QUICK POST: Here’s a list of the shorebirds I had tonight at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. I got my first Orange County Wilson’s Snipe of the season and my first Greater Yellowlegs for the season at the sanctuary. Numbers are serious guesstimates, as it’s tough to keep count while going back and forth from the Citgo Pond Trail and the Heritage Trail (both myself and the birds!):
QUICK POST: I had a birdy visit this morning to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop Trail. The cool weather made for a pleasant walk and the clear skies helped with some nice light for photos. Birds are certainly on the move and I did pretty well with warblers (for me!) on the west side of the loop. Shorebird numbers seemed up to me, with a good number found on the west side of the loop (in addition to the back pond). My best shorebird was a single juvenile Semipalmated Plover located in the back pond. All in all, a good morning of birding with over 50 species seen or heard. I’ve included my species list at the bottom of this post.
Great Blue Heron
Sora Semipalmated Plover Killdeer Greater Yellowlegs Lesser Yellowlegs Solitary Sandpiper Spotted Sandpiper Semipalmated Sand. Least Sandpiper
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Cedar Waxwing Nashville Warbler Northern Parula Yellow Warbler Chestnut-sided Warbler Black-throated Green W. American Redstart Common Yellowthroat Magnolia Warbler
I spent a good part of the day on Saturday checking many of the usual spots for shorebirds, but the only spot that had any noticeable developments was the Citgo Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, where the highlight was 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS (Thanks John Haas for the heads up on the PESAs):
Sunday morning I woke up not entirely sure of where I wanted to go birding, so I ended up doing the usual and walking the Liberty Loop at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It has been the hottest spot recently and the large variety of birds that are possible is always appealing. When I first arrived, I spent some time at the viewing platform with Kevin Kreischer where we photographed the usual cast of characters that have been found there lately: Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a Green Heron, and single Black-crowned Night Heron that did a perfect flyby for photos, but sadly, Kevin and I were both caught off guard and missed it. A little later the Green heron did the same, a little further out and I did a little better with that:
As I walked the loop with hopes of some shorebird magic in the back pond, it was quite birdy with a good showing of passerines that are on the move: I had a good number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (8), Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (12), and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (7). The back pond was disappointing: only Lesser Yellowlegs (5), Killdeer (7), and Least Sandpipers (9) were present as far as shorebirds go.
As I was leaving the back pond, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Green Heron perched in the tree on the right side of the trail. I was already pretty close to the bird by the time I saw it; I wasn’t sure why it hadn’t flushed yet. Then I noticed that it was watching something overhead; the following shots show the bird’s reaction to a Turkey Vulture that was circling not too high overhead:
My best bird of the day was actually a pair of birds:YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS. They were located on the west side of the loop, just south of “Mosquito Alley”. Cuckoos are truly one of my favorite birds and it has been a frustrating year where I have heard many, many cuckoos but not gotten a really good look at one. It was a really enjoyable morning of birding with several good photo ops and a good number of birds, with total of 46 species on my list.
I went looking for shorebirds at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary in the evening. I walked out to the pond at the Citgo Trail and found only a handful of shorebirds there. Then I walked the Heritage Trail, and all the shorebirds were on that side of the sanctuary. It was tough to get a handle on the number of birds out there, the birds were distant and moving around a lot, plus it’s tough to get clear looks from the trail these days because it’s so overgrown. I guesstimate 40+ Least Sandpipers, 15+ Killdeer, 3 Pectoral Sandpipers, and 4 Lesser Yellowlegs.
I drove through a heavy fog this morning, heading out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – Liberty Loop, so I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little fog present when I pulled into the parking area. I was even more pleased to see the above Green Heron striking a pose on the measuring stick just to the left of the viewing platform.
I started to think that it might be a good morning when I got over to the platform and saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron hunting just across the water. I had taken some initial photos of the bird and gotten great looks in my binoculars, when Bruce Nott arrived. Shortly after his arrival, Bruce was scanning the marsh when he picked up a Peregrine Falcon in flight. Bruce alerted me and I was able to pick up the bird as it passed right in front of the platform:
Before heading out to walk the loop, we enjoyed seeing the large group of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons that have been regulars lately out in front of the platform, especially first thing in the morning. We also had a second Green Heron, several Least Sandpipers, and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs.
