Caspian Tern Double Encore

One of two Caspian Terns at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 4/8/14.

One of two Caspian Terns at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 4/8/14.

A few notable sightings from today:

I stopped by Glenmere Lake after work today and located TWO CASPIAN TERNS. Bruce Nott, Ken McDermott and Curt McDermott also got to see the birds. Also present was a group of approximately 20 Lesser Scaup and 4 Horned Grebes.

I left Glenmere Lake and went over to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and walked out the west side of the loop where I was able to relocate the EURASIAN WIGEON. I tried for that bird yesterday without success but did get my first of the year Wilson’s Snipe and Pine Warbler.

Finally, I spoke to John Haas, who had four BONAPARTE’S GULLS at the main boat launch at the Bashakill. I did not have time to make it out there tonight, but I might try for them tomorrow.

The two Caspian Terns together - shot with the iPhone through my scope. Glenmere Lake, 4/8/14.

The two Caspian Terns together – shot with the iPhone through my scope. Glenmere Lake, 4/8/14.

Sunday Shots 4/6/14

The big news of the day was that Tom Burke had located a EURASIAN WIGEON at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I was birding at the Bashakill with Karen Miller when I received a call from John Haas, letting me know about it. Tricia and I finally made it out to the refuge in the early afternoon and walked the west side of the Liberty Loop and joined several other birders that were looking at the bird in scopes. We got great looks in the scope, but photos were really tough. On our way out, more birders were on their way in to get a look at the bird. Here is a pretty awful photo of the bird:

Eurasian Wigeon in the top third of the photo a little to the right. Click here to see what the bird actually looks like.

Eurasian Wigeon in the top third of the photo a little to the right. Click here to see what the bird actually looks like.

 

Before the wigeon excitement, I had a nice morning of birding out at the Bashakill with Karen. We started at Haven Road, where my best bird was a Pied-billed Grebe seen in the distance on the north side of the bridge. There was a good number of Tree Swallows present, so I spent some time trying to photograph them in flight. They are not only a small bird, but so quick and unpredictable. Here’s a couple shots:

Tree Swallow in flight at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow in flight at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Tree Swallow at the Bashakill, 4/6/14.

Our next stop was the Main Boat Launch, where I got to see Ed Morse for the first time of the season; it was great to see him back at it, keeping a close eye on the Bashakill Eagles. We checked on the eagle’s nest, saw 12 Horned Grebes in the distance, and then walked the Birch Trail. On the way we ran into Scotty Balding who informed us that he had seen an additional 16 Horned Grebes from the lookout, and a raft of 172 Ring-necked Ducks just a bit further down the trail. I spoke to Scotty again later in the day and his total count for Horned Grebes was 33! Pretty amazing that the Bash has had so many HOGRs for so long. Karen and I enjoyed the walk and had some relatively close encounters with some of the Bashakill’s more familiar residents:

A pair of Wood Ducks flying by the Birch Trail at the Bashakill, 4//6/14.

A pair of Wood Ducks flying by the Birch Trail at the Bashakill, 4//6/14.

It's such a thrill when you get a Bald Eagle hunting so close to the trail. Bashakill, 4/6/14.

It’s such a thrill when you get a Bald Eagle hunting so close to the trail. Bashakill, 4/6/14.

 

This last photo is from earlier in the week but I didn’t have a chance to post it (it was on Thursday, the same day as the Caspian Tern sighting). Rob Stone had called to let me know there was a good photo opportunity for Common Goldeneyes at Greenwood Lake. I never got a Common Goldeneye close enough for good shots, plus the lighting was not great, but I do like this shot of a Bufflehead taking off:

Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 4/3/14.

Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 4/3/14.

 

 

 

Waterfowl Wednesday

One of 43 (!!!) Horned Grebes at the Bashakill WMA today, 4/2/14.

One of 43 (!!!) Horned Grebes at the Bashakill WMA today, 4/2/14.

