Orange County Upland Sandpiper, 08/05/22

Tonight after work I headed out to the black dirt again, and I finally caught up with my target bird for this week: UPLAND SANDPIPER! I was having a pleasant evening – it was birdy enough to keep me interested, it was Friday night, life was good. Then, life became excellent when I spotted an Upland Sandpiper hanging out with a couple of Killdeer. Unfortunately the bird flew not long after I found it. Linda Scrima joined me in the search, and she was able to relocate the bird, but only briefly before it flew again. Try as we might, we were unable to relocate the bird again before it got too dark.

~UPPY in the black dirt, 08/05/22.~
~High ISO (8000) Red Fox in the black dirt, 08/05/22.~

Orange County Little Blue Heron, 07/26/22

On my third attempt, I finally caught up with the LITTLE BLUE HERON that has been hanging around the small pond at Algonquin Park recently. The bird was originally located by Ken McDermott last Friday, and I have to thank Ken for posting that the bird was present this evening. His timing was impeccable; I was just wrapping up work. The bird hung in for me this time, and I enjoyed some fantastic looks. I was particularly impressed when the bird caught and ate 2 large frogs, one right after the other. Ken had returned for another look, and Joe Chernek showed up as well, so it was really good to see both of them as well. It felt good to have an exciting evening of birding – it’s been a while.

~Little Blue Heron at Algonquin Park, Newburgh NY 07/26/22.~
~LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~It was cool to watch the bird take short flights around the pond. LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~Little Blue Heron at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~The bird hunted and ate 2 frogs this big right in a row. And it continued hunting! LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~

Orange County NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, 05/30/22

I spent my birding time over the past couple of days trying to catch up with the NEOTROPIC CORMORANT that Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott found at the Newburgh Rowing Club on Saturday evening. I was in Newburgh twice yesterday and had some rotten luck, missing the bird by less than 10 minutes. Today was a different story and I finally connected with the bird thanks to two birders up from the city (Heydi & Ryan maybe? Sorry I’m so bad with names). I connected with them when they first arrived, and not to long after that, they contacted me to let me know they had found the bird by the Newburgh Ferry. The bird was cooperative until birding bud Rob Stone arrived and got it, but shortly after that it was flushed by a pair of jet skis.

~Wow! NEOTROPIC CORMORANT on the Hudson River near the Newburgh Ferry 05/30/22. From what I understand, this is only the 6th NECO record in NYS .~

The NECO wasn’t the only excitement I had this week. I was focusing on breaking 200 birds in Sullivan this week. On Thursday I joined Karen Miller out at Haven Road and we heard a solitary Eastern Whip-poor-will (#199) calling. On Saturday I went to the Neversink Reservoir and got Bobolink (200) and Savannah Sparrow (201). Afterwards, I birded Hurleyville Swamp and was able to clearly hear an Alder Flycatcher (202) calling away. I was going to head home at that point, having cleaned up pretty good, but John Haas contacted me to let me know he had a Mourning Warbler calling near Cooley Bog. I ran for that bird, and although I didn’t ever lay eyes on it, I heard it well. The Mourning Warbler bumped my Sullivan County total to 203 and it was also a life bird for me (4 in a week! Craziness!).

~A wet and bedraggled looking Bobolink was my 200th bird in Sullivan County. Neversink Reservoir, 05/28/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (49) For all the good luck I had this week, it didn’t come home with me; I didn’t add any new birds to my yard list.

~Bald Eagle at the Newburgh Rowing Club, 05/29/22.~
~Now this was crazy. When I arrived at the Newburgh Rowing Club this morning, Matt Klein was there. He immediately got me on this white-tailed deer swimming across the river! The deer must have realized it was longer than it thought, and just under halfway across it turned back and made it back to Orange County unscathed.
~Cuteness. Killdeer and chick at Hurleyville Swamp 05/28/22.~
~Yellow Warbler at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/28/22.~
~Osprey on the Hudson River, 05/29/22.~

Wow, Orange County ARCTIC TERNS!

This afternoon Karen Miller reported several tern species at Glenmere Lake. Meanwhile John Haas had 18 Common Terns at the Bashakill. I was dying at work, as you can imagine. Then, I saw a report on the NYS list serve for Arctic Terns in Westchester County. I knew I had to get to Glenmere after work if the birds stuck around. Linda Scrima kept me posted, and I ran for the birds after work. There were 7 individuals present, all in constant flight, quite distant, feeding over the lake. Linda left and had one of her photos confirmed as an ARCTIC TERN! I took over 1,000 photos, and this evening I reviewed them and could not find any individual which didn’t look like an Arctic to me. Apparently this is a first county record for Orange County, so that’s pretty exciting!

