Sunday Shots, 02/21/21

It wasn’t the most exciting Sunday morning, especially after getting so many birds so easily yesterday in Rye. I tooled around the black for while first thing, highlights included my first two Merlins of the year and a Lapland Longspur in very nice plumage. Afterwards, I headed to Beacon to try for gulls, but it was too early in the day and gull numbers were down and I only had the three expected species. Anyways, here’s a handful shots from the morning.

~Lapland Longspur showing off its namesake. Black Dirt Region, 02/21/21.~
~Merlin in the black dirt, 02/21/21.~
~LALO with a HOLA in the background, black dirt 02/21/21.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt this morning, 02/21/21.~
~I never pass on an opportunity to shoot a Northern Mockingbird. Black dirt 02/21/21.~

Rye NY, 02/20/21

Last night I decided that I wanted to change it up a little bit this weekend. And I wanted to go to the beach. So, I headed to Rye, New York early this morning to bird the Playland and the Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary. The weather was my favorite – cold and mostly sunny. This location is a great place to bird, because you are guaranteed to get birds, especially waterfowl. It was a pleasant morning of birding were I had 21 species of waterfowl. Suffice to say you won’t see that in Orange County this time of year. Noteworthy species included Surf Scoter, Horned Grebe, Great Cormorant, Common Goldeneye, and Ruddy Duck. I finished the morning with 35 species on my list.

~Female Hooded Merganser at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Common Loon at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Always a favorite, Red-throated Loon at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Northern Shoveler. This one was in the lake at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Greater Scaup at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~In the afternoon I stopped by the Newburgh Waterfront on my way home. The adult Iceland (above) was present and not far from the boat launch. I also saw an immature Glaucous Gull in flight a few times. The bird was WAY out there.

Sunday Shots, 02/14/21

Well, it was another enjoyable weekend of winter birding. Yesterday was a home run gulling at the Hudson River, then this morning I did a quick cruise around the black dirt where I located a remarkable 8 LAPLAND LONGSPURS. I found 2 off of Route 12 in New Hampton, and an additional 6 on Ridgebury Road in Slate Hill. From there I headed over to the Bashakill to check to see if the large flock of Snow Buntings were still present. They were, and they were quite accommodating. I ran into Karen Miller while I was there and we located a distant Rough-legged Hawk, off of Haven Road; I don’t think they get them there very often. From there I called it a day a little on the early side, but it was a good morning.

~Snow Bunting – Haven Road at the Bashakill, 02/14/21.~
~THE THREE AMIGOS! Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur sharing a snow drift, Slate Hill NY 02/14/21.~
~Lapland Longspur in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Snow Buntings coming in for a landing on a wire, Bashakill 02/14/21.~
~A pair of Lapland Longspurs in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Northern Mockingbird at Galeville Park, 02/13/21.!

Adult Iceland Gull, 02/13/21

I feel like I’ve been on a pretty good roll lately. Last night Bruce Nott, birding bud and fellow Larophile, emailed me some fabulous photos he took of an adult Iceland Gull. I was already planning to head to the river the next day, but this gorgeous bird got me really excited to head over – I’ve been saying for years that I’d love to get a look at an adult ICGU. So, I joined Bruce and Joe Chernek at the Newburgh Waterfront early this afternoon; Bruce had already relocated the bird and it wasn’t very far out. We enjoyed tremendous looks at this beautiful bird and, of course, took loads of photos. Karen Miller joined us and she got the bird as well.

~Beautiful Bird. Adult Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront this afternoon, 02/13/21.~

Joe and Karen left, but Bruce and lingered. More gulls were moving in, and we were hoping to see the immature Glaucous Gull. I located an interesting bird that was a little bit distant. It was definitely a white-winged gull that was showing some gray on its upper back and wings. Eventually the bird relocated and we got some better looks – it was a subadult Iceland Gull! We were both pretty jazzed about that bird, but also greedy… and it paid off as Bruce was able to locate the immature Glaucous Gull before we got too cold and wrapped things up. It was another great day of gulling; I can’t thank Bruce enough for all the work he’s been doing and for keeping everyone informed.