It started with a phone call from Karen Miller today while I was at work today. She had taken the day off and was birding with John Haas and Scott Baldinger. She called to rub in the fact that they had seen 43 (!!!) HORNED GREBES at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. I headed towards the Bashakill after work and when I arrived at Haven Road, I immediately located group of 8 Horned Grebes in the distance. I was able to get some decent shots of a couple of the birds, but then I moved on, heading back to Orange County. For more details on birding at the Bashakill today, go to the Bashakill Birder to read John Haas’ post.

After the Bash, I hustled over to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to see if we had had any similar luck in Orange County. I was going to meet Karen at the refuge, and when I arrived, Karen was already there and Joyce DePew was there as well. From the viewing platform we got a good look at a trio of American Coots – my first of the year.

My FOY American Coot, one of three at the Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

My FOY American Coot, one of three at the Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

We also had a Killdeer fly over in good light:

Killdeer at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

Killdeer at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

We walked the loop, and the marsh was loaded with waterfowl:

Canada Goose  80
Mute Swan  4
Wood Duck  2
American Wigeon  35
Mallard  30
Blue-winged Teal  5
Northern Shoveler  2
Northern Pintail  75
Green-winged Teal  85
Ring-necked Duck  100
Bufflehead  4

I was very conservative with these numbers because for me, it becomes difficult to keep track of all the bird numbers when you are also having conversations. I had a great time –  good company, perfect weather, and plenty of birds – very hard to beat it.

The Northern Pintails were making a sound in flight that I don't remember hearing before. It was new to Joyce and Karen as well. NOPI at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

The Northern Pintails were making a sound in flight that I don’t remember hearing before. It was new to Joyce and Karen as well. NOPI at Wallkill River NWR, 4/2/14.

 

 

Sunday Shot – Long-tailed Duck!

IMG_0200Quick post tonight – huge thanks to Karen Miller for letting me know that this Long-tailed Duck was at Haven Road at the Basha Kill today. This is hands down my favorite duck, I just think they are such an attractive bird; it was great to get such good looks at one, and so close to home too.

 

Sunday Shots 3/2/14

WALLKILL RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE – 2/28/14

It was for some reason unexpected that I had a nice evening shooting raptors on Friday after work. But, the light was nice and I was lucky enough to have a few birds close enough for some decent shots. Also noteworthy were my first Red-winged Blackbirds for the year in Orange County.

Rough-legged Hawk on Mt. Eve Road, on my way out to Wallkill River NWR, 2/28/14.

Rough-legged Hawk on Mt. Eve Road, on my way out to Wallkill River NWR, 2/28/14.

When I arrived at the parking area of Wallkill River NWR, this Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the wire across the road. The bird did not leave its perch for a good 25 minutes. I kept waiting for the bird to fly, but when it finally did I missed the shot.

When I arrived at the parking area of Wallkill River NWR, this Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the wire across the road. The bird did not leave its perch for a good 25 minutes. I kept waiting for the bird to fly, but when it finally did I missed the shot.

It's been ages since I've gotten a good Northern Harrier shot - I think I was spoiled last winter when they seemed to always be around. Wallkill River NWR, 2/28/14.

It’s been ages since I’ve gotten a good Northern Harrier shot – I think I was spoiled last winter when they seemed to always be around. Click to enlarge this shot – I think it looks really nice. Wallkill River NWR, 2/28/14.

RONDOUT RESEVOIR – 3/1/14

I had a nice outing at Rondout Resevoir on Saturday afternoon. I knew there was a good collection of waterfowl present because I read about it on John Haas’ blog, Bashakill Birder. I got all the birds John reported in his post, including three first of the year birds for me: American Wigeon (5), Redhead (7), and Killdeer (1). It was not a great outing for photos, the birds were for the most part distant and from where you view the birds, in the afternoon all the birds are backlit. I did have a Common Merganser that didn’t seem to mind my presence at all:

Common Merganser at Rondout Reservoir, 3/1/14.

Common Merganser at Rondout Reservoir, 3/1/14.

 

SOUTHERN ORANGE COUNTY – 3/2/14

This morning I made the rounds in southern Orange County without seeing much of note. I did see a single Common Grackle and a single Red-winged Blackbird, both on Celery Avenue. I sorted through MANY Canada Geese without anything out of the ordinary. American Crows rivaled the Canada Geese in numbers and seemed to be everywhere.

