At least shorebirds are moving to some extent at this point. You probably saw that I had an UPLAND SANDPIPER on Friday evening. On Saturday no one appears to have relocated the Uppy, but Bruce Nott did find 3 Caspian Terns at Cornwall Bay, and later in the evening I tried for the Uppy again and was rewarded with a flyover of 4 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS. I actually picked them up in a distant field, but they picked up an flew; as far as I know they didn’t return. It’s refreshing to see that fall migration is beginning; let’s hope for a good one.
Well I finally added a new yard bird to my 2022 list this week. Early in the week I was hearing a Broad-winged Hawk calling somewhere in the vicinity. On Friday while I was working, I heard it again and it was loud. I went out my side door and the bird was perched in the large maple tree in the corner of our yard. I clicked a few photos before the bird flew, but my settings weren’t great and my shutter speed was very slow – 1/125th of a second. I didn’t think I had a prayer of getting anything sharp, especially because I was hand-holding my super heavy 500 mm lens. Lucky for me, I managed a couple of acceptable shots.
Meanwhile, the Cooper’s Hawks which nested in my neighbor’s yard had at least three chicks successfully fledge. They have been making a racket all week, and this afternoon, after several blown opportunities, I was able to get a good shot of one of them in the same maple as the BWHA. It was funny because I was “watching the golf” (ie napping on the sofa), when Tricia woke me up to tell me the bird was in our yard.
I didn’t get out at all on Saturday, but this morning I got out for a few hours. I checked 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, following up on some shorebirds that Karen Miller told me about. Conditions are good, but the only shorebirds I was able to locate were about a dozen Killdeer and and a single Solitary Sandpiper. The sanctuary is loaded with Green Herons right now – I had at least 8 while I was there this morning. And as you would expect, there were also many Wood Ducks around; I was happy to capture this one just off the trail.
I also tried Beaver Pond for shorebirds – I found several Least Sandpipers and 10 or so Killdeer. Conditions are good – I’m prediction at least one good bird there this fall.
My last stop was the Liberty Loop. I birded from the platform and was able to locate a single, distant American Bittern. I checked the west side of the loop for shorebirds but only found a couple of Killdeer. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing some more good shorebirds in our area.
Yard Birds 2022: (50). I FINALLY got a new bird (the Broad-winged Hawk), my first since May 17th.
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.
So it’s still feeling like the summer doldrums to me. That said, there was a little excitement in the local birding scene. On Wednesday, an ANHINGA was reported at Lake Tappan in Rockland County. I went for the bird after work on Thursday and was lucky enough to see it. The bird was distant and my photos were barely good enough for documentary purposes, but I enjoyed watching the bird in my scope, waiting it out until it finally left its perch and fished a little. It was excellent to see such a cool bird and to add it to my New York State list.
On Friday, Ken McDermott found a LITTLE BLUE HERON at Algonquin Park. It was reported on Saturday as well, but I tried to relocate it on Sunday and had no luck. Also, John Haas had a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront on Saturday. I tried for that bird this morning, but didn’t have any luck.
Not very shockingly, shorebirds were my main targets this week. I visited Beaver Pond near Glenmere Lake on Friday and had Least, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers along with a good number of Killdeer. At the south pond of the Liberty Loop on Saturday morning, I had the same list of shorebird species (although Kyle Knapp had a Pectoral Sandpiper there on Sunday morning). The Camel Farm it totally dry and I didn’t even stop by. This morning I went to Bullville Pond, where there were a couple Solitaries and a couple Spotteds. Hopefully we will begin to get some more diversity soon.
I arrived at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop just after sunrise this morning, with hopes to catch up with the American Bittern Ronnie DiLorenzo reported on Thursday. Shortly after my arrival, Kyle Knapp joined me with the same target bird. As he was preparing to hike the loop, I spotted an AMERICAN BITTERN flying across the marsh. I couldn’t see where it put down, but Kyle did and we walked the trail to the approximate area.
After a good while of searching, I finally found the bird, feeding in a little wet area behind some dense vegetation. We enjoyed spectacular views in my scope, and tried to find any angle where we could get photos. As I was watching the bittern, a SORA walked into my view, feeding just in front of the bittern. I got Kyle on the Sora, and in his bins he saw that there were actually 2 Soras present. It was fantastic to get pretty good looks at such a secretive bird.
Afterwards, we headed to the back pond of the Liberty Loop. We were hoping for shorebirds and Least Bitterns. We totally dipped on the Least Bitterns, but we did have a smattering of shorebirds – 3 Least Sandpipers, 3 or 4 Solitary Sandpipers, several Killdeer, and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. The highlight, however, was finding the 2 local Sandhill Cranes feeding just 20 or so feet off the trail. We snapped some photos as we passed, shocked to be so close to them, and left them feeding in the same spot as we continued on our way.
I took advantage of the relatively cool weather this morning and took an 8 mile hike at Black Rock Forest. It was a pleasant and relatively birdy hike, especially the first half of it, which provided a variety of habitats and most of the nearly 50 bird species I identified for the morning. Bird highlights included two Broad-winged Hawks (2 separate encounters), recently fledged Worm-eating Warblers, and recently fledged Prairie Warblers, neither of which I’d ever seen before. Non-avian highlights included a cooperative family of Beavers at Upper Reservoir.
I’ve included my full list of birds species as well as a screenshot of my All Trails tracking information at the bottom of this post.
I did get out locally yesterday evening and on Thursday night as well. Both days I went to the Camel Farm to check on shorebird progress, and it’s not bad at all with a decent species list: Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper. I also made it out to the Liberty Loop on Thursday and finally caught up with a Least Bittern in Orange County.
This morning I hiked the Sterling Ridge Trail at Sterling Forest State Park. I tallied just under 50 species of birds; all of them were expected species (the usuals). I did have a little bit of excitement, however, with two separate Black Bear sitings. One bear was up on a hillside, about 150 yards off the trail, and took absolutely no notice of me. The other was just on the other side of a small pond. That bear was definitely aware of my presence; it most likely heard the camera shutter. It had been a couple years since I’d seen a bear, so today was a treat.
I went out late Saturday morning with Upland Sandpiper on my mind. I spent some time at the Orange County Airport, and then headed to Ulster County and tried Blue Chip Farm and the Grasslands. While I had no luck with Uppies (it was always a long shot), I did spend some time with a Killdeer family at the airport, as well as a very cooperative Eastern Meadowlark at the Grasslands.
This morning I wanted to take a hike, so I went to Black Rock Forest and hiked out past Jupiter’s Boulder, which I chose in hopes of seeing or hearing a Ruffed Grouse (another long shot!). No luck with the grouse, but it was a fairly productive hike with over 40 species observed. The only sort of unusual siting was a young Hooded Merganser; I was happy to see and record this bird. As a bonus, it was close enough for decent photos.
Yard Birds 2022: Still stuck at (49); I didn’t add any new birds this week.
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 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.
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!).
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.