American Golden-Plovers continue onTurtle Bay Road in the Black Dirt Region. John Haas had 4 there early in the day yesterday, Rob Stone and Curt McDermott had 15 late in the evening, and I made a quick stop there this afternoon at around 4:30 to find 10 American Golden-Plovers still present. Also present were approximately 25 Killdeer and 1 Spotted Sandpiper.
Again the birds were just too far out for any kind of photos, so that’s two posts in a row with no pics! Good Birds – No Photos.
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!
On Thursday after work I made a quick stop at Skinner Lane and found no shorebirds, so I headed over to Wallkill River NWR. It had rained just a little on Wednesday night, so I was hoping that maybe some new birds had moved in. Judy Cinquina had also reported a good number of shorebirds at the reserve to the Mearns Bird Club. I found a sizable number of shorebirds present that largely reflected what Judy had seen a day earlier. Most shorebirds where found on the West and South sides of the Liberty Loop:
This morning I received a text from Rob Stone – American Golden Ploverat the Pine Island Turf Nursery. Tricia and I headed over and thank goodness John Haas was there and on the birds because I don’t think I would have ever found them. Out in the distance in one of the fields, there were 4 birds present; two were adults in breeding plumage. The views were quite distant, but the light was good and the black undertail coverts on these two birds could be seen easily enough. They were harvesting onions while we were out there and the farm machinery finally moved close enough to flush the birds and I got one single photo of the birds in flight. This another distant photo, I think it is worth it click on it to enlarge it so you can a little bit of a look at these birds:
A final note: I had a few minutes in the early afternoon, so I cruised by Skinner Lane and again struck out. I also went to the Camel Farm where I had a single Greater Yellowlegs. My final stop was at the viewing platform at Wallkill River NWR, where I did not see any shorebirds but had 7 Great Egrets and 2 Green Herons in my very brief visit.
Last Sunday, Tricia and I went for a paddle in the kayaks to Winding Hills Park in Montgomery NY. We like to go there for a relaxing paddle; it is very beautiful and the sunsets can be amazing. For birding, it is usually not that great – there is usually at least one Great Blue Heron Present and we have had Spotted Sandpipers there from time to time. Eastern Wood Peewees can be heard and sometimes seen, and Tufted Titmice and a number of other song birds can usually be counted on. On this day, as soon as I got out of the car the first thing I noticed was an Osprey fishing on the lake. I had never seen one there before and I am thinking that this bird was making a stopover during its migration. I took a bunch of photos while the light was good and then afterwards, Tricia and I just relaxed, floating around the lake in our kayaks and enjoying the sunset.
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!
I met Karen Miller out at Benedict Farm today after work to do some birding. It was not overly “birdy” there tonight, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some pools of water near the entrance with about 25 shorebirds. Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpipers, and Least Sandpipers were all present. It was nice because the birds were not very far out, which allowed for some close-up observation and, of course, some photo opportunties. I didn’t do all that well, but here are a couple I thought were worth sharing:
We had another pleasant surprise when I started photographing a fawn in the bushes: Instead of fleeing like most fawns, this one decided to walk out onto the trail and come right up to me! It was like a pet dog, licking me and letting me pet it all over. As Karen and I birded, the little fawn followed us around, right at our feet. It was an incredible and unique experience but it was also a bit concerning to me. This fawn seemed to be alone in the world and I wondered how it would make out. As we headed out, the little fawn followed us until we got a bit closer to our cars and it turned back.
I spent the day thinking about my ID of this bird, so I made it back out to Skinner Lane tonight to try and get a second look. Luckily, the bird was present. I watched the bird in my scope for a long while when finally all the shorebirds lifted up. This gave me a chance to bird in flight – revealing black armpits. This leads me to believe the proper ID of this bird is likely a Black-bellied Plover. I feel very fortunate that this bird stuck around so I could get another look and hopefully get it right. This has been yet another learning experience on the road to hopefully becoming the birder I aspire to be.
I made a quick stop by Skinner Lane tonight after my golf match and found this American Golden-plover among the Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, and Pectoral Sandpipers. Karen Miller was coincidentally also birding the area and joined me. We both got great looks with binoculars and in the scope. I was disappointed because I did not have my camera, but I was lucky enough to get the above shot with my iPhone with Meopix adapter on my scope and Karen was kind enough to send me some of her shots:
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.
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:
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
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.
Seeing and photographing an adult BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was definitely the highlight of my visit to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge after work today. It was a fabulous night for birding; the weather was perfect, there were minimal bothersome bugs, and there were plenty of birds to be seen.
I walked the Liberty Loop in the counter clockwise direction and not far up the trail I found a pair of Great Egrets (of a total of four for the day).
Walking up the west side of the loop, I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This was exciting to me; if you read my posts this past spring, you know how much I like this bird. I heard it call one time but I was not able to locate the bird. My disappointment was short lived, less than twenty minutes later I saw a large bird fly from the woods and land in a tree in the marsh. I figured it was a Brown Thrasher, but I was pleasantly surprised to find my best bird of the night, the Black-billed Cuckoo. This is a bird I have only heard before, so it was awesome to get really good looks and some relatively distant but decent photos too. Here’s one more shot of the bird:
My main reason for going to the refuge was to see if any shorebirds had moved in. There was not much in the way of shorebirds, a pair of Semipalmated Sandpipers, 3 Killdeer, and 9 Least Sandpipers were all that I found. All were seen on the southernmost part of the loop.
I totalled 39 species for the day, a couple of which are birds that I don’t often get a chance to photograph.
Finally, here is my list for the evening:
Canada Goose 20
Wood Duck 1
Great Blue Heron 12
Great Egret 4
Turkey Vulture 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2
Least Sandpiper 9
Mourning Dove 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Eastern Phoebe 4
Eastern Kingbird 6
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 2
Tree Swallow 11
Barn Swallow 4
House Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
American Robin 6
Gray Catbird 4
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling 1
Common Yellowthroat 2
Song Sparrow 12
Indigo Bunting 8
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle 10
Orchard Oriole 8
American Goldfinch 15