Hawkwatch was the main attraction for me this weekend, but I did enjoy some of my first migrating song birds of the season as well. I had a Magnolia Warble in my backyard on Thursday afternoon. I had a brief visit from a pair of Cape May Warblers at Mt. Peter yesterday. And this morning the black dirt was loaded with Savannah Sparrows. I also had short but enjoyable flurry of songbirds in the black dirt. Highlights included several Palm Warblers, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a couple of Ruby Crowned Kinglets, and a Least Flycatcher. Shorebirds were scarce, but I did locate one American Golden Plover in the corn stubble on Onion Avenue, a spot where I’ve not had many shorebirds over the years.
Tricia and I spent the weekend up in The Berkshires to celebrate our anniversary. While birding was not the focus of the weekend, I did get out early both days. I chose my locations with a single target species, the elusive Ruffed Grouse. I’ll kill the suspense now and say I did not have any success with my target. But, I birded a couple of interesting spots.
On Saturday I went to Savoy Mountain State Forest, where I hiked just under 4 miles. I had mostly the usuals, but with some interesting highlights: I got excellent looks (but no photos) of a Canada Warbler, there was also a very accommodating Alder Flycatcher (a species I don’t recall ever photographing previously), and I also had a Red Crossbill fly overhead, calling as it went.
This morning I followed up on an eBird report of a Ruffed Grouse at Bridges Pond in Williamtown, MA. The birding was uneventful, but the spot was interesting only because most of the trail ran right alongside railroad tracks, so I took the opportunity to be a little creative with my photos.
It was five years ago today that I finally got my first Ruffed Grouse in Orange County. The location was at Jupiter’s Boulder in Black Rock Forest, so I headed there first thing this morning, hoping to finally get lucky again. Unfortunately, I had no luck with the grouse, but it was a beautiful and birdy hike. I enjoyed a couple of my favorite summer birds – Acadian Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo. Another highlight was a low flyover of a Broad-winged Hawk while I ate my snack and drank some water right beside Jupiter’s Boulder. I completed my hike with 28 species observed, which I was pretty happy with.
I was up early both morning this weekend, focused on catching up on some of the songbirds that have moved into our area. I didn’t find nearly as many warblers as I’d hoped, but with some decent yard birding, I added a total of 15 species to my Orange County 2023 list this week. On Saturday morning I birded Cedar Hill Cemetery (just north of Newburgh), and then went to Kendridge Farm. On Sunday I went to Port Jervis and birded Laurel Grove Cemetery and Elks Brox Memorial park.
Here’s a list of the birds I added to my OC list this week:
- Baltimore Oriole, 05/08/23, my yard
- Great Crested Flycatcher, 05/09/23, my yard
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 05/12/23, my yard
- Red-eyed Vireo, 05/13/23, Cedar Hill Cemetery
- Eastern Wood-Pewee, 05/13/23, Cedar Hill Cemetery
- Magnolia Warbler, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
- Blue-winged Warbler, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
- Green Heron, 05/13/23, Kendridge Farm
- Common Nighthawk, 05/13/23, my yard
- Pine Warbler, 05/14/23, Laurel Grove Cemetery
- Scarlett Tanager, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
- Prairie Warbler, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
- Blackpoll Warbler, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
- Northern Parula, 05/14/23, Elks Brox Park
- Common Gallinule, 05/14/23, Liberty Loop
Tricia and I are heading to Ireland for vacation at the end of this coming week, so unless something really interesting happens this week, this will be my last post for a couple of weeks. I look forward to sharing my experiences in Ireland when I get back; this time I am planning to get back to the Cliffs of Moher, so that will be exciting.
After photographing Northern Harriers at the grasslands on Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend was pretty much the usuals. I did see my first Tree Swallows of the year – at two locations – Wisner Avenue on Sunday and the grasslands on Saturday. There are plenty of ducks around, but I didn’t find anything new for the year. I visited the Hudson River and several lakes over the 2 days: Wickham, Greenwood, Walton, Round, Orange, and Brown’s Pond. I also spent time on both Saturday and Sunday looking through flocks of Horned Larks hoping for Lapland Longspurs. I feel like I’m normally pretty lucky when it comes to finding LALOs, but this weekend it was not in the cards. It’s too bad too, because it’s nearly mid March, and I imagine they might be in some impressive plumage.
