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….

 

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS!

Six Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 6/24/14.

Six Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at Morningside Park in Sullivan County, 6/24/14. I know it looks like only five, but there is one duck hidden behind the others.

Today a DEC worker located six BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS at Morningside Park in Sullivan County and apparently put the word out. I received a call from Ken McDermott in the early afternoon and I knew that I was going to miss my Tuesday afternoon golf league. According to Ken, this is the first sighting on record of these birds in Sullivan County. The birds were originally located on shore by the pavilion, but picked up and relocated out into the lake by the time I had arrived. The view was not too distant, but did not allow for great photos. To see good, close-ups of the birds, go to John Haas’ blog, The Bashakill Birder. It was a really great afternoon where I got to see a lot of birders I know and we all got great looks at these beautiful rarities.

A better look at all six Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. Morningside Park 6/24/14.

A better look at all six Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. Morningside Park 6/24/14.

Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14

My first decent Great Blue Heron shot of the season. Taken on Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

My first decent Great Blue Heron shot of the season. Taken on Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

Karen Miller and I birded the Bashakill this morning. I hit most of the hot spots at the Bash by the mornings end; Karen and I started at Haven Road and then moved on to the  Orchard/Stop Sign Trail, and then we hit Nature Trail before Karen had to leave to meet a friend. I continued on to the Horseshoe Trail and then ended my morning at the Deli Fields, where I enjoyed a delicious sandwich from the deli. It was not an overly exciting morning of birding, as we did find any out of the ordinary birds, just the usual suspects for this time of year, but we quietly put together a list of 48 species identified:

 

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I haven't had too many Cedar Waxwings this spring. Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

I haven’t had too many Cedar Waxwings this spring. Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

Baltimore Oriole at the Horseshoe Trail, Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

Baltimore Oriole at the Horseshoe Trail, Bashakill WMA, 5/25/14.

Weekend Wrap-up, 5/18/14

I got some incredible looks at several Blue-winged Warblers out at Goosepond  Mountain State Park on Sunday 5/18/14.

I got some incredible looks at several Blue-winged Warblers out at Goosepond Mountain State Park on Sunday 5/18/14. Update: As M Grant pointed out to me (thanks!), this bird is likely a hybrid between Blue-winged Warbler and a Golden-winged Warbler known as Brewster’s Warbler. Read more about it here

FRIDAY 5/16 – WARWICK AND LIBERTY LOOP

After work on Friday I dodged the raindrops and managed to do a little birding. My first stop was at the Red-tailed Hawk nest in Warwick NY. I shot a few photos in the rain and managed to get one that shows a young RTHA chick in the nest:

RTHA nest in Warwick, NY 5/16/14.

RTHA nest in Warwick, NY 5/16/14.

I then headed over to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and walked down Liberty Land and the west side of the Liberty Loop, hoping for shorebirds. It was a pretty quiet evening bird-wise and for shorebirds I only located 2 Greater Yellowlegs and 2 Killdeer. My best bird of the night was my FOS Willow Flycatcher, which I somehow did not manage to get a photograph of. I also had a pair of Great-crested Flycatchers and they were more accommodating.

One of two Great-crested Flycatchers on the Liberty Loop Friday night, 5/16/14.

One of two Great-crested Flycatchers on the Liberty Loop Friday night, 5/16/14.

SATURDAY 5/17 – BASHAKILL STATE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

While birding the Orchard, this Veery was kind enough to land in the middle of the road. Bashakill WMA, 5/17/14.

While birding the Orchard, this Veery was kind enough to land in the middle of the road. Bashakill WMA, 5/17/14.

I was scheduled to volunteer at the Nature Watch on Saturday afternoon, so I decided to bird the Bash beforehand. By the way, for those of you who do not know about Nature Watch, it is a program run by the Basha Kill Area Association where every weekend in the spring from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, they set up scopes at the main boat launch to view the resident Bald Eagles on the nest. There are volunteers present to help inform about the eagles and the Bashakill and to help folks use the scopes. This year the eagles have one eaglet that seems to be doing quite well. There is also an Osprey nest that can be viewed from the scopes as well. So, I wanted to bird the Bash before my shift. What I didn’t think about is that the Mearns Bird Club was having its annual “Break 100″ contest, where teams try to locate over 100 bird species in a 24 hour period. Which meant that the Bashakill was crawling with birders. I birded the Orchard and the Stop Sign Trail (briefly) and did alright, with my best bird being a Worm-eating Warbler that I found only because John Haas let me know about it. My next stop was the Nature Trail, my personal favorite spot at the Bash. Karen Miller met me there and we birded for a couple of hours before heading to the Deli for some lunch. The highlight of the day was definitely when Karen located a Common Gallinule in one of the channels and we got really good looks in our binoculars, but unfortunately no photos for me. We also got a brief look at a Swainson’s Thrush, but again no photos. Common Yellowthroats were everywhere, so I managed to take a few shots. Here’s a female:

One of many Common Yellowthroats at the Bashakill WMA on 5/17/14.

