Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 09/16/23

I thought I would hit it out of the park today: September 16. A good WNW wind. Clouds in the sky. With timing and the conditions like this, I expected a “big” day for Broad-winged Hawks. Alas, it was not to be. But, it still was a a pretty darn good day. I tallied 269 migrating raptors, 226 of which were Broad-wings. I had a lot of quality help up there today too: Linda Scrima, Tom Millard, Rick Hansen, and Ken Witkowski all put in some serious time helping me. The payoff was a good variety of migrants – we had a total of (9) different species of migrating raptors (Osprey, B. Eagle, N. Harrier, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Broad-winged, Red-tailed, Am. Kestrel, & Peregrine Falcons). My favorite had to be an adult female and an immature Northern Harrier passing high over the platform together during the first hour of the watch. As always, my report is included at the bottom of this post.

~I alway enjoy seeing an Osprey migrating through. Mt. Pete 09/16/23.~

Hawkwatch Will Have to Wait

I was scheduled to be the official counter at Mount Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday. Unfortunately, when I arrived in the morning, the mountain was socked in with a heavy fog. I went back at noon to find that the fog had not lifted. I ate my lunch and took a little snooze in my car, and instead of lifting, the fog was getting heavier. So, I called it a day, with the idea of visiting the watch on Sunday to get my first hawk watching of the season in. But, I was thwarted again, and after just 20 minutes of scanning the skies and catching up with official counter of the day B.A. McGrath, the skies opened up with a steady rain.

~Roadside Cooper’s Hawk in Warwick NY, 09/10/23.~

In between trips to Mt. Pete, I was, of course out birding. I spent most of my time in the black dirt looking for shorebirds; Saturday morning was quite good with nice looks at a flock of American Golden-Plovers, a pair of Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and a couple of Pectoral Sandpipers. Sunday was less productive; I saw the flock of plovers but they were very distant, and I had no other noteworthy species.

~A foggy morning American Golden-Plover in the Black Dirt Region, 09/09/23.~
~Merlin with prey. Black dirt 09/09/23.~
~Pectoral Sandpiper in the black dirt, 09/09/23.~
~It’s been a while since I’ve seen the leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Warwick. I was happy to see it’s still around.

Happy Easter, 04/09/23

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.

Osprey at Walton Lake, 04/08/23.~
~Good looking bird. Osprey at Walton Lake, 04/08/23.~

NOHAs in the Snow, 03/11/23

I took the opportunity of a snowy morning to head out to the Shawngunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. I did one of my favorite things; which I haven’t done in ages – I spent several hours in one of the refuge’s photo blinds. On a good day (like I had today), it’s hard to beat being in a blind. The birds have absolutely no idea you are there, so with just a little luck, close up flight photos are likely. I had an excellent morning; Northern Harriers were numerous and relatively cooperative.

Sunday Shots 03/05/23: Looking Back at Some Glory Days

This weekend was a complete bust for me. I’m actually surprised that this doesn’t happen more often. I checked some of the lakes in southern Orange County on Saturday and didn’t get anything to speak of. I was feeling wiped out from the work week, so I called it quits early.

Then, on Sunday Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, and I headed up to Williamstown Massachusetts, where we joined Rob Stone to try for the Bohemian Waxwings that have been reported there recently. Suffice to say we didn’t even see a single Cedar Waxwing. It was a pretty grim morning of birding, and after a delicious lunch (which took the edge off a little bit), we headed back to OC.

With all the time spent in the car, we of course got to telling stories and reliving some of the glory days in the past decade or so that we’ve spent birding in the area. I figured since I came up empty this weekend, I would take the opportunity to look back at some old posts and relive some of the good old days – this edition will focus on raptors:

~Valentine’s Day, 2014. I got super lucky with excellent views and some decent photos of a rare (for our area) BARN OWL. This shot is a little bit soft – my settings were not correct at all, and I feel lucky that it came out this good. This bird was absolutely incredible to see in person; it still blows my mind to think about it.~
~On February 7th, 2015, I was able to relocate this gorgeous GYRFALCON in Ulster County, not too far from the Grasslands. The bird was originally located the day before by Karen Maloy Brady; birders combed the area on 02/07/15 in the morning, but the bird was unable to be rolocated. I tried for the bird in the afternoon and got super lucky, finding it perched on an evergreen and then watched as it ate a duck. This photo is three days later on 02/10/15.~
~In early April of 2015, Curt McDermott found a CRESTED CARACARA in Ulster County. I was able to catch up with bird a few times afterwards; on April 12th I spent an excellent evening photographing the bird as it dined on an opossum at a small golf course.~
~Back in 2012, there was a pair of MISSISSIPPI KITES at Sterling Forest. I don’t who originally located them, but I was lucky enough to spend a day watching and photographing these incredible raptors. MIKI at Sterling Forest SP on 05/29/12.~

Good Birding in Sullivan County, 12/04/22

My original plan this morning was foiled. I was going to hike at Black Rock Forest with winter finches on my mind, but when I arrived, the forest was closed due to hunting season. It’s closed until 12/11/22, so maybe I’ll try again in a couple of weeks.

I eventually decided to head up to Sullivan County. I wanted to add Snow Goose to my Sullivan County list; one had been reported at Phillipsport Marsh. Unfortunately, the bird was not present when I arrived. So I continued to Rondout Reservoir to try for the sea ducks John Haas wrote about on his blog yesterday.

~Bald Eagle in flight over Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

When I arrived, it was unclear to me where these birds might be – Rondout Reservoir is huge! I went to the Sullivan County portion of the reservoir (at the northernmost area). As I walked up, it was a Bald Eagle bonanza. There were two adults sitting on the shore with a fish between them, as well as two young birds flying in the vicinity. It made for some good photo ops – I haven’t had a good opportunity with any eagles in a while, so I enjoyed it as well as the results.

~Coming in hot! Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Just as the eagles settled down, Renee Davis pulled up and gave me the lowdown on the sea ducks. Not only that, she drove back to the spot and got me on the birds immediately: (1) SURF SCOTER and (2) LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Huge thanks to Renee for all the help. The birds were distant, but the light was perfect so I had excellent looks in my scope. Photos were a different story, as you can see below. The Surf Scoter was my 206th bird in Sullivan County. Hopefully the Snow Goose will stick around and I’ll get another shot at it.

~Long-tailed Ducks and a Surf Scoter at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22. There are three Common Goldeye in the background. ~
~A young Bald Eagle flies overhead at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~And finally finding a nice perch. Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

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
  • 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.~

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.~

Maine 2022 Teaser & Hawkwatch 10/01/22

Tricia and I returned on Friday night from a week’s vacation in Maine. We spent 4 days on Monhegan Island and the rest of the week in the Rockland area. Monhegan Island is a birding experience unlike any other; I look forward to getting through my nearly 1,900 photos and putting together a post. For now, here’s a photo of arguably of the most numerous songbirds I observed on the island: Red-breasted Nuthatch.

~Red-breasted Nuthatch on Monhegan Island, 0/25/22.~

Meanwhile, I was the official counter at Mount Peter Hawkwatch today. It was raining when I headed out, and when I arrived at the mountain, it was totally fogged in. I did some local birding and enjoyed a flock of 70 or so American Pipits in the black dirt. I went back to Mt. Peter just before noon a it was still socked in. I birded Wickham Lake, and then went back to finally start the watch at 1:30.

The flight wasn’t substantial, but I was happy to get some good variety, with 8 species of migrating raptors. I’ve included my HawkCount report below.