Weekend Wrap-up, 05/23/21

This weekend had a very different feel compared to last weekend. Last weekend it was cool and birds seemed to be everywhere, including many migrants. This weekend the heat moved in, that jump that we seem to have in our area from spring to summer at a moment’s notice. The trees were that much more leafed out, and while it was birdy, I found fewer migrants and the birding experience had the beginnings of a summery feel to me.

~A recently fledged Common Grackle clings to a tree at Kendridge Farm, 05/22/21.~

I had an interesting experience on Friday evening. I went to the Beaver Pond near Glenmere Lake to try for shorebirds (I found Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpiper, and Killdeer). While I was there, a man and his daughter pulled over and the man got out of his car and was listening to the pond with his hands cupped over his ears. We eventually started chatting, his name was Jay, and he was listening for Northern Cricket Frogs. I’d heard them the night before and thought they must be insects (hence the name!). He explained to me that these little frogs are endangered in New York State, and the “Glenmere Lake” population and another small population at Little Dam Lake are among the few that can be found in the state. Check out the DEC write up on Northern Cricket Frogs here.

~A stunned Cedar Waxwing at Sterling Forest, 05/22/21.~

I had another interesting experience on Saturday evening. After birding Kendridge Farm in the morning, where it was birdy but nothing noteworthy, I went home during the heat of the day and then headed back out in the evening. My goal was to try for Eastern Whip-poor-wills at Sterling Forest, so I knew I would be out past sunset. I birded Ironwood Road and eventually ended up at the power cut at the end of the road, where I birded and waited for Whip-poor-wills.

While I was waiting, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a small flock of birds flying across the power cut, and then something dropping like a stone to the ground. It was a flock of Cedar Waxwings, I found 5 of them perched in the trees. I went to check out where I’d seen something fall – I couldn’t find anything so I was baffled. Then, deep in the vegetation, I found a single Cedar Waxwing. I’m guessing that the bird hit one of the wires and stunned itself. I let the bird be and gave it plenty of distance; checking on it from time to time. It took a good while, but eventually the bird picked up and off it flew! I was relieved, I didn’t necessarily want to rescue another Cedar Waxwing.

~Eastern Towhee at Goosepond Mountain, 05/23/21.~

A little after sunset, the Eastern Whip-poor-wills started calling; I counted three and headed home. On Ironwood Drive, on my way out, I was driving very slowly and I saw one single glowing eye, glowing super bright. I stopped and tried to figure out what it was in my bins; just as I lifted them up it flew and landed in a nearby tree and started calling – it was another Whip-poor-will!

Sunday morning was mostly uneventful – I walked Goosepond Mountain and had the usuals plus one good bird – Canada Warbler! That’s not a bird that I do well with, so I was pretty happy about that. Then, Linda Scrima called me. She had 2 Short-billed Dowitchers at the Camel Farm. I ran for the birds, and had some decent scope views. It’s super hard, especially at that distance, to tell Short from Long-billed Dowitchers, but they looked good to me. I checked eBird bar graphs when I got home and there are no reports of LBDO in the spring in Orange County, so I’m pretty happy with SBDO. I’ve included a distant shot at the bottom of this post. Thanks to Linda for heads up.

~There are plenty of Blue-winged Warblers at Goosepond Mountain this year, 05/23/21.~
~A couple of Short-billed Dowitchers at the Camel Farm, 05/23/21.~

Sunday Shots, 05/16/21

I’m going to keep it short this evening. I’m absolutely exhausted after a seriously hectic work week and a busy but excellent weekend. I stayed local all weekend, birding primarily in south/southwest Orange County with a couple trips to the Sussex County side of the Liberty Loop for shorebirds. Birds were certainly plentiful, it’s that time of year, and I added 15 species to my OC year list. It was a weekend of near misses for me – I seemed to be slightly off my game and missed some really nice opportunities for photos. Fortunately the birds were abundant and so were the photo ops. Enjoy the pics.

~A pair of Spotted Sandpipers at Wickham Lake earlier this week, 05/12/21.~
~Great Crested Flycatcher at Elks Brox, 05/15/21.~
~Baltimore Oriole at the Liberty Loop, 05/15/21.~
~Prairie Warbler at Elks Brox, 05/15/21.~
~Orchard Oriole at Winding Waters Trail, 05/16/21.~
~This Broad-winged Hawk was being relentlessly bothered by a flock of American Robins. Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/15/21.~
~Female Scarlet Tanager at Elks Brox, 05/15/21.~
~Typical Ovenbird shot under the green lights of the nearby leaves. Pochuck Mountain, 05/15/21.~

Sunday Shots, Port Jervis Edition, 05/09/21

I woke up early this morning and headed to Port Jervis. I stopped at the Camel Farm on my way, to check for shorebirds. I got lucky and along with several Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, and a Killdeer, I found a single DUNLIN. Definitely worth the stop.

