Searching for OC Shorebirds, 7/31/16

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~Least Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16. I’m loving the markings on this bird.~ 

After running for a trio of Little Blue Herons that were reported at Riverfront Park in Montgomery and coming up empty, I spent a good portion of the day searching for shorebirds in southern Orange County. I stopped at Turtle Bay Road on my way to Wallkill River NWR and, although conditions looked good with muddy puddles present, I only had Killdeer there. At Wallkill River NWR, the pool in front of the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop had water levels that seemed to high for shorebirds and I did not locate any. I walked out Liberty Lane and in spite of the high water levels there, I had one Killdeer, (3) Solitary Sandpipers, and (2) Lesser Yellowlegs. On my way back, I had a single Least Sandpiper foraging on the puddles on Liberty Lane, which allowed for a good photo op. A walk to the west side of the loop did not result in much – I had another Solitary Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and only a single Great Egret.

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~Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, down Liberty Lane, 7/31/16.~

I made my way back to Goshen, checking some areas of the black dirt, where conditions were good with plenty of puddles. I had many Killdeer on Skinner Lane. The Old Warren Sod Farm was the most productive spot; aside from many Killdeer, I also had one Solitary Sandpiper, one Semipalmated Sandpiper, and my most exciting bird of the day, a Semipalmated Plover. Unfortunately all of these birds were too far out for photos.

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~One more of the Least Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16.~ 

The rain started to fall pretty heavily, so I headed home and took a break. I waited for the rain to subside (it never really did!) before heading back out to the Citgo Pond in the evening. I was curious to see how the water levels would be there, normally they would be very high with all the recent rain, but a during quick check on Friday afternoon I saw that the water level was lower than I’ve ever seen it (by the way I had several LEYE and KILL, many LESA, and two likely SESA on Friday). Well, when I got out there, not only was the water level high at the pond, the trail itself was flooded as well. Needless to say, I had no additional shorebirds there. With all the rain that is falling, the black dirt looks to be the best spot in OC for shorebirds for the next few days at least.

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~Killdeer at Skinner Lane, 7/31/16.~ 
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~A nice size comparison – Lesser Yellowlegs on the left and Solitary Sandpiper on the right, Wallkill River NWR, 7/31/16.~ 

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