Westchester County ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, 12/28/21

I’m off work this week, so I’ll likely be getting out all week. Yesterday morning was frustrating: I tried for three different locally reported Northern Shrikes and came up empty. But, my luck began to change in the evening at the Newburgh Waterfront. First, I caught up with the continuing FRANKLIN’S GULL. Then, a little later in the evening, I joined forces with Bruce Nott, and we were able to locate two Iceland Gulls on the river.

~Ash-throated Flycatcher on a nice perch, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, 12/28/21.~

This morning I headed over to Westchester County to try for the ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER which has been reported recently at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. It was a beautiful morning, with the fog lifting and the sun coming out. I wandered around the park; it was birdy, but initially there was no sign of the flycatcher. I was joined by three other birders, all looking for the bird. I eventually located the bird and got two of the three others on it. It made only two brief appearances before retreating to the tree line. I waited for a while for the bird to show again, but then I decided to leave. I’d gotten good looks and some decent photos of this good looking bird, so I was ready to continue birding elsewhere. The ATFL was a life bird for me (#424) and, of course a NYS bird (#314).

~One more shot of the Ash-throated Flycatcher at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, 12/28/21.~

A Painful Dip, 08/07/21

This morning I headed north to try for the WOOD STORK that has been seen in Columbia County. I’ll start off by saying I did not get out as early as I would have liked, and then, just as I was getting the drive started I missed my exit. I compounded my error by following the GPS as it re-routed me, instead of just getting off the next exit and turning around. Ultimately, missing that exit cost me about 10 minutes and a life bird.

~No offense to this bird, but close up looks at a Great Egret did not make up for missing the Wood Stork. German Church Road, Ghent NY 08/07/21.

On my way up, Scotty Baldinger was kind enough to report on the Mearns App that the Wood Stork was present. This got me anxious to get up there, but the trip is just over an hour and a half, so I had to just be patient. When I arrived on German Church Road in Ghent NY, about a quarter mile in I saw two birders on the side of the road. The Wood Stork is there! they reported and I continued just over a half mile to the location. Only the bird wasn’t there. The birders present let me know that it had flown across the road and back along the way I’d just come. We walked along the road looking through the trees to see if the bird had put down. Then, one of the two birders I’d seen earlier came and reported that they’d seen the bird; it flew over their location and over the main road (Union Turnpike). That means, in the two minute drive from where I’d seen them to the location, the bird flew over me and past me and I never saw it! Ugh!

~A painful illustration of how it went down, lol.~

I spent a couple of hours searching the area, checking back at the original location often, but I had no luck. So, I decided to head back to Orange County. I got about 25 minutes away, when I got a report that the Wood Stork was currently being seen again at German Church Road. I turned around, drove back the 25 minutes to find that once again the bird was not there! What?!? I checked my phone and there was a follow up to the report saying that it was a mistake, and the bird actually wasn’t there. Gah! What a morning! At that point, I packed it in and finally headed back to OC, this time all the way home.

~One of two Solitary Sandpipers, German Church Road, Ghent NY 08/07/21.~

Orange County Sedge Wrens, 07/27/21

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a life bird (over a year), but that’s what happened today. It was a bonus that the location was in Orange County and less than a 1/2 hour away. So, after work tonight I headed over to Lower Wisner Road, where up to 4 SEDGE WRENS have been reported in the last couple of days. As soon as I got out of the car, I could hear a SEWR calling from the north side of the road. As I got closer, I could hear a second bird, closer, calling from the south side of the road. I stayed still, listened and scanned, and eventually I located the bird, just about 30 yards out. I was pretty excited, it’s not every Tuesday evening you can get a lifer that easily; it was my 424th life bird.

IMPORTANT: *Please do not use tapes to try and get these birds closer for views or photos. They are pretty cooperative and patience will pay off. Use of tapes will likely disturb their attempts at breeding and ruin this great situation.* Thanks to John Haas for the above advice put forth on his blog Bashakill Birder.