We walked the loop and it was quite birdy with many active birds. In the back pond, the shorebird count was a little bit disappointing with only Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs being seen. The west side of the loop was a highlight of the loop, with many active passerines being seen or heard. Highlights for me included super looks at: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (several of each!). It was a super morning of birding, and although we didn’t exactly beat the heat (we were out there until 11:00 am), it was totally worth the sweat. By my count we had a total of 46 species for the morning.
Kyle Dudgeon and I headed to Morningside Park early this morning and arrived just as the sun was rising. We unloaded the kayaks and hit the water hoping to do well with shorebirds. It was a gorgeous morning with a little bit of cool breeze; it was supposed to be a hot day, so it was good to be out ahead of the heat. We paddled out to the small islands that form in the west end of the lake at this time each summer, which attract migrating shorebirds. On this day, unfortunately, shorebird numbers were down, we had 1 Killdeer, 5 Least Sandpipers, 2 Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs which made a brief appearance before moving on. Kyle and I were not deterred and we made the best of it by taking many photos of the Least Sandpipers which were very accommodating. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating – seeing the shorebirds at Morningside Park by kayak is quite a treat. You can get SO close to the birds who simply go about their business as if you were not there at all. We also paddled a good portion of the rest of the lake; we had good looks at Great Blue Herons, a couple of Green Herons, and we finally got Kyle his lifer Belted Kingfisher – he was surprised at how big they are! We got great looks at a kingfisher, unfortunately it was in poor light so no photos to share. What a great morning of birding!
I was pretty darn happy this morning when I received a text from John Haas, alerting me that he had located a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Morningside Park in Sullivan County (click here to read John’s account of locating the bird).
I finished what I was doing and then headed home. Yes home… to get my kayak. Morningside Park offers a rare opportunity in our area to see shorebirds up close, and the key is to bird by kayak. I followed John’s directions and located the bird almost immediately and enjoyed taking many photos. It was pretty exciting for me to get such a good shorebird, hopefully it is the first of many for this season. And, what a good looking bird; it was super to get such good looks at it. There were also several Least Sandpipers present, so I got some shots of them as well.
I’ve also included some photos from the week, most are from the Liberty Loop, where I have been spending most of my birding time lately.
UPDATE 8/7/15: Since I posted, I have received feedback from several better birders than myself, agreeing with AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER for the above bird. Then this afternoon I saw that my report to eBird had been confirmed by the reviewer. American Golden-Plover it is!
QUICK POST: Karen Miller and I walked the Liberty Loop this evening and had a good showing of shorebirds. The west leg of the loop had the first decent collection of shorebirds that I’ve seen there this season: 1 Killdeer, 6 Solitary Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 4 Least Sandpipers, and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. For those who care, all these birds were in Sussex County (they’re edging towards Orange!). Most of the shorebird action, however, was still in the back pond. The highlight was a distant look at a plover that I am thinking was an American Golden-Plover (rather than Black-bellied). Black wing pits in flight are diagnostic for BBPL; I saw this bird take two short flights and did not notice black wing pits. The bird was quite distant and the flights brief, so I am not 100% about this (I wish I was!). One of the reasons I think I am doubting this ID is that the bird appeared to be on the large side for an AMGP My impression of the bill size in the field is that it was small enough for AMGP, but that’s a tough call for me to make, especially at the distance we were viewing the bird. Please comment if you have any thoughts about this bird or if anyone gets out to see it, I would be curious as to what they think.
Here’s a list of all the shorebirds we had for the day:
Well okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT big, but I did do pretty well photographing passerines today. I walked the Liberty Loop at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge early this morning, and the birds just seemed to make themselves a little more available than they have lately, particularly two birds that I never seem to get a good shot of: Yellow-throated Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Additionally, the early morning light was nice for photos and I seemed to catch most birds in full or nearly full light on a nice dark background, which is a look I personally like. It was a nice walk with over 50 species seen or heard; I will include a species list at the bottom of this post. As usual, I was curious to see if any new shorebirds had moved in – I was happy to see at least one of the Semipalmated Plovers that Kyle Dudgeon had let me know about earlier this week was still around – that was my first of the season. Other than that, no new shorebirds to report, in fact numbers and variety of shorebirds both seemed to down; I did not located any Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, nor Pectoral Sandpipers. Most the shorebirds were located in the back pond of the loop and in the WAY back of that pond, to boot. I did have one Lesser Yellowlegs just to the left of the viewing platform, where water levels have dropped a bit, so that was nice.
Here’s my list for the morning:
Great Blue Heron
Eastern Wood Peewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow