Rockland County Red-throated Loon, 11/26/22

I got off the beaten path a little bit today, spending time in Rockland County, Westchester County, and of course, Orange County. The highlight of the day was finding a RED-THROATED LOON at Piermont Pier. It was funny because I ran into Jody Brodsky while I was out there. We were commenting on how quiet it was, and Jody mentioned that she was hoping that there might be a Red-throated Loon… Well, we parted ways, and on my way off of the pier, sure enough, I saw a RTLO. I got word to Jody, and she came and enjoyed the bird as well. I thought that maybe the loon was a new county bird for me, but looking back at my records, I had one in Stony Point back in 2018.

~Now this is a beautiful bird. Red-throated Loon at Piermont Pier, 11/26/22.~
~And one more shot of the bird of the day. RTLO at Piermont Pier, 11/26/22.~

Orange County YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, 11/19/22

First thing this morning I went to the Courtyard Marriott Middletown/Goshen to follow up on a confirmed eBird report of a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER. After just over an hour with no sign of the bird, I departed to go try my luck in the black dirt. Just after 9:00 am, Jeanne Cimorrelli reported the bird was present on the Mearns Bird Club App. I ran for it, but the bird had moved on before I arrived.

~Yellow-throated Warbler in Orange County, 11/19/22.~

I joined a good number of birders, and we waited for the bird to return. Which it did, about an hour after it was last seen. It flitted around the ‘Courtyard’ sign on the side of the hotel for only about a minute before it flew off. As far as I know, the bird has not been seen since. I was pretty happy to have gotten lucky enough to see the bird, it was a life bird, and of course a county and state bird for me. It was also good to see some of the birders I haven’t seen in a while.

~I thought for a while that I might have to settle for a Yellow-bellied bird today. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the Courtyard Marriott Middletown/Goshen, 11/19/22.~

Afterwards, I spend some more time in the black dirt. Highlights included many Horned Larks with a handful of Snow Buntings, a flyover of (5) Sandhill Cranes (a first for me to see that many in OC), and I enjoyed sifting through a large flock of mixed blackbirds. I was hoping to maybe find a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but of course, no such luck.

~Five Sandhill Cranes flying over the black dirt today, 11/19/22.~
~Tis the season. Northern Harrier in the black dirt, 11/19/22.~

A Good Weekend, 11/13/22

We had some weather move in this weekend, and along with it came some good birds:

WICKHAM LAKE: First thing Saturday morning, I met up with Kyle Knapp and we had 15(!) HORNED GREBES on the lake. We had a spectacular photo op as the birds came right to us… until afterwards when I went to look at my shots and the back of my camera read “NO MEMORY CARD”. Ugh! I was initially a little sick about it, but I got over it. I went back in the evening to try for them again; no magical close up opportunity, but I did document the birds. On Sunday morning, Kyle Knapp had 22(!) Bonaparte’s Gulls over the lake. I arrived a little bit later (after spending time at the Hudson River), and one Bonaparte’s remained. As did one Horned Grebe. New birds included 5 Lesser Scaup, a pile of Buffleheads, and a single Ruddy Duck. I also tried Greenwood Lake early on Saturday morning; I had one single duck, a very accommodating Bufflehead – see pic below.

~14 of the 15 Horned Grebes at Wickham Lake on Saturday, 11/13/22.~
~Female Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 11/12/22.~

HUDSON RIVER: I went to the river first thing this morning. My first good find was 6 Bonaparte’s Gulls. They were distant, but nice to see. The highlight, however, was a single Brant associating with a flock of Canada Geese just south of the boat launch. It was my first Brant of the year in Orange County, and the bird was close enough to get some decent photos.

~One Brant on the Hudson River near the Newburgh boat launch, 11/13/22. I was pretty darn happy to get this bird – I’m a huge fan of Brant, and I hadn’t had them in Orange County yet this year.~

HUDSON RIVER: I went to the river first thing this morning. My first good find was 6 Bonaparte’s Gulls. They were distant, but nice to see. The highlight, however, was a single Brant associating with a flock of Canada Geese just south of the boat launch. It was my first Brant of the year in Orange County, and the bird was close enough to get some decent photos.

