Sensational Shorebirding, 09/18/23

Everyone knows at this point that bad weather typically equals excellent birding. This evening after work I followed up on several reports of shorebirds in the black dirt. When I left the house, it was raining cats and dogs. But, by the time I arrived in the black dirt, it had slowed down and there were some clear skies in the distance. At first I was viewing the birds from inside my car, using my window mount for the scope. As it slowed up, Linda Scrima joined me; eventually it cleared up and we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow.

~Rainbow in the Black Dirt Region, 09/18/23. It was really cool because the shorebirds were located in the field directly under the end of the rainbow.~

We had an excellent assortment of shorebirds: Killdeer (35), Semipalmated Plover (1), Black-bellied Plover (4), American Golden-Plover (30), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), Pectoral Sandpiper (45), and a flyover of (6) Short-billed Dowitchers. Pipits were flying over calling. All with a beautiful rainbow, allowing for some really interesting photo ops. What a night.

~Plovers flying through the rainbow. Black Dirt Region 09/18/23.~
~PLovers doing their thing in the BDR, 09/18/23.~
~A more conventional shot of the flock of Black-bellied and American Golden-Plovers in the black dirt this evening, 09/18/23.~
~One more rainbow/plover shote. Black Dirt Region, 09/18/23.!

Sunday Shots, 08/27/23

First thing this morning, I went to Bullville Pond to see if anything was going on. I had shorebirds (of course) and Little Blue Heron on my mind. Unfortunately it was a bust, so I headed back out to the black dirt, where I eventually joined up with several other birders and finally got the Baird’s Sandpiper. After missing that species last year, I wanted to see one – it had been nearly 2 years! Also present were 50+ Least Sandpipers, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, 5 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, many Killdeer, and a flyover of a Semipalmated Plover. Photos were tough today, so I’m mostly posting more photos from yesterday’s shorebirds and a couple of cowbirds from this morning.

Semipalmated Plover in the black dirt, 08/26/23.~
~Least Sandpiper in the black dirt region, 08/26/23.~
I love all the varieties of plumage you can see on Brown-headed Cowbirds at this time of the year. Black dirt, 08/27/23.~
SEPL in BDR, 08/26/23.~
~Another good looking cowbird in the black dirt today, 08/27/23.~
Semiplover in the black dirt, 08/26/23.~

Getting Lucky with Uppies, 08/18/23

It’s been the summer of the Upland Sandpiper for me. Tonight I was birding in the black dirt and an Uppy ran right across the road in front of my car! I’d inadvertently flushed the bird from the long grasses on the roadside. It flew into the field to my right and then made its way across the field and then flew to the neighboring field. I put the word out and Karen Miller and I enjoyed my best Upland Sandpiper looks of the year. The bird eventually disappeared into a tall grassy area, so we decided to move on. I got back to my car and a second Upland Sandpiper flew across the road! It was an excellent evening of birding. All photos taken in the Black Dirt Region, 08/18/23.

Excellent Shorebirding, 08/15/23

This evening after work, I went to the Black Dirt Region to follow up on several reports of a good variety of shorebirds. I expected today to be good (it might have been good timing for a personal day), after the storms that came through the area last night. I joined Diane Bliss and Kyle Knapp and I thoroughly enjoyed a pleasant evening with some fabulous birds:

  • Black-bellied Plover (1)
  • Semipalmated Plover (3)
  • Killdeer (35+)
  • Least Sandpiper (16)
  • Pectoral Sandpiper (7)
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper (5)
  • Short-billed Dowitcher (4)
~Short-billed Dowitcher in the black dirt, 08/15/23.~
~Black-bellied Plover in the Black Dirt Region, 098/15/23.~

WOW! Four Upland Sandpipers in the Black Dirt, 08/07/23

After work this evening I headed out to the black dirt with UPLAND SANDPIPERS on my mind… and I hit the jackpot! I was searching through the black dirt and I located a good number of Killdeer in a couple of fields side by side. I scanned quickly with my binoculars and immediately got on an interesting looking bird. I got it it in the scope, and sure enough it was an Uppie! With another one right nearby! Oh wait, is that a third? And a fourth? Wow!

~My initial documentary shot of two of the four Upland Sandpipers in the black dirt on 08/07/23.~

I put out the word and Linda Scrima and Kyle Knapp joined me in no time flat. It was a good thing too, because the Uppies were on the move. I did my best to track the birds while Linda and Kyle documented – I never would have been able to keep track and document by myself. Jeanne Cimorelli showed up as we were leaving, and she later let me know that she had relocated 2 of them. What an exciting evening of birding!

~Linda Scrima was able to capture this great flight shot – Upland Sandpiper in the black dirt, 08/07/23.~
~Upland Sandpipers in flight overhead, photo by Kyle Knapp. Black Dirt Region 08/07/23.~
~One more shot by Linda Scrima. Uppy in the black dirt, 08/07/23.~

Sunday Shots, 03/19/23

It was 25 degrees out when I woke up this morning. When I ventured out, I found it was accompanied by a wicked, cold, strong, wind. It’s past mid-March, and winter is still hanging in there, that much is clear. Likewise, most of my birding this weekend focused on winter birds. On Wednesday evening I got nice scope views of a gorgeous Lapland Longspur; its breeding plumage was coming in nicely. I tried to relocate that bird (or any Lapland Longspurs) both days this weekend with no luck. I was, however, able to get some nice photos of a sharp looking, cooperative Horned Lark.

