I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks – it’s not that I haven’t gotten out, it’s just that time of year where the birds are basically all expected breeding species, doing their thing, so there’s not as much excitement (at least not locally). Still, I’ve enjoyed getting out, taken some hikes, and continued atlasing in my priority block. I struggled last week to get many post-worthy photos, but I did a little bit better this week.
I birded Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge this morning. It was a cool, sunny morning and it felt good to be out there, since I haven’t been there in a while. I did fairly well for birds with 30 species, all expected, including some pretty darn good looks at one of my main target birds – GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. Photos were another story because I didn’t locate either of the two that I had until later in the morning, when the sun was a bit too high and the heat shimmer had already kicked in. It’s so worth it if you get up and out early. This morning I arrived at just before 8 o’clock, and the window for good photos is just so narrow arriving at that time, even on a nice cool day like today. Another target, BOBOLINKS, were plentiful, and as usual offered some good photo ops.
I enjoyed getting out early on both mornings this weekend. On Saturday I spent some time in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block (Warwick_CE), and I was able to confirm two additional species (Mute Swan and Red-winged Blackbird), bringing my block total to 9 confirmed species. That number pales in comparison to other blocks I’ve looked at in Orange County, but little by slow I’m confirming birds.
This morning I had my plans foiled. I wanted to hike out to Jupiter’s Boulder in Black Rock Forest, hoping for Ruffed Grouse (like last year at this time). I woke up early and drove to the trail head only to find that the trail has been closed due to the pandemic. It’s a popular trail, and I can imagine it was getting many visitors since everything has shut down. So, I headed to the Orange County Airport, where I was able to get my first GRASSHOPPER SPARROW of the year. From there I went to Hamptonburgh Preserve. I’ve never walked the whole trail there – it’s a really nice walk through tree-lined fields. It continues all the way to the Wallkill River, where I enjoyed watching a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows feeding over the river. It was a pleasant, if not exciting, weekend of birding.
This morning I got a call from Rob Stone. I figured it had to be something good for him to call me while I’m working, and it was. He had located a WILSON’S PHALAROPE at the Camel Farm. I was able to run for the bird at lunch time and thankfully it hung in there for me. Gail Benson and Tom were on the bird when I arrived, which made it a very easy get. They said that they believed the bird to be a transitioning female, but wanted to check additional resources to be sure. It wasn’t the most colorful bird, but beautiful to see nonetheless. I tried to document, but between the distance, the harsh sun, and heat shimmer, the results were less than stellar. The bird was my 260th Orange County life bird.