Fields, 3/28/15.~

~This eagle seemed to be playing as it flew. Bald Eagle over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

~This eagle seemed to be playing as it flew. Bald Eagle over Haven Road at the Bashakill, 3/28/15.~

Consolation Prize

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

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~What a super consolation prize! Barred Owl on the side of the road near the Neversink Reservoir, 3/24/15.~

After work today, I decided to go for the the Red Crossbills that John Haas had located at the Neversink Reservoir earlier in the day (see John’s post HERE). Karen Miller and Lance Verderame were also out looking for the crossbills, but unfortunately the three of us came up empty-handed. Fortunately for me, I had quite a sweet consolation prize. On my way out to the reservoir, not long after getting off Route 17, I found a Barred Owl perched on the side of the road! So lucky!

Later, after trying for the crossbills I took Karen back to the spot where I had seen the owl – it would be a life bird for her. The bird was no longer present; we scanned the surrounding area for a little while and then I got back in the car to head home. A few minutes later, Karen called – she had the bird! It was perched on a wire just up the road from where I had seen it; I must have driven right under it! Thinking back, I realized that once I started for home, I had immediately begun scanning the radio for the Pittsburgh Penguins game, so I wasn’t looking up! I went back to see the bird for a second time, but unfortunately a Good Samaritan with a bad muffler on his car had stopped to see if Karen needed help and doing so flushed the bird.

Oh, and I also had an additional consolation prize – my first Red-breasted Nuthatch in over a year!

Sullivan County Waterfowl, 11/02/14

Ruddy

One of five cooperative Ruddy Ducks at Kiamesha Lake, 11/02/14.

Since we have not been getting many ducks in southern Orange County, Karen Miller and I decided to head up to Sullivan County and get our fix. It was a very cold and windy day, probably not the best day for going for waterfowl. We went to Swan Lake, the Neversink Reservoir, Morningside Park, and Kiamesha Lake. We did pretty well, but honestly the cold an the wind made it difficult to bird. At the Neversink Reservoir, it was so windy that we could barely see through our scopes – our eyes were constantly tearing and the scopes were shaking in the wind terribly. Bufflehead were the bird of the day with many being seen at all locations except for Morningside Park. In the end we got our fix with 10 types of swimming waterbirds seen and even had some cooperative Ruddy Ducks in sunny weather at our finals stop – Kiamesha Lake for some photo ops. Here’s my list:

Canada GooseIMG_5487 - Version 2
American Black Duck
Mallard
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant

It was really great to see the Bufflehead, it had been a while! Taking off at Swan Lake, 11/02/14.

It was really great to see the Bufflehead, it had been a while! Taking off at Swan Lake, 11/02/14.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck at Kiamesha Lake, 11/02/14. I love the colors on this bird.

We had many Common Merganser for the day. These were taken at Swan Lake, 11/02/14.

We had many Common Merganser for the day. These were taken at Swan Lake, 11/02/14.

A shot of one more Ruddy Duck, Kiamesha Lake, 11/02/14.

A shot of one more Ruddy Duck, Kiamesha Lake, 11/02/14.

Sullivan County Baird’s Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper, located by John Haas at Apollo, 9/29/14.

Baird’s Sandpiper, located by John Haas at Apollo, 9/29/14.

I received a text today from John Haas that certainly improved my Monday – he had located a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Apollo Plaza in Sullivan County. I headed over after work and I was not disappointed. The bird was easily located as there were only two birds present, the other being a Killdeer. I parked and took some shots of the bird and fortunately the bird kept slowly working its way towards me. This is a beautiful bird, I guess  I say that often, but while I was there I couldn’t stop thinking it. Huge thanks to John for locating the bird and alerting me!

Baird's Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

Baird’s Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

I typically do not like shots of birds head-on, but I sort of like this shot, plus it shows the interesting shape of this bird's body. Baird's Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

I typically do not like shots of birds head-on, but I sort of like this shot, plus it shows the interesting shape of this bird’s body. Baird’s Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 9/29/14.

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…but no – the Killdeer goes after the Baird’s Sandpiper. 

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Only two birds present, you would think they could get along…

Foggy Morning Great Blue Heron Lift Off

I’ve been wanting to post this series of photos for a while. I took these back on July 18th while kayaking at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It was an extremely foggy morning, so much so that until late in the morning, the fog prevented any good photos. This Great Blue Heron was shot just as the fog had lifted.

I allowed the kayak to just drift in the direction of this perched Great Blue Heron. Bashakill WMA, 7/18/14.

I allowed the kayak to just drift in the direction of this perched Great Blue Heron…

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I love this shot – you can barely see the bird as it compresses before lift off. I actually had one frame where the bird was not visible at all. 

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The heron seems to simultaneously leap and flap its wings to take off…

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Air born! Miraculously the bird took off straight to my left instead of away from me. I love the full extension in this photo. 

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I’m not sure if this is due to my crop or if the heron actually got a little closer as it passed by…

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…And one more shot as the bird passed to my left. 

Wolf Brook Multi-use Area and Neversink Unique Area

American Redstart at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

American Redstart at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

This morning I met John Haas out in Sullivan County and we birded Wolf Brook Multi-use Area and Neversink Unique area. We left my car at Katrina Falls Road Access and then took John’s car to the Wolf Brook Access. We hiked approximately 4 1/2 miles back to my car and I have to say that this place is loaded with birds. If you threw a rock you would certainly hit an Eastern Towhee as they were present in high numbers. Here’s a distant shot of a young towhee:

A young EATO at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

A young EATO at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

One highlight for me was seeing a mother Common Merganser with two young on the Neversink River. Our look was distant and partially obstructed, so no photos of those birds. Worth mentioning is that we did really well with warblers, with 12 species:

Yellow Warbler                                                Pine Warbler
Chestnut-sided                                               Warbler Prairie Warbler
Magnolia Warbler                                            Black-and-white Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler                           American Redstart
Black-throated Green Warbler                        Ovenbird
Blackburnian Warbler                                     Common Yellowthroat

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Wolf Brook Multi-use Area, 7/11/14.

This Black-and-white Warbler found one patch of bright sunlight on the trail. Of course my camera was set for being in the low light of the trail so this shot is overexposed but I tried to salvage it. Neversink Unique Area, 7/11/14.

This Black-and-white Warbler found one patch of bright sunlight on the trail. Of course my camera was set for being in the low light of the trail so this shot is overexposed but I tried to salvage it. Neversink Unique Area, 7/11/14.

As birdy as the walk was, the best part of the hike was certainly seeing the falls. At about 30 feet high, they are really spectacular to see and my photos don’t do justice in the slightest. Also, it is wonderfully cool with a nice mist coming off the falls, accompanied with small rainbows. It’s really a great experience and I recommend it highly.

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This panoramic shot was taken with the Photosynth app on my iPhone.

This panoramic shot was taken with the Photosynth app on my iPhone.

I want to thank John for showing me this great hike, one that I will surely take for years to come, and also for all his help identifying birds by ear today. As we walked, I wondered from time to time just how many birds I would be able to identify if I was doing it on my own? I guess I’ll find out next time….