Long Island 4-19-13

I guess it is a busy time of year, both in real life and in my birding life. I have managed to get out birding, but it has been harder to find the time to write posts about it. On Friday I had some work on Long Island, so I decided to stay the night with my sister Meghan and her husband Tim. After my appointments I went up to Lloyd Harbor to do some birding. I stopped at West Neck Beach briefly and got some good looks at a flock of Brandt and took some photos of a cooperative Great Egret:

Great Egret at West Neck Beach in Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Great Egret at West Neck Beach in Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.

 

I then continued up to Target Rock NWR, which was a nice spot and fun to explore but relatively few birds were present. I did get a nice look at a couple of Little Blue Herons (a life bird for me!) and several Snowy Egrets.

A juvenile Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
A juvenile Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.
Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron at Target Rock NWR, 4-19-13.

I only stayed at Target Rock for a short time; I was going to meet Meghan at Heckscher Park in Huntington. There had been a Tufted Duck at the pond there for quite some time. On my way back I stopped on the road where I had 10 Long-tailed Ducks (out too far for photos), a couple of Osprey and many Greater Yellowlegs.

An Osprey stretches its wings. Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
An Osprey stretches its wings. Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey in flight, Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey in flight, Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey on a wire with what I am pretty sure is a goldfish! Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.
Osprey on a wire with what I am pretty sure is a goldfish! Lloyd Harbor NY, 4-19-13.

 

 

 

I kind of like this shot of three Greater Yellowlegs, which seemed to be everywhere in Lloyd Harbor.
I kind of like this shot of three Greater Yellowlegs, which seemed to be everywhere in Lloyd Harbor.

We did not locate the Tufted Duck at Heckscher Park, but we did have a good look at an Osprey looking for fish in the pond, many Double Crested Cormorants, and this leucistic Canada Goose that was causing a ruckus:

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On Saturday, Tim and I played golf at Bergen Point Golf Course on the south shore of Long Island. I had my camera with me but I did not manage to get any photos of the many Osprey that where fishing in the ponds on the course. It was a short but sweet visit to Long Island with good birding too!

 

 

 

 

Monday, Monday 4-15-13

I had a really nice afternoon of birding after work on Monday. The weather was nice, cool and sunny. My first stop was at Glenmere Lake to see if anything interesting had come in. There was still a pretty good collection of waterfowl present, including Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, many Bufflehead, and the highlight was definitely a  a single TUNDRA SWAN floating with a group of Mute Swans. 

Here is an shot of the Tundra Swan on its own, though it spent most of the time with a group of Mute Swans. Glenmere Lake 4/15/13.
Here is an shot of the Tundra Swan on its own, though it spent most of the time with a group of Mute Swans. Glenmere Lake 4/15/13.

Afterwards, I headed over to my favorite spot, Wallkill River NWR, to walk the Liberty Loop. There was plenty of activity there; I spent most of my time looking at waterfowl and shorebirds. I struggled with the shorebirds as usual, but it was a lot of fun getting my first good dose of shorebirds for the year. I ended up with 28 species, and it was really nice to just walk the loop and enjoy being outside.

A couple of Blue-winged Teals come in for a landing. Wallkill River NWR 4-15-13.
A couple of Blue-winged Teals come in for a landing. Wallkill River NWR 4-15-13.

Mute Swan  X
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  4
Blue-winged Teal  8
Northern Shoveler  10
Northern Pintail  1
Green-winged Teal  X
Bufflehead  1
Great Blue Heron  7
Turkey Vulture  5
Northern Harrier  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  5
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  8
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Pectoral Sandpiper  8
Wilson’s Snipe  22
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
American Robin  X
Song Sparrow  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Grackle  X

This is one of the better shots I've gotten of a Green-winged Teal. There is much less water out at the reserve right now so I think the birds were more likely to stay put as I approached.
This is one of the better shots I’ve gotten of a Green-winged Teal. There is much less water out at the reserve right now so I think the birds were more likely to stay put as I approached.
Greater Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 4-15-13.
Greater Yellowlegs at Wallkill River NWR, 4-15-13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-necked Grebe…

… is another life bird for me! I went out to Glenmere Lake this afternoon to try for the Long-tailed Duck again and to see if the second round of storms brought in any new birds. I was very happy to find this Red-necked Grebe:_MG_6474

This is another distant shot that I have cropped pretty heavily. It has been a little frustrating that these birds are too far away for decent photos, but that is easily outweighed by the excitement of seeing a new species for the first time. There were fewer birds present today, but it was still a productive stop:

  • Mute Swan 4
  • Canada Goose 8
  • Wood Duck 10
  • Mallard 6
  • Lesser Scaup 4
  • Bufflehead 12
  • Common Merganser 9 (fly over)
  • Pied-billed Grebe 4
  • Red-necked Grebe 1
  • DC Cormorant 9
  • Turkey Vulture 4
  • A. Crow 2
  • Tree Swallow 75

Thanks again to Rob Stone for turning me on to Glenmere Lake, it has been awesome for me this week!

