Sunday Shots, 09/15/19

On Saturday, I had my first day as official counter at Mt. Peter for the season. I’m cutting back a little this year and not doing every Saturday, so when the schedule came out in August and I saw I had the 14th of September, I was excited – primetime for Broad-winged Hawks! Little did I know then that conditions and weather would conspire against me to deliver my least productive day of counting at Mt. Pete ever. I had a paltry 2 (!) migrating raptors all day. It rained periodically. Even the local Red-tailed Hawks and vultures took the day off for the most part. On the positive side, I did have a Broad-winged Hawk perched in the parking lot when I arrived, as well as a nice mixed flock of warblers that worked the area all day (Yellow-rumped, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, and American Redstart).

~It’s amazing to me how small these birds are when you see them up close like this. Broad-winged Hawk in the Mt. Peter parking area, 09/14/19.~
~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 09/14/19.~

On Sunday I went to the Winding Waters trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to try for warblers. I did alright, in spite of a late start, with 9 species of warbler:

  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
~American Redstart at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~
~Not a bird I photograph very often – Blue Jay at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~
~There were plenty of Common Yellowthroats on the trail this morning, Wallkill River NWR 09/15/19.~
~Pretty little bird: Black-and-White Warbler at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~

I also spend some time at Mt. Peter, where the birds were actually flying on Sunday. It wasn’t an amazing flight, but there were enough birds to keep it interesting. And I was able to get a Broad-winged Hawk in flight. All in all, not a bad weekend for birding in the OC.

~Broad-winged Hawk in flight, Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 09/15/19.~

A Good Day in the OC, 09/07/19

I spent the morning running for birds that most local birders got to see yesterday. Actually, my first stop was at the Volkswagen dealership to get my car serviced. Do you know they gave me a 6:20 am appointment and I was out birding by 7:15? I thought that was pretty incredible. Anyways, my first stop was at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to run for the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER that was reported there yesterday. I got lucky, the bird was present, first distant but then it came in closer and I was able to get some shots before it was flushed by one of the two Merlins patrolling the refuge this morning.

~Sweet little shorebird and always good to see – BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Wallkill River NWR, 09/07/19.~

I made my way over to Winding Waters Trail, where Kathy Ashman had reported an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Unfortunately the bird was no longer present. Then I cruised the black dirt for a good while hoping for more good shorebirds. I was hoping for the pair of BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS which had been reported yesterday, but I didn’t have any luck. From there I went over to Beaver Pond and Glenmere Lake. At Beaver Pond, shorebird numbers were down and I only had a Lesser Yellowlegs, and a handful each of Killdeer and Least Sandpipers. At Glenmere Lake, conditions at the south end of the lake are improving for shorebirds. I walked the trail to better survey that area, but only found a single Killdeer (as far as shorebirds go).

~A Greater Yellowlegs comes in for a landing after taking a spin to avoid one of the two Merlins present at Wallkill River NWR, 09/07/19.~

I was thinking about packing it in for the day when Jim Schlickenrieder put out an alert that he had relocated the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS. I ran and joined Jim and Bruce Nott in viewing one of my favorite birds. They were a little bit distant, so photos are documentary, but the views in my scope were incredible. Excellent bird, thanks Jim for reporting.

~A favorite – two BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in the black dirt this afternoon, 09/07/19.~
~Merlin at Wallkill River NWR, 09/07/19.~
~A few Great Egrets are still hanging around the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 09/07/19.~

Labor Day 2019

It was really great to have the day off, and I thought that the conditions and the timing would be pretty darn good for some interesting shorebirds in the black dirt today (Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, American Golden-plovers were among my targets). Alas, in spite of searching while the storms were passing through our area, and afterwards as well, I came up empty. I even struck out with the STILT SANDPIPER at Beaver Pond (I’m thinking that bird has likely moved on as I know of a couple folks that went for it without success).

~A slightly bedraggled Gray Ghost in the black dirt this afternoon, 09/02/19. This is the first male Northern Harrier I’ve seen in a while. ~

Fortunately there were enough raptors around to provide a couple decent photo ops. And I was entertained by a young Green Heron trying to swallow an absolutely massive frog. It swallowed the entire frog, except for its two back feet, only to regurgitate the entire thing and then have success on the 2nd try. It’s back to work for me tomorrow morning – that ought to bring some shorebirds in.

