Good Birding in Orange County, 1/2/15

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-It was a shame to have this Merlin on a wire as far as photographs go. I was hoping to get a shot of the bird as it flew, but I missed out when the bird was  flushed by a truck that drove by between myself and the bird. Merlin on Onion Ave in New Hampton, NY 1/2/15. 

I was lucky enough to have the day off today, and the weather was perfect, so it made for a great day of birding. I started the morning by taking a tour of the black dirt region, where I had 23 species. Highlights include a MERLIN on a wire seen on Onion Avenue and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR in a large flock of Horned Larks on Mission Land Road in Pine Island.

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-I saw these two first winter White-crowned Sparrow from the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop Trail, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 1/2/15. 
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-Gray Ghost in flight. A male Norther Harrier at Skinner Lane, 1/2/15. 
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-One of several flocks of Horned Larks that I had in the black dirt region. It was disappointing that I had no Snow Buntings among them, but I did locate a single Lapland Longspur in a large flock on Mission Land Road. Horned Larks in flight on Mt. Eve Road, 1/2/15. 

I also made quick stops at Glenmere Lake and Warwick Lake – I added 5 species to my list, and I had a pair of adult Bald Eagles at both locations. My final stop was the Newburgh Waterfront; I stopped first at the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry parking; Fish Crows were calling from the trees as I sorted through the gulls there but found only Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls present. From there I went to the parking lot of the old Torches. Immediately, as I got out of the car, I saw a first winter ICELAND GULL on the edge of the parking lot among the other gulls and Rock Pigeons. I was able to get much better photos than I did earlier in the week, but I failed to get any flight photos. Once the gulls picked up, it was very chaotic and difficult to follow where the the Iceland Gull went. I eventually relocated the bird on a piling in the water, but just as I located it, all the gulls picked up again. Ken McDermott joined me shortly after that, but when I decided to head home, we still had not relocated the bird. I added an additional 5 species to my list for the day, giving me a total of 33 species for the day.

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-I love this bird, what a pretty gull. Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 1/2/15. 
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ICELAND GULL alongside a Ring-billed Gull, Newburgh Waterfront, 1/2/15. 
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-One more shot of the Merlin on a wire in New Hampton, NY 1/2/15. 

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