Tonight at Skinner Lane I had two UPLAND SANDPIPERS. Unfortunately, the birds were out too far for photos, so you can click here for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology page on Upland Sandpipers or here for Google images of the bird.
I went out birding on this rainy day in search of the Willet that Rob Stone had found the day before at Wallkill River NWR. I actually ran into Rob at the refuge where we walked the loop but had no luck with the Willet. From there I headed over to Skinner Lane. There was not much going on in the field that has recently had the pools of rain water, just some Killdeer and what I’m thinking were Least Sandpipers. A few fields later on the left side I saw a couple of interesting looking birds. When I got my scope on one, it appeared to be an Upland Sandpiper, with its long neck, shortish bill, and small head. It was walking in the short grass along the edge of longer grasses, ducking into the longer grasses from time to time. Rob Stone showed up after a while and enjoyed good looks at the bird and then and located a second Upland Sandpiper. Awesome night for me – life bird!
I just barely made it. I received a couple phone calls during the day, one from John Haas and then another from Curt McDermott, letting me know that Bruce Nott had found a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at Masterson Memorial Park in New Windsor NY. I was told that this is only the second recorded observation of this bird in Orange County! I arrived at the park a couple minutes before 4:00 and as I pulled in a park employee informed me that the park was closing. I jumped out of my car without really saying proper hellos to John, Bruce and Ken McDermott who were all there observing the bird. Bruce got me on the bird in my scope and I was happy that I didn’t miss it. Bruce then chatted with the park employee long enough for me to click a few photos. On my way out I noticed that you could still see the bird from the road. Not only that, it was definitely closer than where we were before. I parked my car up the street, walked back and took a bunch photos from the roadside. I am not thrilled with the results, but I did manage few decent shots. The bird was still quite distant, so all of these photos are heavily cropped. Huge thanks to John, Curt, and, of course Bruce – what a bird!
What do a Pink-footed Goose and a Golden Eagle have in common? I saw both of them in Orange County on March 2, 2013.
Wednesday through Friday evenings after work, I tried for the Pink-footed Goose that has been seen in the black dirt region of Orange County with no luck. The bird had been relocated several times by Curt McDermott, Rob Stone, and John Haas, but each day by the time I got out of work it had moved on. On Saturday morning Tricia and I went out to try for the PFGO. We hit all of the spots where the bird had been seen in the past few days but did not locate it. We ran into John Haas on our second visit to the Camel Farm and he reassured us that the bird would be found. We moved on and while we were at the Wallkill Wildlife NWR, John called – he had relocated the bird! We rushed over to join him and let Karen Miller know so she could meet us there. We all had good looks at this beautiful bird on the ice, preening away. The photos are a bit distant, but I really like to see this bird among the Canada Geese. It’s interesting how easy it is to see how different the PFGO is from the Canadas, but how hard it is to initially pick it out from the crowd. Thank you to Rob Stone, Curt McDermott for keeping me posted of the birds whereabouts, and huge thanks to John Haas (The Bashakill Birder) for relocating the bird on this day, a life bird for both Karen and Tricia.
After the PFGO excitement, Tricia headed home and I headed out to the Basha Kill with Karen. We did well there, seeing many birds with the highlight being a pair of immature Bald Eagles flying over the kill, one of which was just a gorgeous bird.
We decided to take a drive and try for the Golden Eagle that has been seen at Storm King State Park. We were not entirely sure where the bird had been seen, so I was doing some research while Karen drove. We eventually found the correct parking area off of Route 9W and the task of finding the GOEA seemed overwhelming. We did not have much information to go by, just that a scope was necessary and that the bird had been seen in a pine tree between the parking area and the river. That is a lot of area to cover, it was really cold and windy, and it had started snowing. We were just about to give up on it when I located the bird in my scope. It was perched in a tree on the north ridge, pretty close to the river. It was a distant view, as expected, but what an incredible bird! This was my first time seeing a Golden Eagle perched and it was awesome.
Sunday afternoon I had to resist the urge to go back to the Shawangunk Grasslands and sit in the blind. I decided instead check a few spots in Orange County and see what I could find. My first stop was in Warwick to look for a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk that my friend and fellow hawk counter Carol Linguanti had recently told me about. I was thrilled just to find the bird and see it, but what was really exciting was to be able to get some photos of this incredible bird. It was amazing to see this bird in flight; what a beauty. Huge thanks to Carol for helping me out with this one.
There was one Northern Harrier that was flying low and hunting and so many Red-tailed Hawks that this one had to find a perch on the top of a house:
My next stop was Missionland Road. I drove the length of the road and tallied 7 Red-tailed Hawks, 8 Black Vultures, many crows and one American Kestrel (which, of course, was on a wire).
For my final stop I figured I would hit my favorite – Wallkill River NWR. I had an enjoyable walk around the Liberty Loop; I did not see anything out of the ordinary but I did get a good showing of “regulars” and took the opportunity to take some photos:
It is really amazing to me when you go out looking for a specific bird and you actually get to see it. Tricia and I were on our way to a wedding in New Hope Pennsylvania. I checked the map and our route took us right past the Great Swamp NWR. I was there not too long ago and had a conversation with a local birder. He told me that there are a pair of Barred Owls that are pretty regular at the reserve, he even told me where they are likely to be found. Well Tricia and I went to the reserve and looked where he had said, but had no luck. On our way out however, we saw a stopped car. The driver was out and had his camera set up on a tripod…I figured it had to be something good. The photographer (I was so excited I never got his name!) told me he had found a Barred Owl. This was the first owl he had ever found on his own, so he was pretty excited too. He showed us where owl was and we got really good looks in our binoculars. Photos, however were pretty tough because the bird was deep in the woods and there were so many little branches between myself and the bird. The photographer had set up his camera in the only clear shot at the bird. I took a couple photos right along side with some success, but then he surprised me by removing his camera body off the lens and asking me if I wanted to take some photos using his lens! He had a monster lens set up, and the result is the above photo. Huge thanks to that photographer – how generous!
I made it out to Sterling Forest State Park in Tuxedo New York this evening to try to see the Mississippi Kites that had been seen there over the last several days. I would like to thank all the folks from the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club who posted about the kites. I was not disappointed in the least! I was there for an hour and a half and both birds where present almost the entire time. I watched as they ate dragonflies and also got to see them mate on two separate occasions! What a great day of birding! Here’s some photos: