I have to say that not birding during the week is making me feel like I don’t have a really good handle on the birding in Orange County right now. I’m missing getting out just about every day and getting a real feel for what’s going on. Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, and Rob Stone have been updating me on a regular basis, and John Haas has spent a good amount of time recently in OC, so I’ve been checking in on his blog frequently. On Friday he reported some Snow Goose movement into the area, and he also had 5 TUNDRA SWANS. On Saturday morning I made the rounds in the black dirt, I was hoping to relocated the swans in my travels, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Highlights of the morning included several large flocks of Horned Larks, one which had many Snow Buntings (75+) and a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR. I also had a single CACKLING GOOSE and around 30 Snow Geese among a large group of Canada Geese on the river in Pine Island. At the end of the day I checked Glenmere Lake, which was vacated with the exception of 4 Ring-billed Gulls and a Merlin, and also Wickham Lake, which despite having some open water, had almost no waterfowl present (only 5 Mute Swans and a single Green-winged Teal). I wonder if the two Bald Eagles patrolling the lake had anything to do with that…
On Sunday I decided to switch it up a bit and I went to the Newburgh Waterfront. My best stop by far was Plum Point (Kowawese Unique Area). I had a decent assortment of songbirds, with the highlight being a Golden-crowned Kinglet that was cooperative for photos, in spite of the horrible lighting.
I scanned the river for waterfowl and had some distant Common Mergansers and my best bird at the waterfront, a LONG-TAILED DUCK. I took a few photos and I was going to put the word out, but was distracted by a bird calling in the woods. I went to check it out (it was a Northern Mockingbird), and when I got back the LTDU was nowhere to be seen! I tried like heck to relocate it, but never did. A dog walker had a arrived with a barking dog, I can only guess that the bird took flight.
I also spent some time at Cornwall Landing, where I tried like heck to turn a couple of Double-crested Cormorants into Greats, and then I went to the Newburgh Water front where there were many gulls being fed bread; I had approximately 75 Ring-billed Gulls and 6 Herring Gulls. I was surprised to not find any Great Black-backed Gulls and I was also suprised that I did not see any Bald Eagles at the waterfront. Counting the vultures I had as I left Newburgh, I had a total of 25 species for the morning at the waterfront.
On my way back home, I received an alert that John had a NORTHERN GOSHAWK in the black dirt. I raced to join him; Maria was already there when I arrived. Apparently the bird perched briefly and then dove for prey in a distant ditch. And was never relocated. Anyone who knows me knows how desperate I am for a Gos, especially in Orange County, so this was a tough one. I lingered in the area for quite a while, but unfortunately it was to no avail. Who knows, with any luck maybe that bird will stick around… fingers crossed. John got a photo of the bird, which I’m sure he’ll be posting to his blog sometime this evening.