Wallkill River NWR – A Week of Photos

I made it out to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge a couple of times this week and took many photos. A good collection of shorebirds continue at the refuge, as do a group of six Great Egrets (down from 10 last weekend). Herons are numerous, with Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night Herons all being seen and heard. All the birds photographed were seen while walking the Liberty Loop Trail or on Liberty Lane. Here are some of the shots I got this week:

Click on photos to enlarge.

One of four Greater Yellowlegs at the refuge on 7/24/13.
One of four Greater Yellowlegs at the refuge on 7/24/13.
I got to see this Lesser Yellowlegs near a Greater Yellowlegs and a Solitary Sandpiper. It was really interesting to note the differences between the three. Wallkill River NWR 7/25/13.
I got to see this Lesser Yellowlegs near a Greater Yellowlegs and a Solitary Sandpiper. It was really interesting to note the differences between the three. Wallkill River NWR 7/24/13.

 

A Solitary Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs at the refuge on Wednesday 7/24/13. I don't love this photo but I like seeing the two birds together.
A Solitary Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs at the refuge on Wednesday 7/24/13. I don’t love this photo but I like seeing the two birds together.

 

The morning light was really appealing, and I am really happy with the colors in this photo. Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
The morning light was really appealing, and I am really happy with the colors in this photo. Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
Great Egret at the refuge this morning, 7/27/13.
Great Egret at the refuge this morning, 7/27/13.
Who's gonna mess with this crew? Not me. Five of six Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
Who’s gonna mess with this crew? Not me. Five of six Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
I've been seeing a hearing plenty of Green Herons at the refuge, but not getting close enough for any good photos. Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
I’ve been seeing a hearing plenty of Green Herons at the refuge, but not getting close enough for any good photos. Wallkill River NWR 7/27/13.
Great Blue Herons are numerous out at Wallkill River NWR. This one flew right in front of me. This Shot is SOOC, taken 7/25/13.
Great Blue Herons are numerous out at Wallkill River NWR. This one flew right in front of me. This Shot is SOOC, taken 7/25/13.
Birds flying away usually don't make for great photos, but I sort of like this one. GBHE out at Wallkill River NWR 7/25/13.
Birds flying away usually don’t make for great photos, but I sort of like this one. GBHE out at Wallkill River NWR 7/25/13.
I was with Karen Miller and Sharon when we found this bird. We were all stumped, and after getting home and looking briefly in some books I'm guessing a young Brown-headed Cowbird, but I'm still not really sure. Please comment if you can I.D. this bird! Thanks.
I was with Karen Miller and Sharon Dewey Scavotto when we found this bird. We were all stumped, and after getting home and looking briefly in some books I’m guessing a young Brown-headed Cowbird, but I’m still not really sure. Please comment if you can I.D. this bird! Thanks.

Black-crowned Night Herons

Adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons out at Wallkill River NWR, 7/20/13.
An adult just happened to fly behind this juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons out at Wallkill River NWR, 7/20/13.

I went out on a mission this evening to photograph the Black-crowned Night Herons out at Wallkill River NWR. I walked the Liberty Loop and tried to time it so that I was on the east side of the loop (where the BCNHs roost) right before sunset. I walked in a counter-clockwise direction so that the fading sun would be at my back as I approached the trees where the birds roost. I was not disappointed – I saw four BCNHs, three adults and one juvenile. These photos have an interesting dreamy quality to me and I’m not entirely sure why. I think there are two factors, the first being that nearly all the photos where shot through the trees which create a blurry foreground (background?). Also, the light was very interesting and hard for me to get a handle on. My settings for all these photos where not at all what I would typically encounter in low light situations; I had to under-expose all of these photos!?! Fortunately these birds were not really aware of my presence so I had plenty of time to make adjustments. Here’s some more shots:

Although they are not a beautiful bird, I find the young BCNHs fascinating to look at.
Although they are not a beautiful bird, I find the young BCNHs fascinating to look at.
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Adult Black-crowned Night Heron at Wallkill River NWR 7/20/13.
I see so many photos of BCNHs showing the white head plume - this is the first time I've gotten any showing it.
I see so many photos of BCNHs showing the white head plume – this is the first time I’ve gotten any showing it.
I don't love this photo, but I though it was cool to catch 3 BCNHs in one shot.
I don’t love this photo, but I though it was cool to catch 3 BCNHs in one shot.

Beyond the Black-crowned Night Herons, the birding was pretty good. Highlights included ten (!) Great Egrets, my first Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR this year.

One of ten Great Egrets out at Wallkill River NWR, 7/20/13.
One of ten Great Egrets out at Wallkill River NWR, 7/20/13.

Shorebirds made another good showing, I heard first and then saw three Greater Yellowlegs. Also present were Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, and this Solitary Sandpiper.