~Adult ICGU at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/13/21. We believe this is Kumlien’s sub-species, based on the light colored eye and the limited streaking on the nape/neck.~
~Adult ICGU in flight, 02/13/21.~
~Adult ICGU with an adult Ring-billed Gull. I like this shot because it shows the difference in the stark black wing tips of the RBGU, versus the muted gray wing tips in the ICGU.~
~Showing off. Adult ICGU in Newburg 02/13/21.~
~Subadult Iceland Gull (behind a Herring Gull), Newburgh Waterfront 02/13/21.~

Sunday Shots, 02/07/21

~Huge thanks to Linda Scrima who relocated the Ferruginous Hawk Sunday morning in the snow, 02/07/21.~

I’ll tell you what, I could get used to the good birding I’ve been enjoying recently. It was another excellent weekend, filled with some super birds and some decent photo ops. I spent both mornings tooling around the black dirt; highlights included a total of 4 LAPLAND LONGSPURS between the two days, a nice sized flock of COMMON REDPOLLS, and my second (and much better) look at the FERRUGINOUS HAWK which continues in the black dirt. I spent Saturday afternoon over in Beacon with Bruce Nott and we did really well with gulls – we had a GLAUCOUS GULL, an ICELAND GULL, and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, all immature birds, as well as the three expected species. It was freezing cold with a strong wind on that side of the river, but worth the suffering. This is ending up being a photo heavy post, so I’ll just let the pics do the rest of the talking.

~A nice look at a Rough-legged Hawk just after sunrise on Saturday morning, 02/06/21.~
~Lapland Longspur taking off with several Horned Larks, black dirt 02/07/21.~
~The Glaucous Gull was really showing who is the boss of the ice floes. I absolutely cannot get enough gulls this year, and the gulling has just been fantastic. GLGU in Beacon, 02/06/21.~
~This was a nice surprise, a couple of Short-eared Owls up briefly on Saturday morning. I think some American Crows rousted them from their daytime noosing. ~
~Beautiful MODO, black dirt 02/06/21.~
~Common Redpolls in the black dirt 02/07/21.~
~One more shot of the FEHA, 02/07/21.~
~Horned Lark in nice light early Saturday Morning, 02/06/21.~
~Posting this photo right after the HOLA shot really accentuates the different light between the two days. Sunny and clear on Saturday, Snowy and gray on Sunday.~

~I saw two Coyotes this weekend, both distant. This one might not have been close, but you can see it is well aware of my presence.~

Excellent Saturday, 01/30/21

I had a fabulous day of birding today. I started out nice and early. I was in a great mood because once again it was a nice, sunny, cold, and crisp morning – perfect for winter birding. I hit the black dirt first; my first highlight wasn’t a bird, but a good looking Coyote. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one, so it really got me pretty damn excited. Not long after that, I had a nice sized flock of SNOW BUNTINGS. Again, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an actual flock of SNBUs, so it was great to see 35 or so of them together.

~Coyote in the black dirt, 01/30/21.~

A little later, on Skinners Lane, I had a couple of interesting sparrows flush as I was driving along. They landed back on the road ahead of me, this time I got my bins on them – it was a pair of VESPER SPARROWS! The rest of my time in the black dirt was mostly uneventful. I ran across many birders presumably looking for the Ferruginous Hawk (it was relocated today, btw), so that was my cue to head home for lunch and avoid all the nonsense. On my way home I saw a light morph Rough-legged Hawk off of Maple Avenue, and then right around the corner from my house I got a great look at a young Cooper’s Hawk stalking a neighbor’s feeder.

~SNOW BUNTINGS! In the black dirt, 01/30/21. Check out the plumage of the second highest bird – very pale all over – I’m wondering if it is leucistic? ~

In the afternoon, I headed to the Hudson River and met up with birding bud Bruce Nott. We had two excellent birds, both immature – ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS. I put the word out and eventually Rick Hansen joined us and we got him on both birds. As I was leaving, more birders were arriving, and Bruce later reported to me that they located an incredible 3 Glaucous Gulls! I was sorry to have missed that, but still, what a day!

~Neigborhood Watch. Cooper’s Hawk in Goshen Village, 01/30/21.~
~Snow Bunting in the black dirt, 01/30/21.~
~VESPER SPARROWS in the black dirt this morning, 01/30/21.~

A Pretty Good Weekend, 01/24/21

Saturday and Sunday were both gorgeous days – mostly sunny, cold, crisp, with a brisk wind out of the north. It was great to just be out and about after a week staring at my work computer. On Saturday I went up to Sullivan County to try for the Northern Shrike near Liberty NY; unfortunately I had no luck. That’s my third time trying for that bird, and I’m sort of feeling like three strikes and you’re out. The trip was still worth it though, I had a single COMMON REDPOLL and a brief look at three EVENING GROSBEAKS, my first of the winter. In the afternoon I went to the Newburgh Waterfront, where I located a first winter ICELAND GULL.

~ICELAND GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront on Saturday afternoon, 01/23/21.~
~Ring-billed Gull at Newburgh Waterfront. I wish I had this sort of photo op with the Iceland!

