WARBLERS!

~There were plenty of Black-and-white Warblers at Sterling Forest the past couple of days. This one is from this morning, 05/05/18, at Ironwood Drive.~ 

From Friday evening to Saturday evening, I’m pretty sure I had my best 24 hours of warblers ever. In that span I had 19 species of warbler in three different locations: Sterling Forest State Park’s Ironwood Drive, Sterling Forest’s Old Forge Road, and Pochuck Mountain State Park.

Black-and-white Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Ovenbird: All three locations

~Ovenbird at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/05/18.~ 

Nashville Warbler: Pochuck

Worm-eating Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Louisiana Waterthrush: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Northern Waterthrush: Ironwood Drive

Black-throated Blue Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

~Male Black-throated Blue Warbler at Sterling SP, 05/05/18.~ 
~Female Black-throated Blue Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/05/18.~ 

Blue-winged Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Common Yellowthroat: Ironwood Drive

Hooded Warbler: Ironwood Drive

~I still need a good Hooded Warbler Photo. Sterling Forest, 05/04/18.~ 

Cerulean Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Northern Parula: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

Blackburnian Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Yellow Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

~American Redstart at Sterling Forest SP, 05/04/18.~

American Redstart: Ironwood Drive and Old Forge Road

Black-throated Blue Warbler: Ironwood Drive and Pochuck

Black-throated Green Warbler: Pochuck

Yellow-rumped Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Prairie Warbler: Ironwood Drive

Golden-winged Warbler: Ironwood Drive

~Golden-winged Warbler at Sterling Forest, 05/04/18.~ 

Maybe more remarkably, in that same 24 hours, I added a total of 27 new species to my Orange County year list. Highlights (outside of the warblers) include: Virginia Rail (Liberty Loop), Broad-winged Hawk (Sterling SP), Green Heron (Sterling SP), and Baltimore Oriole (Pochuck).

~I like this pic – Blue-headed Vireo at Sterling Forest SP, 05/05/18.~ 
~Ruby-crowned Kinglets were numerous at Sterling Forest today – I had at least 20 of them.~ 

 

Orange County CATTLE EGRET! 05/01/18

~CATTLE EGRET flies over the platform at the Liberty Marsh this evening, 05/01/18.~ 

This evening I met up with Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh. We were following  up on a second  hand report by Ken McDermott, from earlier in the day, of a CATTLE EGRET at the marsh. We had a pretty fabulous night of birding, with 4 species of shorebirds being seen right along Oil City Road (Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, and Solitary Sandpiper). An American Bittern called as soon as I got out of the car, and Linda got a sweet shot of one in flight (see below). Sora could be heard calling from just east of the viewing platform. And then, the CATTLE EGRET flew out of the marsh and right over the platform! It headed north and settled down just off of Liberty Lane. It didn’t stay there for long, however, it picked up and, lucky for us, put down about 100 yards out from the viewing platform. Excellent, lucky night of birding!

~Wow! American Bittern in flight at the Liberty Loop, 05/01/18. Photo by Linda Scrima.~ 
~Lesser Yellowlegs at the Liberty Loop, 05/01/18.~ 

An Unexpectedly Nice Evening, 04/30/18

~A Northern Rough-winged Swallow makes a pass at Wickham Lake, 04/30/18.~

Picture this. You spent the day working hard and you are exhausted. But now you are standing on the shore of Wickham Lake in a light rain, listening to a Common Loon perform its eerie call. Swallows buzz over the surface of the lake; you scan persistently and eventually identify 4 of the 5 expected species of swallow: Barn, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and a beautiful single CLIFF SWALLOW. Your first Solitary Sandpiper of the year works the shore just to your left; a Yellow Warbler and an American Redstart (another FOY) call from the patch of woods near the parking area. And, just like that,  your Monday evening has clearly surpassed expectations.

~I did not imagine I would be photographing any shorebirds close up this evening. Spotted Sandpiper at Wickham Lake, 04/30/18.~ 

A Full Day in Orange County, 04/28/18

~My FOY Northern Rough-winged Swallow, at Reservoir #1 in Port Jervis, NY 04/28/14.~

I left the house early this morning with a plan. I was free to bird for most of the day, and after spending my evenings this week birding the Liberty Loop exclusively, I wanted to cover some additional territory in Orange County, mostly hoping for some new passerines for the year.

Laurel Grove Cemetery: This was probably my best stop of the day, the cemetery was extremely birdy. Yellow-rumped Warblers were numerous (25+), as were Northern Flickers  and Downy Woodpeckers. I four Orange County first of year (FOY) birds: Cooper’s Hawk, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, and Blue-headed Vireo. It’s hard for me to believe it has taken me this long to get a Coop.

