2022 Year in Review

Honest to goodness, the years go by faster and faster as I get older. Today puts yet another year of birding in the books, and as always, I like to take the opportunity to look back on my year here at Orangebirding.com. I had an enjoyable year where I once again focused on the birds and the types of birding that brought me the most joy. That said, I end the year with a respectable 209 birds in Orange County. And, I put some effort towards getting my Sullivan County life list over 200 birds; I added 12 species, putting my total life birds for the county at 206.

~My 204th bird in Sullivan County: Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park 08/15/22.~

For this year’s wrap up post, I thought I would look back month by month at the year’s highlights here on the blog.

JANUARY: The year got off to a sad start when I located a sick Iceland Gull at the Beacon waterfront. I brought it to a veterinary hospital, but ultimately the bird was too far gone and passed away there. Things could only go up from there for the month, and I was able to get some really good birds for the area, including the MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD in Ulster County, CANVASBACKS close to home at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, a LARK SPARROW in Campbell Hall, and the continuing FRANKLINS GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront.

FEBRUARY: Always a favorite, I was able to catch up with the NORTHERN SHRIKE at Wickham Woodlands Park several times. I also was able to get on my first CACKLING GOOSE in a good while. At the end of the month I went to Long Island to visit my dad, and was able to do some good gulling, with Iceland, Glaucous, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the north shore.

~Lark Sparrow in Campbell Hall, 01/23/22.~

MARCH: I continued to enjoy wintery birding in OC, particularly in the black dirt and at the Newburgh Waterfront. My best birds of the month included a large flock of Snow Geese in the black dirt, RED CROSSBILLS at Black Rock Forest, and one of my few good finds this year – four TUNDRA SWANS in muddy field on Celery Avenue.

APRIL: After work on the 19th, I enjoyed the excellent waterfowl fallout at Wickham Lake. Birds included a remarkable 13 White-winged Scoters, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks, and 21 Horned Grebes. Other highlights from the month include a single CASPIAN TERN and 19 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, both at Plum Point.

~Bonaparte’s Gulls at Plum Point, 04/23/22.~

MAY: There were two very exciting birding events in May. On the 13th there was the unprecedented number of ARCTIC TERNS found inland – I followed up on Karen Miller’s report and had 7 at Glenmere Lake. Then, towards the end of the month, a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT was found by Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott. I also went on my first 24 hour pelagic, where I picked up 3 life birds (Sooty Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-petrel, and Leach’s Storm-petrel). Tricia and I spent some time in Cape Cod, and the blog celebrated its 10 year anniversary.

JUNE: Birding started to take on a summery doldrums feel. Exciting birds included a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and a DICKCISSEL in the black dirt. I also saw my first black bear in quite a while, while hiking at Sterling Forest.

~Arctic Tern at Glenmere Lake, 5/13/22.~
~Dickcissel singing in the black dirt, 06/11/22.~

JULY: Summer birding kicked in for sure. I did a good amount of hiking. A photo I took of a beaver at Black Rock Forest made it into their 2023 calendar. Birding highlights included excellent looks at an AMERICAN BITTERN at the Liberty Loop and a very accommodating LITTLE BLUE HERON at Algonquin Park.

AUGUST: August was an excellent month for shorebirds for me. Local exciting birds included: UPLAND SANDPIPER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS), MARBLED GODWIT, and RUDDY TURNSTONE.

~Marbled Godwit at the Liberty Loop, Sussex County side, 08/22/22.~

SEPTEMBER: Hawkwatch began. I enjoyed seeing BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in the black dirt and there was a GLOSSY IBIS at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. At the end of the month, Tricia and I went on vacation in Maine, which included several days on Monhegan Island.

OCTOBER: I was still seeing some good shorebirds in the black dirt, including more BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, as well as WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. Hawkwatch continued but was mostly uneventful. On the 28th I enjoyed 13 species of waterfowl at Wickham Lake, including a SURF SCOTER.

~BLACK GUILLEMOT on the ferry ride to Monhegan Island, Maine, 09/27/22.~
~Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~

NOVEMBER: Hawkwatch wrapped up – it was the first season in a while that I did not record a migrating Golden Eagle. But, there were plenty of good birds during the month, including my lifer YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, a nice look at a RED-THROATED LOON at Piermont Pier, a BRANT at the waterfront, and 7 BLACK SCOTERS on Wickham Lake.

