Tomorrow night, Tricia and I are heading to Bonita Springs, Florida for a week’s vacation. I’m excited as I plan on doing a fair amount of birding while we are there. I am going to post if I find the time while were are down there, otherwise I will post next weekend – I’m hoping for some good birds!
It was a beautiful weekend to get outside and do some birding. On Saturday morning I got up early and headed over to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, where I had my first Green Heron of the year which was distant and in flight, so no photo. From there I made my way to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area; I was scheduled to volunteer alongside Karen Miller at the Bashakill Area Association’s Nature Watch Program. This is my fourth year participating in the Nature Watch. Most years the program revolves around the Bald Eagles that nest within viewing distance from the main boat launch. Unfortunately, this year the eagles lost their eggs; it is believed that the extended spell of cold weather may have taken its toll. So this year will be a little bit different. We kept at least one scope on the Osprey Nest across the Bash from the main boat launch. The Osprey are in the process of building the nest and it is still on the small side. We saw both perched on or near the nest at different times during our shift. We kept track of all species seen and heard from the boat launch during our 3 hour shift: we had 17 species total. We also kept track of the number of visitors (37) and the number of boats that go out (12). The birding highlight for me was getting my FOY (first of the year) Eastern Kingbird at Haven Road on my way to the main boat launch. The Nature Watch Program runs on weekends (10am – 4pm) from now until the last weekend in June, so stop by if you would like to check out the Osprey nest or anything else seen from the boat launch through the program’s spotting scopes.
On Sunday I went to Glenmere Lake first thing but had no luck. From there I went to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to walk the Liberty Loop. I walked the west side of the loop first, and about halfway up that side another birder caught up with me. We started talking and made introductions; his name was Dick Champion. We walked the remainder of the loop together, Dick has a good eye and the birding was good but the conversation was better. The highlight of the walk for me was when Dick located 5 Greater Yellowlegs at the southern end of the loop, they were my first of the year. I ended the walk with a total of 33 species.
I made a couple more stops after the loop, I walked a little bit at Pochuck Mountain State Forest but it was pretty quiet there. I also made a quick stop at the Camel Farm and although quiet, I picked up a single Greater Yellowlegs for my Orange County list.
I had some decent passerine movement today at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop trail. I walked the west side of the loop, highlights included: Blue-headed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, and Common Yellowthroat. All were my first of the year with the exception of the Yellow-rumped Warbler.
QUICK POST: After work this afternoon, I checked out several waterfowl spots in southern Orange County without much going on until I got to Glenmere Lake, where from the fishing dock I saw two distant birds on the water. They were all tucked in and quite far – I was thinking RED-NECKED GREBES, but I was not sure. I followed the trail that runs along the water’s edge, heading southwest for about a half mile to get a better look. At first I had trouble relocating the birds, but once I did, I was sure they were RNGRs. I spent some time on the shore getting good looks in my binoculars and great views through the scope. The birds slowly worked their way towards me a little bit and I was able to get some usable photos, the light even improved a little to help me out.
I think my expectations for this weekend might have been a little bit high coming in, because somehow I felt a little disappointed in the weekend’s birding, even though I did get several year birds and was able to get some decent photos. I got out for a little bit on each of the last three days:
Friday 4/17/15, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary: After work on Friday, I first made a quick stop at Greenwood Lake which was a complete dud. Then I went to Glenmere Lake, where I had a single Common Loon and that’s it. Afterwards, I picked up Tricia at the house and we headed over to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. The highlight there was getting my first warblers of the year – 5 Palm Warblers, and 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Saturday 4/18/15, Wallkill Rive National Wildlife Refuge: Early Saturday morning I met Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris out at the refuge. We walked the west side of the Liberty Loop where our highlight was seeing pair of Wood Ducks perched in trees, coincidentally not long after having a discussion of how we never see them in the trees until they are already flying from their perch.
We did pretty well for other waterfowl on the loop as well: American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, and a likely Pied-billed Grebe (we got a brief look at the bird but never were able to relocate it to confirm the ID). I was hoping for some warblers, but none were to be had. We went over to Winding Waters Trail afterwards and we walked the entire trail, including a part of the trail that I did not know existed but is really nice because it continues along the river instead of cutting across the field. It was on this section of the trail that we had a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a good look at a Great Blue Heron on a nice perch.
Frank Masterson Memorial Park, Sunday 4/19/15: I met Bruce Nott at the park Sunday morning to try for the Black-crowned Night-heron that he had located there on Saturday afternoon. Before looking for the heron, Bruce took me up the road to the marshy area off of Lake Washington to show me the nine Wilson’s Snipe that he had seen there earlier in the morning. The snipe were still present and we got good looks in spite of the birds doing all they could to stay camouflaged. I took photos, but none came out very good. We went back to Masterson Park and located the BCNH in the photo at the top of this post. While we were at it, we had a Pileated Woodpecker come in nice and close – too bad it was backlit!
