A Painful Dip, 08/07/21

This morning I headed north to try for the WOOD STORK that has been seen in Columbia County. I’ll start off by saying I did not get out as early as I would have liked, and then, just as I was getting the drive started I missed my exit. I compounded my error by following the GPS as it re-routed me, instead of just getting off the next exit and turning around. Ultimately, missing that exit cost me about 10 minutes and a life bird.

~No offense to this bird, but close up looks at a Great Egret did not make up for missing the Wood Stork. German Church Road, Ghent NY 08/07/21.

On my way up, Scotty Baldinger was kind enough to report on the Mearns App that the Wood Stork was present. This got me anxious to get up there, but the trip is just over an hour and a half, so I had to just be patient. When I arrived on German Church Road in Ghent NY, about a quarter mile in I saw two birders on the side of the road. The Wood Stork is there! they reported and I continued just over a half mile to the location. Only the bird wasn’t there. The birders present let me know that it had flown across the road and back along the way I’d just come. We walked along the road looking through the trees to see if the bird had put down. Then, one of the two birders I’d seen earlier came and reported that they’d seen the bird; it flew over their location and over the main road (Union Turnpike). That means, in the two minute drive from where I’d seen them to the location, the bird flew over me and past me and I never saw it! Ugh!

~A painful illustration of how it went down, lol.~

I spent a couple of hours searching the area, checking back at the original location often, but I had no luck. So, I decided to head back to Orange County. I got about 25 minutes away, when I got a report that the Wood Stork was currently being seen again at German Church Road. I turned around, drove back the 25 minutes to find that once again the bird was not there! What?!? I checked my phone and there was a follow up to the report saying that it was a mistake, and the bird actually wasn’t there. Gah! What a morning! At that point, I packed it in and finally headed back to OC, this time all the way home.

~One of two Solitary Sandpipers, German Church Road, Ghent NY 08/07/21.~

Orange County Sedge Wrens, 07/27/21

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a life bird (over a year), but that’s what happened today. It was a bonus that the location was in Orange County and less than a 1/2 hour away. So, after work tonight I headed over to Lower Wisner Road, where up to 4 SEDGE WRENS have been reported in the last couple of days. As soon as I got out of the car, I could hear a SEWR calling from the north side of the road. As I got closer, I could hear a second bird, closer, calling from the south side of the road. I stayed still, listened and scanned, and eventually I located the bird, just about 30 yards out. I was pretty excited, it’s not every Tuesday evening you can get a lifer that easily; it was my 424th life bird.

IMPORTANT: *Please do not use tapes to try and get these birds closer for views or photos. They are pretty cooperative and patience will pay off. Use of tapes will likely disturb their attempts at breeding and ruin this great situation.* Thanks to John Haas for the above advice put forth on his blog Bashakill Birder.

Orange County EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, 06/24/21

This evening I went to Newburgh to try again for the Eurasian Collared-Dove that has been reported there (I tried last Saturday with no luck). The bird has been reported at the tennis courts on Lilly Street, and when I arrived there was another birder there – I’m drawing a blank, but I believe his name was Paul. He had seen the bird already, but was lingering for another look at it. And I’m glad he did because he was able to relocate the bird about a block away. He actually came and got me on it – huge thanks. It’s a beautiful bird and a New York State bird for me; I’m glad I was able to catch up with it this time.

~Eurasian Collared-Dove, Newburgh NY 06/24/21.~
~Eurasian Collared-Dove, Newburgh NY 06/24/21.~

OC Lesser Black-backed Gull & Sunday Shots, 04/25/21

~Sharp looking gull, a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL flies over the Hudson River at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/25/21.~

I have to thank larophile Bruce Nott once again. This morning I chased a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL which he reported at the Newburgh Waterfront. Soon after my arrival, I located a distant black-backed gull. There haven’t been many (any?) black-backed gulls around recently, so I was feeling confident that this was the bird. My problem was that the bird was on the water (hiding leg color) and all alone (eliminating being able to judge by size). I needed to confirm that the bird was not the much more likely Great Black-backed Gull, so I waited it out. The bird slowly drifted north, nearly to the bridge. Then it flew south and put down again, south of the waterfront. Again I watched as it drifted north. It took a short flight at one point, and I was pretty sure, but not positive that I saw yellow legs. I watched as it drifted all the way north once again. I saw it next to a Ring-billed Gull, and the size looked good (larger, but not overwhelmingly so). The bird flew south once again and put down on the docks. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the docks, the bird had flown again. Luckily, this time it put down with a pair of Herring Gulls, and now the size looked perfect. I looked at my flight shots, and sure enough, yellow legs! That’s a good bird for the county, and it was really cool to see it in adult breeding plumage – we don’t usually see that in Orange County.

