I got out both Saturday and Sunday mornings, mostly looking for shorebirds. First thing Saturday, thanks to Bruce Nott, I went to a new spot for me – it’s a small pond near Stewart Airport that is now a mud flat. Shorebirds present included Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs. There were many Great Blue Herons and a couple of Green Herons also present. It looks like a spot with some good potential, so I will keep checking back. Next I went to Lake Washington where I struck out with shorebirds – a quick stop yielded only a Great Blue Heron and a Green Heron. Bruce saw a Great Egret and a Black-crowned Night-Heron out there earlier in the week. My final stop was a total bust – I wanted to check the mud flats on the Hudson River just north of Cornwall-On-Hudson. The problem is that there is no real good spot to view that area, and there are “No Parking” signs everywhere. I eventually got frustrated with the situation and bailed on it.
Sunday morning I went back to the usual – I walked the Liberty Loop. It was a birdy morning where I had over 40 species. Shorebirds in the back pond remained basically the same as my last shorebird report, with the addition of a second Pectoral Sandpiper, and my first 2 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS of the season. Waders were numerous, particularly Great Egrets (8), and Great Blue Herons (12). I also saw several Green Herons and managed a distant photo of one.
Since my last post on Monday, I’ve made it back out to the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge three times, including a brief visit today. The biggest development was when Linda Scrima contacted me on Wednesday to let me know she had a GLOSSY IBIS in the back pond at the loop. I did not get out there to see the ibis on Wednesday because I was playing in my golf league, but I did get out there to see it on Thursday, when I was accompanied by Kyle Dudgeon who got his lifer Glossy Ibis. The bird was still present this morning when I stopped by; both times I’ve seen the bird it has been in the very back of the back pond. The bird can be seen well with a scope (or even binoculars), but photos were pretty much out of the question. On Wednesday, when Linda first saw the bird, it was closer to the trail and she has provided great shot of the bird for this post – thanks Linda!
The back pond continues to be the best spot in the area (that I know of) for shorebirds. This is what I had there this morning:
The remainder of the loop also continues to be birdy with the expected species, with a family of Great-crested Flycatchers on the eastern side of the loop being a nice highlight and providing plenty of photo ops. Really, I should have gotten better photos, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
NOTE: I’ve checked the Camel Farm a couple of times for shorebirds (I had several Killdeer and 2 Least Sandpipers today finally), and I checked the Citgo Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary today (4 killdeer and 2 Least Sandpipers). Also, please note that the Citgo Trail is VERY overgrown and ticks are a problem. I do not recommend going there.
QUICK POST: It’s getting late, so I will have to make this a quick post. I met Kyle Dudgeon out at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop Trail, and the good birding on that trail continues. Most of the action seems to be happening in what I call the back pond – the southernmost pool on the trail. On our way back there, at least 2 Sora could be heard calling in the marsh; they sounded like they were pretty deep into the marsh, much farther out than they were on Saturday. As we approached the back pond, we inadvertently flushed a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON that was in the ditch to the right of the trail. The bird did not fly far and we got some photos. This is my first BCNH sighting at the loop this year.
In the back pool we saw my first 2 GREAT EGRETS of the year out in the distance, in the company of nearly 10 Great Blue Herons and one Green Heron. Green Herons flew overhead several times while we were there. Most excitedly, shorebird numbers and variety both increased:
I woke up with no real plans for birding, so I decided to head out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to check on the Blue Grosbeak that has been out on Liberty Lane and I was hoping for some southbound migrating shorebirds. I walked out Liberty Lane (which was loaded with Orchard Orioles, Song Sparrows, and Indigo Buntings) to try for the Blue Grosbeak. I heard the bird, but off in the distance and I was not able to locate it.
I made my way back to the parking lot where I met up with Linda Scrima and we walked the Liberty Loop Trail. We walked the west side of the loop first; we were nearly at the southwest corner of the loop when we heard a SORA calling! As we got closer to where the bird was calling from, the bird went quiet. We scanned for a while but then decided to move on – there are a lot of hiding places in that marsh. We continued down the trail and when we got maybe 100 paces away, the bird started calling again. We decided to try one more time and I’m glad we did. We moved very slowly back towards where the bird was calling from, this time it continued to call and it sounded relatively close. Finally, we saw some movement and across the open water, perhaps 150 yards into the marsh we saw both an adult and a single young SORA tucked away in the vegetation! It was very exciting to seem them, but photos were tough because of the distance, the grasses, and the birds were backlit. Here are a few, for documentary purposes:
When we reached the pool at the southern end of the loop, we were pleasantly surprised to find 5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS – my first southbound migrating shorebirds of the season. And, after just talking about the dearth of Green Herons this year, we saw two of them there as well.
We finished the loop, with more of the usual suspects being seen, then went out to try for the Blue Grosbeak once again, but this time we didn’t even hear the bird. It was a good day with over 40 species seen or heard, and the first shorebird migrants that I’ve seen this summer.
Note: I was at the refuge on Thursday the 9th as well – two of the photos in this post are from that day.
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.