Shorebirds, Mt. Peter, & Reservoir #3

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.

~Greataer Yellowlegs at the Camel Farm, 09/25/21.~
~Fogbow at Skinners Lane Saturday morning 09/25/21. According to Wikipedia, “a fog bow, sometimes called a white rainbow, is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow; however, as its name suggest, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain.”~

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.

~~ The Common Ravens helped pass the time when it was slow at Mt. Peter on Saturday, 09/25/21.~
~Broad-winged Hawk directly over the viewing platform, Mt. Peter 09/25/21.~

RESERVOIR #3

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.

~Always a favorite of mine – Brown Creeper at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~Pine Warbler at Res 3, 09/26/21.~
~ I am generally not to quick to ID silent flycatchers, but I’m thinking this bird is a juvenile Eastern Wood-Pewee due to the buffy wing bars.~
~Eastern Phoebe at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~One more of the Brown Creeper, Res 3 09/26/21.~
~One of several Yellow-rumped Warblers at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~And, one more Pine Warbler shot. Res 3 09/26/21.~
~I was struck by how beautiful Beaver Pond looked on Saturday morning, so I took a photo with my phone.~

Black Dirt Shorebird Shots, 08/22/21

Shorebirds in the black dirt are generally quite distant; just miles out, which means photos are typically just documentary. But this week, I had some birds which, while not close enough for anything remarkable, were close enough to get some decent shots. I’ve been checking the black dirt frequently, I have the feeling we are going to get something good out there this fall. Or maybe I’m just hoping we will. Either way, it was nice to get some shorebirds which were not Killdeer, and some decent photos to boot.

~Lesser Yellowlegs in the black dirt, 08/22/21.~

One other quick note – I went out the Hudson River this afternoon, hoping the hurricane/tropical storm might bring in something interesting. I don’t think my timing was great, and there wasn’t much going on. Tomorrow might be better, but unfortunately I’ll be working.

~Always a favorite of mine – Pectoral Sandpiper in the black dirt, 08/19/21.~
~I was struggling to confirm the identification of this Least Sandpiper (and one other with it). First, the birds were not near any other birds, so I wasn’t sure of their size. Also, the bird’s posture looked taller and longer than what I would expect for a Least. But, I think it was behaving differently because of the height of the grass. Also, because of the high grass I never got a look at the color of their legs. Anyways, I’m pretty sure this is a LESA, black dirt 08/22/21.

Orange County Caspian Terns, 08/15/21

Shorebird migration hitting its stride has really gotten my birding blood pumping. On Saturday and early Sunday morning I birded the black dirt and Liberty Marsh and had a total of 10 species of shorebirds (Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, and Solitary Sandpiper). If I add my mystery shorebirds from last Sunday, which turned out to be UPLAND SANDPIPERS, that’s 11 species of shorebirds in a week.

~Caspian Tern in flight above Cornwall Bay, 08/15/21.~

But, as much as I love shorebirds, the real excitement began later in the morning when Bruce Nott notified me that he had several CASPIAN TERNS at Cornwall Bay. I headed straight over and joined Bruce. Two of the terns had departed, heading south, but that still left six Caspian Terns present. We enjoyed watching as the 3 adult birds actively fished and periodically brought back their prey to feed the waiting and calling 3 juvenile birds. We also had some shorebirds fly in and stay on the sandbar briefly – by my count there were 4 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a single Least Sandpiper. Eventually the terns all settled in on the sand bar presumably content for the moment. We departed definitively content. Huge thanks for Bruce for the heads up and the awesome company.

~Caspian Tern at Cornwall Bay, 08/15/21.~

~Caspian Tern over the treetops, Cornwall Bay, 08/15/21.~

~CATE at Cornwall Bay 08/15/21.~

~Great Blue Heron at Beaver Pond on Friday evening, 08/13/21.~
~For all the shorebirds I’ve seen recently, decent photos are tough to come by as the birds are always so distant. I’ve looked at hundreds of Killdeer this week, here’s one at Skinners Lane, 08/12/21.~
~Sandhill Cranes in a ditch in the black dirt, 08/14/21.~
~House Wren in the black dirt, 08/14/21.~
~Red-tailed Hawk in the black dirt, 08/15/21.~