~2 of the 6 very distant Bonaparte’s Gulls on the Hudson River this morning, 11/13/22.~

MOUNT PETER HAWKWATCH: The season wraps up this Tuesday, so Saturday was my last day of the year counting. I thought I had a possible Golden Eagle, but upon review of the photos and help from John Haas, the bird was an immature Bald Eagle. That said, my final day was a pretty good one. Highlights included 5 migrating Bald Eagles, 18 Red-tailed Hawks, and I was joined by Hawkwatch Leader, Judy Cinquina. I didn’t get to spend much time with Judy this season, so I really enjoyed our time. As usual, you can see my report at the bottom of this post.

BLACK DIRT: I only got out to the black dirt region one time this weekend, but it was a goody! Loads of Horned Larks have moved in. A good number of American Pipits are still around. Add about a dozen SNOW BUNTINGS and a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and you’ve got some darn good black dirt birding.

~Turkey Vulture at Wickham Lake, 11/13/22.~
~Ring-billed Gulls on Wickham Lake, Saturday evening 11/12/22.~
~Another shot of the Brant on the Hudson River, 11/13/22.!

Sunday Shots, 11/06/22

To be honest, this week was a little bit of a dud for me as far as birding goes. There was one clear highlight – after seeing reports from elsewhere in the region, on Wednesday evening I went to Wickham Lake hoping for and finding BLACK SCOTERS. Seven to be exact. It was remarkable to me how quickly it was getting dark, so I was happy to quickly document them before photos wouldn’t be an option.

Black Scoters on Wickham Lake on 11/02/22.~

On Saturday I was the counter at Mount Peter Hawkwatch. It was a terrible week for the watch – I think with the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, raptors are just not moving. It was no different for me on Saturday – I woke up to temperatures in the low 60’s (in early November!), and it only got warmer. I recorded only 3 species of migrants for the day – (4) adult Bald Eagles and a handful each of Turkey and Black Vultures. As usual, my report is at the bottom of this post.

~White-crowned Sparrow at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, 11/06/22.~

Later in the day on Saturday, and on Sunday, I tried for more waterfowl. Wickham Lake has been a good spot, as has been Liberty Marsh. Most waterfowl has been the usual suspects, but I was happy to add American Coot to my Orange County 2022 list. And today at Wickham I had 4 scaup, way out there. I suspect Lesser Scaup, but they were too far to be sure.

~Mute Swans coming in for a landing at Wickham Lake, 11/05/22.~
~Double-crested Cormorant cruising by at Wickham Lake, 11/06/22.~
~One more White-crowned Sparrow shot, Liberty Loop 11/06/22.~

Sunday Shots 10/30/22 – Catch Up

The highlight of my week was going to Wickham Lake on Thursday evening, where I had a total of 13 species of waterfowl, including one exciting bird, a SURF SCOTER. On Friday I joined Karen Miller at the lake again, where there were still loads of waterfowl. I increased my total waterfowl species for the two days to 15:

  • Mute Swan
  • Canada Goose
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Gadwall
  • Am. Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Am. Black Duck
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Ruddy Duck
  • SURF SCOTER
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
~Ring-necked Ducks in flight at Wickham Lake, 10/28/22.~

Kyle Knapp joined me on Thursday to get the Surf Scoter, a lifter for him (congrats!). We also saw (4) adult Bald Eagles across the lake, just after sunset. One was perched, but the other three were tangling in the skies just above the tree line.

~Bald Eagles mixing it up at Wickham Lake, 10/27/22.~

On Saturday I was the official counter at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch. I feel a little bit snake bit this season as I had another day of negligible winds and a cloudless blue sky of death. I counted a total of 29 migrating raptors in 6 1/2 hours; my Hawkcount report is at the bottom of this post. Afterwards, I went to the black dirt hoping for some new birds, maybe a Lapland Longspur or some Snow Buntings. No luck with either of those species, but Horned Lark numbers were up, if only slightly. American Pipits were still present in large numbers too.

~Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 10/29/22.~
~Am. Pipit in the black dirt last Saturday 10/22/22.~
~Killdeer in the black dirt 10/22/22.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 10/29/22.~
~One of two Pectoral Sandpipers in the black dirt on Monday, 10/24/22.~
~Mt. Peter Turkey Vulture flyover, 10/29/22.~

Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/22/22

Today I faced the blue sky of death for nearly 7 hours at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch. Fortunately there were some hawks flying early in the day; low enough to not get lost in the vast sea of blue. The afternoon was not as productive; I’ll never know if I just missed all the birds in the blue sky or if the flight slowed down. Regardless, I totaled 66 migrating raptors, just enough to keep me busy enough. Highlights included a half dozen Red-shouldered Hawks and an unexpected (to me) flight of nearly 40 Turkey Vultures. I’ve included my HawkCount report at the bottom of this post.

~An American Kestrel flies over the viewing platform; Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 10/22/22.~
~One of six Red-shouldered Hawks counted today at Mt. Peter, 10/22/22.~

Sunday Shots, 10/16/22

Yesterday was much more productive, but I did get out this morning as well. I didn’t have much of a plan, so I pretty much just wandered the black dirt in hopes of shorebirds or large collections of geese. I pretty much got neither, lol. The only shorebirds of the day were a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Killdeer at the Camel Farm. And, in spite of seeing flock after flock fly over, I never tracked down any large groups of geese. I always like to check in on Sundays regardless, so here’s a few shots from the past couple of days. I hope you are not sick of pipits yet – they are all over the black dirt and I can’t seem to resist photographing them.

~Euroopean Starling with a snack in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~One more shot of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt yesterday, 10/15/22.~
~Yellow-rumped Warbler in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~I thought the posture on this Pectoral Sandpiper was different than normal – to me they show more neck than this. This bird stumped me for a little while because of this. PESA in the black dirt 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~

Shorebirds and Sharpies, 10/15/22

I woke up early this morning and birded the black dirt before heading to Mt. Peter, where I was scheduled to be the official counter. It was a gorgeous morning, and I was happy just to be out and about and not working. I didn’t have high expectations, so I was especially happy to find another nice collection of shorebirds. In one field I had loads of Killdeer, a Wilson’s Snipe, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER. The birds were close, the light was nice; it was a lovely start to my Saturday.

~Ahhhh, beautiful bird. Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~Buff-breasted Sandpiper with a blurry Pectoral Sandpiper in the background. Black dir, 10/15/22.~
~Pectoral Sandpiper, this time in focus. Black dirt 10/15/22.~
~Wilson’s Snipe in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~BBSA in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~BBSA in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~

Afterwards, I headed up to Mt. Peter to spend the day counting hawks on the mountain. It was an interesting flight today; I don’t know if it was due to the a substantial south wind we had today, but nearly all the migrating raptors I counted today were low birds, just above the treetops. I had a modest 30 migrants today, 20 of which where Sharp-shinned Hawks. As usual, I’ve included my Hawkcount report below.

~One of the 20 Sharp-shinned Hawks counted today at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/15/22.~

Sunday Shots 10/09/22

I was away this weekend and so the only birding I fit in was Sunday afternoon into the early evening. I checked the black dirt, hoping for shorebirds but no luck. I did come across a flock of American Pipits, always a favorite of mine, feeding on an old pumpkin field. Afterwards, I walked Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Winding Waters trail. It was a pleasant and birdy walk, with mostly the usuals. My best moment was when a Merlin rocketed down the trail, about head high, right towards me, only veering off at the last second.

~American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/09/22.~
~Swamp Sparrow in nice light at Winding Waters, 10/09/22.~
~American Pipit with pumpkins in the black dirt, 10/09/22.~
~Hairy Woodpecker at Winding Waters Trail, 10/09/22.~

Good Shorebirding in the Black Dirt, 10/06/22

The first week back at work after vacation is always a doozy, but this one has been especially rough. This seemed to make it that much sweeter when I finally got out to do some birding tonight and found a nice collection of shorebirds in the black dirt. The highlight was (6) WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, which are always a favorite. Also in the same field was over 100 Killdeer, (3) Least Sandpipers, and a single Pectoral Sandpiper. It was a nice break from the grind.

~White-rumped Sandpipers in the black dirt, 10/06/22.~
~White-rumped Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/06/22.~