~With as many flickers that were around at Laurel Grove, I would have been disappointed to not get a photo. Northern Flicker at Laurel Grove Cemetery, Port Jervis NY 04/28/18.~

Reservoir #1: My first bird was my best – a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows were busy feeding on the water right in front of the parking area. They were my FOY, as were the several Eastern Towhees I heard while walking the trail.  Afterwards, I went to the sand bar in Port Jervis to try for shorebirds or gulls, but unfortunately the water levels were way too high.

Camel Farm: I had very distant looks at both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Several Killdeer were flying around and calling.

~Crappy shot of a nice bird: Black-and-white Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 04/28/18.~ 

Black Dirt: I stopped at one spot quickly to try for a couple things: I wanted to see if the large Horned Lark flock had moved on (it appears to have), and I was also hoping the recent rains might produce some good shorebird conditions (conditions looked good to me, but no shorebirds).

Wickham Lake: On my way to the lake, I started to think that I was accumulating a decent number of species for the day. How many would I get if I stuck to my plan and hit my additional 3 spots?  The lake was relatively uneventful – there were many boats out, so I was not surprised to see very little in the way of waterfowl – Common Mergansers (2), Bufflehead (2), Mute Swan (3), Canada Geese (8), and Double-crested Cormorant (2). I did manage to pick up an additional FOY bird: Yellow Warbler.

~Savannah Sparrows were plentiful today, both in the black dirt and at the Liberty Loop. This one was in the black dirt, 04/28/18.~ 

Glenmere Pond: Waterfowl numbers were down here. Noteworthy birds included a single Northern Rough-winged Swallow and two Ring-necked Ducks which are holding on. It was nice to see an Osprey fly over just before I left.

~Two American Bitterns at the Liberty Loop from earlier this week. I had two there today as well and it is hard to tell how many there are at the marsh right now. I am wondering if they will stay and breed; that would be amazing.~ 

Glenmere Lake: This stop was pretty much a bust. I think it was just a little too late in the day and there just wasn’t much going on.

I finished the day with 63 species after 7 locations in 8 hours. I’m not sure how that rates but it was a birdy enough day to keep it interesting.

Around Town, 04/21/18

~Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Wickham Lake, 04/21/18.~

I got out and around locally this morning. My main goal was to check on the American Bitterns from last night – in my imagination I was picturing numerous bitterns flying around the Liberty Loop in perfect light. The reality was more than slightly different; I met Linda Scrima there first thing  and although we heard an American Bittern calling repeatedly, we were unable to get a visual. We had no shorebirds, but I did pick up a few FOY birds – Brown Thrasher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Field Sparrow.

 

~Horned Grebe in nice plumage at Wickham Lake, 04/21/18.~ 

A quick stop at the Camel Farm was disappointing – one lonely Killdeer is all Linda and I could find as far as shorebirds go. From there I headed to Wickham Lake; best birds were a Common Loon and a Horned Grebe and I also picked up my FOY Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Glenmere Lake and pond were relatively unproductive but I did have 4 Blue-winged Teal at the pond. I watched them for a good while; they are beautiful. My final stop of the morning was in the black dirt to check on the Horned Lark flock. I last had them on Tuesday evening, but including today I’ve come up empty on my last 2 tries. I spent about an hour trying to wait them out today, but I’m starting to think they have moved on.

~I spotted this bird on my way home from work on Friday night – Common Loon at Lake Kanawauke in Harriman State Park, 04/20/18.~
~It’s been a while since I shot a Mourning Dove. MODO at Wickham Lake, 04/21/18.~
~Maria and I had this female American Kestrel out on Liberty Lane on Friday night, 04/20/18.~ 
~Good bird/bad pic – Blue-winged Teals at Glenmere Pond, 04/21/18.~

Wow! Five AMERICAN BITTERNS at the Liberty Loop!

~Super grainy, but I was thrilled to get this photo of my first ever American Bittern in Orange County. Liberty Loop, 04/20/18.~

What started out as an uneventful evening ended up being an incredible birding experience. I met Maria Loukeris out at the Liberty Loop; we walked out Liberty Lane – highlights included some distant unidentified shorebirds, several White-crowned Sparrows and my FOY Swamp Sparrows. As we were walking back to the cars, I turned to Maria and said “Let’s go look for some American Bitterns”.  I was only half joking, and I had no idea what was in store for us. As we reached the parking area, Maria picked up two birds flying across the marsh and exclaimed “bittern!”.  I got on them immediately and was thrilled to see two AMERICAN BITTERNS fly from the front pond and head southwest towards the back of the marsh. We went to the viewing platform; we were pretty sure that we wouldn’t see them again, but had to try. But, then we heard another AMBI calling from just to our left. We scanned and remarkably, Maria located the bird right away. As I ran to get my scope from the car, a different AMBI took flight and flew north over Oil City Road. Shortly after that, yet another bittern joined the one that was calling – that gave us a total of five American Bitterns! I put the word out, and Linda Scrima made record time to arrive to see a pair of them in the scope before we lost the light. What a night! I’m still freaking out!

