Foggy Saturday, 10/14/17

~One of the many young Cedar Waxwings at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch today, 10/14/17.~

Mount Peter was fogged in this morning, so I took the opportunity to bird a couple of nearby spots before the fog cleared out. My first stop was Cascade Lake, which was very birdy. The most numerous bird was definitely Ruby-crowned Kinglet; I had over a dozen easily. Among the kinglets I had a couple of warblers. One was a Black-throated Green, but the other I haven’t been able to ID. I’ve posted a couple of shots of the bird – if any one has any ideas, please comment. I was surprised to also do well with raptors while there; I had an Osprey, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a Cooper’s Hawk.

~Any thoughts on this bird? Cascade Lake, 10/14/17.~
~Another look at the same bird.~

Next, I went to Wickham Lake, where Yellow-rumped Warblers were the bird of the day; they were seemingly everywhere. Other birds of note included a Pied-billed Grebe and my FOS Ruddy Ducks and Gadwall.

~I wasn’t sure if I would get my weekly Turkey Vulture shot – this was the only TUVU to make a pass close to the viewing platform. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/14/17.~

I headed back up to Mt. Pete just before noon. By 12:15 the fog was thinking about clearing out and I began the day’s hawkwatch. I had 7 migrating raptors in the first 45 minutes, which had me thinking it might be a good flight. Alas, it was not to be and I had only 2 additional migrating hawks in the next 4 hours! This has not been my year for hawkwatching so far, but I’m hoping that changes starting next Saturday.

~Black-capped Chickadees were numerous at Mt. Pete today. This one is enjoying a snack. Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/14/17.~

Common Nighthawk in Flight





After a spring where I didn’t see any in the county, I’ve been fortunate this fall when it comes to Common Nighthawks. I’ve had nearly a dozen sitings in Orange County, including two occasions when they flew right over our house in Goshen, NY. I was on my way home on September 4th in the evening, when I noticed this bird as it, and several others, hawked insects over the small ice cream stand on the corner of Matthews Street and West Main in Goshen. I pulled over and grabbed my camera. I was pretty excited since the birds were up early and I had good light. I enjoyed trying to track the birds as they flew erratically and hunted; it was certainly a nice end to the day.

A Small Hawk in the Rain

09/03/17: After an early morning searching unsuccessfully for shorebirds in the Black Dirt, I came across this Broad-winged Hawk on a wire near 6 1/2 Road Sanctuary. My impression is that this was a very small hawk, in fact, likely the smallest buteo I’ve ever seen; to my eye it appeared to be just a little larger than a Merlin. I’m thinking that this is a small, young, male BWHA. I’m not a fan of wires as a perch for photos, but I do like this one just because it gives a really good look at the hawk.


Interesting Birding

~Bobolink in the Black Dirt, 08/26/17.~

Friday night’s shorebirds were definitely the highlight of this weekend’s birding, but I did get out both Saturday and Sunday mornings, trying mostly for shorebirds. I had mostly the usuals and my best birds for the weekend were 3 BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS first thing Saturday Morning in the Black Dirt. Also noteworthy was a single Pectoral Sandpiper at Citgo Pond on Sunday morning.

I feel like I have some interesting birding experiences recently. The one that stands out most for me was Saturday morning, when I found a bird at Pine Island Turf Nursery (remember – by permission only), that I was unable to identify. I am at the point with my birding that, when I’m in the black dirt, it’s unusual for me not to be able to identify a bird. Luckily, I was able to get some photos of the bird and I sent them immediately to John Haas and Rob Stone. Both came back with the same answer: a hatch year HORNED LARK. Rob added that it likely had recently fledged. When I first saw the bird, I was thinking HOLA or maybe American Pipit, but looking at it, I could not pin it down. It was really cool to see this bird and also excellent to document that HOLAs are breeding in Orange County. There was a tremendous amount of heat distortion in the air Saturday morning, and I photographed the bird from my car, so I think the heat from my car distorted the pics. What an interesting looking bird:

~Hatch year Horned Lark at Pine Island Turf Nursery 08/26/17.~
~Another look at the hatch year HOLA, Pine Island Turf Nursery 08/26/17. Look at the “jowls” on this bird!~

Also on Saturday morning: At Turtle Bay, I had a pair of young Cooper’s Hawk’s in a distant field. They were among a murder of crows, perhaps 25 or so. The crows were making a racket generally harassing the hawks, as they do. The young hawks seemed to think this was a game and repeatedly chased the crows, sometimes flying after them and other times “hopping” towards them.

