I woke up with no real plans for birding, so I decided to head out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to check on the Blue Grosbeak that has been out on Liberty Lane and I was hoping for some southbound migrating shorebirds. I walked out Liberty Lane (which was loaded with Orchard Orioles, Song Sparrows, and Indigo Buntings) to try for the Blue Grosbeak. I heard the bird, but off in the distance and I was not able to locate it.
I made my way back to the parking lot where I met up with Linda Scrima and we walked the Liberty Loop Trail. We walked the west side of the loop first; we were nearly at the southwest corner of the loop when we heard a SORA calling! As we got closer to where the bird was calling from, the bird went quiet. We scanned for a while but then decided to move on – there are a lot of hiding places in that marsh. We continued down the trail and when we got maybe 100 paces away, the bird started calling again. We decided to try one more time and I’m glad we did. We moved very slowly back towards where the bird was calling from, this time it continued to call and it sounded relatively close. Finally, we saw some movement and across the open water, perhaps 150 yards into the marsh we saw both an adult and a single young SORA tucked away in the vegetation! It was very exciting to seem them, but photos were tough because of the distance, the grasses, and the birds were backlit. Here are a few, for documentary purposes:
When we reached the pool at the southern end of the loop, we were pleasantly surprised to find 5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS – my first southbound migrating shorebirds of the season. And, after just talking about the dearth of Green Herons this year, we saw two of them there as well.
We finished the loop, with more of the usual suspects being seen, then went out to try for the Blue Grosbeak once again, but this time we didn’t even hear the bird. It was a good day with over 40 species seen or heard, and the first shorebird migrants that I’ve seen this summer.
Note: I was at the refuge on Thursday the 9th as well – two of the photos in this post are from that day.