~A young Cooper’s Hawk in the black dirt, 09/02/19.~
~Green Heron with a ‘snack’. Beaver Pond in Chester, 09/02/19.~

Sunday Shots, 09/01/19

Wow, September already. The only real birding excitement today was a revisit to the STILT SANDPIPER from yesterday. Bruce Nott relocated the bird first thing this morning and reported it on the Mearns app. He was still there when I arrived; we were joined shortly by Linda Scrima and then John Haas. The bird cooperated and came in pretty close, but unfortunately I didn’t really improve on my photos from yesterday because the bird was backlit. Anyways, not too much else going today, so here’s some shots from the past few days.

~I always enjoy seeing this bird. Horned Lark in the black dirt, 09/01/19.~
~Least Sandpipers in flight at Wallkill River NWR, 08/29/19.~
~Great Egret at Glenmere (Beaver) Pond on Pine Hill Road, Chester 08/30/19.~
~Red-tailed Hawk overhead at Glenmere Pond, 08/31/19.~
~This bird did not seem to be all that far out, but this shot is taken with my 1.4x extender and then cropped pretty heavily. STILT SANDPIPER at Glenmere Pond, 09/01/19.~


I’d just gotten home after birding this afternoon when I saw that I missed a call from Karen Miller. I called her back and she told me that the Mearns Bird Club outing had a bird this morning that was later identified (through photos) as a STILT SANDPIPER. The location was at what I refer to as the Glenmere Pond (because it’s just right up the road from Glenmere Lake), but I think most birders call it Beaver Pond. It’s on Pine Hill Road in Chester just south of Glenmere Road. Anyways, I ran for the bird and joined Kathy Ashman, who had seen the bird but it was currently not visible. We shifted position and relocated the bird quickly – it was feeding in its sewing machine style, next to a Lesser Yellowlegs.

~STILT SANDPIPER feeding alongside 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, Glenmere Pond 08/31/19.~

Tom Burke and Gail Benson joined us shortly after, as did Karen Miller and Diane Bliss. We mostly enjoyed scope-distance views of the bird, but then all the shorebirds picked up and the Stilt relocated in a much closer position; allowing for much better looks and some halfway decent documentary photos. I was thrilled to finally get a good shorebird in our area – it was the bird that saved August 2019.

~STILT SANDPIPER in the foreground, Lesser Yellowlegs behind. Glenmere Pond, 08/31/19.~

Sunday Shots, 08/25/19

So, there really doesn’t seem to be much going on in our area right now. I spent most of the week and weekend trying for shorebirds in Orange County, but have only come up with the birds that we have already seen this season: Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, and Solitary Sandpipers. As a comparison, by this time last year, I’d already seen in the county: a WHIMBREL, several Baird’s Sandpipers, a White-rumped Sandpiper, a Short-billed Dowitcher, several Black-bellied Plover, an American Golden-plover, and several Upland Sandpipers. Last year was a great August, but still, by now I would have hoped to have seen some additional shorebirds.

~A young Black-crowned Night-Heron in flight at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 08/25/19.~

When it comes to raptors, however, I’ve done much better. Just this weekend, if I include our trip to Croton Point Park, I’ve seen every expected raptor for this time of year in our area, with the exception of Red-shouldered Hawk:

  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vultures
  • Osprey
  • Bald Eagle
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • American Kestrel
  • Merlin
~Peregrine Falcon in the Black Dirt, 08/25/19.~
~Greater Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 08/24/19.~
~Dos MODOs en la tierra negra. Translation: two Mourning Doves in the Black Dirt, 08/25/19.~
~Common Yellowthroat at the Citgo Pond, 08/25/19.~

Orange County LITTLE BLUE HERON, 08/17/19

Finally! An exciting bird in Orange County! It feels like it’s been ages since we’ve had a good bird. Huge thanks to Bruce Nott, who found this beautiful LITTLE BLUE HERON on the Wallkill River just off of Route 208. I ran for the bird and met up with Bruce and John Haas; the bird was moving slowly south along the river and we caught up with it where the river runs along Bradley Park. John left to kayak at Morningside Park and then Karen Miller joined Bruce and I; we enjoyed excellent scope views of the bird and were able to get some halfway decent shots of the bird.

~Little Blue Heron in the Wallkill River at Bradley Park in Walden NY, 08/17/19.~

I spent the early morning at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – I did not have anything too exciting, but I was able to get a decent photo op with a Green Heron just after sunrise. Again, huge thanks to Bruce for making my birding day.