All week, Bobolinks have been present in large flocks in the black dirt. They have been quite a sight and I was hoping that I would eventually get a decent photo op; I finally did on Saturday morning and I’ve include my best shot at the top of this post.

On Thursday evening I was at Citgo Pond trying for shorebirds. As I was scanning the pond, a large number of Cedar Waxwings were flying over my head, presumably hawking insects. They were very acrobatic in their flying, turning on a dime and at times bordering on hovering. I attempted to take some flight shots and it proved more difficult than I would have thought; I did manage to get a couple of interesting shots:

~Cedar Waxwing “hovering” above me. Citgo Pond 08/24/17.~
~CEWA in flight, Citgo Pond 08/24/17.~

And, finally, on Sunday morning I went to Citgo Pond once again for shorebirds (9 Least Sandpipers, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 5 Lesser Yellowlegs, 4 Killdeer). On my way in, I had a pair of young wrens on the trail. I wasn’t sure if they were Marsh or House; I was sort of assuming House but looking at the photos when I got home, I’m thinking they must have been Marsh Wrens. They were along the trail and spending some time in the trees, but also some time in the marsh grasses. Please comment if you can confirm/deny this ID, thanks.

~I have this as a young Marsh Wren – Citgo Pond 08/27/17.~
~It’s not all that unusual to have a Great Blue Heron in the Black Dirt, but on Saturday morning, 08/26/17, I had 3 during my travels.~
~I’m sure folks are getting tired of Least Sandpiper photos, but I’m not. LESA at Citgo Pond, 08/24/17.~ 

Sunday Shots, 07/09/17

~A very cooperative Green Heron at the Citgo Pond, 07/07/17.~

QUICK POST: I got out several times this weekend; most of my birding was relatively uneventful with the exception of getting my first shorebirds of the fall migration – 5 LEAST SANDPIPERS at the Citgo Pond on Friday afternoon. I went back this afternoon and the only shorebirds present was a half dozen Killdeer. Here’s several shots from the weekend.

~It’s been ages since I’ve posted any Prairie Warbler shots, and now I’ve posted in two straight posts. This bird was at Mount Peter Hawkwatch – I stopped there on my way home from work on Friday, 0707/17  to grab an ice cream, yummmm. 
~One of five Least Sandpipers at Citgo Pond on Friday, 07/07/17. This bird absolutely refused to turn and face me, so I had to settle on getting a shot as it preened.~ 
~One of about a dozen Killdeer at Citgo Pond, 07/07/17.~
~This Green Heron was freaking out when a Killdeer did a close fly-by; it made its posture as big as possible, when previously it was down low in a stalking posture. Citgo Pond, 07/07/17.~
~I photographed 2 Green Herons at Citgo Pond on 07/07/17; I thought the coloring on this bird was beautiful.~ 
~Three Bald Eagles, including one bathing in the Delaware River. Shot looking down from Hawk’s Nest, 07/08/17.~ 

Wow! Orange County Forster’s Tern!





~A beautiful FORSTER’S TERN at the Liberty Loop this evening, 07/01/17.~

QUICK POST: Huge thanks to Linda Scrima, who contacted me tonight to let me know she had a FORSTER’S TERN at Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Loop. I jumped into the car and ran for the bird, and WOW, what a beautiful bird! It was perched on the measuring pole just to the left of the viewing platform, which made for a great photo op. I’ve never had FOTE in Orange County before, so this is OC bird #243 for me! Very exciting!


Adirondacks 2017

~This is one of my favorite shots from the weekend – Common Loon in a swirl of waves, St. Regis Canoe Area in Santa Clara NY, 06/24/17.~

Kyle Dudgeon and I loaded the kayaks onto my VW Golf this past weekend and headed north to do some Adirondack birding. We were heading to Saranac Lake, where there are some excellent local birding hotspots and the St. Regis Canoe Area is less than a half hour away. This trip has become an annual one for me; I’ve gone the past four years in a row now, but for Kyle, this was his first birding trip in the Adirondacks. Our main goal was to photograph the Common Loons, and if that went well and the timing worked out, we would do some additional birding in the area.

~Loaded up and ready to go!~

We arrived at the boat launch late Saturday afternoon. The weather seemed good while we were on the road, with mostly sunny skies above us as we made the 4 1/2 hour drive. But, when we got out of the car it was really windy and we immediately saw that the water was extremely rough. As we debated on whether or not to venture into the water, an adult Bald Eagle swooped in by the boat launch and then perched on the other side of the small cove. That convinced us and we headed out in the kayaks. Once in the water, the eagle did not stick around for any photos and the water was rough enough for me to be concerned. I wasn’t worried for our safety, we had life vests and we are both strong swimmers, but between the two of us, we had a lot of camera gear to keep dry.

