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….
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.
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:
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:
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.
SATURDAY 5/17 – BASHAKILL STATE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
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:
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
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.
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.
Here is my list for the day:
Great Crested Flycatcher
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.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Black-throated Green Warbler
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:
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
I went out to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area today after work. There has not been much bird movement, so I figured I would head out there in hopes of relocating the Little Blue Heron that was seen there yesterday. I figured my chances were pretty slim of finding that bird – John Haas had scoured the Bash the day before and today as well without any luck. On Haven Road, I ran into John along with Lance Vanderame and we shot the breeze for a little while. There was not much going on there, though I did watch a young Bald Eagle fly in and perch on a muskrat hill. After that I went over to the boat launch off of Route 209 where I was pleasantly surprised by a lingering pair of Blue-winged Teals. I also was able to get some photos of a couple of Wood Ducks:
I, of course, struck out with the Little Blue Heron, but it was still a nice evening at the Bash.
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 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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
We also had a Killdeer fly over in good light:
We walked the loop, and the marsh was loaded with waterfowl:
Canada Goose 80
Mute Swan 4
Wood Duck 2
American Wigeon 35
Blue-winged Teal 5
Northern Shoveler 2
Northern Pintail 75
Green-winged Teal 85
Ring-necked Duck 100
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.