The Long-tailed Duck…

…is a life bird for me. Thanks to Rob Stone alerting me, I was able to get to Glenmere Lake in Florida NY today after work to see some really good birds, including a beautiful Long-tailed Duck. Here is a very distant photo, heavily cropped:

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A Long-tailed Duck, two Horned Grebes, and three Lesser Scaups in the distance out at Glenmere Lake 4/10/13.

When I got home I read John Haas’ post at Bashakill Birder and learned that due to the thunderstorms that passed through last night, there was a major fallout of birds. John wrote specifically about Sullivan County, but I imagine that I saw these birds in Orange County for the same reason. I had never birded at Glenmere Lake before, but it is now on my radar for birding spots. Here is my species list for the day:

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Osprey at Glenmere Lake 4/10/13/

Canada Goose  X
Mute Swan  2
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  5
Greater Scaup  1
Lesser Scaup  8
Long-tailed Duck  1
Bufflehead  10
Pied-billed Grebe  4
Horned Grebe  3
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Tree Swallow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
American Robin  X
Red-wing Blackbird X

 

 

Here’s one more photo that includes five different types of water birds floating together:

Click on the photos to enlarge.

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In this photo: 1 Bufflehead, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Horned Grebe, 1 Greater Scaup, and 10 Lesser Scaup at Glenmere Lake 4/10/13. I struggled with the Lesser Scaups vs Greater Scaups while I was in the field. I was fairly confident that I had one Greater Scaup while I was out there,  though I don’t know if I would have picked up on it if I didn’t know that Rob Stone had both scaups there earlier in the day. In this photo, I think the 2nd bird to the right of the Pied-billed Grebe might be the Greater Scaup, but it is really tough to tell.

American Kestrels – Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 4-5-13

Last Friday afternoon at the Shawangunk Grasslands, I had my first real experience trying to photograph American Kestrels for any extended amount of time. I was hidden in the blind closest to the pond where there is a new Kestrel box.

Both birds were perched in a tree near the box when I arrived at the blind. The male left shortly after my arrival and was gone for nearly an hour. During that time the female did not leave her perch, she faced into the strong gusts of wind and preened. When the male came back the two birds took turns going to the box. It is unclear to me what they were doing, maybe they were checking it out to see if it would make a suitable nesting site?  I thought maybe they were bringing in nesting materials, but I looked at my photos and I didn’t see either bird carrying any nesting materials. I have since read that American Kestrels do not use any nesting materials.

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The male American Kestrel pokes his head out of the nest.
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And here he is on the box.
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The female enters the box.

Between visits to the box the male made many visits to a patch of grass very close to the blind. Again, I’m not sure what he was doing; I have discovered in the past that photographing birds makes it much more difficult to observe their behavior. This seemed to be happening a lot on this day.

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I was given many good opportunities for flight photos as the male was flying between the tree, the box and the clump of grass right by the blind. I found out quickly that it was much more difficult than tracking Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls, both of which are much bigger birds. I was learning as I went, and did get a few decent flight photos.

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Both birds were perched once again in tree nearest to the blind. The male left again and I lost sight of him. He returned a couple of minutes later and I thought that they were mating as I took photos. What actually had happened was a food exchange, which you can see in the photos below. I read on Hawk Mountain’s website that the male American Kestrel will sometimes bring food the female, in an effort to entice her into a nesting site he has chosen. I could be wrong, but it looks to me like he brought her a bat. I have included a heavily cropped image to show the prey. The female took her meal to a shady branch and I watched her enjoy her meal.

This was all very interesting to witness, and I feel like I have some reading up to do regarding American Kestrels. If anyone has any insights, please comment.

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The female (above) is taking the prey from the male.
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Heavy crop showing what I think might be a bat in the female’s bill.
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The female flew off to find a shady branch where she could eat her meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short-eared Owls 4-5-13

I hit the Shawangunk Grasslands Friday evening and sat in one of the blinds for a few hours. I finally got lucky with the Short-eared Owls. It is always such a rush to shoot these birds, especially when they come up right before sunset and the light is changing very quickly. I was happy to get one more chance to get some SEOW photos this year.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Shawangunk Grasslands NWR

I hope that there is still an interest in seeing the Northern Harriers out at the grasslands, because for me it is still very exciting. To be in the blind and have these amazing birds fly so close to me is a real thrill that has not worn thin for me at all. Yesterday I went out because my friend Ed sent me some fabulous Short-eared Owl photos. They were up early and he took full advantage of it. The owls got up a little early yesterday, but I had a small window to get some photos and it just didn’t work out for me. I did have some more luck with what seems to be a young male Northern Harrier:

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You can’t see it from the parking lot, but there is a fairly good-sized pond at the grasslands:

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That is where this Great Blue Heron was heading when he flew right over the photo blind. It was very strange for me to see a GBHE flying low over the grasslands!

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There were several Eastern Meadowlarks present but none got very close to me.

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Here is my best Short-eared Owl photo from the night. I was disappointed, but it was still really amazing to see the owls.

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Playing Catch Up

Derby Hill Bird Observatory 3-30-13

Tricia and I spent the holiday weekend with her family in Baldwinsville New York, which is just outside of Syracuse. Shortly after we arrived on Saturday we took a family excursion to Derby Hill Bird Observatory, which is a good hawk watch for spring raptor migration. Turkey Vultures and Red-tail Hawks were the most numerous migrants, but we saw a good variety of migrating raptors. Highlights included a young Bald Eagle that flew over soon after our arrival, and a low flying Merlin that we saw while we were exploring the shore of Lake Ontario.

An immature Bald Eagle flies over Derby Hill Hawk Watch in Mexico, NY 3-30-13.
An immature Bald Eagle flies over Derby Hill Hawk Watch in Mexico, NY 3-30-13.

Turkey Vulture – many

Bald Eagle – 1

Red-tailed Hawk – many

Red-shouldered Hawk – 1

Cooper’s Hawk – 1

Northern Harrier – 1

Merlin – 1

Canada Goose – many

Snow Goose – many

 

Later that evening we had a large skein of Canada Geese, a large skein of Snow Geese, and a smaller group of swans fly over the house at the same time. I went running for my camera and managed a shot of the swans:

Although I don't think there is any way to tell, I am thinking that these are Tundra Swans because of the number of birds. Apparently Trumpeter Swans tend to be in smaller groups.
Although I don’t think there is any way to tell, I am thinking that these are Tundra Swans because of the number of birds. Apparently Trumpeter Swans tend to be in smaller groups.

 

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary

Song Sparrows were plentiful at 6 1/2 Station Road, 4-1-13.
Song Sparrows were plentiful at 6 1/2 Station Road, 4-1-13.

On Monday after work I stopped by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary where it was pretty dead. I did not stay long as I was under-dressed for the cold; for some reason I thought it was much warmer out. Song Sparrow numbers were up, as were Green-winged Teal  numbers, and the Ring-necked Ducks are still hanging around.

I really enjoy the Killdeer. I've been trying to get a good flight photo of one, but no luck yet. Wallkill River NWR, 4-2-13.
I really enjoy the Killdeer. I’ve been trying to get a good flight photo of one, but no luck yet. Wallkill River NWR, 4-2-13.

Wallkill River NWR

I met Karen Miller out at Wallkill River NWR after work on Tuesday. We walked the Liberty Loop, it was cold but very enjoyable. We put together a respectable species list and took a lot of photos. _MG_4915

Canada Goose  X
Mute Swan  2 (photo right)
Wood Duck  17
American Black Duck  2
Mallard  X
Blue-winged Teal  4
Northern Pintail  8
Green-winged Teal  150
Great Blue Heron  2
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  3
Northern Harrier  3
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1_MG_5029
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Killdeer  2
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1 (photo right)
American Crow  X
Common Raven  1
Tree Swallow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
American Robin  6
Song Sparrow  X
Northern Cardinal  1

A couple of the many Mallards seen out at Wallkill River NWR, 4-2-13.
A couple of the many Mallards seen out at Wallkill River NWR, 4-2-13.
Green-winged Teals were easily the most numerous bird at Wallkill  River NWR 4-2-13.
Green-winged Teals were easily the most numerous bird at Wallkill River NWR 4-2-13.
A male American Kestrel shows off his "string of pearls". Wallkill River NWR 4-2-13.
A male American Kestrel shows off his “string of pearls”. Wallkill River NWR 4-2-13.
The Blue-winged Teal is a BEAUTIFUL bird. I can't wait to get a good photo...Wallkill River NWR 4-2-13.
The Blue-winged Teal is a BEAUTIFUL bird. I can’t wait to get a good photo…Wallkill River NWR 4-2-13.

 

 

 

 

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary

I stopped by my “home course” here in Goshen after work today like I often do. It was a gray cool afternoon with a moderate amount of bird activity. Turkey Vultures must be moving through pretty good right now, I’ve been seeing many on my daily commute and I had 11 at the sanctuary today. I also checked Hawkcount.org and saw that they had 555 Turkey Vultures go through the Derby Hill Hawk watch yesterday (I might make it out to Derby Hill this coming weekend, so I wanted to see what birds were passing through). Duck numbers and variety were down a little bit from last week. In all, I stopped by for just about an hour and I had 23 species:

Red-tailed Hawk at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 3-28-13.
Red-tailed Hawk at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 3-28-13.

Canada Goose  40
Mute Swan  2
American Black Duck  2
Mallard  2
Green-winged Teal  35
Ring-necked Duck  11
Common Merganser  10
Great Blue Heron  4
Turkey Vulture  11
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  2
Herring Gull  5
Mourning Dove  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  8
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
Eastern Bluebird  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Amer. Tree Sparrow  7
Song Sparrow  5
Red-winged Blackbird