BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO!

A very exciting find for me - Black-billed Cuckoo out at Wallkill River NWR 7/31/13.
A very exciting find for me – Black-billed Cuckoo out at Wallkill River NWR 7/31/13.

Seeing and photographing an adult BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was definitely the highlight of my visit to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge after work today. It was a fabulous night for birding; the weather was perfect, there were minimal bothersome bugs, and there were plenty of birds to be seen.

I walked the Liberty Loop in the counter clockwise direction and not far up the trail I found a pair of Great Egrets (of a total of four for the day).

I am pretty sure it is invasive, but I love the purple Loosestrife in this photo. I also like the water drops falling from the tips of the egret's toes.
I know it is an invasive plant, but I love the purple Loosestrife in this photo. I also like the water drops falling from the tips of the egret’s toes.

Walking up the west side of the loop, I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This was exciting to me; if you read my posts this past spring, you know how much I like this bird. I heard it call one time but I was not able to locate the bird. My disappointment was short lived, less than twenty minutes later I saw a large bird fly from the woods and land in a tree in the marsh. I figured it was a Brown Thrasher, but I was pleasantly surprised to find my best bird of the night, the Black-billed Cuckoo. This is a bird I have only heard before, so it was awesome to get really good looks and some relatively distant but decent photos too. Here’s one more shot of the bird:

Black-billed Cuckoo at Walkill River NWR, 7/31/13.
Black-billed Cuckoo at Walkill River NWR, 7/31/13.

My main reason for going to the refuge was to see if any shorebirds had moved in. There was not much in the way of shorebirds, a pair of Semipalmated Sandpipers, 3 Killdeer, and 9 Least Sandpipers were all that I found. All were seen on the southernmost part of the loop.

Two of the nine Least Sandpipers that I saw out at the Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/13.
Two of the nine Least Sandpipers that I saw out at the Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/13.

I totalled 39 species for the day, a couple of which are birds that I don’t often get a chance to photograph.

This looks like a young Northern Mockingbird to me. It was with two other mockingbirds that appeared to be adults. Wallkill River NWR 7/31/13.
This looks like a young Northern Mockingbird to me. It was with two other mockingbirds that appeared to be adults. Wallkill River NWR 7/31/13.

 

I love this little bird but don't really see them very often. Again, I think this is a young House Wren, one of two perched in the same tree.
I love this little bird but don’t really see them very often. House Wren, one of two perched in the same tree at Wallkill River NWR 7/31/13.

 

Finally, here is my list for the evening:

Canada Goose  20
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  10
Great Blue Heron  12
Great Egret  4
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  3
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  2
Least Sandpiper  9
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Willow Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  4
Eastern Kingbird  6
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  2
Tree Swallow  11
Barn Swallow  4
House Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
American Robin  6
Gray Catbird  4
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  1
Common Yellowthroat  2
Song Sparrow  12
Indigo Bunting  8
Bobolink  3
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Grackle  10
Orchard Oriole  8
American Goldfinch  15

 

 

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