Orange County EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, 06/24/21

This evening I went to Newburgh to try again for the Eurasian Collared-Dove that has been reported there (I tried last Saturday with no luck). The bird has been reported at the tennis courts on Lilly Street, and when I arrived there was another birder there – I’m drawing a blank, but I believe his name was Paul. He had seen the bird already, but was lingering for another look at it. And I’m glad he did because he was able to relocate the bird about a block away. He actually came and got me on it – huge thanks. It’s a beautiful bird and a New York State bird for me; I’m glad I was able to catch up with it this time.

~Eurasian Collared-Dove, Newburgh NY 06/24/21.~
~Eurasian Collared-Dove, Newburgh NY 06/24/21.~

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.~

Montezuma NWR, 05/29/21

This morning I woke up super early and took a road trip up to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I was heading up in hopes of getting a shorebird fix and to meet up with my ex-wife Stephanie Bane who lives in the area and who volunteers at the refuge and birds it regularly. We had an excellent morning of birding, as you know Montezuma very rarely disappoints. Non shorebird highlights for me included the Purple Martins at the visitor’s center, a single Snow Goose on Wildlife Drive, and watching a Bald Eagle and a Northern Harrier tangle way up in the sky.

~A single Snow Goose at Montezuma NWR, 05/29/21.~

But, as hoped, it was the shorebirds that stole the show. Most of the birds were fairly distant, but we enjoyed excellent scope views of 10 species of shorebird:

  1. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (25+)
  2. Semipalmated Plover (6)
  3. Killdeer (10)
  4. RUDDY TURNSTONE (7)
  5. Dunlin (35+)
  6. Least Sandpiper (15+)
  7. Semipalmataed Sandpiper (1)
  8. Short-billed Dowitcher (2)
  9. Greater Yellowlegs (2)
  10. Lesser Yellowlegs (3)
~It was awesome to see a good number of Black-bellied Plovers. We had them at two locations, on Wildlife Drive and also at the Potato Farms, 05/29/21.~

We were joking about how awesome it would be to see RUDDY TURNSTONES, and then moments later I was looking at 7 of them in the scope! The flock of Dunlin were beautiful to see and were putting on quite a show, making frequent flights from muddy island to muddy island. We had a handful of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on Wildlife Drive, but also were pleasantly surprised to find another 30 or so at the Potato Fields, our last stop of the morning. It was a tough morning for photos, with very few ops, but the good company and the shorebird fix more than made up for that.

~Four Ruddy Turnstones and a Short-billed Dowitcher at Montezuma NWR, 05/29/21.~

Piermont Pier, 02/27/21

I looked at this morning’s forecast last night and it made me cranky. I’m sitting at my desk working all week with beautiful sunshine out the window, then on the weekend it’s snow, rain, and clouds. But then I took a different perspective on it. The rain would keep most folks home… so with that in mind I went to Piermont Pier, a location I’ve been avoiding because I figure especially during the pandemic, it’s likely to be loaded with people. I mostly had the place to myself, and while the rain made birding a little bit difficult, it was a good morning.

~Purple Sandpipers at Piermont Pier, 02/27/21.~

The highlight of the morning was relocating the pair of PURPLE SANDPIPERS which have been reported this winter. I was surprised to find them, because I looked on eBird last night and they hadn’t been reported in a couple of weeks. My main goal for the morning was to see what waterfowl were present; I was disappointed by the number of species (only 8), but I counted an impressive 288 Ruddy Ducks present. That’s by far the most Ruddies I’ve ever seen in one place.

~Two of the 288 Ruddy Ducks I counted at Piermont Pier this morning, 02/27/21.~

Afterwards, I birded the Hudson River, making my way all the way up to Newburgh. It wasn’t exciting, but it was enjoyable. My best bird was a Lesser Scaup at Plum Point, my first LESC in Orange County for the year.