DECEMBER: December brought even more good birds. I enjoyed close looks of the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on State School Road, got lucky with the Ulster County ROSS’S GOOSE and LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE on the same day, saw the SURF SCOTER with 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Rondout Reservoir, and I got my county lifer ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at the Newburgh Waterfront.

~Greater White-fronted Goose in the rain on State School Road in Warwick, 12/3/22.~

MY TOP TEN PHOTOS OF 2022

Here’s my personal top 10 photos that I took in the past 12 months. I start with my favorite shot of the year – the Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, and then I continue from there. I noticed this year how much the species seemed to weigh in on my decisions – many of my favorites are featured.

As always, I’d like to thank all my birding friends that have helped to make another great year of birding (you know who you are). I’d also like to thank everyone for reading the blog, especially those of you who subscribe and if you are a commenter please keep it up -I live for the comments! Happy New Year to everyone, here’s to another great year of birding in 2022

~Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~
~Horned Lark in the snowy black dirt, 02/13/22.~
~Northern Mockingbird in the black dirt, 06/04/22.~
~Lesser Yellowlegs at Weskeag Marsh, 09/29/22.~
~Mountain Bluebird at Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~
~Snow Bunting in the black dirt, 02/05/22.~
~It’s been a while since a Short-eared Owl made my top ten. SEOW in the black dirt, 03/02/22.~
~Pied-billed Grebe at Morningside Park, 08/21/22.~
~Northern Harrier in flight, Liberty Loop 09/04/22.~
~This one made the top ten purely because it’s a Northern Shrike! Wickham Lake 02/20/22.~

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

I chased some local rarities today. I headed out before sunrise, and headed up to Ulster County. My first stop was at Stone Ridge Pond in Stone Ridge, NY, to try for the ROSS’S GOOSE which has been seen there. This was a very easy get; the bird was present and sticking out like a sore thumb among a medium sized flock of Canada Geese. The bird was a little distant, but the light was decent and I kind of like these moody pics of this bird.

~Sweet looking bird. Ross’s Goose at Stone Ridge Pond, 12/10/22.~

My second stop was at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge to try for the LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE which was photographed and reported in early December and reported again just the night before by Karen Maloy Brady. My timing was good for this bird – not long after I arrived Karen once again located and reported the bird. I got excellent looks at the bird in my scope and some documentary shots before the bird made itself scarce and I moved on. The bird was a NYS bird as well as an Ulster County bird for me.

~LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE at the Grasslands, 12/10/22.~

My final destination of the day didn’t work out quite as well. I headed to the Bashakill to try and catch up with the HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER that John Haas found and reported the day before (read about it HERE). The bird was being seen in the morning, but unfortunately I was unable to connect with it. I stayed for a couple of hours, left, and the bird was seen again. Sheesh. I headed back to the Bash to give it one more go, but after another 45 minutes I called it. Tomorrow is another day.

~Gadwall at Stone Ridge Pond, 12/10/22.~
~Loggerhead Shrike at the Grasslands, 12/10/22.~
~ROGO in Ulster County, 12/10/22.~

Excellent Birding in the OC, 12/3/22

My first goal of the day was to try and track down the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE originally located by Ronnie DiLorenzo on Monday of this week. I went to Wickham Lake first thing; unfortunately all of the geese were already picking up and heading out. My consolation prize was seeing my first American Tree Sparrows of the season. I left the lake and headed to State School Road, where I found a small group of Canada Geese, but no GWFG.

~What a good looking bird. Greater White-fronted Goose on State School Road, 12/03/22.~

I checked some of the local lakes for any good birds, but did not find anything out of the ordinary. I went back to State School Road, and sure enough the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was present, up front of the flock and looking beautiful. I put the word out and then snapped a bunch of photos. GWFG is always a favorite of mine, and on top of that it was an Orange County year bird.

~Wow! Orange-crowned Warbler at the Newburgh Waterfront Trail, 12/03/22.~

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Newburgh Waterfront. I had a couple of goals: one to follow up on Bruce Nott’s report of an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER from yesterday, and two, to try for some interesting gulls. I succeeded with the OCWA, finding a relatively cooperative bird on the trail near the large sign that faces towards the river. I was pretty excited because it was an Orange County life bird for me, as well as, of course, a year bird.

