I was up early both morning this weekend, focused on catching up on some of the songbirds that have moved into our area. I didn’t find nearly as many warblers as I’d hoped, but with some decent yard birding, I added a total of 15 species to my Orange County 2023 list this week. On Saturday morning I birded Cedar Hill Cemetery (just north of Newburgh), and then went to Kendridge Farm. On Sunday I went to Port Jervis and birded Laurel Grove Cemetery and Elks Brox Memorial park.
Here’s a list of the birds I added to my OC list this week:
Baltimore Oriole, 05/08/23, my yard
Great Crested Flycatcher, 05/09/23, my yard
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 05/12/23, my yard
Red-eyed Vireo, 05/13/23, Cedar Hill Cemetery
Eastern Wood-Pewee, 05/13/23, Cedar Hill Cemetery
Magnolia Warbler, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
Blue-winged Warbler, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
Green Heron, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
Common Nighthawk, 05/13/23, my yard
Pine Warbler, 05/14/23, Laurel Grove Cemetery
Scarlett Tanager, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
Prairie Warbler, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
Blackpoll Warbler, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
Northern Parula, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
Common Gallinule, 05/14/23, Liberty Loop
Tricia and I are heading to Ireland for vacation at the end of this coming week, so unless something really interesting happens this week, this will be my last post for a couple of weeks. I look forward to sharing my experiences in Ireland when I get back; this time I am planning to get back to the Cliffs of Moher, so that will be exciting.
It’s the time of year when A LOT is happening. Birds are on the move and seemingly everywhere. While I think most birders were out looking for wood warblers, I kind of did my own thing since warblers are not high priority for me. That said, I added 27 species to my Orange County year list in the past couple of days. I added over half of those birds on a 7.5 mile hike at Black Rock Forest on Saturday morning. It was a birdy hike with 44 species observed.
Saturday afternoon I went over to Walkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Winding Waters Trail. Birding bud Kyle Knapp let me know that he’d had shorebirds there in the flooded fields. I was able to relocate the Dunlin that he’d had there earlier, as well as: Killdeer (2), Least Sandpipers (9), Greater Yellowlegs (many), Lesser Yellowlegs (even more), and Solitary Sandpipers (15+). The birds were distant, and the heat shimmer was terrible, which made for poor viewing.
I went back to Winding Waters this morning to follow up on the Black-bellied Plover that Jeanne Cimorelli located after I’d left on Saturday. As luck would have it, I was joined by fellow hawk watcher and all around good guy, Tom Millard. We scanned the shorebirds from many locations on the trail and totaled 9 species of shorebirds (we added Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover and Spotted Sandpiper to the birds listed above). The number of shorebirds at that location right now is really something – it’s hard to put a number on it, but I’m guesstimating over 200 shorebirds present.
I spent yesterday on Long Island visiting with my family; it had been a while, so it was really great to make up for lost time. But, that meant no birding. So, I woke up early this morning, hoping that the weather would bring in some good birds. I was at the Newburgh Waterfront just after sunrise, but unfortunately there was nothing going on. It was hight tide, as I knew it would be, so that may have had something to do with it.
I also checked a couple of lakes in the Newburgh area and came up empty. Then John Haas put out an alert that he had several CASPIAN TERNS at the Bashakill. It took me what seemed like ages to get there, but the birds stuck around. There ended up being a total of (7) Caspian Terns in all, and they did offer a few decent photos ops as they flew back and forth over Haven Road. It was very enjoyable birding, and CATE was my 207th species in Sullivan County, so that is exciting.
After leaving the Bash, I just cruised around southern Orange County to see what I could find. The birding was just the usuals (American Pipits in the black dirt was the highlight), but by a stroke of luck I found a litter of Red Fox kits. They were just awesome – inquisitive to a certain extent, but mostly just very cautious and of course, cute as can be. As much as I enjoyed the terns, these little beasts made my day.
When I first started birding, I remember looking in my bird guide book at Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings in breeding plumage. I didn’t realize at the time that it’s extremely unlikely to see either of those birds in breeding plumage unless you travel to their breeding grounds. But then, a few years back, Rob Stone put it in my head that it was possible to get Lapland Longspurs in the early spring in beautiful plumage. I can remember this beautiful bird that I found in early April of 2018 – it was nearly there. But it wasn’t until today that I was finally able to see and capture a LALO in breeding plumage. I was so excited!
I hit the black dirt this morning, hoping mostly for shorebirds, but also hoping for American Pipits, since I’d seen that they were reported on Saturday. Shorebirds were a bust for me, but I did find a flock of approximately 30 pipits; I enjoyed watching and photographing them in the morning rain. Then I located a decent sized flock of Horned Larks in flight. I tracked them with my bins and saw where they put down; I got my scope on them and one of the first birds I saw was a beautiful LALO in breeding plumage. The birds were distant, and I was unable to get photos. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere, so I waited them out and finally got my opportunity. There were at least (3) longspurs in the flock; I have photos of 3 distinct plumages.
On Saturday I took a 6 mile hike at Black Rock Forest. I was just in the mood to take a hike and get my legs moving, but it ended up being surprisingly birdy. I added 10 birds to my OC year list; highlights included Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Afterwards, I ran for the WILSON’S PHALAROPE that Jeanne Cimorelli reported at the Camel Farm on Friday evening. That’s a really great find and an excellent bird for the county, however I didn’t get too excited about it because between the great distance and the heat shimmer, my looks were pretty terrible.
