Saturday 1-19-13

 

Northern Harrier at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge 1-19-13.
Northern Harrier at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge 1-19-13.

I feel like it has been forever since I got out for a full day of birding with any success. Karen Miller and I met out at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge right around sunrise this morning. It was really cold out, 25 degrees Fahrenheit with a substantial wind chill. We sat in the car for a while and then on the platform for a bit until it got too cold. There were many raptors to be seen – Red-tail Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, a juvenile Bald Eagle, and several Northern Harriers. We decided to follow up on a post seen on the Mearns Bird Club site; we went to Greenwood Lake.

Neither one of us had ever been birding at Greenwood Lake, so it was a bit of an adventure for us as we drove around and explored the lake. We ended up having a great visit with many birds. The highlight for me was a large raft of Common Mergansers that we estimated at approximately 500 individuals:

There was no good spot to get a clear photo of these Common Mergansers. It was really a thrill to see all these birds at once. Greenwood Lake 1-19-13.
There was no good spot to get a clear photo of these Common Mergansers. It was really a thrill to see all these birds at once. Greenwood Lake 1-19-13.

We stumbled upon Browns Point Park, in West Milford NJ. I totally missed the sign, but Karen saw it and had me turn around. Thank goodness too, because the park provided the best look at ducks that we had all day. We got very good close looks at: Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks and Mallards.

Ring-necked Duck at Browns Point Park 1-19-13.
Ring-necked Duck at Browns Point Park 1-19-13.
A female Bufflehead makes her way down the canal at Browns Point Park, 1-19-13.
A female Bufflehead makes her way down the canal at Browns Point Park, 1-19-13.
Buffleheads at Browns Point Park.
Buffleheads at Browns Point Park.

After Greenwood Lake, Karen and I headed back to Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge. We decided to walk the Liberty Loop trail; it had warmed up considerably but it was still really windy. Walking through the wind and snow was tough but we were rewarded by seeing many sparrows, Northern Harriers, and a surprise showing of a Short-eared Owl at 12:45 pm. What a great day of birding! Pretty good for January nineteenth.

Evidence of the high winds out at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge, a wind blown song sparrow on the Liberty Loop.
Evidence of the high winds out at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge, a wind blown song sparrow on the Liberty Loop.
I am still trying to get a good photo of a "gray ghost". This is the best I could do today...
I am still trying to get a good photo of a “gray ghost”. This is the best I could do today…
One more Northern Harrier out at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge, 1-19-13.
One more Northern Harrier out at Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge, 1-19-13.

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Wigeon – Darlington Park

Female Eurasian Wigeon at Darlington Park 10-26-12

After work today I went to Darlington Park in Bergen County NJ looking for a female Eurasian Wigeon that had been reported on eBird. Reports said that the bird was among 15 American Wigeon. I was happy to see that the birds were still present. It took me a little while to figure out which one was the Eurasian Wigeon, but once I did it was pretty obvious. I wonder if I had happened upon this group of birds without any prior knowledge if I would have picked out the Eurasian Wigeon among the American Wigeons? I’m not so sure I would have, or if I did I probably would not have had a clue what it was.  Here are some photos from the day –  I was disappointed because it was yet another very gray day that I was out birding in…

The female Eurasian Wigeon and this male American Wigeon were inseparable. They followed each other all around the lake.
Female Eurasian Wigeon and Female American Wigeon.
All of these birds seemed to have some vegetation hanging off their bills at one time or another.
A couple pairs of American Wigeons.

There was also a couple of Pied-billed Grebes present. One was larger and light colored while the other was darker and smaller – noticeably shorter at all times.  I really enjoy these birds, I had fun just watching them interact with one another.

Basha Kill By Kayak II – 7/6/12

I made it back out to the Basha Kill early this morning and I had a little better luck this time around. I identified 25 species including a Pied-billed Grebe which I was able to get some photos of and I was lucky enough to see two Common Gallinules – a first for me. It was a beautiful morning with some excellent birding.

*Click on photos to enlarge*

Pied-billed Grebe at the Basha Kill.
Here is the grebe again, nearly completely submerged.
This Great Blue Heron had no idea I was there, it flew right at me and then over me to my left.
The same bird as it passes just to my left.
It was a beautiful morning and the moon was still very visible.
This Great Blue Heron was too involved in fishing to notice me floating by.
I know, enough of the Wood Duck duckling photos. But they are so darn cute!

 

Basha Kill By Kayak 7/1/12

The recently fledged Bald Eagle, Basha Kill WMA

 

 I read John Haas’ blog, The Bashakill Birder on a regular basis. Recently John has posted about the great birding he has been doing from his kayak. He has been seeing some of the birds that are little more interesting to me: American Bitterns, Least Bitterns, Common Gallinules and high numbers of Great Blue Herons and Wood Ducks. Inspired by this, I made it out to the Basha Kill early this morning to do some birding by kayak. It was a beautiful morning and it was very refreshing to be out in the marsh all alone. While I did not have success with some of the harder to find birds, I did get to see many Wood Ducks (almost at every turn!) and Great Blue Herons too. I was able to get out much closer to the Osprey’s nest where I watched the two adults going after a Great Blue Heron that decided to land in a tree a little too close to the nest. I also got some amazing looks at all three Bald Eagles. I was a little disappointed that I was unable to see (or even hear!) any Common Gallinules or Bitterns, but this is just something I will work towards. It was a great day of birding and I did alright with the camera. Here are some photos from the day:

 

This adult Bald Eagle was keeping a close eye on its young one.
Wood Ducks were everywhere, many of them were ducklings.
One of the many Wood Ducks I flushed as I kayaked the channel.
This Mallard put on a show for me, dipping under the water several times and then flapping her wings like mad.
Adult Bald Eagle, Basha Kill WMA

 

Just another boring Sunday evening in Goshen…

An adult Bald Eagle flies over 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary

Yesterday evening I took a walk on the Heritage Trail which is just a block or so from my house. The trail runs along side 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary which, according to the Orange County Tourism web site (see links), is a “62 acre wetland bird sanctuary owned and maintained by the Orange County Audubon Society”. It is a great spot for birding and just happens to be a short walk from my house.

I headed out without high expectations. I have been struggling with the camera lately, not getting good exposures, so I just wanted to go out and experiment and try to work on a few things. For some reason I did not think there would be many birds. Boy, was I wrong! I had a slow start with a lot of the usual suspects – American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Gray Catbirds, and a couple different kinds of warblers. Then things started to get good. A Green Heron flew across the water giving me a great look and then landed in a tree on the far side of the sanctuary. Not long after that I spotted a beautiful bright orange male Baltimore Oriole. As I was checking out the oriole, I heard some crows making a racket and I looked up to see two crows mobbing an adult Bald Eagle right above me. The eagle flew over several times giving me a really good look and a chance to get some photos. Moments after that I saw my best bird of the night – a COMMON LOON. I stayed for a while getting photos of the loon and got to hear it make its call.  What a great evening! I ended up with  twenty-four species in all, here are some additional highlights and some photos:

  • (2) Wood Duck
  • (6) Green-winged Teal
  • (4) Spotted Sandpiper
  • (6) Least Sandpiper
  • (1) Alder Flycatcher
  • (1) Yellow Warbler
  • (8) Canada Goose – two pairs with goslings
You can see the Bald Eagle has been banded.
I love the markings on this bird's underside - they look like hearts.
This was a tough ID for me. I have it as an Alder Flycatcher based on its size and overall shape. Anyone who would like to help with this ID please leave a comment - thanks.
I just love this bird, it is so cool looking.
One more of the loon.