~American Tree Sparrow at Wickham Lake, 12/03/22.~

Gulling was less exciting, as I only found the three expected species for our area (Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed). My day was capped off as I drove home on Route 84 through the Stewart Forest area. I was driving into the sunset and the skies were filled with absolutely massive flocks of mixed blackbirds. It was quite a sight, too bad I was driving on the highway and couldn’t document it.

~Greater White-fronted Goose at State School Road in Warwick, NY 12/03/22.~
~OCWA on the Newburgh Waterfront, 12/03/22.~

Orange County YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, 11/19/22

First thing this morning I went to the Courtyard Marriott Middletown/Goshen to follow up on a confirmed eBird report of a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER. After just over an hour with no sign of the bird, I departed to go try my luck in the black dirt. Just after 9:00 am, Jeanne Cimorrelli reported the bird was present on the Mearns Bird Club App. I ran for it, but the bird had moved on before I arrived.

~Yellow-throated Warbler in Orange County, 11/19/22.~

I joined a good number of birders, and we waited for the bird to return. Which it did, about an hour after it was last seen. It flitted around the ‘Courtyard’ sign on the side of the hotel for only about a minute before it flew off. As far as I know, the bird has not been seen since. I was pretty happy to have gotten lucky enough to see the bird, it was a life bird, and of course a county and state bird for me. It was also good to see some of the birders I haven’t seen in a while.

~I thought for a while that I might have to settle for a Yellow-bellied bird today. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the Courtyard Marriott Middletown/Goshen, 11/19/22.~

Afterwards, I spend some more time in the black dirt. Highlights included many Horned Larks with a handful of Snow Buntings, a flyover of (5) Sandhill Cranes (a first for me to see that many in OC), and I enjoyed sifting through a large flock of mixed blackbirds. I was hoping to maybe find a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but of course, no such luck.

~Five Sandhill Cranes flying over the black dirt today, 11/19/22.~
~Tis the season. Northern Harrier in the black dirt, 11/19/22.~

Sussex County MARBLED GODWIT, 08/22/22

QUICK POST: This morning Bradley White located a MARBLED GODWIT on the west side of Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop. Birding bud Maria Loukeris notified me, and Linda Scrima followed up by reporting the bird on the Mearns Bird Club app in the afternoon. I headed to the loop right after work. I hustled to the west side, but when I arrived there was no sign of the bird. Fortunately I ran into Ronnie DiLorenzo, who let me know the bird had relocated to the southernmost pond in the loop. I once again hustled to the back pond and this time I got lucky and the bird was not only present, but not too far out. This is the second straight Monday where I got an absolutely fabulous shorebird – it’s definitely a good cure for a bad case of the Mondays!

~Wow! Marbled Godwit at the back pond of the Liberty Loop, Sussex County NJ 08/22/22.~
~Marbled Godwit, Liberty Loop 98/22/22.~

Sullivan County RED-NECKED PHALAROPE!

Today while I was working I received an alert on the Mearns Bird Club app; John Haas had a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at Morningside Park. I immediately knew I would run for the bird after work if it stuck around. John reported the bird again in the mid afternoon, so things were looking good.

I tried to not speed too much on my way to Morningside Park, I’d already been delayed because I had to put air in one of my tires. I arrived, put my kayak in the water and headed out. I made the rounds of all the mud/stump islands in the lake, but didn’t have any luck. There was a good number of shorebirds present, I had: Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Killdeer, a Spotted Sandpiper, a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs, and (6) SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Normally this would be a banner day, but I was itchy about the phalarope and beginning to think it had moved on.

~Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~

On my second go-round, I was happy to see the Red-necked Phalarope come in and land at the island where I was looking. I “parked” my kayak in the muddy shore and watched, photographed, and just enjoyed this incredible little bird. The bird was beautiful and extremely confiding, making its way closer and closer to me and never flushing. It was a very special birding experience, one that I won’t forget any time soon. What a bird.

~Beautiful bird. RNPH at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~

John called as I was making my way back to shore. I told him how it went – he stopped me in my tracks when I mentioned the dowitchers. They hadn’t been there earlier, so John jumped in his car and joined me at the park to get them just before darkness fell. Huge thanks and congrats to John for finding and reporting a great bird. Check out his shore birding accounts from the day here.

~I had these as Short-billed Dowitchers in the field; I checked John Haas’ blog before posting and he had them as SBDO too. Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~
~Red-necked Phalarope, Morningside Park 08/15/22.~

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 terns at the Bashakill which would prove to be ARCTIC TERNS. 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.