~ Green Heron at Wallkill River NWR, 08/17/19.~
~One more shot of the Little Blue Heron on the Wallkill River in Walden, NY 08/17/19.~
~Great Egrets have been plentiful at the Wallkill River NWR this summer, but I haven’t posted many pics. Here’s one with prey, 08/15/19. I also had my first Peregrine Falcon of the year at the refuge on the same evening.~

Excellent Morning, 8/10/19

I missed posting last week because Tricia and I went to the Jersey Shore on a mini-vacation. I fit some birding in while I was there, and I’m working on that post. Meanwhile, I got out early this morning and headed to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Kathy Ashman was already there when I arrived; we joined forces and had an amazing morning of birding. It was one of those lucky mornings where the light was beautiful and the birds were plentiful and didn’t mind our presence in the least.

~Green Heron stalking prey, Wallkill River NWR 08/10/19.~

My main goal was, of course, shorebirds – I’ll get to them in a minute. Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are still present at the refuge in good numbers, and this morning they were joined by several very accommodating Green Herons, as well as a brief but amazing look at a pair of Sandhill Cranes. Swallows were also present in good numbers. I had mostly Tree Swallows, with a handful of Barn Swallows and a couple of Bank Swallows. Kathy had Northern Rough-winged before I arrived. Also of note, we had my first Northern Harrier in a good while.

~It was awesome to get such a close up look at this Wilson’s Snipe, Wallkill River NWR, 08/10/19.~

As for shorebirds, we had a respectable nine species:

  • Semipalmated Plover (3)
  • Killdeer (8+)
  • Least Sandpiper (35+)
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper (2)
  • Wilson’s Snipe (1)
  • Spotted Sandpiper (3)
  • Solitary Sandpiper (2)
  • Greater Yellowlegs (1)
  • Lesser Yellowlegs (4)
~Solitary Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 08/10/19.~

I did pretty well with photos, as the birds seemed to be coming closer and closer rather than the opposite. Which was nice for a change. It was an enjoyable morning of birding; it was great to see Kathy who I hadn’t seen in ages and the birds were numerous and cooperative. Hard to beat that. Stay tuned, Jersey Shore post to come later this weekend…

~This photo will give you an idea of how large a shorebird the Greater Yellowlegs is. With a Green Heron, Wallkill River NWR, 08/10/19.~
~Sweetness. White-tailed Deer crossing the marsh, Wallkill River NWR, 08/10/19.~
~It was nice to see these dudes. Sandhill Cranes at Wallkill River NWR, 08/10/19.~

Sunday Shots, 07/28/19

I think we picked a good weekend to go to the beach. Not for birding, but for going to the beach like normal people – getting a little sun and riding the waves. I say that because not much is going on with local birding lately. I can’t remember the last report to come over on the Mearns Bird Club app. Anyways, I did manage to get locally out for few hours this evening; it was more of the usuals. One highlight was seeing my first juvenile Pied-billed Grebe of the season at Wallkill River NWR. Here’s hoping that things start to pick up sooner rather than later; I’m looking forward to some more exciting posts…

~Indigo Bunting in the Black Dirt Region, 07/28/19.~
~A pair of European Starlings in the Black Dirt, 07/28/19.~
~Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Wallkill River NWR, 07/28/19.~
~There are loads of Great Egrets at Wallkill River NWR these days, 07/28/19.~

Sunday Shots, 07/21/19

I got out early both days of this weekend; with the hot weather we’ve been having, it was the only time to do any sort of comfortable birding. It was mostly more of the usuals – it’s that time of year. The most notable siting I had was nearly 100 Great Blue Herons at a single pool at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. There is also a good number of Great Egrets at the refuge these days. Returning shorebirds have been sparse thus far in OC but I finally had some at the refuge on Saturday morning; but just Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs. Let’s hope that it’s the start of a good fall shorebird migration in our area.

~Common Yellowthroat at Stewart Forest – Ridge Road, 07/21/19.~
~A recently fledged Cedar Waxwing at Glenmere Lake, 07/21/19.~
~American Goldfinch at Black Rock Forest, 07/14/19.~ ~
~17 of the nearly 100 Great Blue Herons in one pool at Wallkill River NWR, 07/20/19.~
~Giant Swallowtail at Wallkill River NWR 07/20/19. Thanks to Linda Scrima for the ID help.
~Tiger Swallowtail at Wallkill River NWR, 07/20/19.~
~I have this as a large Painted Turtle. Silver Mine Lake, 07/19/19.~ UPDATE: this is a Red-eared Slider, thanks to Michael Mallon for the ID help (see comments).~