Sunday Shots/Weekend Wrap-up, 08/01/21

I felt the summer doldrums lifting a little bit this weekend, which was nice. On Saturday morning I met Rob Stone out at Wisner Road in Warwick with the goal of trying to get an accurate count of the Sedge Wrens. We spent over an hour listening and walking the road and in the end we felt that there are a minimum of 7 birds, with possibly as many as 10. Which is pretty amazing. Afterwards, I birded 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, which was birdy but with usuals and no real photo ops. In the evening I went to the Camel Farm to check for shorebirds. I was pleasantly surprised to find good shorebird conditions and approximately a dozen shorebirds (Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, and Killdeer). I’m optimistic that we’ll see some good birds out there sometime soon.

~Common Yellowthroat near our vacation house in Prattsville, New York in the Catskills, 07/20/21.~

Today I checked the Camel Farm again; there seemed to be more birds and the same species with the addition of a Spotted Sandpiper. I also went out to Skinners Lane where there was a good number of swallows present (mostly Trees, with also a good number of Barns, and at least one Bank). I also got a nice scope view of a beautiful, dark Red-tailed Hawk which I believe was the subspecies Abieticola, with a dark chin with dribble marks and an extremely dark belly band. It was too distant for photos, but hopefully they will be in the cards in future visits.

~Barn Swallow at Skinners Lane, 08/01/21.~
~Song Sparrow in Prattsville, NY 07/20/21.~
~A recently fledged Common Yellowthroat in Prattsville, NY 07/20/21.~
~A messy muscat at 6 1/2 Station Road, 07/31/21.~
~Bald Eagle at Mine Kill State Park in the Catskills, 07/21/21.~
~It hasn’t been easy for me to confirm breeding for this species – American Goldfinch with nesting material at Winding Waters Trail, 07/31/21.~

Siblings

I was on vacation last week; we rented a large house up in the Catskills with members of Tricia’s family. I took the opportunity to mostly relax poolside and while I didn’t actually do all that much birding, I did get out a couple of times. I’ll go through my pics and put together a post in the next day or so. Meanwhile, here are some shots of Green Heron siblings in the pond near my house from before I left. I’ve been in the area for 10 years now, and I think this is the second time that Green Herons have bred in that little pond.

Sunday Shots, 07/11/21

It was a mostly uneventful weekend of birding for me. On Saturday I birded in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block and was able to confirm three additional species: Northern Mockingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, and House Sparrow. On Sunday I decided to change it up a little and I headed to Sullivan County, where I birded Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area. I was hoping for the outside chance at seeing/hearing Ruffed Grouse, but had to settle for seeing and hearing some species I don’t see very often in Orange County: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warble, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Magnolia Warbler.

~Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Hickok Brook MUA, 07/11/21.~
~Although most were heard, it’s always good to see a Hermit Thrush. Hickok Brook MUA, 07/11/21.~ .
~A recently fledged Red-tailed Hawk waits for a parent to bring a meal, Sugarloaf NY 07/10/21.~
~I initially thought this was a new species confirmed, but it turns out that Chipping Sparrow had already been confirmed in my priority block. Sugarloaf NY, 07/10/21.~

More Atlasing and a Photogenic Gray Catbird

I birded along the railroad tracks north of Sugarloaf again this morning – it’s turning out to be a very productive spot in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas Priority Block (Warwick_CE). I confirmed (8) species this morning, (3) of which were new confirmations: Song Sparrow, House Finch, and Downy Woodpecker. Other highlights included watching a family of Barn Swallows during feeding time, and a rather charismatic Gray Catbird. I’ve actually always thought they were quite a photogenic species, I even included a shot of one in my top ten photos of the year back in 2016.

~Gray Catbird in Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~
~Gray Catbird in Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~
~Gray Catbird in Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~
~Gray Catbird in Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~
~A young Barn Swallow anticipating being fed by a parent…
~…and the parent doesn’t disappoint. Barn Swallow in Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~
~A different Gray Catbird – this one is a newly fledged bird. Sugarloaf NY, 07/04/21.~

Sunday Shots, 06/27/21

I did most of my birding this weekend in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block, Warwick_CE. I was able to confirm several species, but unfortunately only one new species for the block: Yellow Warbler. Yesterday was pretty much a dud of a morning, but today was much better. I made a quick stop by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary to try for the Least Bitterns which have been reported there (I still need them for OC this year). I had no luck with the bitterns, but I did find a cooperative Swamp Sparrow, which was a nice treat.

