Another Good Weekend, 05/02/21

I’ve been wanting to see a Porcupine for ages, but for some reason or other, I never crossed paths with one since I’ve been in the area (11+ years now!). Well, this weekend I saw three, lol. The first one was on a seasonably cold and windy hike at High Point State Park with my brother-in-law Bill on Saturday morning. We hiked for just over 9 miles; the views from High Point were impressive, the number of birds, not so much with just 18 species tallied. The Porcupine was far and away the highlight.

~Blue-winged Warbler at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 05/02/21.~

On Sunday morning I headed out to the Bashakill to try my luck there. It’s been ages since I’d been there and it did not disappoint. I immediately ran into John Haas and Scotty Baldinger with a couple other birders when I parked at the front of the Stop Sign Trail. I figured the smart money was on sticking with them – they attract warblers and birds in general like nobody’s business. I wasn’t wrong, the place was hopping with birds, but the first thing that got my attention was not one, but two Porcupines sleeping up in trees! What a weird coincidence! As for the birds, I covered some good territory and counted just under 60 species for the morning, eleven of which were warblers. There were also many birders out and about – too many to mention by name. It was good to catch up with some folks I haven’t seen in a while. Birding highlights for me included excellent looks at Blue-winged and Black-throated Blue Warblers at the Stop Sign Trail, decent looks at a high, singing Cerulean Warbler and a Yellow-throated Vireo at the Horseshoe Trail, and a calling Virginia Rail at the Deli Fields.

~Porcupine at High Point State Park, 05/01/21.~
~Black-throated Blue Warbler at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Porcupine at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Orange County Sandhill Crane from earlier in the week.~
~Not a great shot, but I wanted to include one more shot from High Point State Park. Black-and-white Warbler 05/01/02.~

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.!

We Need Young Birders!

~Palm Warbler at the Bashakill, identified by Joseph and photographed by Karen Miller.~

You may remember that I asked some of the more active birders in our area to contribute to the blog – I’m happy to say that Karen Miller is the latest to take me up on it.

By KAREN MILLER

We love birding! It’s a huge part of our lives, but we need young birders to get in the game also and advocate for birds so future generations will have these wonderful creatures in THEIR world too.

I met a young birder with his parents at the Basha Kill recently. Joseph is 5 1/2 years old (and DON’T forget the the 1/2 year or he will quickly correct you!). Joseph is a very smart little guy with lots of energy and he was constantly running around looking for new birds. As I chatted with his parents, Joseph would run up to me and say “Excuse me, excuse me. What bird is this?” He would hand me his little point-and-shoot camera and I tried to identify the bird from a small picture on the display screen. When a Great Blue Heron flew over, he nearly flipped out at the size of the bird! (It surprises me every time, too). Joseph was certain that an Eastern Phoebe on his mother’s camera was instead a picture of a Kingfisher : )  I could barely keep up with his questions.

At one point Joseph ran up to us, announced that he had found a yellow bird and dragged me off to identify the bird. He quickly relocated the bird in a small bush… and he was right! It WAS a yellow bird! Above is a picture of his great finding… a Palm Warbler! Not bad for a 5 1/2 year old! Feeding the birds at home gives Joseph a good start on observing and learning the birds.

I hope that I see Joseph at the Bash again soon. We need young birders!

 

Bashakill TUNDRA SWAN, 03/19/18

~Tundra Swan at the Bashakill, viewed from the Stop Sign Trail parking area, 03/19/18.~

Right now, the Bashakill is officially the hottest hotspot in the area. When John Haas reported a TUNDRA SWAN at Haven Road early this morning, I knew that if the bird stuck around, I would run for it after work. I got word as I left work that the bird was still present, so I headed towards the Bash. When I arrived, Ken McDermott was on the bird, which was out quite a ways  foraging in the vegetation on the northeast side of Haven Road. Lance Verderame and Matt Price joined us shortly after and we enjoyed good scope views as the bird was in perfect light. Ken and I decided to drive out to the Stop Sign Trail to try to get a better look; we were successful and we got a much closer look at the bird, which looked amazing in Ken’s scope (but was unfortunately backlit for photos). It’s a great time of year – things are happening in the birding world and I’m totally loving the time change and the longer days which are allowing me to finally do some quality birding after work again.

~The bird was a little more distant from Haven Road, but the light was much better. Tundra Swan at the Bashakill, 03/19/18.~

~Wood Duck flyover at Haven Road, 03/19/18.~ 

Bashakill EURASIAN WIGEON, 03/10/18

~Wow! EURASIAN WIGEON seen from Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 03/10/18.~

Well, as we all know, timing is crucial when it comes to birding. This week my timing went from poor to excellent. It initially looked to me like I might miss out on seeing the EURASIAN WIGEON that John Haas located on Thursday. Instead, the bird stuck around and when I arrived first thing this morning, it was relatively close to the road and the light was beautiful! I was very excited about this. Wilma Amthor joined me shortly after my arrival, and shortly after that we had a small crowd of birders on the bird, including Diane Bliss, Karen Miller, Scotty Baldinger, Kevin Kreischer, and of course, John. It’s been several years since I’ve seen a Eurasian Wigeon (2014), and I’d forgotten what an absolutely gorgeous bird it is. Additionally, this is my first time seeing the bird in New York State.

~John and I had 4 Eastern Bluebirds hawking insects below the Birch Trail Lookout at the Bashakill WMA, 03/10/18.~

I spent the remainder of the morning and the early afternoon at the Bashakill and every bird was a year bird for the county since it was my first birding foray into Sullivan County for 2018.  I was happy that John offered for me to join him to check out the Pine Boat Launch; my car never would have made it down that treacherous pothole-filled road. John also gave a tip to go to the Horseshoe Pulloff for a Winter Wren. The bird was exactly where he said it would be; it was singing but never made an appearance. I managed to get 2 Orange County nemeses birds today: Winter Wren and Fox Sparrow, and I totaled 40 species for the day, which I felt was pretty good. Huge thanks to John for finding and reporting the wigeon, and also for his help and company today.

~Female Hooded Merganser at the Bashakill WMA, 03/10/18.~

~Eurasian Wigeon, looking coy, Bashakill 03/10/18.~

Bashakill WMA, 06/18/17

~Adult Bald Eagle at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 06/17/17.~ 

Since my shift at the Bashakill Area Association’s Nature Watch didn’t start until 10, I decided to kayak the Bash beforehand. Nature Watch is a great program that I have participated in for years now – basically, trained volunteers such as myself set up viewing scopes at the main boat launch to help educate visitors about the nesting Bald Eagles and Osprey at the Bashakill. Click here to read more about it.

It was a gray, slightly foggy morning at the Bash. I paddled from 6:30 t0 9:30 and it was quite birdy, mostly with the usuals. My main target was LEAST BITTERN, which I heard very well, but never did get to see. The bird was calling in the vegetation just feet from my kayak, but was too well hidden, which was simultaneously exciting and frustrating. Also exciting was a BARRED OWL, which called several times in the distance, and an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER with its excellent call of “peet-sah!”. Photo ops were few and far between for some reason, and the poor lighting meant I had the ISO cranked up so I wasn’t really happy with most of what I took. An adult Bald Eagle did fly in and perch nearby, allowing for a halfway decent shot (see above).

~Broad-winged Hawk at the Bashakill, 06/17/17.~ 

I joined Karen Miller and Lara Sheikh as volunteers for Nature Watch, which was slower than usual as far as visitors go, but pretty exciting as far as the birding. A GREAT EGRET, was first seen by a visitor and then we got our scopes on it. A pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers came and went from the main boat launch the entire time; apparently feeding on the willow tree they were visiting. The two young eaglets were on and around the nest, flapping like mad to get ready to fledge. Karen located a Yellow-throated Vireo that provided great looks. Towards the end of our shift we had a Broad-winged Hawk calling from the woods up near the road. Eventually the hawk flew out of the woods with some sort of large prey in its grasp. After the shift was over, on my way out, I relocated the BWHA and managed to get a photo. Overall it was a good morning of birding for me with plenty of good birds to keep it interesting. I had 50 species of bird in the 6 1/2 hours I spent at the Bash.

~Canada Geese flying over a foggy Bashakill, 06/17/17.~ 

ALSO: While I was at the Bash, I was notified by Rob Stone that he had a DICKCISSEL in the black dirt, so I ran for that bird in the afternoon. I managed only a brief, distant look, but what a great bird for OC! Huge thanks to Rob, as usual. Documentary photo below.

~Kayaking the Bashakill, 06/17/17.~

~Yellow-throated Vireo at the main boat launch, Bashakill 06/17/17.~ 

~I clicked a couple of quick distant shots of the Dickcissel, thinking I would get another opportunity, but unfortunately it never materialized. Black Dirt, 06/17/17.~

Bashakill WMA, 06/11/17

~A male American Redstart at the Bashakill’s Nature Trail, 06/11/17.~

My birding time was a little bit limited this weekend, but I did manage to do some early morning birding today at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. I had plans to meet up at the Bash with Linda Louise to do water-testing a little later in the morning, so I got up early to fit some birding in before that. I stopped at Haven Road, I walked the Birch Trail briefly, and I spent most of my time at the Nature Trail. The Bash was birdy with plenty of the usuals but nothing unexpected. Highlights for me included getting excellent binocular looks at a Common Gallinule from the Birch Trail and also of a rather bedraggled looking Broad-winged Hawk that flew over while Linda and I were water-testing at the fishing dock at the southern end of the Bash. In the end, between birding and water-testing, I had a total of 44 species.

~Up close and personal with a female Red-winged Blackbird at Haven Road, 06/11/17.~

~A chipmunk steals the early morning spotlight at the Nature Trail, 06/11/17.~

Bashakill TRUMPETER SWAN!