On Sunday morning I walked the Winding Waters trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful, freezing cold walk, and I enjoyed it immensely. The highlight was a single COMMON REDPOLL, my first in Orange County this winter. In the early afternoon, Bruce Nott reported a GLAUCOUS GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront. I ran for the bird; when I arrived we actually located a second bird for two GLGUs! Huge thanks to Bruce as always. It was a good weekend, and I even got a few shots to share, which makes me happy.

~Black-capped Chickadee playing in the snow, Woodard Rd Sullivan County 01/23/21.~
~Northern Cardinal on the Winding Waters Trail, 01/24/21.~
~Cedar Waxwing in a snow squall. Clement Road in Sullivan County, 01/23/21.~
~Amrican Tree Sparrow, Winding Waters Trail 01/24/21.~
~Beautiful bird. Glaucous Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 01/24/21.~
~Documentary shot of Common Redpoll at Winding Waters, 01/24/21. Unfortunately this bird did not stick around for very long…~

Wow! Orange County FERRUGINOUS HAWK!

Yesterday during the waterfowl count, Linda Scrima spotted an interesting hawk. She was thinking it was a perhaps a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk, took some photos to check out later and continued with the count. It ends up the bird was a FERRUGINOUS HAWK! There were many birders out trying to relocated the bird this morning, but it was of course John Haas who found the bird on Celery Avenue (click here to see John’s post with some fantastic photos). I rushed over and joined several other birders to view the bird. It was a little distant and in the trees, so scope views of this gorgeous bird were fantastic, but photos were tough. The bird eventually flew and was relocated by Bruce Nott on Lynch Avenue. The bird was in the air tangling with a couple of Red-tails, but then put down in a field. The bird moved around after that, and as of this writing had been relocated two more times, with many, many birders going for it. From what I’m told, this is a first New York State record of Ferruginous Hawk; super exciting birding! Nice job and congrats to Linda on an amazing find.

~Another tough day with photos – the bird was never really close enough. FERRUGINOUS HAWK in flight, Pierce Circle 01/17/21.~
~Ferruginous Hawk, Celery Avenue 01/17/21.~
~Ferruginous Hawk coming in for a landing at Lynch Ave, 01/17/21.~

A Full Day, 01/16/21

This morning, for the third year running, I teamed up with Linda Scrima to do Mearns Bird Club’s Orange County Winter Waterfowl Count. Our area is basically the black dirt region; we divided and conquered with Linda taking the west side along Route 12 for the most part, while I was mainly on the east side off of Pulaski Highway. It wasn’t the most exciting waterfowl count, but I do enjoy contributing towards these counts from time to time. Linda had our best birds, a couple of Snow Geese and an American Coot. Here’s our totals:

  • Canada Goose: 3,009
  • Snow Goose: 2
  • Mallard: 13
  • American Black Duck: 12
  • Mute Swan: 9
  • Common Merganser: 12
  • American Coot: 1
~Snow Goose in the Black Dirt, 01/16/21. Photo by Linda Scrima.~

In the afternoon I headed over to the Hudson River. My first stop was at the Storm King State Park parking area, where I was finally able to catch up with the wintering GOLDEN EAGLE. I’d tried for this bird several other times this month without any luck, and I was beginning to worry that maybe the bird hadn’t returned. From there I went to the Newburgh Waterfront for some gulling. There were plenty of gulls present, with more coming in as the day drew to a close. Bruce Nott joined me, and not too much later, he located an adult ICELAND GULL in flight. I was able to get on the bird and get some documentary shots of it. We believe this is likely the same bird we had last Saturday, which, upon further review was determined to be an Iceland rather than a Glaucous. It wasn’t a good day for photos, but it was a good day for birds.

~Adult Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 01/16/21.~
~GOLDEN EAGLE at Storm King State Park, 01/16/21.~

Sunday Shots, 01/10/21

Other than the gulls at the Hudson River, it was a relatively uneventful weekend of birding. I tooled around the black dirt region both mornings and had less than the usuals. Even large flocks of geese were hard to come by. But, as always, especially on these cold, sunny, crisp mornings, it was just good to be out. A slow day of birding beats a day at the office any day of the week, no doubt about it.

~Common Merganser on the Wallkill River off Celery Avenue, 01/09/21.~
~This morning I got my first Rough-legged Hawk of 2021.~
~Black Vulture in the black dirt, 01/10/21.~
~Black-capped Chickadee at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 01/09/21.~
~My first Great Horned Owl of the year, 01/09/21.~
~I was fighting the light and a quick little bird. Brown Creeper at Reservoir 3, 01/01/21.~