Horned Larks are still present in numbers in Orange County, I came across several good sized flocks today. This shot was from Onion Avenue, 3/2/14.

Horned Larks are still present in numbers in Orange County, I came across several good sized flocks today. This shot was from Onion Avenue, 3/2/14.

It's tough to get a good shot of American Crows. Pierce Circle, 3/2/14.

It’s tough to get a good shot of American Crows. Pierce Circle, 3/2/14.

 

 

 

Bashakill WMA, 2/2/14

An Eastern Bluebird dangled from a branch right in front us, not long after arriving at the Deli Fields. Bashakill WMA 2/2/14.

An Eastern Bluebird dangled from a branch right in front us, not long after arriving at the Deli Fields. Bashakill WMA 2/2/14.

It’s been ages since I’ve birded the Bashakill WMA, so I picked up Karen Miller early this morning and we headed over. The warm weather was still holding on, so I was looking forward to getting out of the car and doing a little hiking. Our first stop was the Deli Fields which were pretty active, with a nice flock of American Goldfinches and several Eastern Bluebirds being seen before we even got out of the car. We kept hearing a Pileated Woodpecker off in the distance and we finally got a good look in binoculars of the bird flying over the treetops in the distance.

I haven't seen any American Goldfinches in a while, so it was good to see a flock of 25 or so at the Deli Fields. Bashakill WMA 2/2/14.

I haven’t seen any American Goldfinches in a while, so it was good to see a flock of 25 or so at the Deli Fields. Bashakill WMA 2/2/14.

Next, we headed over to Haven Road. Karen showed me where the new Bald Eagle nest is located and we could also see an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree in the distance. Some mallards flushed and we noticed that the adult as well as an immature Bald Eagle were both in flight. A small flock of Canada Geese came in for a landing in what I’m assuming is some recently opened water north of Haven Road. We also had a single Ring-billed Gull fly over the road.

If you've seen the winners from Audubon Magazine's Photography Awards, you know why I've been enjoying shooting birds on these stark backgrounds. I never really liked it much, but now it is appealing to me. Ring-billed Gull at Haven Road, Bashakill WMA, 2/2/14.

If you’ve seen the winners from Audubon Magazine’s Photography Awards, you know why I’ve been enjoying shooting birds on these stark backgrounds. Ring-billed Gull at Haven Road, Bashakill WMA, 2/2/14.

Our last stop was at the main boat launch, where we walked a good portion of the Birch Trail, in hopes of finding a Hermit Thrush. We didn’t have any luck with the thrush, but we did well with many of the expected songbirds: Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers, and Song Sparrows. We also saw and certainly heard my best bird of the day – a Common Raven flying over the Bash, making a racket while it did so.

I had almost forgotten how beautiful the Bashakill can be in all seasons. If you have not been out there in a while, or if you have never been there, do yourself a favor and visit the Bash in the winter. It’s gorgeous.

Here’s my list for the day:

Canada Goose  25
American Black Duck  2
Mallard  30
Bald Eagle  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  15
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  2
Eastern Bluebird  4
American Robin  5
American Tree Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  5
Dark-eyed Junco  50
Northern Cardinal  3
American Goldfinch  30

Sullivan Snowy!

Snowy Owl in Bethel, Sullivan County NY 12/1/13.

Snowy Owl in Bethel, Sullivan County NY 12/1/13.

The Snow Owl invasion continues. It was just before 3:00 pm and I had just gotten home. I thought my birding for the day was done when I received a phone call from John Haas: He was looking at a Snowy Owl in Bethel, NY. Tricia and I jumped into the car in hopes of getting a look at the bird. When we arrived, the bird was still present, and what a beauty! The markings on this bird were darker than the two I had seen in Orange County and the effect was striking. Many birders were present or on their way to see the bird. I was particularly happy for all the Sullivan County birders to finally get a Snowy Owl for the county. Thanks once again to John Haas for the call. You can go to The Bashakill Birder to see John’s account of the events.

This bird was actively hunting while we were there, and seemed to have success at one point. SNOW in Bethel NY, 12/1/13.

