Orange County Weekend, 03/04/18

~Fish Crow with a Ring-billed Gull silhouette, Beacon Waterfront 03/03/18.~

For the most part, I birded Orange County this weekend (the exception being a brief excursion to Dutchess County for a beautiful ICELAND GULL). I was optimistic about the possibility of some interesting waterfowl on Saturday morning after the Nor’easter came through on Friday. I was mostly disappointed, I ran around much of southern Orange County and my best birds were 5 Common Goldeneye at Glenmere Lake. But, then birding bud Bruce Nott saved the day; he had located three RED-NECKED GREBES at Orange Lake. I ran for the birds, joining Ken McDermott who had just arrived. We got on the birds relatively quickly in our scopes, first a single bird, then two, and finally three RNGR in a single scope view! Unfortunately, the birds were positively miles out. Technically, I was able to get photos of them, but they are horrible, barely identifiable. On that same note, you can probably tell from this post, it was a terrible weekend for photos (with the wonderful exception of the ICGU in Beacon).

~Northern Mockingbird at Citgo Pond, 03/04/18.~ 

On Sunday morning I checked Glenmere and Wickham Lakes but had nothing of note. I then decided to walk the Liberty Loop to try and relocate the Eurasian Wigeon that had been reported there. I had no luck with the wigeon, but the refuge is still loaded with waterfowl. Pintails stole the show; they were numerous and flying to and fro for the duration of my walk. Other waterfowl present included: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Amer. Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, and my first Northern Shovelers of the year. It was a pleasant walk with plenty of birds around, but mostly the usuals. Winter raptors are still hanging in; I saw several Northern Harriers and a had single Rough-legged Hawk hover-hunting in the distance. The only other bird of note was a pair of Swamp Sparrows, my first of the year. I made one final stop at the Citgo Pond; it was relatively uneventful with approximately 30 Ring-necked Ducks being the highlight.

~My first Swamp Sparrow of the year, on the south end of the Liberty Loop, 03/04/18.~
~Last year I had many photo ops with American Tree Sparows. This year, not so much. ATSP at Wickham Lake, 03/04/18.~ 
~How about this for some good camouflage? Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Plum Point, 03/03/18.~ 

9 thoughts on “Orange County Weekend, 03/04/18”

  1. Nice shots as always! Is it my imagination, or does the tip of the Fish crow’s bill appear more hooked than normal? May be just the angle we’re viewing it at.

    1. Thanks Dave. A quick look at Crossley and I agree with you – that bird’s bill definitely appears more hooked. Interesting. Matt

  2. Matt – can i ask a dumb, newbie question.

    Wife and I were walking 6 1/2 this w/e and saw thousands upon thousands of blackbirds.
    Our initial thought was it was a mixed flock – because we saw many female red-wing blackbirds – but not alot of males. But didn’t think they were starlings, grackles, common blackbirds – and probably too small to be crows.

    Most logical answer is – – – ?

    1. Good to hear from you Jeff. A flock that big was very likely a mixed blackbird flock, which, in our area, can consist of: Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Rusty Blackbirds, and European Starlings. The make up of a mixed flock can vary; I had a large flock at Wickham Lake on Sunday. It consisted of roughly 70% Common Grackles, 15% Red-winged Blackbirds, 10% E. Starlings, 5% Brown-headed Cowbirds, and I managed to locate just a single Rusty Blackbird (I’m sure there were more). If the light is good (why are blackbirds backlit so often?), and you have some time, you can go through them and get a general idea of the make up of the flock. It sounds like you had a large proportion of Red-winged Blackbirds in your flock – and most were females and first year birds (which look similar to the females). I hope this is helpful. Matt

      1. you da man! makes perfect sense – just didn’t see the typical grackle markings like irisdescense and purplish head. but certainly a ton of juvenile and female red-wings. Impressive size flock.
        hope to see you soon on the trail.

  3. Matt – saw a beautiful white, leucistic hawk yesterday on Bull Mill Rd in Monroe.
    Grabbed some good photos.

    Sent in a notification with photo to ebird .
    Are these hawks rather commonplace? Just beautiful to watch soar.

    Best, JZ

    1. Jeff – I know of two Leucistic Red-tailed Hawks in our area, which to me, is a little unusual because I don’t think they are actually that common. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the one in the Monroe area – I think I had it in 2013. The other bird is in Warwick; I see it on a fairly regular basis but never seem to get good photo ops. Thanks for sharing. Matt

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