I have this as a Solitary Sandpiper, Wallkill River NWR 7/20/13.
I have this as a Solitary Sandpiper, Wallkill River NWR 7/20/13.

Here’s my list for the day:

A pair of Red-tail Hawks perched on the north side of Oil City Road, 7/20/13.
A pair of Red-tail Hawks perched on the north side of Oil City Road, 7/20/13.

Canada Goose  25
Wood Duck  6
Mallard  4
Great Blue Heron  12
Great Egret  10
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Killdeer  6
Spotted Sandpiper  4
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Least Sandpiper  2
Mourning Dove  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Eastern Kingbird  4
Tree Swallow  6
Barn Swallow  2
Wood Thrush  2
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird  8
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Song Sparrow  4
Swamp Sparrow  2
Indigo Bunting  5
Bobolink  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Grackle  X
Orchard Oriole  1
American Goldfinch  3

Shorebirds at Wallkill River NWR – 5/22/13

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Stilt Sandpiper (left) and a Dunlin (right) at Wallkill River NWR 5/22/13.

Thanks to John Haas informing me earlier this week and also an alert from Rob Stone today, I was able to see a really nice collection of shorebirds at Wallkill River NWR after work this evening. I particularly wanted to see the Stilt Sandpiper, a bird that I have seen before but it has been a couple of years and I feel like I saw the bird today with different eyes. I also want to thank Tom Burke (I hope I spelled that correctly) who I met for the first time today. He gave me a crash course in shorebird identification and help me compile a really nice list today:

Semipalmated Plover 
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Dunlin
Stilt Sandpiper 

Karen Miller met me out there a little later and we walked the Liberty Loop on our way to seeing 41 species. The highlight for me was my first of season Indigo Buntings. Here’s a Downy we had on the east side of the loop:

Downy Woodpecker at Wallkill River NWR 5/22/13.
Downy Woodpecker at Wallkill River NWR 5/22/13.

Green Heron – First of Season

On my way to the bank this afternoon I spotted my first Green Heron of the season at the small pond right around the corner from our house. I know I say this about a lot of birds,  but Green Herons really are one of my favorite birds; I look forward to a summer of having them at that pond.

First Green Heron of the season for me, Goshen NY 4/27/13.
First Green Heron of the season for me, Goshen NY 4/27/13.

Sandhill Crane At Wallkill River NWR

On Monday evening, Herb Stein posted that he had seen two Sandhill Cranes and a Glossy Ibis out at Wallkill River NWR. I always enjoy walking the Liberty Loop, so today I went to see what I could find. It was a nice warm evening, a little bit windy, but very pleasant. It made for a nice afternoon of birding. I had 23 species during my walk, with two highlights. The best bird of the night was definitely a single SANDHILL CRANE. What a fabulous bird, I feel so lucky to have seen this bird and to have managed a couple of distant photos, which I have cropped:

Sandhill Crane at Wallkill River NWR 4-24-13.
Sandhill Crane at Wallkill River NWR 4-24-13.
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What a beautiful bird!

The second highlight for me was a DUNLIN in adult breeding plumage. This bird confounded me until I got home and looked it up. This bird was pretty far out, so here again is a distant photo that has been cropped:

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A Dunlin alongside a Greater Yellowlegs out at Wallkill River NWR 4-24-13.

What a great night of birding! Many thanks to Herb Stein for posting. Here’s my list for the evening:

Canada Goose  X
Mute Swan  4
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  X
Northern Shoveler  1
Green-winged Teal  8
Great Blue Heron  5
Turkey Vulture  1
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Sandhill Crane  1     First reported by H Stein
Killdeer  8
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Dunlin  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  X
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  X
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X

 

 

Long Island 4-19-13

I guess it is a busy time of year, both in real life and in my birding life. I have managed to get out birding, but it has been harder to find the time to write posts about it. On Friday I had some work on Long Island, so I decided to stay the night with my sister Meghan and her husband Tim. After my appointments I went up to Lloyd Harbor to do some birding. I stopped at West Neck Beach briefly and got some good looks at a flock of Brandt and took some photos of a cooperative Great Egret:

Great Egret at West Neck Beach in Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Great Egret at West Neck Beach in Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.

 

I then continued up to Target Rock NWR, which was a nice spot and fun to explore but relatively few birds were present. I did get a nice look at a couple of Little Blue Herons (a life bird for me!) and several Snowy Egrets.

A juvenile Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
A juvenile Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.

I only stayed at Target Rock for a short time; I was going to meet Meghan at Heckscher Park in Huntington. There had been a Tufted Duck at the pond there for quite some time. On my way back I stopped on the road where I had 10 Long-tailed Ducks (out too far for photos), a couple of Osprey and many Greater Yellowlegs.