One of many Common Yellowthroats at the Bashakill WMA on 5/17/14.

Karen and I both volunteered at the Nature Watch in the afternoon, where it was not very birdy, with even the Bald Eagles and the Osprey being relatively low key. We did have some great visitors that enjoyed good looks at the birds in the scopes.

SUNDAY 5/18 – GOOSEPOND MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

My FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Far and away the best bird of the day, my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Sunday morning I headed out to Goosepond Mountain State Park, a place where I have never birded before. I have wanted to, but for some reason I could not figure out exactly where to go. Karen and I ran into some fellow Mearns Bird Club members on Saturday and they helped me out. If you are interested, the trailhead is located on Laroe Road in Chester NY. As you are leaving Chester, the trailhead is on the left hand side; it does not look like much and is easy to pass by (like I did). I really enjoyed birding on this trail – it was extremely peaceful on a Sunday morning, the only other person I saw was a single mountain bike rider. One thing I really enjoyed was how quiet the trail was, it made it very easy to listen to and for the birds. I should also say that it is a long trail – I was out for four hours today and I did not walk the entire trail. Basically you can plan to walk out and then back to your car.

One of MANY Indigo Buntings at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

One of MANY Indigo Buntings at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

The birding was good and I totaled 36 species for the morning. Blue-winged Warblers were numerous and accessible, providing many photo ops. As were Indigo Buntings. The best bird of the day, however, was certainly the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO.  I heard them early on but it took a lot of patience to finally get to see them and get some distant photos.

Another distant shot of one of two Yellow-billed Cuckoos at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Another distant shot of one of two Yellow-billed Cuckoos at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Blue-winged Warbler at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Blue-winged Warbler (Update: Brewster’s Warbler) at Goosepond Mtn. State Park, 5/18/14.

Here is my list for the day:

Eastern Kingbird in flight, Goosepond Mountain State Park, 5/18/14.

Eastern Kingbird in flight, Goosepond Mountain State Park, 5/18/14.

Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Ovenbird
Blue-winged Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

WARBLERS – WOW!

We plenty of very good looks at Ovenbirds today. Bashakill State WMA, 510/14.

Karen Miller and I had plenty of very good looks at Ovenbirds today. Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Some of you might know that warblers are not my favorite type of birding. I know this is sacrilege, everyone loves the warblers! The truth is I struggle with them, but once I get into it I find it very enjoyable. There was a lot of bird movement in the past two days and I got out looking mainly for warblers on both days. On Friday evening I made it out to Pochuk Mountain State Forest, a new spot for me – thanks to Rob Stone for the heads up. It was a gray, misty evening and between the poor light and the birds being up very high, I struggled. In the end I was pretty happy to have seen and identified 10 species of warbler, though most of my identifying came after the fact, looking through bird guides and my photos from the day.

Ovenbird
Worm-eating Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Black-throated Green Warbler

A Magnolia Warbler overhead at the Nature Trail, Bashakill State WMA 5/10/14.

A Magnolia Warbler overhead at the Nature Trail, Bashakill State WMA 5/10/14.

This Palm Warbler was extremely confiding and also nice enough to pose with a nice foreground. Bashakill State WMA, 5/1

This Palm Warbler was extremely confiding and also nice enough to pose with a nice foreground. Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Then, early this morning I met Karen Miller out at the Bashakill State Wildlife Management Area. We knew that the Stop Sign Trail and the Orchard would be packed with birders (It was! When I passed by, I saw busloads of birders! No joke!). So, we decided to bird the Nature Trail and what a great decision that was – the place was LOADED with birds and we had it basically all to ourselves. We ran into 4 other birders while we were out there, all folks we knew. In addition to being extremely birdy, the nature trail lends itself to better photos because there seems to be more light available and fewer obstacles to shoot through. It was a tremendous morning of birding with birds at every turn, really it was incredible. The highlight for me was seeing 3 WILSON’S WARBLERS. Here’s my list of warblers from the morning:

One of three WILSON'S WARBLERS we had at the Bashakill State WMA, 5/8/14.

One of three WILSON’S WARBLERS we had at the Bashakill State WMA, 5/8/14.

 

Ovenbird
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

Female Black-throated Blue  Warbler at Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler at Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler at the Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler at the Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

Canada Warbler on the Nature Trail at the Bashakill, 5/10/14.

Canada Warbler on the Nature Trail at the Bashakill, 5/10/14.

I identified this Black-throated Green Warbler by ear before we located it. Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.

I identified this Black-throated Green Warbler by ear before we located it, which made me happy. Bashakill State WMA, 5/10/14.