~Common Loon, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~

We eventually made it to some areas that were protected from the wind, making the waves at least tolerable. Unfortunately, we were not having much luck with loons, getting only a brief look at a single bird. I’ve been successful on every other trip, but here I was with Kyle and I was beginning to get worried. We paddled around the large pond, hoping our luck would change and eventually it did. We first heard a loon calling, and then four loons flew in and put down just across the pond from us. We made our way over to them and, as I’ve experienced in the past, the birds were comfortable with our presence and went about their business. The loons had put down in an area where the water was pretty rough, which made it really tough to take photos, but in the end I felt like the water movement really added to the photos. Later, as we paddled back to the launch, Kyle and I decided to definitely give it another try first thing in the morning, hoping that the wind would die down a bit and make for some easier paddling.

~Two of the four Common Loons from Saturday evening at St. Regis Canoe Area, 0624/17.~

We arrived at the boat launch right at sunrise on Sunday morning. And the water was like glass. What a difference a day makes! The light was gorgeous and the paddling was super easy. We spent 2 1/2 hours on the water; we did well with more Common Loons, including finding one that was on a nest. We were also hearing many songbirds along the shores of the pond and the islands in the pond. We had an excellent close encounter with a Blackburnian Warbler, but I somehow blew my photos of that bird. Kyle did better than I did, you can check it out, as well as all his photos from the trip here. The highlight of the morning, however, was an adult female Common Merganser with 8 of the cutest chicks you’ve ever seen!

~Kind of a heavy crop here, but I wanted all the droplets of water to be seen. COLO at St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~

It was still early when we finished up kayaking, so we hit a couple of hotspots to try and get Kyle some target birds. We were hoping for Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker. We made brief stops at both Bloomindale Bog and Bigelow Road. Both areas were birdy, but the birds were mostly heard and not seen. We had our best luck at Bigelow Road, where right near the trailhead we had a great look at a Nashville Warbler. Further on, we eventually heard a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers, which were frustratingly close to the trail, considering we never got even a glimpse. Then, on our way back to the car, we first heard and then saw a single young Gray Jay. The bird did not cooperate, so no photos. We wrapped up the weekend with a nice big, late, breakfast before getting on the road. It was another great trip to the Adirondacks, a place that I’ve grown to really love in recent years. Huge thanks to Kyle for joining me; he was great company.

~Common Loon in the waves, St. Regis Canoe Area 06/24/17.~
~A Common Loon spread its wings for us. St. Regis Canoe Area 06/24/17.~
~Kyle with a friend. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~Sunrise COLO, it’s hard to beat. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~Common Loon at St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~
~Common Loon on the nest. St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~I’m not sure why exactly, but this is another of my favorite shots from the weekend. COLO shaking it off, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/24/17.~
~Awwww! Common Merganser with chicks, St. Regis Canoe Area, 06/25/17.~
~And, finally, a songbird. Nashville Warbler at Bigelow Road in the Adirondacks, 06/25/17.~

Adirondack Teaser, 06/25/17





~A beautiful Common Loon at sunrise, Follensby Clear Pond, Adirondacks New York, 06/25/17.~

QUICK TEASER: Kyle Dudgeon and I took a trip up north this weekend for some awesome Adirondack birding. We took loads of photos (especially of Common Loons), so it may take me a little time to get through them. Stay tuned for a post in the next few days.

Orange County Black Bear, 06/12/16

~Black Bear  this afternoon, 06/12/17.~

QUICK POST: These days it looks like I’m doing better with mammals than with birds. I did some local birding after work today with Acadian Flycatcher as my target bird. I was able to get the flycatcher (heard first and then seen, but no photos), which made me happy, but it was a Black Bear that stole the show. It was very dark on the trail, so I was happy with how my photos came out since they were taken with an ISO of 10,000. On my way out I also came across some Wild Turkeys with some super cute chicks. I birded for just over an hour and I had 27 species.

~The bear was eating vegetation as I photographed it, 06/12/17.~
~Wild Turkey chick, 06/12/17.~

Good Birding?

Every once in a while, my best bird isn’t a bird at all. I spent the afternoon after work today birding at Goosepond South, a spot that I’ve never been to before. Towards the end of an uneventful and not overly birdy hike, I came upon this mink and it made my day. I’ve never really caught more than a glimpse of a mink, but in this case I was sitting still for quite some time and the mink did not appear to know I was there and appeared on the far shore of the stream. It then actually swam closer to me before disappearing into the grasses on the near side of the stream’s edge.