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.
Today was my final day of counting at Mount Peter Hawkwatch for the year. Tomorrow is the last day of the season; it always seems to go by so quickly. The season ended with a dud for me, as I had (8) countable birds in six hours. Of note, I had a Common Loon fly nearly directly over the viewing platform and my penultimate bird of the season was a young Bald Eagle with tail plumage that made my heart race for a split second. It was a good season for me; I enjoyed it much more than last season and it’s got me excited to do it all over next year. I’ve included today’s report summary at the bottom of this post; I will also do a future post which will include Judy Cinquina’s end of season report.
On Saturday morning, my phone let me know that it was eBird’s October Big Day. I certainly wasn’t doing a bid day, but it did make me curious to know how many birds I would get on a normal day out in early October. So, I eBirded more locations than I normally would, and I kept track of the birds that I saw en route to get a total for the day. I spent the early morning in the black dirt, where my highlight was a sizable flock of American Pipits, always a favorite of mine. From there I went to Wallkill River National Wildlife refuge. I walked Winding Waters Trail for about a mile or so, and then I spent some time at the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop. I didn’t have any exciting birds, but it was busy enough to add a good number of birds to my tally.
My next stop was Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, where I joined Tom Millard and Judy Cinquina for about an hour and a half. The flight was slow but steady, and with a good variety of migrants. My raptor highlight was a Peregrine Falcon which flew, very high, directly over the platform. For non-raptors, we had a migrating Common Loon fly close enough for a photo, a first for me at Mt. Pete. My final stop was Wickham Lake, where my best bird was a Greater Scaup. I finished the day with 57 species; I’ve included a complete list at the bottom of this post.
On Sunday I was the official counter at Mount Peter. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, with a combination of clouds, fog, and light rain making the flight practically non-existent. I had a total of 4 migrating raptors, 2 Cooper’s Hawks and 2 Northern Harriers, before I called it at 1:30 when the fog had really rolled in and the rain was starting up again.
Canada Goose (Wallkill River NWR, Mount Peter, Black Dirt, Wickham Lake)
Mute Swan (Glenmere Lake, Wickham Lake)
American Wigeon (WR NWR)
American Black Duck (WR NWR)
Mallard (WR NWR)
Greater Scaup (Wickham Lake)
Common Loon (Mt. Peter)
Double-crested Cormorant (Wickham Lake)
Ring-necked Pheasant (Black Dirt)
Great Blue Heron (WR NWR)
Great Egret (WR NWR)
Black Vulture (Mt. Peter)
Turkey Vulture (Mt. Peter, WR NWR)
Bald Eagle (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
Northern Harrier (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
Cooper’s Hawk (Mt. Peter)
Red-shouldered Hawk (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
Red-tailed Hawk (Black Dirt, Mt. Peter)
American Kestrel (Black Dirt, Mt. Peter)
Peregrine Falcon (Black Dirt)
Common Gallinule (WR NWR)
Killdeer (CVS Goshen)
Ring-billed Gull (Wickham Lake)
Rock Pigeon (Wickham Lake)
Chimney Swift (Mt. Peter)
Belted Kingfisher (Beaver Pond)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (WR NWR)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Wickham Lake)
Downy Woodpecker (Wickham Lake)
Northern Flicker (WR NWR)
Eastern Phoebe (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
Blue Jay (Mt Peter, WR NWR, Black Dirt, Wickham Lake)
I went out to the black dirt first thing Saturday morning. I was counting at Mount Peter in the afternoon, so I wanted to get an early start. As always, I was looking for shorebirds – any new species or some better looks and photos of some of the birds we’ve been seeing. Well, I didn’t see any new species, and the best I could do for photos was a decent shot of a Greater Yellowlegs. But it was still a decent morning with 6 species of shorebirds: Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Greater Yellowlegs.
MOUNT PETER HAWKWATCH
In the afternoon I was the official counter at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, taking over for BA McGrath who, unfortunately had a terribly slow morning. The afternoon, in general, wasn’t much busier but ultimately, I counted a total of 67 migrating raptors. A surprise kettle of 39 Broad-winged Hawks accounted for most of that number. I had (3) migrating Bald Eagles, and there were several Common Ravens putting on a show on the cell tower and in the air over the platform. You can see my report for HMANA at the bottom of this post.
This morning I decided it was finally time to give the shorebirds a break. So I headed to Port Jervis and I birded Reservoir #3. It was just what the doctor ordered, birdy, peaceful, perfect weather, and some good photo ops. I tallied 30 species for the morning, with highlights of Brown Creeper (Res 3 is money for that bird!), several Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a pair of Blue-headed Vireos. Actually the real highlight for me came afterwards – after shooting distant shorebirds and raptors, it felt good to look at some decent photos of songbirds.