Bruce and I decide to head over to Benedict Farm in Montgomery, NY to follow up on a couple of sighting reported by Bill Fiero: Grasshopper Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow. John Haas eventually joined us and Ken McDermott showed up as well with the same idea, but unfortunately we came up empty-handed on both counts. I headed back to southern Orange County and checked in on Glenmere Lake, which had plenty of boats and kayaks and no birds. I then went to Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, where I had 14 Broad-winged Hawks migrating in the 45 minutes I was there. The birds came from the south and were heading north/northeast. Most were distant specks in the sky, but a couple of birds passed over low enough for decent looks.
QUICK POST: There has been some interesting waterfowl movement in Orange County in recent weeks, which I have not posted about here on the blog. I have reported a couple of times recently to the Mearns Bird Club, but between not having much time and honestly not getting any good photos (most birds have been quite distant), I haven’t posted here. Here’s list of highlights from some of my recent sightings:
4/9/15, Greenwood Lake: 11 Common Loon
4/9/15, Glenmere Lake: 11 Bufflehead, 3 Common Merganser, 1 Ruddy Duck, 6 Common Loon, 1 Red-necked Grebe
4/14/15, Glenmere Lake: 10 Bufflehead, 8 Scaup (Lesser??? I’m not sure, these birds were very distant), 3 Common Loon, 9 Horned Grebe
Today – 4/15/15, Glenmere Lake: 3 Bufflehead, 1 Greater Scaup, 2 Common Loon
*One final exciting thing for me – my Canon 70D is repaired and has been shipped back to me. I’m not sure when it will arrive, but hopefully for the weekend!
When I saw this video by Jess Deitz on Facebook, I loved it and kept watching it over and over. I knew I wanted to share it on the blog, so I reached out to Jess and she gladly gave her permission. Huge thanks to Jess – please check out her website and also her Facebook page:
Huge thanks to Mary B. for giving me a call this evening to let me know that the CRESTED CARACARA was actively feeding on a poor dead possum. I rushed out there and was able to get some much better shots than I did yesterday.
*Click on photos to enlarge.*
The highlight of the weekend was, of course, the Crested Caracara in Montgomery, which I saw Saturday afternoon (I’ve received reports that this bird continued at the same location on Sunday 4/12). While looking for the caracara on Saturday, I came across many raptors and I was lucky enough to get a decent photo of a couple American Kestrels. Later that evening, Tricia and I went to Piermont, NY to go out for her birthday dinner. We did not have tons of time, but we made a quick stop at Piermont Pier where we got very appropriately lucky with the very blue-billed Ruddy Duck at the top of this post (appropriate since Ruddies are Tricia’s favorite, the blue bill was the icing on the cake!).
On Sunday morning, I joined Karen Miller and Sharon Dewey Scavatto (who drove in that morning from Massachusetts) and we birded the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It started out on the chilly side with enough of a cold breeze to make my hands uncomfortable as we birded Haven Road first thing. Highlights at Haven Road included: 1 Common Goldeneye, 2 Northern Shoveler (first ones at the Bash this year), and 4 Blue-winged Teal (my first of the year). From there, we headed over to the Nature Trail, hoping for the Red-necked Grebe and the Common Loon that had been seen there. We struck out with the RNGR, but we did get brief but good looks at the Common Loon. We also heard a Barred Owl from across the Bash, and I got my first Golden Crowned Kinglets of the year. Our next stop was the Deli Fields where I got my FOY Field Sparrows. Our final stop was at the Main Boat Launch to go for the Horned Grebes that have been there. We got very good scope views in perfect light of 4 HOGRs. We walked part of the Birch Trail and I got my FOY Swamp Sparrows. By my record we had 44 birds for the day, I’ll put the list at the bottom of this post.
Bashakill State WMA
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Early this afternoon, I finally caught up with the rare CRESTED CARACARA which was found by Curt McDermott yesterday morning. I tried for it yesterday after work but I had horrible timing and missed it twice! You can go to John Haas’ blog to see more details about how yesterday went down.
Today looked like more of the same; I received several calls and texts that the bird had been seen, but I kept missing it. Just around one o’clock, while I was making a final sweep of the area by River Road (where the bird was first located), I got a call from Karen Miller. The bird had been relocated near the intersection of Route 208 and Route 17K! I’m not entirely sure who exactly relocated the bird, but huge thanks to them! And also thanks to Al (whose last name I never got and who relocated the bird several times today!), Dan Whalen, and Karen Miller for keeping me in the loop which made it possible for me to see this bird. At first the bird was in very thick trees and photos were nearly impossible. Then the bird repositioned, a little further out, but with a less obstructed view. It was incredible to see this bird! It’s a lifer for me (#320) and to see it in Orange County was just awesome.
To see just how far out of its range this bird is click here for a range map.