~04/13-17 : A distant shot of the TRUMPETER SWAN that has spent the past couple of days at the Bashakill.~ 

QUICK POST: Yesterday John Haas texted me that there was a Tundra Swan at the Main Boat Launch at the Bashakill. I was going to run for it after work, but instead I went to the Celery Farm in Bergen County to try for the Yellow-throated Warbler that has been seen there (the YTWA would have been a lifer, but I dipped on it in a frustrating afternoon). Meanwhile, yesterday evening they got better looks at the swan; Linda Scrima and Bruce Nott both got photos that seemed to indicate TRUMPETER instead. The bird cooperated this morning and John Haas and Karen Miller got good looks and good photos and it ends up the bird is a Trumpeter – the first ever record in Sullivan County! I ran for the bird this afternoon and I joined John at the boat launch; the bird was a little distant but we still got really good scope looks of the bird. The large straight bill, the heavy connection of the bill to the eye, and the forehead that closely matches the slope of the bill were all very evident. It was harder to see that where the bill meets the head it is pointed (as opposed to rounded in Tundra), but I could see hints of it in John’s photos. Back in 2012 I did a post comparing the two swans – check it out here.

For the complete story on this bird, check out John’s blog.

Shooting Shorebirds, 8/13/16

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~Semipalmated Sandpiper in the mud on one of the islands at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

In an effort to beat the heat and catch the good light, Kyle picked me up at my house at 5:30 this morning. We loaded up the kayaks and headed for Morningside Park, which is undoubtedly the best local spot to photograph shorebirds. We arrived just after 6:30 and the air was relatively cool and the light was perfect. We paddled out to the islands where throughout the morning we had 5 species of shorebird:

Semipalmated Sandpiper (2)
Least Sandpiper (6)
Wilson’s Snipe (1)
Solitary Sandpiper (1)
Spotted Sandpiper (1)

As usual, the peeps were super cooperative for photos. The other birds not so much, although I was able to get one shot of the snipe. We spent some time shooting the peeps and also just paddling around the lake to see what other birds might be around – we totaled 27 species on the lake for the morning.

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~Least Sandpiper with reflection, Morningside Park 8/13/16.~

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~We weren’t sure if this Wilson’s Snipe would stay like the peeps do or flush. It flushed. WISN at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

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~Least Sandpiper on a nice perch, Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

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~Semipalmated Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

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~Semipalmated Sandpiper on the move. Morningside Park, 8/13/16.~

On our way back we stopped at the Bashakill; I had to meet up with Linda Lou Bartle and we figured we’d do some quick birding while we were there. Surprisingly, it was a great morning for raptors there, we had:

Turkey Vulture (1)
Red-tailed Hawk (1)
Red-shouldered Hawk (3)
Broad-winged Hawk (2)
Cooper’s Hawk (1)
Bald Eagle (3)
Osprey (1)

You know with all those raptors that Kyle and I were both very happy! Hawkwatch starts in less than 3 weeks!

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~A Red-shouldered Hawk flies over the Deli Fields at the Bashakill, 8/13/16.~

Fourth of July Birding

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~I got a nice look at this Veery as I pulled into the Main Boat Launch at the Bashakill this morning, 7/416.~

This morning, I joined forces with John Haas and we birded the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area by kayak. We had a very enjoyable paddle with a decent number of birds (32 species), but we had no luck finding our target bird, the Least Bittern. I’m not sure at what point a bird becomes a nemesis bird, but I am certainly starting to think Least Bittern is officially a nemesis bird for me.

In spite of dipping on the LEBI, it was a fun morning of birding. It is awesome to bird with John, he is really great company and an absolute wealth of birding knowledge; every time I bird with him, I learn so much. Plus we did alright with some of the more expected birds: Eastern Kingbirds were numerous and seemed to be at every bend in the channel, we heard at least 10 Common Gallinules, saw 2 Belted Kingfishers, and we got really great looks at one adult and two young Bald Eagles.

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~A Bald Eagle chick perched over the channel. The young eagles were still begging the adults for a handout, which did not seem to be forthcoming. Bashakill, 7/4/16.~

In the afternoon, I received a call from Ken McDermott; he had a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at the viewing platform at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I jumped into the car and made my way out there, but unfortunately the bird had flown north shortly before my arrival. Ken also had a Lesser Yellowlegs a little earlier, which had also moved on. So, I joined Ken and Maria Loukeris (who had also run for and missed the SBDO) for a while and we had an interesting afternoon/evening of birding. Shorebird highlights included Spotted Sandpiper (2), Solitary Sandpiper (2), Least Sandpiper (4), and many Killdeer, including 4 chicks. Other than shorebirds, we had many Great Blue Herons, several Green Herons, Cedar Waxwings, and one of the last birds of the day was an adult Bald Eagle that flew directly over the platform. The 2 Great Egrets that I had there earlier in the week were nowhere to be seen. All in all, a good day of birding, with the promise that shorebird migration is already underway! Huge thanks to Ken for the call.

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~Great Blue Heron in flight a Wallkill River NWR, this shot was from Saturday, 7/2/16.~ 

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~Killdeer chick in the muck at Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/16.~ 

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~Solitary Sandpiper at Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/16.~ 

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~Also from a couple days ago, Great Egret with a snack at Wallkill River NWR, 7/2/16.~