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.
My first bird of the weekend was a new yard bird for me – Common Raven. It was just after sunrise on Saturday morning and the bird landed on one of the evergreens in the backyard and was calling repeatedly. I grabbed my camera and the sun was just barely over the trees and casting the bird in warm light as I snapped some shots. The bird was species number 55 in my yard for 2022; I thought that was a nice way to start the weekend’s birding.
I was the official counter at Mount Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday. I got out early and birded the black dirt for a little while before heading up to the mountain. I was rewarded with a couple of BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS. There were also hundreds (thousands?) of Tree Swallows around. When I saw them, in a few separate fields, they were on the ground and periodically picking up and taking flight. It was the most Tree Swallows I’ve ever seen.
Tree Swallows would prove to be the theme of the day; when I got to Mount Peter there were just loads of them migrating through. Again, I witness hundreds and hundreds of Tree Swallows as I searched the skies for migrating raptors.
The raptor flight was weak, and I only had 14 migrating birds for the day. I did count another Osprey (always cool to see in migration), and I counted my first migrating Bald Eagle of the year. For more details, see my report for the day at the bottom of this post.
This morning I birded the Black Dirt Region again – I was able to locate three Buff-breasted Sandpipers, but no other shorebirds (other than the expected loads of Killdeer). I’m coming across loads of American Kestrels in the black dirt recently; I saw ten just this morning.
Work has been super stressful for me lately, and as we all know so well, Mondays are the absolute worst. Usually birding is my respite from any worries in my life, and it’s normally particularly effective when it’s work related. But lately, even on good birding days, I haven’t been able to completely shake it and it’s taken some of the joy out of my birding. Tonight, however was different. It was a beautiful evening to get out, and as I entered the black dirt I could feel the tension leaving my body.
It was pleasantly birdy in the black dirt, and then I had a really nice experience with one of my favorites – a Horned Lark. Horned Larks breed in the county, but really, I don’t see them all that often in the summer. So I was pretty happy to come across one this evening. To make it better, instead of the usual distant look, the bird was relatively close and slowly worked its way toward me, allowing for excellent looks and a chance to get some photos. It’s strange how things coalesce sometimes; the right bird at the right time, on a beautiful night in the black dirt.
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.
I got out really early this morning in an effort to get as much birding in before the snow got too bad. I played a hunch and arrived at the Beacon Waterfront not too long after sunrise. I was rewarded with a beautiful first winter Iceland Gull perched on a tent on one of the docks. Not the prettiest perch, but I was still thrilled. I photographed the bird and hoped it would change perches, but alas it eventually took off and flew northeast without even a look back.
I checked the Newburgh Waterfront afterwards; there wasn’t much going on, so I headed out to the black dirt just as it started snowing. Once in the black dirt, one of my first birds was a beautiful Rough-legged Hawk. It was snowing quite a bit, but the birds were active. I found many Horned Larks and spent most of the morning looking through them, searching for my main target of the morning: Lapland Longspur. I eventually did locate one; its plumage was pretty nice, but this far into March I was hoping for better. A small flock of Snow Geese flew overhead, and I was eventually able to relocate them. They blended in very well in a distant snowy field.
The snow was starting to accumulate pretty good, so I headed home. I passed through Lynch Avenue, where in a flooded field I had 4 Northern Pintails with a group of Mallards and Canada Geese. I missed the Wilson’s Snipe which had been reported there, mostly because a large plow was coming through and I needed to get out of the way and get my butt safely home.
Yard Birds 2022: (30) – I added Red-shouldered Hawk and Ring-billed Gull since my last post. I will also mention that yesterday evening I had a white-winged gull fly over the house. It happened too quickly to get a photo; my impression was that the bird was likely an Iceland Gull, but I can’t be sure.
I got my best birds of the weekend right after work on Friday evening. I met Karen Miller at the main boat launch at Bashakill WMA; we walked the Birch Trail to find the TUNDRA SWANS which were located earlier in the week by John Haas. It was a gorgeous evening, and we enjoyed our walk in spite of having to be careful because of the icy conditions on the trail. The birds were still present; we were able to locate 12 of the 15 reported birds. Unfortunately they were quite distant and partly obscured by vegetation. Scope views were beautiful, but photos were tough. I’ve included a documentary shot at the bottom of this post.