This bird was actively hunting while we were there, and seemed to have success at one point. SNOW in Bethel NY, 12/1/13.

Northern Shrike Update

I also did some birding in Orange County in the morning and I wanted to add that the Northern Shrike on Lower Wisner Road in Warwick, NY continues. I located the bird working the old fence line between Upper and Lower Wisner between 10:00 and 11:00 am. I’m still working on a good photo…

Northern Shrike at Lower Wisner Road, 12/1/13.

Northern Shrike at Lower Wisner Road, 12/1/13.

 

Morningside Park Photos 9/29/13

 

One my main goals for the morning was to shoot this Pectoral Sandpiper. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

One my main goals for the morning was to shoot this Pectoral Sandpiper. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Every once in a while I just need to go do some birding in a location that is likely to provide plenty of photo opportunities. Morningside Park is perfect for this, as long as you are birding by kayak. I arrived at the park right after sunrise to take advantage of the beautiful early morning light; for me, you cannot beat early morning light for beautiful photos. There was a misty fog on the surface of the lake that I also find appealing but difficult to translate into photos. I was pleased with the results, there were plenty of birds to shoot and the fall colors were reflecting off the water wonderfully.

A pair of Ring-billed Gulls in the early morning mist. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

A pair of Ring-billed Gulls in the early morning mist. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Great Blue Heron at Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Great Blue Heron at Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

This Common Yellowthroat could not have been more cooperative, Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

This Common Yellowthroat could not have been more cooperative, Morningside Park, 9/29/13. I am loving the background on this shot.

Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Here's one more of the Pectoral Sandpiper, Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

Here’s one more of the Pectoral Sandpiper, Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

I don't love the light on this Green Heron, but I love all the colors reflecting in the water. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

I don’t love the light on this Green Heron, but I love all the colors reflecting in the water. Morningside Park, 9/29/13.

 

 

 

 

 

Summitville Hawk Watch

A local Turkey Vulture buzzes by the tower. Summitville Hawk Watch, 9/15/13.

A local Turkey Vulture buzzes by the tower. Summitville Hawk Watch, 9/15/13.

This is a couple of days late, but on Sunday I filled in for John Haas at the Summitville Hawk Watch. It was a slow day which I will attribute to a SSW wind for most of the day. Ideal winds would come from the NW. Here’s my report for the day as it appears at hawkcount.org:

2013-09-15   Observation Start Time: 08:00    End Time: 16:00    Observer Hours: 8
Day’s Raptor Counts TV BE OS NH SS CH NG RS BW RT RL GE AK ML PG UA UB UF UE UR Day’s
Total
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 51 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 56
Official
Counter
Matt Zeitler
Observers
Weather cool and cloudy

A Foggy Morning at the Basha Kill

A pair of Wood Ducks through the fog. Basha Kill WMA, 8/25//13.

A pair of Wood Ducks through the fog. Basha Kill WMA, 8/25//13.

I birded the Basha Kill WMA by kayak this foggy morning. The highlight of the outing was this Blue-winged Teal:

Blue-winged Teal in the channel at the Basha Kill, 8/25/13.

Blue-winged Teal in the channel at the Basha Kill, 8/25/13.

The sun finally broke through in time to get a few raptor photos:

Adult Bald Eagle, Basha Kill WMA 8/25/13.

Adult Bald Eagle, Basha Kill WMA 8/25/13.

Osprey in flight. Basha Kill WMA, 8/25/13.

Osprey in flight. Basha Kill WMA, 8/25/13.

Here’s my list for the day:_MG_9441

Canada Goose  5
Wood Duck  X
Blue-winged Teal  1
Great Blue Heron  5
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  1
Common Gallinule  6
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Ruby-thr. Hummingbird  5
Belted Kingfisher  2
Northern Flicker  2
Eastern Phoebe  1
Eastern Kingbird  2
Yellow-throated Vireo  2
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  6
Tree Swallow  30
Barn Swallow  2
Tufted Titmouse  6
White-br. Nuthatch  1
House Wren  1
Veery  1     heard
Gray Catbird  10
Cedar Waxwing  28
Common Yellowthroat  1
Song Sparrow  8
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X
American Goldfinch  1