Good birds in the county continued today to a lesser degree. I was able to locate three female Red-breasted Mergansers at Greenwood Lake early in the morning, and remarkably they were close enough for photos. A little later I joined Rob Stone at the Newburgh Waterfront, where he had located six Bonaparte’s Gulls. We were hoping the 6 were just the beginning, but after scanning for a good while, no additional gulls would join them.
I played golf first thing this morning. While I was playing, my phone was blowing up with some good birds being reported. Bruce Nott had one heck of a morning and located the following birds: A White-winged Scoter at Orange Lake, A Red-necked Grebe at Washington Lake, and a Black-crowned Night-Heron at Masterson Park. I tried for the birds after golf, and it was a little bit comical to me because for all three, I parked my car, got out my gear, and immediately got on the bird. Excellent birds for the county, but unfortunately they were all just a bit too far for decent photos.
I went to the Hudson River afterwards, and had a little bit of luck there as well. At Donahue Memorial Park, I first located a very distant Common Loon; I mean it was miles out there. As I continued scanning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the loon calling! I was downwind, so I guess that helped the sound travel so well! It was really cool.
I scanned some more and eventually found a pair of distant White-winged Scoters sitting on the river. They eventually picked up and headed north up the river towards Newburgh.
Happy Easter to everyone out there who is celebrating. It was a busy week for me – work was the usual craziness, and then in the evenings Tricia and I spent our time getting prepared to have 11 guests for Easter. So, I got out less than I usually would at this time of the year. The thing about it though, when there is a lot going on in my life like this, I enjoy birding just a little bit more when I am able to get out. I walked Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge early this afternoon, and boy did it feel good to be out and walking a trail on a gorgeous day like today.
Nothing says happy Easter like an angry looking Osprey. Okay, maybe I can think of a few things, lol. Anyways, it’s the time of the year when we get our first of the year for so many birds, so here’s a couple of shots of my first Osprey of the year.
I focused my birding time mostly on waterfowl again this weekend. For the most part it was the same birds we’ve been seeing, but I was able to add (3) new species to my Orange County year list. On Saturday birding bud Bruce Nott let me know he had a Common Loon on Orange Lake (I would find another one at Glenmere Lake on Sunday). Then, I had my first Blue-winged Teal of the year this morning at Beaver Pond in Florida, NY. And finally, I ran to the mouth of the Quassaick Creek where it meets the Hudson River, to catch up with a GREAT CORMORANT located by Bruce earlier in the morning. This was definitely the bird of the weekend (even if my photos weren’t very good). It’s been a number of years since I’ve had that bird in Orange County.
I spent most of my birding time this weekend trying for waterfowl around the county. In two mornings, I had a total of 20 species of waterfowl:
Canada Goose (many locations)
Mute Swan (several locations)
Wood Duck (Wickham Lake and Glenmere Lake)
Northern Shoveler (Wickham and 6 1/2 Station Rd.)
American Wigeon (6 1/2 Station Rd.))
Mallard (many locations)
American Black Duck (6 1/2 Station Rd.)
Northern Pintail (6 1/2 Station Rd.)
Green-winged Teal (Wickham and 6 1/2 Station Rd.)
Lesser Scaup (Wickam)
Ring-necked Duck (many locations)
Bufflehead (several locations)
Hooded Merganser (Round Lake)
Common Merganser (several locations)
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Greenwood Lake)
Ruddy Duck (several locations)
Pied-billed Grebe (Wickham Lake)
Horned Grebe (Wickham Lake)
American Coot (Wickham and 6 1/2)
Double Crested Cormorant (Wickham Lake)
My highlight of the weekend was locating (8) female RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS at Greenwood Lake. They were a bit distant, but it was really cool to see these birds – I had pretty good scope views until a boat came through and flushed the birds even further out and eventually out of view.
It was 25 degrees out when I woke up this morning. When I ventured out, I found it was accompanied by a wicked, cold, strong, wind. It’s past mid-March, and winter is still hanging in there, that much is clear. Likewise, most of my birding this weekend focused on winter birds. On Wednesday evening I got nice scope views of a gorgeous Lapland Longspur; its breeding plumage was coming in nicely. I tried to relocate that bird (or any Lapland Longspurs) both days this weekend with no luck. I was, however, able to get some nice photos of a sharp looking, cooperative Horned Lark.
In my travels through the black dirt, I came across loads of raptors this week. I got my first decent looks at Rough-legged Hawks of the year (better late than never). I had a light and a dark morph on Wednesday evening, and another dark morph today. Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks were numerous; American Kestrels were also, but to a lesser extent. Other raptors included Sharp-shinned Hawk, both vulture species, and Bald Eagle.
I also tried for gulls on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a heartbreaker, Bruce Nott had located an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, I ran for it but missed the bird by 10 minutes or so. Gulls were plentiful on both days, but for me, I had only the 3 expected species. On Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to have a Common Goldeneye fly in. I have to say, even when it’s not necessarily productive, I love birding the Hudson River – sorting through gulls and having that hope that something awesome might just show up.