In Port Jervis, my first and most productive stop was at Laurel Grove Cemetery. I enjoyed 9 species of warbler, several of which, including a single Cape May, were accommodating for photos. The cemetery was birdy, and I had 38 types of birds, mostly expected species.

~A single singing Cape May Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/09/21.~

From there I headed over to Elks Brox Memorial Park, which was less birdy, but I did get some fantastic looks at one of my favorite warblers – BLACKBURNIAN. The bird actually seemed very aware of my presence, and never really allowed for any close photos. I also watched a Black-capped Chickadee with presumed nesting material (see below), and a Pine Warbler with nesting material, so that was helpful for the NYS Breeding Bird Atlas.

~Yellow-rumped Warbler at LGC, 05/09/21.~
~Black-and-white Warbler at LGC, 05/09/21.~
~Blackburnian Warbler at Elks Brox Park, 05/09/21.~
~Black-capped Chickadee with a mouthful, Elks Brox 05/09/21.~
~Chestnut-sided Warbler at LGC, 05/09/21.~
~Peregrine Falcon in flight, Port Jervis NY 05/09/21.~

Saturday 05/08/21

I enjoyed a cool, rainy morning and early afternoon of birding today. Ironwood Drive at Sterling Forest State Park was far and away my most productive stop. I tallied 15 species of warbler there, and I added 13 birds to my Orange County year list. Best birds for me included Cerulean Warbler (great looks but lousy pics), Hooded Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and my first Scarlet Tanager of the year.

~Cuteness Alert! A young Killdeer at Orange County Airport, 05/08/21.~

I headed north to the Newburgh Waterfront to try for waterfowl, gulls, and terns. I’d already checked Glenmere Lake and Greenwood Lake without much success (other than the continuing Greater Scaup – see photo below). There wasn’t much happening at the river, so I headed to Orange Lake to try for the White-winged Scoter that Bruce Nott reported earlier. Unfortunately the scoter had moved on, but remarkably, it had been replaced by 11(!) Common Loons. A quick stop at Washington Lake added Bank Swallow to my year list, but nothing else.

~I believe this Greater Scaup has been a Glenmere Lake for a while. If it’s the same bird, I photographed it back on March 21st and its wing appeared to be injured. I’m wondering if this bird might be around for a while until if fully heals up. GRSC at Glenmere Lake 05/08/21.~

My final stop of the day was at the Orange County Airport, hoping for Upland Sandpipers. No luck with the Uppies, but I did find some recently fledged Killdeer chicks, which were super cute. I also found a pair of Northern Harrier, a female and a young male; they appeared to be performing courtship behavior. It would be awesome if they bred out there. It’s a good time of year with loads of new birds every day; I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning already.

~Killdeer chick at Orange County Airport, 05/08/21.~

Another Good Weekend, 05/02/21

I’ve been wanting to see a Porcupine for ages, but for some reason or other, I never crossed paths with one since I’ve been in the area (11+ years now!). Well, this weekend I saw three, lol. The first one was on a seasonably cold and windy hike at High Point State Park with my brother-in-law Bill on Saturday morning. We hiked for just over 9 miles; the views from High Point were impressive, the number of birds, not so much with just 18 species tallied. The Porcupine was far and away the highlight.

~Blue-winged Warbler at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, 05/02/21.~

On Sunday morning I headed out to the Bashakill to try my luck there. It’s been ages since I’d been there and it did not disappoint. I immediately ran into John Haas and Scotty Baldinger with a couple other birders when I parked at the front of the Stop Sign Trail. I figured the smart money was on sticking with them – they attract warblers and birds in general like nobody’s business. I wasn’t wrong, the place was hopping with birds, but the first thing that got my attention was not one, but two Porcupines sleeping up in trees! What a weird coincidence! As for the birds, I covered some good territory and counted just under 60 species for the morning, eleven of which were warblers. There were also many birders out and about – too many to mention by name. It was good to catch up with some folks I haven’t seen in a while. Birding highlights for me included excellent looks at Blue-winged and Black-throated Blue Warblers at the Stop Sign Trail, decent looks at a high, singing Cerulean Warbler and a Yellow-throated Vireo at the Horseshoe Trail, and a calling Virginia Rail at the Deli Fields.

~Porcupine at High Point State Park, 05/01/21.~
~Black-throated Blue Warbler at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Porcupine at the Bashakill, 05/02/21.~
~Orange County Sandhill Crane from earlier in the week.~
~Not a great shot, but I wanted to include one more shot from High Point State Park. Black-and-white Warbler 05/01/02.~

A Good Yard Bird, 04/29/21

As most of you probably know already, spring migration hit our area in a serious way this week, particularly on Wednesday. I was out of commission all day and evening, so unfortunately I missed out on all the fun. You can click John Hass’ post here to read how the Bashakill had 15 species of warbler that morning. Not to be completely left out, I noticed an interesting bird in the backyard while working at my desk this morning. I got my bins on it, and it was an Ovenbird! It was my first of the season as well as a new yard bird for me.

