Just after sunrise this morning I was hitting the trail at Black Rock Forest. I was, of course, trying for Ruffed Grouse again; it was a total bust. The rain was relentless, the hike was difficult with slippery rocks, and there were hardly any birds – and no grouse.
Afterwards, I went home, dried off, got changed and went back out. This time to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary to try for Least Bittern. The rain had finally subsided, it was a cool, pleasant walk on level ground, and yes, I got a Least Bittern. It was actually a pretty productive visit; I had nearly 40 species. I got a decent look at the bittern, as well as a low flying Virginia Rail. I was also able to confirm breeding status for (4) species: Song Sparrow, Common Grackle, Wood Duck, and Common Gallinule.
I did most of my birding this weekend in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block, Warwick_CE. I was able to confirm several species, but unfortunately only one new species for the block: Yellow Warbler. Yesterday was pretty much a dud of a morning, but today was much better. I made a quick stop by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary to try for the Least Bitterns which have been reported there (I still need them for OC this year). I had no luck with the bitterns, but I did find a cooperative Swamp Sparrow, which was a nice treat.
Afterwards, I birded a new spot in my priority block. I walked along the train tracks in Sugarloaf, heading north. The block continues for nearly a mile along the tracks; the birding was pretty much non-stop and I had a total of 37 species in a one mile span, which I didn’t think was too bad at all. It was at this location that I confirmed Yellow Warbler, and I feel like it will be a good spot to confirm other species in the future.
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.
There was an awful lot of birding action in Orange County today. I was at work, but my phone was blowing up with reports: Kathy Ashman had 8 HORNED GREBES, a Red-breasted Merganser, and a Pine Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. Bill Fiero had a Wilson’s Snipe and 3 Eastern Phoebes at Stewart Forest, and then Kathy had 7 more Horned Grebes, 3 Greater Scaup, and an 80 Snow Geese fly-over at Glenmere Lake. Ken McDermott had Ruddy Ducks, 7 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and 2 Horned Grebes at Orange Lake. In the black dirt, Maria Loukeris reported 4 Eastern Meadowlarks and 200+ Snow Geese. Rob Stone had 6 Long-tailed Ducks at Wickham Lake. Phew! That’s a lot of good birds!
Luckily, I got out of work a little bit early, so I was able to run for some birds. And, maybe even luckier still, ALL the birds I ran for stuck for me! I went to Wickham Lake first and got the 6 Long-tailed Ducks as well as a Red-breasted Merganser and a Ruddy Duck. At Glenmere Lake I relocated the Horned Grebes, the Greater Scaup, and also had a single Ruddy Duck there. At the pond near Glenmere, I made a quick stop and had my first Northern Shoveler of the year in Orange County. From there I went to the black dirt and did well with Snow Geese (200++) and also managed to relocate 2 of the Eastern Meadowlarks. And finally, my last stop was at 6 1/2 Station Road where the Horned Grebes were kind enough to stick around and were close enough for some documentary photos. Not a bad haul for a work day! Excellent birding, thanks so much to everyone that reported!
If you had a chance to be out this evening, you know it was a gorgeous night, cool and breezy with an amazing sunset. The only thing that could make it better is a beautiful bird, and the Rusty Blackbird is the kind of bird that can just make your day with their distinctive call and fabulous coloring. I ran into several of these beauties this evening at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary and I’m still smiling about it.
QUICK POST: While at work today, Bill Fiero reported to the Mearns Bird Club App a GLOSSY IBIS at Citgo Pond. I made plans with Linda Scrima to meet there after work and go for the bird. When we first got there, it appeared that the bird had moved on, but eventually we located it on the far side of the pond hanging out with the Mallards and the Canada Geese. We were able to get some documentary photos; the lighting was terrible and the bird was pretty distant. Meanwhile, I was also scanning the shorebirds present. Numbers were up considerably, with over 20 Lesser Yellowlegs present, a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers, a handful of Least Sandpipers, a single Killdeer and the shorebird of the day… a half dozen dowitchers. I think they are likely SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. I’m sort of playing the odds here because the time is right for SBDO rather than Long-billed, but also, the birds do not appear to be overly humpbacked and their undersides do not seem to be as solidly marked as found in LBDO. Please comment if you have any thoughts on the accurate identification of these birds – thanks. What a great evening of birding, I sort of wasn’t really expecting it! Huge thanks to Bill for locating and reporting the GLIB.
Put the summer doldrums on hold for a minute! With last night’s rainfall, I was optimistic that we might get a good bird today. Kyle Dudgeon and I were only half-joking about the outside possibility of a Roseate Spoonbill, since they’ve had one in New Jersey recently. Then I received a text from Linda Scrima – with an attached eBird report for a SNOWY EGRET at Citgo Pond, reported by a Kevin McGann at 8:23 this morning! I met Linda there after work to check it out; we were doubtful that the report would be accurate, not knowing Kevin McGann and having been burned on several inaccurate SNEG reports in recent years. We walked out to the pond, and sure enough there was a SNOWY EGRET! We put out the word and several birders were able to come join us in viewing the bird. Other highlights included hearing a Cooper’s Hawk calling from the trees (only my second time hearing the “kac, kac, kac” call), my first Lesser Yellowlegs in a couple of weeks, 10 (!) Green Herons, and a Red Fox on the far side of the shore, located by Kathy Ashman and Karen Miller.
I’ve had a busy week, so I spent most of my birding time this week staying local. I went to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond several times; I have mostly been trying for shorebirds since conditions at the pond have been perfect. Although there has been good number of shorebirds present, the variety has been lacking: Least Sandpipers (30+), Semipalmated Sandpipers (2), Solitary Sandpipers (2), and Killdeer (12+).
The trail and the pond have been birdy and I’ve been averaging 25-30 species of bird each visit, all expected species. Highlights include nine (!) Green Herons in a single visit. I also saw my first Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in ages and there are many young birds around (Song Sparrow, Eastern Kingbird, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Tufted Titmouse…). So, while the birding has been decent, I am ready for some more significant shorebird movement, which hopefully isn’t too far away. Here’s several shots from the week, enjoy.
QUICK POST: Huge thanks to Kathy Ashman, who texted while I was at work to let me know she had located a SANDHILL CRANE at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. I ran for the bird after getting out of work this afternoon; Maria Loukeris met me at the sanctuary and got me on the bird very quickly (thanks!). Which was a good thing, because shortly after my arrival, the bird picked up and relocated deep into the reeds and out of sight. The bird was distant, but I was still super excited to see this excellent bird and get some documentary photos. And, of course, it was great to get it in Orange County and add it to my year list (#208).
QUICK POST: I got out to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary’s Citgo Pond a little on the late side this evening; I had some things to take care of directly after work. But, when I eventually got out there, I finally had a new bird – a single DUNLIN. I got super looks at the bird in my scope, but the bird was a bit distant for any decent photos. I was super excited, I’ve been waiting for a while for something good to make its way to Citgo, and Dunlin were on my list for sure. This Dunlin is my 207th species in Orange County this year.