I finally got a decent look at a Rusty Blackbird. Owens Station Road, Wallkill River NWR, Sussex County NJ 04/24/21.~
~A Tree Swallow uses a feather to lure in a mate. I wonder what kind of feather that is? Wisner Road, 04/24/21.~
~Double-crested Cormorant in flight at Wickham Lake, 04/23/21.~
~Red-winged Blackbird at the Liberty Loop, 04/24/21.~
~Great Blue Heron with a snack, Liberty Loop 04/24/21.~

Ulster County Red Crossbills, 03/14/21

I headed up north to Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County this morning to try and catch up with the RED CROSSBILLS which have been reported there in recent days. On my way up I became convinced that I’d waited one day too many, but fortunately I was wrong and the birds continued. I got nice looks and just so-so photo ops of these fantastic birds. I also ran into Rick Hansen and PJ Singh; it was really good to see the two of them and enjoy the birds with them.

~I was happy these birds stuck around for me. Red Crossbill at Ashokan Reservoir this morning, 03/14/21.~
~Lonely Red Crossbill on a branch, Ashokan Reservoir 03/14/21.~
~Red Crossbill at Ashokan Reservoir, 03/14/21.~

I was out and about on Saturday too; it was mostly unremarkable birding but very pleasant to be out of the house and birding. Here’s a few shots from the day.

~Red-tailed Hawk just before sunset, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary 03/13/21.~
~You know it’s a slow afternoon at the Newburgh Waterfront when I’m photographing Canada Geese landings. I enjoyed it. 03/13/21.~
~Ring-billed Gull in nice conditions, Newburgh Waterfront 02/13/21.~
~Turkey Vulture at the Camel Farm, 03/13/21.~

Grasslands, 03/06/21

In spite of less than ideal conditions, I decided to head out to the Grasslands for sunrise this morning. By less than ideal conditions, I mean it was partly to mostly cloudy with a pretty strong northwest wind. Ideally I would prefer the steady morning sun and a south wind (so that the raptors hunt facing south, keeping the sun on their face and at my back). Anyways, I got there quite early and I was able to get into the only blind that’s open on the weekends (southernmost blind). While the strong winds seemed to keep the birds from flying quite as much as I would have liked, I had some decent opportunities and some nice birds. Raptors included Northern Harriers (4), Rough-legged Hawks (3), Red-tailed Hawks (3), a couple of Turkey Vultures, and a single American Kestrel. One other highlight was my first Eastern Meadowlark of the year.

~Gray Ghost getting ready to go down. Grasslands 03/06/21.~
~Male NOHA in flight with some snow flurries at the Grasslands, 03/06/21.~
~Boy I wish this bird would have come closer – how beautiful is this beast?!? Rough-legged Hawk over horizon at the Grasslands, 03/06/21.~
~American Kestrel at the Grasslands, 03/06/21.~
~Gray Ghost over the trees. Grasslands, 03/06/21.~
~NOHA, Grasslands 03/06/21.~
~One more of the Gray Ghost, Grasslands 03/06/21.~
~After the Grasslands, I headed up to Rhinebeck to chase the two BARROW’S GOLDENEYES which have been seen there. I dipped on the female, but did catch up with the male (above) on River Road, where I joined Karen Miller who got me on the bird shortly after my arrival.~

Piermont Pier, 02/27/21

I looked at this morning’s forecast last night and it made me cranky. I’m sitting at my desk working all week with beautiful sunshine out the window, then on the weekend it’s snow, rain, and clouds. But then I took a different perspective on it. The rain would keep most folks home… so with that in mind I went to Piermont Pier, a location I’ve been avoiding because I figure especially during the pandemic, it’s likely to be loaded with people. I mostly had the place to myself, and while the rain made birding a little bit difficult, it was a good morning.

~Purple Sandpipers at Piermont Pier, 02/27/21.~

The highlight of the morning was relocating the pair of PURPLE SANDPIPERS which have been reported this winter. I was surprised to find them, because I looked on eBird last night and they hadn’t been reported in a couple of weeks. My main goal for the morning was to see what waterfowl were present; I was disappointed by the number of species (only 8), but I counted an impressive 288 Ruddy Ducks present. That’s by far the most Ruddies I’ve ever seen in one place.

~Two of the 288 Ruddy Ducks I counted at Piermont Pier this morning, 02/27/21.~

Afterwards, I birded the Hudson River, making my way all the way up to Newburgh. It wasn’t exciting, but it was enjoyable. My best bird was a Lesser Scaup at Plum Point, my first LESC in Orange County for the year.

~The always accommodating Ring-billed Gull. This bird was in Stony Point, 02/27/21.~
~Great Black-backed Gull, Piermont Pier 02/27/21.~

Adult Iceland Gull, 02/13/21

I feel like I’ve been on a pretty good roll lately. Last night Bruce Nott, birding bud and fellow Larophile, emailed me some fabulous photos he took of an adult Iceland Gull. I was already planning to head to the river the next day, but this gorgeous bird got me really excited to head over – I’ve been saying for years that I’d love to get a look at an adult ICGU. So, I joined Bruce and Joe Chernek at the Newburgh Waterfront early this afternoon; Bruce had already relocated the bird and it wasn’t very far out. We enjoyed tremendous looks at this beautiful bird and, of course, took loads of photos. Karen Miller joined us and she got the bird as well.

