Good Birding in Orange County (finally!)

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One of a group of four Snow Buntings out in the black dirt today, 11/30/14. 

QUICK POST: Today I finally got some of the good winter birds that we expect to see in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County. Highlights:

(2) Rough-legged Hawks (one light morph and one dark)
(4) Snow Buntings
(3) LAPLAND LONGSPURS
(2) American Pipits
(many) Horned Larks

It was also a good day for raptors with many Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks seen throughout the day. I also had a single American Kestrel and a single adult Bald Eagle. I had two large groups of Canada Geese but the only unusual bird that I could find among them looked to me like a domesticated goose.

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Two Lapland Longspurs (far left) in a small flock of Horned Larks. Black Dirt Region, Orange County NY, 11/30/14.  
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Snow Bunting in the black dirt, 11/30/14.
I seem to get an awful lot of over-exposed adult Bald Eagle photos. This one was just barely salvageable. Bald Eagle flying low over the black dirt, Orange County NY, 11/30/14.
I seem to get an awful lot of over-exposed adult Bald Eagle photos. This one was just barely salvageable, and ultimately I kind of like the way it looks. This Bald Eagle caught me by surprise, flying pretty low over the black dirt, Orange County NY, 11/30/14.
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Horned Larks coming in for a landing. Black Dirt in Orange County NY, 11/30/14. 
Dos MODOs in the black dirt, 11/30/14.
Dos MODOs in the black dirt, 11/30/14. Still love these guys. 

Saturday’s Shots

I just love these Horned Larks and I I was trying to get some more interesting photos of them today. I was trying to anticipate when the birds would interact like this. Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.
I just love these Horned Larks and I I was trying to get some more interesting photos of them today. I was trying to anticipate when the birds would interact like this. Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.

I birded in the black dirt this morning and didn’t have any out-of-the-ordinary sightings but the light was nice and I took a lot of photos, so I’m going with basically a photo post.

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It’s the Northern Harrier time of year. I didn’t have any terrific opportunities but I did take some distant shots. Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.
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I love the light and the shape of this bird the streetlight and a truck in the background….ugh. Northern Harrier in Pine Island, NY 11/22/14.
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I have this as a first winter White-crowned Sparrow, at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop Trail, 11/22/14.
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This not a bird that I get many photos of for some reason. Northern Cardinal at Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Loop Trail, 11/22/14.

The highlight of the day was being able to spend some time with some Horned Larks in several locations in the black dirt. These two shots preceded the photo at the top of this post:

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I love the dirt flying in this photo! Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.
I love the dirt flying in this photo! Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.
Gorgeous individual here, in my opinion. Horned Lark in the Black Dirt, 11/22/14.
Gorgeous individual here, in my opinion. Horned Lark in the Black Dirt, 11/22/14.
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Sweetness. Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 11/22/14.
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This is a more typical look; Horned Lark in the Black Dirt, 11/22/14.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 11/18/14

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Can you locate the two blue morph Snow Geese in this photo? Black Dirt Region, Orange County NY, 11/18/14.

It’s that time of year again, when my evening birding time is severely reduced by the shortened days and Canada Geese gather in numbers in Orange County. Tonight I made it out to the Black Dirt Region and located a flock of approximately 1,700 Canada Geese with 3 blue morph Snow Geese among them. It was a distant look, but still nice to sift through the geese and find some gems. Oh, and it is also that time of year when it is COLD! Windy and low temps made for some uncomfortable birding. Here are some shots of the Canadas:

A flying, calling Canada Goose comes in for a landing. Black Dirt Region, 11/18/14.
A flying, calling Canada Goose comes in for a landing right at sunset. Black Dirt Region, 11/18/14.
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I love these guys. Canada Geese in the black dirt, 11/18/14.

Black Dirt Brant

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A single Brant, among a flock of Canada Geese, Black Dirt Region, 11/16/14.

QUICK POST:  I took a driving tour of the Black Dirt Region this morning to see what was going on. It was an uneventful morning; I had relatively few species (25 in the black dirt), and most were expected. American Pipits are still present in decent numbers, I saw several smaller flocks in various locations. I had many Horned Larks for the day, but never got any good looks at some of the larger groups to sift through them for longspurs. I did have a couple of interesting birds – there was a single Snow Goose way out in a field with about a dozen Canada Geese on Celery Avenue. The highlight of the morning for me was locating a BRANT among a group of approximately 100 Canada Geese on Missionland Road. From what I read in the Crossley Guide, this is a juvenile because of the white fringes to the coverts and the lack of a white necklace, which will grow in through the fall. The light did not lend itself to good photography, but here are some shots from the morning:

I enjoy seeing a Great Blue Heron in the black dirt. This one is peering over an embankment. Missionland Road, 11/16/14.
I enjoy seeing a Great Blue Heron in the black dirt. This one is peering over an embankment. Missionland Road, 11/16/14.
Crows were numerous and  seemed to be at every turn this morning. Black Dirt Region, 11/16/14.
Crows were numerous and seemed to be at every turn this morning. Black Dirt Region, 11/16/14.
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Here’s one more of the Brant. Missionland Road, 11/16/14.
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Downy Woodpecker on Celery Avenue, 11/16/14. 

 

Black Dirt, 11/09/14

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Male Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 11/09/14.

Quick Post: I tooled around the Black Dirt Region for a little while this morning, mostly in hopes of relocating a Lapland Longspur that had been reported from the Mearns Bird Club field trip the day before. I dipped on the longspur, but there were plenty of Horned Larks and American Pipits to sift through. The birds were in loose flocks and most were quite distant, but I did have a few closer birds which allowed for some photos. I really enjoy seeing and photographing these birds, and although it didn’t happen for me today, it’s really exciting because there is always the possibility of finding Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings among them.

An American Pipit stands at attention, Black Dirt Region, Orange County NY, 11/09/14.
An American Pipit stands at attention, Black Dirt Region, Orange County NY, 11/09/14.
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Female Horned Lark in the Black Dirt, 11/09/14.