All photos ARCTIC TERNS at Glenmere Lake on 05/13/22.

Orange County Caspian Tern, 04/30/22

I had two target birds when I left at sunrise this morning. I dipped on my first one – I went to Black Rock Forest and hiked up to Jupiter’s Boulder to try for Ruffed Grouse. Unfortunately, not only was it painful because I’m so out of shape, I had no luck with the bird. Afterwards I headed to the Hudson River to try for Caspian Tern. I was not optimistic; the timing was right, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I had no luck at the Newburgh Waterfront and the Newburgh Rowing Club, so I headed to Plum Point.

~Caspian Tern at Plum Point this morning, 04/30/22.~

I scanned Cornwall Bay and found a distant Caspian Tern perched with a handful of Ring-billed Gulls. I’m not sure if they were clinging to the last of the sandbar, or if they were on a piece of driftwood. I was happy to get the bird, but not thrilled about the distance and no photos. Then, the unthinkable happened. The bird picked up and flew right to me, dove for and caught a small fish, and then proceeded north along the river with a Ring-billed Gull giving chase. Talk about timing!

~A Ring-billed Gull gives chase as the Caspian Tern evades with a fish in its bill. Plum Point, 04/30/22.~

The tern was relocated at the Newburgh Waterfront by Bruce Nott Yard a little later, and apparently several birders were able to see it.

Birds 2022: (39) – I added Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and House Wren this week.

~CATE in flight over the Hudson River, Plum Point 04/30/22.~

Black Rock Forest, 03/27/22

Well, my good luck continued for another day. This morning I headed to Black Rock Forest to try for the Red Crossbills that have been reported there recently. I enjoyed the 3 mile hike to Tamarack Pond, in spite of the relatively cold and windy conditions. I didn’t have many birds until I got to the area of the pond, where there were plenty of birds, some of them really good, including a couple of Fox Sparrows, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Brown Creeper.

~One of the many Dark-eyed Juncos at Black Rock Forest, near Tamarack Pond, 03/27/22.~

But, it took over two hours of looking and listening and wandering the area before finding my target birds. I heard a call that I did not immediately recognize, as I made my way towards the call, two birds popped up out of an evergreen and landed on a leafless tree. I was able to snap some shots before the birds took off; I got enough to at least document:

~Red Crossbill at Black Rock Forest, 03/27/22.~

The hike back to the car was nearly bird-free, but I was feeling pretty good about things and didn’t mind at all. I made a quick stop at the Newburgh Waterfront afterwards, but it seemed quiet there and I had only the 3 expected species of gull present (Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed).

Yard Birds 2022: (33) – no new birds since my last post.

~This was a nice surprise, one of 2 Fox Sparrows at Black Rock Forest, 03/27/22.~

Excellent Gulling in Suffolk County, 02/26/22

I went to Long Island today to visit my dad. Since he is not an early riser, I took the morning to try for some good gulls that have been reported recently at Old Field Point and Lighthouse in Suffolk County. It was a cold but very successful morning; I was able to locate 3 of my 4 target birds: ICELAND GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (I missed on the Black-headed Gull). Additionally, I met a birder there named Jay Rand; he got me on an interesting gull that has been reported as well, but as of yet is unidentified.

~Lesser Black-backed Gull at Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22.~

The Glaucous Gull was the whitest gull I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if this is just a light individual, or if there some possible sun bleaching going on, but the bird has been confirmed on eBird.

~A very pale Glaucous Gull at Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22.~

As for the Gull species, it looked like a Herring Gull, but with a slightly darker mantle and yellowish legs/feet. When I got home I checked my emails and found some reports and a write-up by Shaibal Mitra on the NYSBIRDS list serve. He describes the bird broadly as a Herring Gull type, and offers 3 typical possibilities for this bird:

  1. Smithsonianus Herring Gull, which apparently show some degree of yellow in the legs/feet in the late winter and early spring.
  2. Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid.
  3. Yellow-legged Gull

After viewing the bird, however, he has reservations about these three options and offers a fourth possibility: Northern European L. a. argentatus, to which he found similarities in the mantle color and wingtip pattern. Apparently we will find out what the experts identify it as in the coming days. I will keep you posted. And regardless, it was a really cool bird to see and added some excitement to my morning.

