Orange County – Shorebirds, Kingfishers, and Rainbows

Lesser Yellowlegs out at Skinner Lane 8/9/13. I was lost in the shorebird weeds for
Lesser Yellowlegs out at Skinner Lane 8/9/13. I was lost in the shorebird weeds for a while – I thought these birds looked too puffed out to be Lesser Yellowlegs but I had no clue what else they could be. I exchanged a couple of emails with John Haas which helped to get me back on course. I find that sometimes you can lose the thread and you need some help (or just some time) to get  re-calibrated.

With the rain storms that rolled through the area Thursday night and into Friday, I was hopeful that there would be some shorebird movement. I made the rounds in the Black Dirt Region both Friday evening and Saturday morning. As I have previously documented on this blog, I struggle to identify shorebirds. I want to take this opportunity to thank both Rob Stone and John Haas who have both been extremely generous in helping me learn.

Skinner Lane

This was the best spot for shorebirds that I visited. I stopped by Friday evening after getting a tip from Rob Stone that Ken McDermott had a Baird’s Sandpiper there. I also stopped by a couple of times Saturday. I never saw (or could identify!) the Baird’s Sandpiper but there was a nice collection of shorebirds there:

  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Killdeer

    Two Pectoral Sandpipers and a Greater Yellowlegs out at Skinner Lane 8/10/13.
    Two Pectoral Sandpipers and a Greater Yellowlegs out at Skinner Lane 8/10/13.

Turtle Bay

I took a brief spin around Turtle Bay road on Saturday morning.  Conditions looked perfect for shorebirds but yielded only Killdeer (about 25 or so).

Pine Island Turf Nursery

I went over to the turf farm on Friday evening after another alert from Rob Stone – He had a White-rumped Sandpiper, and Ken McDermott had another Baird’s Sandpiper there. It was just around sunset when I got there and I could see that there were many birds present, but it was too dark to get a good look, so I left. When I went back on Saturday morning, all the birds had moved on with the exception of half a dozen or so Killdeer and one Solitary Sandpiper.

Scenic Farms Golf Course

Late Saturday morning I had 13 Least Sandpipers here. I was entertaining the thought that there might have been a Baird’s Sandpiper among them. I let Rob Stone know what I was up to and he was kind enough to stop by and check it out for me. He let me down easy, ha ha. Actually it was another valuable learning experience for me – which is what this is all about after all.

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge

I feel like I haven't gotten a good shot of an Indigo Bunting in a while. Wallkill NWR 8/10/13.
I feel like I haven’t gotten a good shot of an Indigo Bunting in a while. Wallkill NWR 8/10/13.

This is the spot that I thought I might really find something good, or at least some higher numbers of birds, but it was basically a bust. I walked the loop both Friday night and Saturday morning and had only Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpipers, and Killdeer. I didn’t have very many, less than a handful of each. On Friday night I had two additional smaller shorebirds that I saw fly in but then lost them and never relocated them again to identify them.

The birding in general at the reserve was pretty good – I had over 30 species on both visits. I also had some good photo opportunities, particularly with this pair of Belted Kingfishers, which is a bird I have never had any luck photographing before Friday night.

These two seemed to be having a good time. A pair of Belted Kingfishers at Wallkill River NWR 8/9/13.
These two seemed to be having a good time. A pair of Belted Kingfishers at Wallkill River NWR 8/9/13.
The chase is on! Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR 8/10/13.
The chase is on! Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR 8/10/13.
At attention. Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR 8/9/13.
At attention. Belted Kingfisher at Wallkill River NWR 8/9/13.
It's not the greatest shot of a Ruby-throated Humming bird, but I have not gotten many this summer. Wallkill River NWR 8/10/13.
It’s not the greatest shot of a Ruby-throated Humming bird, but I have not gotten many this summer. Wallkill River NWR 8/10/13.

Friday night I got caught in a massive rain storm - I took this shot right after it passed.
Friday night I got caught in a massive rain storm – I took this shot right after it passed.