Saturday morning I tried for the Northern Shrike at Wickham Woodlands Park, but was unsuccessful. From there I headed over to the black dirt, where I sorted through Canada Geese and flocks of mixed blackbirds looking for rarities; I came up empty. Then, on Onion Avenue, I was pleasantly surprised to find a large flock of Snow Geese. I’d seen reports of Snow Geese during the week, but I was under the impression that the birds had moved on. My estimate was approximately 4-5 thousand birds present. It wasn’t long after I found a nice pull off and grabbed my scope, that a model airplane flushed all the birds. It was quite a spectacle, of course, but I was disappointed to not have the opportunity to try and locate a Ross’s Goose among the flock.
I tried for gulls at the Newburgh Waterfront on Saturday evening, but unfortunately it was a dud and I only was able to locate the 3 expected species of gull.
On Sunday morning I went out to the black dirt to try and relocate the Snow Geese. I was only able to find a couple of smaller groups, but one of them was close enough for some decent photos. I received a report in the early afternoon of approximately 2,500 SNGOs, so it’s good to know at least some of the birds have stuck around.
Early Sunday afternoon Tricia and I went to Wickham Lake. There is now plenty of open water. It was an enjoyable visit, with plenty of birds to keep it interesting: Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, 2-300 Common Mergansers, an adult Bald Eagle, and a very noisy mixed flock of blackbirds which you could hear clear across the lake.
Yard Birds 2022: (28) Species. I added Fish Crow this week.
I didn’t have a plan for my birding today. And I didn’t know it was supposed to snow like it did. So I woke up, saw the snow accumulation, and took my time getting out of the house. Since I had no real plan, I figured I would just try for some snowy photos locally. I was thinking about raptors as I was heading out, Rough-legged Hawks in particular, but it was a couple of Northern Harriers that ended up delivering.
I enjoyed a pleasant and tranquil morning in the snow; I sorted through Horned Larks and found five Lapland Longspurs. Snow Buntings continue, but their numbers appear to be down slightly. I sorted through some geese too, and I finally located what I believe is a Cackling Goose. The bird was on the Wallkill River along Celery Avenue and I was able to get some decent shots of that bird.
I’m digging the stark aesthetic in these wintery photos. What they lack in color in detail, they make up for in atomosphere.
Yard Birds 2022: (25) – I added Common Grackle this week.
I went to the black dirt this morning and was able to catch up with 3 of my 4 target birds. Early on I got a distant look at my first Rough-legged Hawk of the season, a beautiful light morph bird. A little later I caught up with a flock of Horned Larks; I looked through them and found a single Snow Bunting and a single Lapland Longspur. I tried for the Greater White-fronted Goose which has been reported at the Route 1 pond, but no luck there.
In the afternoon I headed to Newburgh. I dipped on the Golden Eagle at Storm King State Park, but I cleaned up with gulls, tallying 6 species: Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed, FRANKLIN’S, Iceland, and Glaucous. What a refreshing, cold, beautiful day of birding. Beats sitting at the desk like I did all week, that’s for sure.
I spent the last two days birding locally and was lucky enough to get some good birds. Yesterday morning I birded the black dirt; early on I found a handful of American Pipits feeding on some piles of discarded onions, but the real highlight came a little later on Turtle Bay Road, where I located a single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE among a flock of approximately 1,000 Canada Geese. In the evening I went gulling at the Newburgh Waterfront with Bruce Nott. While we were together, we had (5) species of gull (Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed, LESSER BLACK-BACKED, and ICELAND GULL), but Bruce was finishing up a remarkable (7) gull day (same as above plus: FRANKLIN’S, and GLAUCOUS).
This morning I was sort of taking it easy and I just visited some nearby lakes: Wickham, Greenwood, Round, and Walton. I had a total of (9) species of waterfowl: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, A. Black Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, and the highlight of the morning, a relatively cooperative COMMON LOON. The loon was at Greenwood Lake; the bird was not too far out and I stood on the shore patiently until the bird came close enough for some decent shots.
I went out to the black dirt first thing this morning with American Pipits on my mind. I wasn’t disappointed; I saw many (hundreds) and I was able to get some decent photos in the early morning light. Sparrows were also abundant with Savannah and Song Sparrows being most abundant. I did see a couple of White-crowned Sparrow and caught a brief glimpse of a Vesper as well. In the afternoon I went back to Mt. Peter Hawkwatch and counted with official counter Will Test. It was pretty good flight while I was there with a decent flow of birds and good variety (Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Cooper’s, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, and Osprey). Interestingly, Turkey Vultures continued to move through; we counted 120+ while I was there.
Earlier in the week I spent some time in my yard – it’s been pretty birdy recently. I added Blue-headed Vireo to my 2021 yard list and the vultures are roosting in large numbers, probably 50-60 birds, mostly Turkey but with a handful of Black Vultures too.