Yesterday was much more productive, but I did get out this morning as well. I didn’t have much of a plan, so I pretty much just wandered the black dirt in hopes of shorebirds or large collections of geese. I pretty much got neither, lol. The only shorebirds of the day were a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Killdeer at the Camel Farm. And, in spite of seeing flock after flock fly over, I never tracked down any large groups of geese. I always like to check in on Sundays regardless, so here’s a few shots from the past couple of days. I hope you are not sick of pipits yet – they are all over the black dirt and I can’t seem to resist photographing them.
I was away this weekend and so the only birding I fit in was Sunday afternoon into the early evening. I checked the black dirt, hoping for shorebirds but no luck. I did come across a flock of American Pipits, always a favorite of mine, feeding on an old pumpkin field. Afterwards, I walked Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Winding Waters trail. It was a pleasant and birdy walk, with mostly the usuals. My best moment was when a Merlin rocketed down the trail, about head high, right towards me, only veering off at the last second.
I had some hits and some misses this weekend. On Friday evening, and again on Saturday afternoon, I tried for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which was reported in Beacon, NY. On Friday evening I missed that bird by just over an hour; as far as I know that was the last time the bird was seen.
But, I had a really great Saturday morning. I went for the Dickcissel which was found by Ronnie DiLorenzo in the black dirt earlier in the week. I joined Kyle Knapp and the we not only enjoyed the Dickcissel, we also had a very confiding Grasshopper Sparrow. The light was nice, the birds were close and singing their hearts out; it’s hard to ask for much more than that!
Afterwards, I went to the Camel Farm to try for shorebirds. I was not disappointed; there were 2 Semipalmated Plovers, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper, and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER present. Kyle and Linda Scrima joined me there and got the birds. Unfortunately, as is always the case at the Camel Farm, the birds were too distant for photos. As a consolation prize, we watched a Peregrine Falcon chase a white pigeon across the field and then fly right over us.
This morning I went back to the Camel Farm and the White-rumped Sandpiper and the Semipalmated Sandpiper were still present, sharing the pond with a Spotted Sandpiper. I also went to the south pond at the Liberty Loop, hoping for shorebirds. Unfortunately conditions weren’t great and I didn’t have any shorebirds. But, again, consolation prize, I had a nice experience with two White-tailed Deer fawns that were playing and just going bananas running around the marsh. They were so cute!
Yard Birds 2022: (49) I’ve stalled out in my yard; I didn’t add any new birds since my last post.
On Saturday morning I birded locally. I was hoping for maybe some late shorebirds, but I came up empty at both the Camel Farm and Beaver Pond. I spent some time early at Liberty Marsh, hoping maybe a calling Sora or Least Bittern, but no such luck. I did have my first Orchard Oriole of the year, so that was good. And finally, I ended up late in the morning at Goosepond Mountain, where I was able to confirm breeding status for Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
We spent the night at my sister Aileen’s house in the Poconos. Her place historically hasn’t been extremely birdy, but on this Sunday morning her backyard was full of birds, including a low flying Red-shouldered Hawk, a Red-eyed Vireo, as well as several Ovenbirds and American Redstarts. My brother-in-law Bill and my sister are interested in knowing about the birds, so I enjoyed telling them about the birds we were hearing and seeing. The Lehigh River cuts through the back of their yard; I enjoyed taking a brisk dip in the river and there was also a teasing Louisiana Waterthrush which called often but only gave a few fleeting glimpses and no photo ops. On the way out of their community, we stopped at Big Bass Lake to check out the beach, and had an adult Bald Eagle fly right overhead. The beach was loaded with people and not one person noticed the eagle, in spite of me shooting away taking pics.
I split my time this weekend between Orange and Sullivan Counties. One of my goals this year is to get to 200 birds in Sullivan County, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to add any new species this weekend. I tried two times for the Mourning Warbler(s) which were reported at the Bashakill; I had a near miss (15 minutes or so) on Saturday and no luck on Sunday. I also tried for the Black-bellied Plover that was at Hurleyville Swamp – I missed it on Thursday evening and then by Saturday morning most of the shorebirds had moved on from that location.
Hopefully my luck will change for the better tomorrow; I’m heading out on a 24 hour pelagic tonight through tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it will be a productive trip.
Yard Birds 2022: (49) – I added 2 species this week: Eastern Wood-Pewee and Baltimore Oriole.