Turtle Bay Road

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.

Upland Sandpiper!

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!

Orange County – Shorebird Update

A Lesser Yellowlegs shifts position out at Wallkill River NWR, 8/22/13.
A Lesser Yellowlegs shifts position out at Wallkill River NWR, 8/22/13.

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:

Semipalmated Plover  3
Killdeer  28
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  4
Lesser Yellowlegs  8
Semipalmated Sandpiper  4
Least Sandpiper  25
Pectoral Sandpiper  2
Wilson’s Snipe  2

A pair of Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 8/22/13.
A pair of Lesser Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 8/22/13.
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I could have taken a ton of photos of the Lesser Yellowlegs as they shifted positions in the water not far off the trail. 
Two distant Wilson's Snipe in the grass. Heavy crop here, but a really nice bird to see. I love the pattern on the back.
Two distant Wilson’s Snipe in the grass. Heavy crop here, but a really nice bird to see. I love the pattern on the back.

This morning I received a text from Rob Stone – American Golden Plover at 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:

Two of the four American Golden Plovers (with 3 Killdeer) after being flushed by farm machinery. Pine Island Turf Nursery, 8/24/13.
Two of the four American Golden Plovers (with 3 Killdeer) after being flushed by farm machinery. Pine Island Turf Nursery, 8/24/13.

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.

 

Osprey at Winding Hills Park

Osprey in flight over Winding Hills Park, 8/11/13.
Osprey in flight over Winding Hills Park, 8/11/13.

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.

*Click on photos to enlarge*

OSPREY, WINDING HILLS PARK – 8/11/13

This was the Osprey's favorite perch, it kept returning to it...
This was the Osprey’s favorite perch, it kept returning to it…
...then it would take off again in search of a meal.
…then it would take off again in search of a meal.
This Osprey did not catch a single fish while we were there, but none of the people fishing from the shore caught anything either, so maybe it wasn't the bird's fault.
This Osprey did not catch a single fish while we were there, but none of the people fishing from the shore caught anything either, so maybe it wasn’t the bird’s fault.

 

In this shot the Osprey is flying away from me, but I still like it - the water exploding off the bird and the talon all balled up.
In this shot the Osprey is flying away from me, but I still like it – the water exploding off the bird and the talon all balled up.
I've cropped all these images pretty heavily. While the bird was not very far away, as I looked at the photos I really wanted to convey what an up-close and intimate experience it was watching this bird .
I’ve cropped all these images pretty heavily. While the bird was not very far away, as I looked at the photos I really wanted to convey what an up-close and intimate experience it was watching this bird .

 

 

 

 

Yellow-crowned Night-heron in Orange County

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, found by Bruce Nott at ...8/21/13.
Yellow-crowned Night-heron, found by Bruce Nott at Masterson Memorial Park, 8/21/13.

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!

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Benedict Farm

One of many young Barn Swallows out at Benedict Farm, 8/16/13.
Sweet looking Barn Swallow out at Benedict Farm, 8/16/13.

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:

I've seen this pose before by other bird photographers. Two Lesser Yellowlegs at Benedict Farm, 8/16/13.
I’ve seen this pose before by other bird photographers and always thought it looked sweet. Two Lesser Yellowlegs at Benedict Farm, 8/16/13.

 

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A Lesser Yellowlegs shakes it off. Benedict Farm 8/16/13.

We had another pleasant surprise when I started photographing a fawn in the bushes: _MG_8383Instead 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.

This is when we first met - let the licking begin! Great photo by Karen Miller.
This is when we first met – let the licking begin! Great photo by Karen Miller.

 

 

Skinner Lane Plover…Continued

Probable Black-bellied Plover at Skinner Lane, 8/14/13.
I now believe this bird is likely to be a Black-bellied Plover. Skinner Lane, 8/14/13. 

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.

 

American Golden-plover – Skinner Lane

It's rare that I don't have my camera, but tonight I did not. This shot was taken with my iPhone with Meopix apdapter on my scope. American Golden-plover???at Skinner Lane 8/13/13.
It’s rare that I don’t have my camera with me, but tonight I did not. This shot was taken with my iPhone with Meopix apdapter on my scope. American Golden-plover at Skinner Lane 8/13/13.

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:

Amercan Golden-plover among some Least Sandpipers at Skinner Lane, 8/13/13. Photo by Karen Miller (thanks Karen!)
Amercan Golden-plover among some Least Sandpipers at Skinner Lane, 8/13/13. Photo by Karen Miller (thanks Karen!)

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.