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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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:
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.
*Click on photos to enlarge.*
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!
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:
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!
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.
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:
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
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.
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….