~A sharp looking Horned Lark shows off its namesake. Black Dirt Region, 03/19/23.~
~American Kestrel in the black dirt, 03/19/23.~

In my travels through the black dirt, I came across loads of raptors this week. I got my first decent looks at Rough-legged Hawks of the year (better late than never). I had a light and a dark morph on Wednesday evening, and another dark morph today. Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks were numerous; American Kestrels were also, but to a lesser extent. Other raptors included Sharp-shinned Hawk, both vulture species, and Bald Eagle.

~Light morph Rough-legged Hawk flying over the black dirt, 03/15/23.~
~Terrible pic, but this was a handsome bird. Dark morph Rough-legged Hawk in the black dirt, 03/19/23.~

I also tried for gulls on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a heartbreaker, Bruce Nott had located an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, I ran for it but missed the bird by 10 minutes or so. Gulls were plentiful on both days, but for me, I had only the 3 expected species. On Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to have a Common Goldeneye fly in. I have to say, even when it’s not necessarily productive, I love birding the Hudson River – sorting through gulls and having that hope that something awesome might just show up.

~Herring Gull taking a dive. Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~
~I had a good number of Killdeer in the black dirt this weekend. This one was at the Hudson River, at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~
~Common Goldeneye at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~

Sunday Shots, 02/19/23

My best birding of the weekend came on Saturday afternoon. I finally went to the Newburgh Waterfront at the most productive time of the day, only to find it completely dead. I looked across the river to Beacon and saw that there were many gulls present there. I headed over, figuring the birds would cross the river to Newburgh while I was driving. Fortunately, they didn’t; as a matter of fact the birds stayed at the Beacon Waterfront until when I left just before sunset. I had a total of (5) gull species for the afternoon; in addition to the expected three species (Ring-billed, Herring, & Great Black-backed), I was able to locate a young Iceland Gull and a young Lesser Black-backed Gull. The LBBG was particularly satisfying for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s a bird I somehow missed in 2022, and 2. the LBBG is not the easiest bird to pick out of the crowd.

~A single Iceland Gull among a bunch of Herring Gulls. It’s the well illuminated all-white gull about 6 or 7 gulls from the right. Beacon Waterfront, 02/18/23.~
~Lesser Black-backed Gull, Beacon NY 02/18/23. It’s the bird on the far left, notice the dark mantle and its size: it is slightly smaller than the Herring Gulls.~

Other good birds on Saturday included a pair of Snow Buntings in the black dirt and my first Common Goldeneye (Wickham Lake) and Merlin (BDR) in Orange County 2023.

Sunday was mostly uneventful. First thing, I birded 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary for the first time in ages. It was quite birdy and I was pleased with 27 species in just under an hour of birding. Afterwards, I cruised the black dirt and it was pretty quiet. I found several larger flocks of Canada Geese; I enjoyed sorting through them, but didn’t find any additional species.

~I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Horned Lark perch off the ground. This individual perched on this old corn stalk long enough to grab a shote. Black Dirt Region 02/18/23.~
~One of two Snow Buntings I had in the black dirt on Saturday, 0218/23.~
~House Finch in the black dirt, 02/18/23.~
~White-throated Sparrow at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 02/19/23.~

Arctic Blast Black Dirt Birding, 02/04/23

I love these cold, crisp, sunny days. Especially after a long work week with absolutely no birding – it just feels good to be out and about. This morning it was cold enough for me to stick primarily to car birding, so I drove around the black dirt. I made an effort to explore some areas that are a bit off my personal beaten path; it gave me a little bit of sense of exploration even though I was close to home. It was an enjoyable morning with pretty much the usuals. There is still a large flock of Snow Geese in the area – these days they are on the south end of the black dirt, close to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I found several flocks of Horned Larks but no flocks of Snow Buntings. Sifting through the larks, I was able to find a couple of Lapland Longspurs and a couple of Snow Buntings.

~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 02/04/23.~

I also had several large flocks of blackbirds. These flocks were probably 99% Common Grackles, with just a smattering of Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and European Starlings among them. At one point I caught a flash of white in a flying flock – my immediate thought was Yellow-headed Blackbird. I eventually relocated the bird and it was a Common Grackle with several white tail feathers and white at the back of the head. It was a cool looking bird, and it got my heart racing for a minute. Unfortunately the bird did not cooperate for any decent photos.

~Common Grackles galore. Black dirt, 02/04/23.~
~There were 3 Red-tailed Hawks in this tree, and a fourth in another evergreen right next to it. Black dirt region 02/04/23.~
~More Common Grackles in the black dirt, 02/04/23.~

Snow Day, 01/14/23

This morning I participated in the yearly Mearn’s Bird Club’s Orange County Winter Waterfowl Count. I joined Linda Scrima and we covered the black dirt region as we have for the past several years. I’ll post the results once I get them. While we were doing the count, we had many Snow Geese flying overhead. It was exciting to get them for the count, but it was even more exciting when I joined Kyle Knapp later in the day in the black dirt to enjoy approximately 5,000+ Snow Geese do their thing. It’s a spectacle which I always enjoy, and I love taking photos of Snow Geese. The large flocks are captivating and the photos often look like art; as individuals the birds seem to have so much character – constantly making a racket and feasting on corn stubble. All photos taken in the black dirt today, 01/14/23.

Sunday Shots, 10/16/22

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.

~Euroopean Starling with a snack in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~One more shot of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt yesterday, 10/15/22.~
~Yellow-rumped Warbler in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~I thought the posture on this Pectoral Sandpiper was different than normal – to me they show more neck than this. This bird stumped me for a little while because of this. PESA in the black dirt 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~