~Beautiful Bird. Adult Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront this afternoon, 02/13/21.~

Joe and Karen left, but Bruce and lingered. More gulls were moving in, and we were hoping to see the immature Glaucous Gull. I located an interesting bird that was a little bit distant. It was definitely a white-winged gull that was showing some gray on its upper back and wings. Eventually the bird relocated and we got some better looks – it was a subadult Iceland Gull! We were both pretty jazzed about that bird, but also greedy… and it paid off as Bruce was able to locate the immature Glaucous Gull before we got too cold and wrapped things up. It was another great day of gulling; I can’t thank Bruce enough for all the work he’s been doing and for keeping everyone informed.

~Adult ICGU at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/13/21. We believe this is Kumlien’s sub-species, based on the light colored eye and the limited streaking on the nape/neck.~
~Adult ICGU in flight, 02/13/21.~
~Adult ICGU with an adult Ring-billed Gull. I like this shot because it shows the difference in the stark black wing tips of the RBGU, versus the muted gray wing tips in the ICGU.~
~Showing off. Adult ICGU in Newburg 02/13/21.~
~Subadult Iceland Gull (behind a Herring Gull), Newburgh Waterfront 02/13/21.~

Sunday Shots, 02/07/21

~Huge thanks to Linda Scrima who relocated the Ferruginous Hawk Sunday morning in the snow, 02/07/21.~

I’ll tell you what, I could get used to the good birding I’ve been enjoying recently. It was another excellent weekend, filled with some super birds and some decent photo ops. I spent both mornings tooling around the black dirt; highlights included a total of 4 LAPLAND LONGSPURS between the two days, a nice sized flock of COMMON REDPOLLS, and my second (and much better) look at the FERRUGINOUS HAWK which continues in the black dirt. I spent Saturday afternoon over in Beacon with Bruce Nott and we did really well with gulls – we had a GLAUCOUS GULL, an ICELAND GULL, and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, all immature birds, as well as the three expected species. It was freezing cold with a strong wind on that side of the river, but worth the suffering. This is ending up being a photo heavy post, so I’ll just let the pics do the rest of the talking.

~A nice look at a Rough-legged Hawk just after sunrise on Saturday morning, 02/06/21.~
~Lapland Longspur taking off with several Horned Larks, black dirt 02/07/21.~
~The Glaucous Gull was really showing who is the boss of the ice floes. I absolutely cannot get enough gulls this year, and the gulling has just been fantastic. GLGU in Beacon, 02/06/21.~
~This was a nice surprise, a couple of Short-eared Owls up briefly on Saturday morning. I think some American Crows rousted them from their daytime noosing. ~
~Beautiful MODO, black dirt 02/06/21.~
~Common Redpolls in the black dirt 02/07/21.~
~One more shot of the FEHA, 02/07/21.~
~Horned Lark in nice light early Saturday Morning, 02/06/21.~
~Posting this photo right after the HOLA shot really accentuates the different light between the two days. Sunny and clear on Saturday, Snowy and gray on Sunday.~

~I saw two Coyotes this weekend, both distant. This one might not have been close, but you can see it is well aware of my presence.~

A Pretty Good Weekend, 01/24/21

Saturday and Sunday were both gorgeous days – mostly sunny, cold, crisp, with a brisk wind out of the north. It was great to just be out and about after a week staring at my work computer. On Saturday I went up to Sullivan County to try for the Northern Shrike near Liberty NY; unfortunately I had no luck. That’s my third time trying for that bird, and I’m sort of feeling like three strikes and you’re out. The trip was still worth it though, I had a single COMMON REDPOLL and a brief look at three EVENING GROSBEAKS, my first of the winter. In the afternoon I went to the Newburgh Waterfront, where I located a first winter ICELAND GULL.

~ICELAND GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront on Saturday afternoon, 01/23/21.~
~Ring-billed Gull at Newburgh Waterfront. I wish I had this sort of photo op with the Iceland!

On Sunday morning I walked the Winding Waters trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful, freezing cold walk, and I enjoyed it immensely. The highlight was a single COMMON REDPOLL, my first in Orange County this winter. In the early afternoon, Bruce Nott reported a GLAUCOUS GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront. I ran for the bird; when I arrived we actually located a second bird for two GLGUs! Huge thanks to Bruce as always. It was a good weekend, and I even got a few shots to share, which makes me happy.

~Black-capped Chickadee playing in the snow, Woodard Rd Sullivan County 01/23/21.~
~Northern Cardinal on the Winding Waters Trail, 01/24/21.~
~Cedar Waxwing in a snow squall. Clement Road in Sullivan County, 01/23/21.~
~Amrican Tree Sparrow, Winding Waters Trail 01/24/21.~
~Beautiful bird. Glaucous Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 01/24/21.~
~Documentary shot of Common Redpoll at Winding Waters, 01/24/21. Unfortunately this bird did not stick around for very long…~