~Gull Sp. at Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22. If you look closely you can see the yellowish legs/feet. When viewed next to Herring Gulls, the mantle was clearly darker (sorry no comparison shots).~
~Always a favorite, a beautiful Iceland Gull on the Long Island Sound at Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22.~
~There are four species of gull in this photo: (2) Herring Gulls up front, a Lesser Black-backed Gull to the right, the Glaucous Gull, and a Great Black-backed Gull behind the Glaucous. Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22.~
~I tried to get a better comparison shot, but this is the best I managed to get. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls within inched of each other. Old Field Point and Lighthouse, 02/26/22.~

Orange County NORTHERN SHRIKE, 02/05/22

This morning I FINALLY caught up with a NORTHERN SHRIKE at Wickham Woodlands Park in Warwick. I say finally because I haven’t seen a Northern Shrike since 2019, and it’s not for lack of trying. Over the past couple of winters I’ve tried more times than I can count – going after reported birds in Liberty, Sullivan County, the Grasslands in Ulster County, and of course locally here in Orange County. Today’s bird is likely the same bird that Kathy Ashman reported this past October. Since then, I’d received several reports that the bird was still around, and I tried for the bird at least a dozen times this winter.

~

To say I was excited is definitely an understatement. But, that said, the encounter was entirely too brief; the bird darted behind some vegetation and I was never able to find it again. It would have been awesome to spend some time with the bird. One really cool thing about it, was that I found the bird by ear. I could hear it calling, and although I haven’t heard many Northern Shrikes before, I knew it had to be the bird. I followed the sound and sure enough.

2022 Yard Birds: (24) – I added Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbird since my last post.

Sunday Shots, 01/16/22

I really enjoy the cold and sunny weather we had for most of this weekend. It’s a pleasure to gear up and get out into the cold, especially when the sun is out, and ended up with some good birds and some decent photo ops. My best bird by far, was the MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD in Ulster County that I ran for today. I drove up to Esopus Meadows Preserve first thing this morning. When I arrived just before 9:00, there were already several birders on the bird. By the time I got out of my car, the bird was no longer in sight. I waited alongside Ken McDermott, and we both got our first glimpse of this beautiful bird as it hovered alongside a tall evergreen across the road. The MOBL was a beautiful and cooperative bird, and my 315th bird in New York State. It wasn’t a lifer, as I’d seen MOBLs in Colorado back in 2013.

~Mountain Bluebird hovering. What a beautiful and accommodating bird! Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~

Afterwards, I tried for gulls/waterfowl at the Hudson River, first trying from Long Dock Park on the Beacon Side, and then from the Newburgh Waterfront. I didn’t have any luck with gulls nor ducks, but I did finally catch up with the Tennessee Warbler which has been hanging around near the sewage plant.

~MOBL at Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~

Saturday was less successful, but it was still good to be out. In the morning I participated with Linda Scrima in Mearns Bird Club’s Orange County Winter Waterfowl Count. Unfortunately it was a bit of bust for me – I had a total of only (5) species of waterfowl (Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, American Black Duck, and Common Merganser). I think this is the first time doing this that we did not find a rare goose of some kind. In the evening I went to the Newburgh Waterfront. It was COLD! And a bust for gulls, but I enjoyed a close up Common Merganser and (4) Bald Eagles flying over pretty low.

~And one more shot of the Mountain Bluebird, mid-hover at Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~
~This was a beautiful little bird. I struggled to get photos through the fence, looking down into one of the tanks at the sewage plant in Newburgh, 01/16/22.~
~Common Merganser at a surprise location (for me), just off Newport Bridge Road, 01/15/22.~
~If it wasn’t for the MOBL, I would have spent more time with this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~
~Bald Eagle at the Newburgh Waterfront, 01/15/22.~
~Common Merganser in the icy Hudson River, Newburgh Waterfront 01/15/22.~

Westchester County ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, 12/28/21

I’m off work this week, so I’ll likely be getting out all week. Yesterday morning was frustrating: I tried for three different locally reported Northern Shrikes and came up empty. But, my luck began to change in the evening at the Newburgh Waterfront. First, I caught up with the continuing FRANKLIN’S GULL. Then, a little later in the evening, I joined forces with Bruce Nott, and we were able to locate two Iceland Gulls on the river.

~Ash-throated Flycatcher on a nice perch, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, 12/28/21.~

This morning I headed over to Westchester County to try for the ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER which has been reported recently at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. It was a beautiful morning, with the fog lifting and the sun coming out. I wandered around the park; it was birdy, but initially there was no sign of the flycatcher. I was joined by three other birders, all looking for the bird. I eventually located the bird and got two of the three others on it. It made only two brief appearances before retreating to the tree line. I waited for a while for the bird to show again, but then I decided to leave. I’d gotten good looks and some decent photos of this good looking bird, so I was ready to continue birding elsewhere. The ATFL was a life bird for me (#424) and, of course a NYS bird (#314).

~One more shot of the Ash-throated Flycatcher at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, 12/28/21.~