~Ovenbird in my backyard this morning, 04/29/21.~

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.~

Beechwoods Area, 01/02/21

I headed back up to Sullivan County this morning to try once again for the Northern Shrike that has been seen near Liberty, NY. My second target species was Common Redpoll which have also been reported recently in the same area. I spent the morning traveling the area and scanning for birds, but unfortunately came up empty on both counts. I was enjoying being in the area; it was a beautiful winter morning (sort of) and I was just happy to be out, so flipped open my copy of A Birding Guide to Sullivan County NY and followed the directions over to the Beechwoods Area, which is between Hortonville and Jeffersonville.

~Common Redpoll, Beechwoods Area 01/02/21.~

The Beechwoods Area proved to be more productive. Although most were the usuals, there were enough birds around to make it interesting. I had many Black-capped Chickadees, they were definitely the bird of the day. I also had six Bald Eagle sitings – I’m not sure how many individual birds but there were at least two that I saw at the same time. The bird of the day, however, was a single COMMON REDPOLL on Buddenhagen Road. I spent loads of time with the bird as it was very accommodating, but the light wasn’t in my favor so I was working for photos. Some days you just pick the right thing to do – by that I mean it’s really what you’re in the mood for. Today was one of those days for me.

~CORE at the Beechwoods Area, 01/02/21.~
~Bald Eagle, Beechwoods Area 01/02/21.~

A Good Morning, 10/31/20

Sometimes, at the end of a rough week of work, I just desperately need a good birding experience. That was the case this week, and and this morning Skinner’s Lane delivered. I went primarily for shorebirds, and it was good with five species present throughout the morning: Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, and likely White-rumped Sandpiper.

~Yes!!! One of the coolest birds in North America – LAPLAND LONGSPUR at Skinner’s Lane, 10/31/20.~

But, it was the mixed flocks of American Pipits, Horned Larks, SNOW BUNTINGS, and LAPLAND LONGSPURS that really made my day. Among a large number of American Pipits and couple dozen Horned Larks, I found three Snow Buntings, and 3 Lapland Longspurs. The Longspurs, of course made my day, especially when one came and landed on the road not too far from me. I put the word out and Rob Stone, Linda Scrima, and Bruce Nott eventually joined me and we enjoyed a really a good morning, which was just what I needed.

~Two of the three Snow Buntings we had today at Skinner. 10/31/20.
~Great Blue in the Black Dirt…~

Looking Back at the Weekend

I did something this weekend that I’ve never done before. I kayaked at Wickham Lake. I’m not sure what took me so long. They have a really excellent put-in, specially made for kayaks which allows you to lock in your paddle to pull yourself into and out of the water. Anyways, I wanted to photograph the Ruddy Ducks that have been at the lake for several days now. Fortunately they were still present, but I soon learned that they are not a very confiding species.

~Double-crested Cormorant showing some personality at Wickham Lake on Saturday morning, 10/10/20.~

I was hoping that being in the kayak would allow me to get a little closer to the Ruddy Ducks, but that proved not to be the case. The group of approximately two dozen birds very calmly kept their distance from me, regardless of my approach (I mostly just let the water drift me towards them). So, I left the Ruddies in peace, and explored the lake like I never have been able to before. I came across a nice mixed flock on the northwest shore; I enjoyed close up views of many Yellow-rumped Warblers, as well as several Black-capped Chickadees, a Blue-headed Vireo, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. An Osprey was intermittently hunting and relaxing in a tree along the shore. But, it was a Double-crested Cormorant, perched high in a tree, that stole the show for me (at least for photos), as it posed in some nice light and didn’t mind at all as I floated by.

~It was really great to see these birds down at their level from the kayak. Ruddy Duck at Wickham Lake, 10/10/20.~

After kayaking Wickham Lake, I headed over to Skinner’s Lane. I was happy to find a relatively large flock (200+ birds) of American Pipits present. They were my first of the year, and they’ve always been a favorite of mine.

I finished the day of birding at Mount Peter Hawkwatch, where I joined counter Bev Robertson and observers Judy Cinquina and Will Test. It was a productive day at the mountain with great variety. I think they totaled just over 100 migrating raptors for the day.

~Yellow-rumped Warbler at Wickham Lake, 10/10/20.~
~Yes! American Pipit at Skinner’s Lane, 10/10/20.~
~I love a migrating Osprey. Mt. Pete, 10/10/20.~
~A little bit of a different look at a Palm Warbler. Kendridge Farm, 10/04/20.~
~I don’t think I’ve posted a single photo of a Red-eyed Vireo this year. Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters trail, 10/09/20.~