I woke up early this morning and made it out to Port Jervis just after it started getting light out. I’ve spent nearly all my recent birding time in the black dirt, so I was looking for a change. I started at a spot just outside of Port Jervis that allows for a quiet walk with enough birds to keep it interesting. My first bird of the day was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, my first of the year in Orange County. One of the last birds I had was a Common Raven which was another to add to my Orange County list for 2016. I saw or heard 14 species on what ended up being a very cold walk; when I got back to my car and I was thinking it had finally warmed up, I looked at the temperature and it was only 19 degrees! I had an interesting experience with a group of maybe 8 White-breasted Nuthatches (it was hard to keep count!). I’ve never seen that many together at once, and they were calling and flying all around me, landing on nearby trees and on the road as well… it was pretty cool.
From there I made a couple of brief stops as I made my way into Port Jervis to bird Laurel Grove Cemetery. I parked at the far end and then made a loop to eventually end up back at my car. It was a birdy walk and I added another 3 birds to my Orange County 2016 list: Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, and Brown Creeper (a drastic improvement over last year, when it took me 11 months and 27 days to find a creeper!). I walked for just about an hour and had 19 species.
I headed home for lunch with Tricia, winding my way through the black dirt without any remarkable sitings. After lunch I headed up north to see if I could do any good with waterfowl. I made three stops: Tomahawk Lake, Brown’s Pond, and Lake Washington. I only had any luck at Lake Washington, where I had 42 distant Common Mergansers and 8 Mallards. My more notable sitings were not waterfowl, I had an American Kestrel on the way to Tomahawk Lake in Hamptonburgh, and then when I arrived, I added my sixth bird of the day to my Orange County list, a Northern Flicker.
I left the county at the end of the day and headed out to Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge to try for the Short-eared Owls. I had a Red-tailed Hawk as I entered the refuge, which was absolutely packed – it was the first time I’ve had to parallel park at the grasslands! I talked to Ralph and he said that three different groups had outings at the refuge that evening. I had 7 Northern Harriers including one Gray Ghost, and then, up pretty late in the fading light, I had 4 Short-eared Owls – which was a nice way to end a super day of birding.
**I’ve updated the Species Photos 2016 page. I now have 25 species on the page, I think I need to start focusing on this page a little more.**