An Osprey stretches its wings. Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
An Osprey stretches its wings. Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey in flight, Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey in flight, Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey on a wire with what I am pretty sure is a goldfish! Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey on a wire with what I am pretty sure is a goldfish! Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.

 

 

 

I kind of like this shot of three Greater Yellowlegs, which seemed to be everywhere in Lloyd Harbor.
I kind of like this shot of three Greater Yellowlegs, which seemed to be everywhere in Lloyd Harbor.

We did not locate the Tufted Duck at Heckscher Park, but we did have a good look at an Osprey looking for fish in the pond, many Double Crested Cormorants, and this leucistic Canada Goose that was causing a ruckus:

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On Saturday, Tim and I played golf at Bergen Point Golf Course on the south shore of Long Island. I had my camera with me but I did not manage to get any photos of the many Osprey that where fishing in the ponds on the course. It was a short but sweet visit to Long Island with good birding too!

 

 

 

 

Monday, Monday 4-15-13

I had a really nice afternoon of birding after work on Monday. The weather was nice, cool and sunny. My first stop was at Glenmere Lake to see if anything interesting had come in. There was still a pretty good collection of waterfowl present, including Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, many Bufflehead, and the highlight was definitely a  a single TUNDRA SWAN floating with a group of Mute Swans. 

Here is an shot of the Tundra Swan on its own, though it spent most of the time with a group of Mute Swans. Glenmere Lake 4/15/13.
Here is an shot of the Tundra Swan on its own, though it spent most of the time with a group of Mute Swans. Glenmere Lake 4/15/13.

Afterwards, I headed over to my favorite spot, Wallkill River NWR, to walk the Liberty Loop. There was plenty of activity there; I spent most of my time looking at waterfowl and shorebirds. I struggled with the shorebirds as usual, but it was a lot of fun getting my first good dose of shorebirds for the year. I ended up with 28 species, and it was really nice to just walk the loop and enjoy being outside.

A couple of Blue-winged Teals come in for a landing. Wallkill River NWR 4-15-13.
A couple of Blue-winged Teals come in for a landing. Wallkill River NWR 4-15-13.

Mute Swan  X
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  4
Blue-winged Teal  8
Northern Shoveler  10
Northern Pintail  1
Green-winged Teal  X
Bufflehead  1
Great Blue Heron  7
Turkey Vulture  5
Northern Harrier  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  5
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  8
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Pectoral Sandpiper  8
Wilson’s Snipe  22
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
American Robin  X
Song Sparrow  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Grackle  X

This is one of the better shots I've gotten of a Green-winged Teal. There is much less water out at the reserve right now so I think the birds were more likely to stay put as I approached.
This is one of the better shots I’ve gotten of a Green-winged Teal. There is much less water out at the reserve right now so I think the birds were more likely to stay put as I approached.
Greater Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 4-15-13.
Greater Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 4-15-13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wallkill River NWR – Looking For Black-crowned Night-Herons

Black-crowned Night-Heron at Walllkill River WR

I made it out to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge before sunrise THREE times this week in hopes of finally getting some Black-crowned Night-Heron photos. I identified 37 species of birds (and one really cute mammal) in those three days. Here’s a short list of favorites:

  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Herons(many!)
  • Great Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Bald Eagle
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Bobolink

I finally got a pretty good look at both an adult and a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron this morning, and it is thanks to John – a fellow birder I met out at the refuge this morning. He told me when he first arrived that he had never had any luck finding BCNH at this site. Moments later one flew right over our heads! He later found three BCNH in a couple of trees just off of the east side of the trail and he made sure I knew exactly where to find them. Thanks John!

I cropped this pretty heavily because I am amazed at the color of this bird’s eyes.
This is the best shot I could manage of this young Black-crowned Night-Heron. I love the markings on this bird!
I thought this was a beautiful Red-winged Blackbird.
I am pretty sure this is a female Bobolink, though when I took the photo I thought it was a Red-winged Blackbird in the yellow early morning sun.
This Double-crested Cormorant landed in the water in front of the viewing platform for just long enough to get a couple photos before he was on his way…
I thought the light was really nice on this Canada Goose in flight.
Karen Miller found this little critter when we were out on Saturday morning. We found out later that it is an Ermine. In the winter it will have a white coat with a black nose! (Thanks for the info Gail).
A Green Heron on a wire. A first for me, though I saw it two times this week.
One more of the adult Black-crowned Night-Heron.

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!

 

Green Herons in Goshen – Shapeshifters?

Monday afternoon I sat hidden in the bushes by the pond near my house in Goshen, NY for over two hours. I know, strange behavior. Well actually, I was watching and photographing two Green Herons that were spending their afternoon there. The herons spent their time grooming, hunting, and just sitting. It was fascinating to see how these  birds can take on a variety of shapes and sizes depending on their behavior.

*Click on photos to enlarge*