Snowy Saturday Morning, 03/12/22

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.

~Iceland Gull at the Beacon Waterfront, 03/12/22.~

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.

~Lapland Longspur taking off in the black dirt, 03/12/22.~
~Camouflaged Snow Geese in the black dirt, 03/12/22.~

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.

~LALO in the black dirt, 03/12/22.~
~One of many Horned Larks in the black dirt this morning, 03/12/22.~

Sunday Shots, 03/06/22

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.

~Wednesday evening, 03/02/22, was gorgeous, so after work I took a drive around the black dirt just before sunset and was rewarded with this Short-eared Owl.~

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.

~Snow Goose spectacle in the black dirt, 03/05/22.~
~Snow Geese in flight, 03/05/22.~

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.

~It was nice to have some closer birds on Sunday morning. I’m digging these two messy dudes on the right. Lynch Avenue 03/06/22.~

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.

~SNGOs flying over the black dirt, 03/05/22.~
~SNGOs, black dirt, 03/05/22.~
~Snow Geese flying directly overhead, Onion Avenue 03/05/22.~
~SNGO fun in the black dirt, 03/05/22.~
~TUNDRA SWANS at the Bashakill, 03/04/22.~

Snowy Sunday Shots, 02/13/22

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.

~Northern Harrier flying right towards my car. Black dirt, 02/13/22.~

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.

~Northern Harrier in the black dirt, 02/13/22.~
~There were loads of blackbirds in the black dirt today. Red-winged on a nice perch, 02/13/22.~
~Cackling Goose in the Wallkill River on Celery Ave, 02/13/22.~
~NOHA in the snow, 02/13/22.~
~Cackling Goose with a couple of Canadas, Celery Ave 02/13/22.~
~I was being patient in hopes of getting a better Lapland Longspur photo, but this was my best of the morning. At one point I had (5) LALOs in my binocular view. Black dirt, 02/13/22.~

Excellent Day in OC

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.

~Always a favorite, Lapland Longspur in the black dirt, 01/08/22~

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.

~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 01/08/22.~
~I was happy to get the Franklin’s Gull for my 2022 list. Newburgh Waterfront, 01/08/22.~
~Common Ravens on a deer carcass in the black dirt, 01/08/22.~
~I wanted to include this photo as well because it’s really cool to see the Common Ravens alongside the American Crows. Black dirt, 01/08/22.~

Good Birding Back in Orange County

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).

~Always a favorite of mine – Common Loon at Greenwood Lake, 12/30/21.~

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.

~COLO at Greenwood Lake, 12/30/21.~
~Regular readers of this blog know how much I like pipits – American Pipit on a pile of onions in the black dirt, 12/29/21.~
~Can you pick out the ICELAND GULL? Hint: it’s the one with the very pale primaries. Newburgh Waterfront, 12/29/21.~
~Lesser Black-backed Gull at Newburgh Waterfront, 12/29/21.~
~Greater White-fronted Goose at Turtle Bay Road, 12/29/21.~
~One more shot of the COLO at Greenwood Lake, 12/30/21.~

Sunday Shots, 10/24/21

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.

~American Pipit in flight, black dirt 10/24/21.~

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.

~American Pipit on the road in the Black Dirt Region, 10/24/21.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/24/21.~
~Savannah Sparrow on a nice perch in the black dirt, 10/24/21.~
~I’ve never seen an American Pipit perch on vegetation before, but today I saw several doing this. BDR, 10/24/21.~
~Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the backyard, 10/21/21.~
~Turkey Vulture coming in to roost in our backyard, 10/21/21.~
~A more typical look at an American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/24/21.~
~Blackpoll Warblers are still sticking around. This one was in the black dirt this morning, 10/24/21.~
~Savannah Sparrow in the BDR 10/24/21.~

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.~

More Good OC Shorebirds, 09/06/21

This morning I met up with birding bud Bruce Nott and we once again hit the black dirt looking for shorebirds. Early on it was not looking good; we were not finding the multitudes of shorebirds we were hoping for, and the puddling was greatly reduced. We did have a single Baird’s Sandpiper at Skinners Lane, so that was nice. Our fortunes changed at Pine Island Turf Nursery. First off, the office was closed for the holiday, but luckily we ran into some of the folks from the nursery in the parking lot as they were leaving, and they gave us permission to go in and look for birds.

~A nice look at a Lesser Yellowlegs at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~

There was a good number of shorebirds present and we had a pretty darn good list with a cool dozen species when it was all said and done:

  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Killdeer
  • SANDERLING
  • BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
  • Least Sandpiper
  • WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
~Wow, a relatively close Pectoral Sandpiper! PITN 09/06/21.~
~Sanderling in flight at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~
~Baird’s Sandpiper alongside a Lesser Yellowlegs, PITN 09/06/21.~
~Great Egrets in a field at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~
~I got lucky with this shot – I was focusing on the Lesser Yellowlegs, but happened to also catch what I believe is a Baird’s Sandpiper in flight ahead of the yellowlegs.~

A Good Morning, 08/08/21

I toyed with the idea of heading back north to try for the Wood Stork again, but ultimately I decided to stay local. The bird was reported at the German Church Road location again yesterday evening, but I haven’t heard anything today.

My first stop was the Camel Farm for shorebirds; I found nearly a dozen Least Sandpipers and a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers. Moving on, I went to the Liberty Loop. Again my main goal was shorebirds, but I also was hoping for the SNOWY EGRET and LITTLE BLUE HERON, both of which were present. I had a decent list of shorebirds: Semipalmated Plover (2), Killdeer (25+), Least Sandpiper (1), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), Solitary Sandpiper (2), Greater Yellowlegs (1), and Lesser Yellowlegs (2). It’s great to be seeing shorebirds again.

~Little Blue Heron at Wallkill River Nation Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh, 08/08/21.~

I made a couple more stops after that – I checked Beaver Pond but found poor conditions and no shorebirds. I also went to Skinners Lane, where I had a good number of Killdeer, as well as 3 mystery shorebirds which were rude enough to just do a flyover and not stop. Another exciting thing for me was a decent number of Horned Larks (20 or so), with many young birds in the mix.

~One Snowy Egret with 3 Great Egrets, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and some Mallards. Liberty Marsh, 08/08/21.~
~A messy looking Northern Mockingbird at the Camel Farm, 08/08/21.~

~Mystery shorebirds at Skinners Lane, 08/08/21.

Sunday Shots, 02/14/21

Well, it was another enjoyable weekend of winter birding. Yesterday was a home run gulling at the Hudson River, then this morning I did a quick cruise around the black dirt where I located a remarkable 8 LAPLAND LONGSPURS. I found 2 off of Route 12 in New Hampton, and an additional 6 on Ridgebury Road in Slate Hill. From there I headed over to the Bashakill to check to see if the large flock of Snow Buntings were still present. They were, and they were quite accommodating. I ran into Karen Miller while I was there and we located a distant Rough-legged Hawk, off of Haven Road; I don’t think they get them there very often. From there I called it a day a little on the early side, but it was a good morning.

~Snow Bunting – Haven Road at the Bashakill, 02/14/21.~
~THE THREE AMIGOS! Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur sharing a snow drift, Slate Hill NY 02/14/21.~
~Lapland Longspur in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Snow Buntings coming in for a landing on a wire, Bashakill 02/14/21.~
~A pair of Lapland Longspurs in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Northern Mockingbird at Galeville Park, 02/13/21.!