Weekend Wrap Up

Two of nine Snow Geese at the Camel Farm on 12/7/13.
Two of nine Snow Geese at the Camel Farm on 12/7/13.

I got out and birded the black dirt region both Saturday and Sunday mornings, but compared to all the recent  Snowy Owl excitement, both days were relatively uneventful. Here’s a few things that folks might find interesting:

Rough-legged Hawk at Skinner Lane on 12/7/13. I hope this bird sticks around, I would love to get a good shot...
Rough-legged Hawk at Skinner Lane on 12/7/13. I hope this bird sticks around, I would love to get a good shot…
  • On Saturday morning I had 9 Snow Geese among approximately 1200 Canada Geese at the Camel Farm.
  • At Indiana Road on Saturday, I found 15 Snow Buntings in a flock of approximately 60 Horned Larks.
  • Raptors were out in numbers, especially Red-tailed Hawks. I felt like you could not throw a rock without hitting a RTHA this weekend. Saturday morning I hit Pumpkin Swamp Road, Indiana Road, and Skinner Lane and had 13 Red-tailed Hawks! I also had several Northern Harriers at each location on both mornings. Additionally, over the span of the weekend, I saw 3 Rough-legged Hawks (Skinner, Wallkill River NWR, and Pumkin Swamp).
    Red-tailed Hawks everywhere this weekend, and this is the best I could do. Sad really. This bird was out at Indian Road on 12/7/13.
    Red-tailed Hawks everywhere this weekend, and this is the best I could do. This bird was out at Indian Road on 12/7/13.

    SHORT-EARED OWL SURVEY

The highlight of my birding weekend was participating in the First Annual Unofficial Orange County Short-eared Owl Survey. The survey was organized by Curt McDermott and Rob Stone, who wanted an answer to the question of how many Short-eared Owls were currently in Orange County. The idea was to get birders out to known Short-eared Owl haunts both Saturday and Sunday evening to get a total for the county.  So, on Saturday evening, Karen Miller and I went out to our designated area to count, which was the Wallkill River NWR. The plan was to get the best count we could there and then shoot over to Scenic Farms Golf Course on Glenwood Road and get a count there. We had a fabulous evening, counting 10! SEOWs at Wallkill River NWR and then picking up an additional 5 at the golf course, totaling 15 for the evening. Late edit: It should be noted that  for the owls seen at Wallkill River NWR, for the purposes of this survey we are assuming that the birds pass back and forth over the county border as they work the open areas of the refuge (Thanks for keeping me in check Marianne!). On Sunday my spot was Pumpkin Swamp Road. It was really freezing cold, but it was worth it when I got a count of 6 SEOWs there. When all the locations were combined, the survey revealed a total of 31 Short-eared Owls in Orange County this weekend – very exciting!

During the survey I did not get any owl shots - it was too dark and the birds too distant. I did get this Northern Harrier out at Wallkill River NWR on 12/7/13.
During the survey I did not get any owl shots – it was too dark and the birds too distant. I did get this Northern Harrier out at Wallkill River NWR on 12/7/13.

5 thoughts on “Weekend Wrap Up”

  1. Nice! I went to the grasslands on saturday….saw some canadian geese, 3 deer, some hawks that weren’t close enough to identify (they had white in their tails)
    and some vultures. Possibly an eagle (no white head or tail) but it acted like an eagle. I hope to start seeing better things one of these days!!!!

    1. It sounds to me like you did pretty well! The hawks were likely Northern Harriers (with their white rumps). You’ll get them closer with time. Any photos?

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