~A singing Marsh Wren at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 06/27/21.~

Afterwards, I birded a new spot in my priority block. I walked along the train tracks in Sugarloaf, heading north. The block continues for nearly a mile along the tracks; the birding was pretty much non-stop and I had a total of 37 species in a one mile span, which I didn’t think was too bad at all. It was at this location that I confirmed Yellow Warbler, and I feel like it will be a good spot to confirm other species in the future.

~A young Yellow Warbler at the Sugarloaf RR Tracks, 06/27/21.~
~I had a pair of Killdeer at Knapp’s View on Saturday morning. I thought they might have young nearby but no such luck. I’ll be going back to keep an eye on these birds.~
~Garter Snake along the Sugarloaf RR Tracks, 06/27/21.~
~Wood Duck duckling at Wallkill River NWR, on Tuesday 06/22/21.~
~Today on my way home I spotted this Green Heron in the pond around the corner from my house~

Sunday Shots, 06/20/21

Early Saturday morning I went to Black Rock Forest and hiked up to Jupiter’s Boulder. I was trying for Ruffed Grouse, but unfortunately I had no luck. I did pick up my first Acadian Flycatchers of the year; it’s always nice to see and hear that bird. Afterwards, I went to Newburgh to follow up on an eBird report of a pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves, but again I had no luck. On my way home a played a hunch and went to the OC Airport to see if the Killdeer there had a second brood. They did, there was one young bird with two adults; the bird was so small it kept tipping over, lol.

~A young Killdeer seemingly mimicking its parent, OC Airport 06/19/21.~

This morning I went to the south end of the Liberty Loop. I’ve been meaning to get out there to try for Least Bitterns, so I finally did today and they did not disappoint. Once again, the southernmost compound at the loop is loaded with good birds during the summer. Least Bitterns were the big draw, but I also enjoyed seeing a young Pied-billed Grebe, many Common Gallinules, Killdeer, and loads of Wood Ducks.

~Least Bittern at the Liberty Loop, 06/20/21.~
~What a cutie. Killdeer chick at OC Airport, 06/19/21.~
~Least Bittern in flight at the Liberty Loop, 06/20/21.~
~A nice look at a female Red-winged Blackbird. Liberty Loop 06/20/21.~
~LEBI at the Loop, 06/20/21.~
~One of many Common Gallinules at the back pond of the Liberty Loop, 06/20/21.
~Killdeer chick with parent, 06/19/21.~
~LIBI at the Loop, 06/20/21.~
~Wing flap from a young Pied-billed Grebe, 06/20/21.
~And one final Least Bittern shot, Liberty Loop 06/20/21.~

Sunday Shots, 06/13/21

It’s the time of year when birds are heard more often than seen. It’s also the time of year, especially now that things are opening up on the tail end of the pandemic, when there are things going on that are not birding. I know, it’s true sometimes I do things other than work and bird, lol. Anyways, last weekend was a bust in spite of a full morning of birding the Port Jervis area on Saturday, hence no post. This weekend was only slightly better in terms of photos. I spent Saturday morning birding my NYSBBS priority block Warwick CE; I was able to confirm Cedar Waxwing and Common Grackle. The block now has 29 confirmed species; I have to thank Jarvis Shirky who has been birding the block often and has confirmed 10 species. Photo ops were few, thank goodness for the Bobolinks at Knapp’s View, otherwise this weekend would have been another photo bust.

~Male Bobolink at Knapp’s View in Chester, 06/11/21.~
~A female Bobolink with a mouthful. Knapp’s View 06/11/21.~
~BOBO at Knapp’s View, 06/11/21.~
~Female BOBO going for it. Knapp’s View, 06/11/21.~
~Mute Swan Cygnet learning the ropes. Beaver Pond, 06/12/21.~
~The Great Blue Heron Rookery in Central Valley NY, just east of the Woodbury Commons, is active again this year. You can see the rookery from the Route 6 rest area lookout. I counted at least a dozen herons in the above photo, taken this afternoon, 06/13/21.~