Ulster County Sandhill Cranes!

I was so happy to be able to see these birds today. One of two Sandhill Cranes in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.
I was so happy to be able to see these birds today. One of two Sandhill Cranes in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.

I had the day off from work today, so I decided to try and take advantage of it by going for the Sandhill Cranes that had been reported on eBird over the last few days. As I pulled up to the area where the birds have been seen, they were flying overhead. I jumped out of the car and managed to get a few shots.

Incredible birds, especially in flight. Sandhill Crane in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.
Incredible birds, especially in flight. Sandhill Crane in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.

I wasn’t sure if this was good luck or bad luck! I was happy to have gotten the birds, but they were heading north in a very determined fashion. I looked at the map for a moment and then drove around in hopes of relocating the cranes. I didn’t have any luck with that, so I headed over to River Road to look for Bald Eagles. Deborah Tracy-Kral had informed me that there was a deer carcass on the ice that the eagles were enjoying. When I arrived there was one adult Bald Eagle and two American Crows on the now bare carcass. The eagle did not stick around for long and with not much left of the deer, I left it to the crows. I drove up and down River Road, just to check it out and then headed back to try for the cranes again. On my way over I came across this Cooper’s Hawk:

Cooper's Hawk in Ulster Park NY, 2/27/14.
Cooper’s Hawk in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.

I drove around for a little while and I was pleasantly surprised when I relocated the two Sandhill Cranes. They were in a small creek and could be seen easily from the road, though they were partially obscured by twigs and branches. The crane on the right only lifted its head one time while I was there:

The crane on the right only lifted its head this one time, I was pleased to get a shot with both birds in it. Sandhill Cranes in Ulster Park NY, 2/27/14.
The crane on the right only lifted its head this one time, I was pleased to get a shot with both birds in it. Sandhill Cranes in Ulster Park NY, 2/26/14.
Both birds spent most of the time I was there all tucked in.
Both birds spent most of the time I was there all tucked in.

I was thrilled to see these birds and get some photos too. I left the cranes and headed to more familiar territory. I stopped by Lippincott Road to see if the Common Goldeneyes were still present but I did not locate them. Several Ring-billed Gulls and 4 Common Mergansers were the standouts. From there I headed to the Shawangunk Grasslands. It was a bit early in the afternoon, so I figured I would not get the Short-eared Owls, but I was curious to see what was flying there. It was very cold and windy but I enjoyed seeing some decent birds, here’s my list for the grasslands:

Black Vulture 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Rough-legged Hawk 5
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Ring-billed Gull 15
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Eastern Bluebird 5
American Crow X
Black Vulture NOT from the grasslands, but rather in New Hampton NY, 1/27/14.
Black Vulture NOT from the grasslands, but rather in New Hampton NY, 1/26/14.

I ended my day by doing some more local birding, heading over to New Hampton, NY. While I was there looking at a large collection of Canada Geese in the Wallkill River, I met some of the folks that live on the river. They were interested in birds too, although the Canada Geese could be a bit loud at times. They invited me into their backyard to get some photos, which I thought was very nice of them and I totally appreciate it.

Canada Goose in flight, New Hampton NY, 2/27/14.
Canada Goose in flight, New Hampton NY, 2/26/14.
Canada Geese and one lonely Ring-necked Duck (upper right) in New Hampton NY, 1/27/14.
Canada Geese and one lonely Ring-necked Duck (upper right) in New Hampton NY, 2/26/14.

On my way back to the car I met yet another neighbor that had an interest in birds (and has since visited this blog and commented!). She told me how often they see Bald Eagles, and moments after leaving them, this bird flew overhead:

Immature (but not for much longer) Bald Eagle in New Hampton NY, 2/27/14.
Immature (but not for much longer) Bald Eagle in New Hampton NY, 2/26/14.

What a great day of birding! Many good birds and plenty of photo opportunities as well!

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Ulster County Sandhill Cranes!”

  1. Congrats on the Cranes. One of my favorite birds! I have been sick since I saw you last, but hope to maybe get out to try for them tomorrow. Thanks for keeping us posted.

    1. Thanks John. Sorry to hear you have been sick, I hope you’re feeling better. Good luck if you go for the cranes; they had a shrike in Millbrook yesterday as well. Matt

  2. Matt,
    Really nice shots. I love the one of the eagle and you answered a question for me I think. I had a beautiful red shouldered hawk hanging around my home for quite a few days. I haven’t seen it in nearly a week and wondered if they start migrating already. Since you are still seeing hawks can I assume they haven’t yet?

    I can’t believe it is cold AGAIN!! SO SAD!

    Wilma

    1. Thanks Wilma, I can’t believe how cold it is again! I’m officially tired of the winter! Hawks should be moving – I know that Derby Hill Hawk Watch starts their count on March 1st – though I’m not sure what impact this severely cold winter will have on their movement.

  3. Nice shots, as usual. Very lucky on the flight shot that you got the entire wing intact on the left side of the frame. Looking forward to them coming further south before I seek them…

    1. Nice to see you today Marianne. I was lucky on that flight shot – you should’ve seen how many shots I got with a wing clipped!

  4. We saw that pair of vultures circling overhead just after you left but didn’t see the eagle 🙁

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m sharing your site with some photography friends of mine. They will love these!

    Nice to meet you,
    Kasha

    1. I saw the vultures too (there’s a photo of one in this post). Please feel free to share – I appreciate it. Nice to meet you too, see you next time!

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