A Nice Night, 04/19/18

~This Common Loon popped up right near me! I guess I was not optimistic about photos because my camera was still packed away. I had to get it out quickly but without any sudden movements to grab this shot. Wickham Lake, 04/19/18.~

After spending the weekend out of town, and then feeling a little under the weather earlier in the week, it was good to get out and do some productive local birding. At work today I saw multiple reports from Scotty Baldinger and Karen Miller of good waterfowl in Sullivan County, including Common Loons, Horned Grebes, G. Scaup at Kiamesha Lake and more Common Loons, Red-breasted Merganser, and best of all – SURF SCOTERS at Swan Lake. This had me raring to go at the end of the work day to see if I could find any good waterfowl in Orange County. I had time to stop at my two usual spots – Wickham Lake and Glenmere Lake. Wickham was the more productive stop – I had 3 Common Loons, 4 Horned Grebes, and my Osprey  of the year in OC. Glenmere was less exciting, but I did have a pair of Lesser Scaup and I also had my first Barn Swallow of the year at the small pond up the road from the lake. It was a nice night to be out and I took a moment to appreciated it.

~Awww. A pair of Ring-necked Ducks look into each others eyes  at the small pond near Glenmere Lake, 04/19/18.~ 

Spring Raptor Migration in Orange County

~Kent did not have any photos with this post, so I figured I would tack on one of my own recent shots – Bald Eagle flyover at Glenmere Lake last weekend, 04/07/18.~

I recently invited several of the more prolific birders in our area to contribute to the blog whenever they have something that they feel is worth sharing. I think there is a lot of good birding going on that folks would like to hear about, and the end result should be a little more complete coverage of the birds and birding in our area. Kent Warner is the first to take me up on the offer. The timing is perfect too, since I was out of town all weekend and didn’t get any birding done.  I found this post very interesting because, generally speaking, not much attention is paid to raptor migration here in Orange County.

SPRING RAPTOR MIGRATION IN ORANGE COUNTY

BY KENT WARNER

Today was a stunner at Bellvale Community for raptors especially. As the sun warmed, and the updrafts started, the first couple of broad-winged hawks, passed low overhead. As the day continued, despite a stiff north breeze, the raptors kept coming – predominantly  Broad-winged Hawks and Turkey Vultures, but a little of everything showed. Here is a list of what I saw…

Broad-winged Hawk – 450 (very conservative estimate of just the ones I saw, there were definitely more)

Turkey Vulture – 45

Black Vulture – 6

Osprey – 16

Northern Harrier – 3

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3

Cooper’s Hawk – 5

Bald Eagle – 5

Red-Shouldered Hawk – 1

Red-tailed Hawk – 6

American Kestrel – 6

Merlin – 1

Peregrine Falcon – 1

Lapland Longspur in (nearly) Breeding Plumage, 04/08/18

~Lapland Longspur in the Black Dirt, 04/08/18.~ 

I was having a conversation with Rob Stone earlier this week about Lapland Longspurs. I had commented that they had probably migrated north by now; Rob wasn’t so sure and said that he thought his latest date for LALOs was April 7th. We agreed that, if they were around, you might find one in  darn nice plumage. I set out to the black dirt this morning with all this in mind. I located large, loose, flock of Horned Larks; they were extremely scattered and jumpy as can be. I eventually located a single LALO in beautiful breeding plumage. The bird was distant so I tried my best to document it by digiscoping video with my phone, but the jumpy birds, the wind, and the heat shimmer made it difficult for sure (see the result at the bottom of this post). I found several LALOs in the flock and it was cool because I could differentiate the birds by their plumage. I put in a good amount of time, and eventually it (sort of) paid off when part of the flock landed close to me and in that group was a LALO nearly in breeding plumage. It was a really exciting time, I really love Lapland Longspurs, and I never thought I’d ever see one in breeding plumage. Beautiful birds!

~The heat shimmer was just awful today. In fact, for me it’s been awful all spring long, destroying scope views and photos alike. The Horned Larks were looking especially sharp to me today. In the Black Dirt, 04/08/18.~ 
~Savannah Sparrow in the Black Dirt, 04/08/18. Just ignore the plastic wrap in the background.