~The always accommodating Ring-billed Gull. This bird was in Stony Point, 02/27/21.~
~Great Black-backed Gull, Piermont Pier 02/27/21.~

Rye NY, 02/20/21

Last night I decided that I wanted to change it up a little bit this weekend. And I wanted to go to the beach. So, I headed to Rye, New York early this morning to bird the Playland and the Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary. The weather was my favorite – cold and mostly sunny. This location is a great place to bird, because you are guaranteed to get birds, especially waterfowl. It was a pleasant morning of birding were I had 21 species of waterfowl. Suffice to say you won’t see that in Orange County this time of year. Noteworthy species included Surf Scoter, Horned Grebe, Great Cormorant, Common Goldeneye, and Ruddy Duck. I finished the morning with 35 species on my list.

~Female Hooded Merganser at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Common Loon at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Always a favorite, Red-throated Loon at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Northern Shoveler. This one was in the lake at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~Greater Scaup at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 02/20/21.~
~In the afternoon I stopped by the Newburgh Waterfront on my way home. The adult Iceland (above) was present and not far from the boat launch. I also saw an immature Glaucous Gull in flight a few times. The bird was WAY out there.

Beechwoods Area, 01/02/21

I headed back up to Sullivan County this morning to try once again for the Northern Shrike that has been seen near Liberty, NY. My second target species was Common Redpoll which have also been reported recently in the same area. I spent the morning traveling the area and scanning for birds, but unfortunately came up empty on both counts. I was enjoying being in the area; it was a beautiful winter morning (sort of) and I was just happy to be out, so flipped open my copy of A Birding Guide to Sullivan County NY and followed the directions over to the Beechwoods Area, which is between Hortonville and Jeffersonville.

~Common Redpoll, Beechwoods Area 01/02/21.~

The Beechwoods Area proved to be more productive. Although most were the usuals, there were enough birds around to make it interesting. I had many Black-capped Chickadees, they were definitely the bird of the day. I also had six Bald Eagle sitings – I’m not sure how many individual birds but there were at least two that I saw at the same time. The bird of the day, however, was a single COMMON REDPOLL on Buddenhagen Road. I spent loads of time with the bird as it was very accommodating, but the light wasn’t in my favor so I was working for photos. Some days you just pick the right thing to do – by that I mean it’s really what you’re in the mood for. Today was one of those days for me.

~CORE at the Beechwoods Area, 01/02/21.~
~Bald Eagle, Beechwoods Area 01/02/21.~

Westchester County GLAUCOUS GULL, 12/26/20

This morning I headed Rye Playland to try for the GLAUCOUS GULL that Gail Benson and Tom Burke reported at that location yesterday. It was a beautiful, cold and sunny day, my favorite type of winter day; a perfect day to put some new Christmas winter gear (coat and gloves) to the test. I was not optimistic about my chances of getting my target; gulls seem to be tough bird to run for. Regardless, I was pretty sure it would be a good day of birding, Rye in the winter is always a good birding trip.

~Yes! GLAUCOUS GULL at Rye Playland, 12/26/20.~

I parked by the ice rink and walked the pier; a flock of 60 or so Brant flew overhead and I able to locate a Long-tailed Duck and my first Common Loon, Buffleheads, and Red-breasted Mergansers of the day. From there I headed over to Playland Lake, where I had great looks and a photo op with a single adult female Common Goldeneye.

~Common Goldeneye at Playland Lake, 12/26/20.~

Leaving the lake, I found Gail and Tom – were just on the GLAUCOUS GULL, but it must have flown as they were saying goodbye to a friend and it wasn’t present. I can’t thank Tom and Gail enough, they did everything in their power to relocate the gull for me, and after parting ways for a short time, I received a call from Gail – they had the gull again! I hustled to join up with them, but alas the bird had flown again. Moments later, Tom picked up the bird in flight right over our heads and we watched as it put down on the rocks across the way. What a big, beautiful beast of a gull! I was blown away; I think because I’d lowered my expectations, it was that much better getting the bird. It was the third Glaucous Gull I’d ever seen, and my first in New York state, making it my 311th NYS bird.

~Big, beautiful gull. GLGU at Rye Playland, 12/26/20.~
~First Killdeer I’ve seen in a while. KILL at Rye Playland, 12/26/20.~
~Lesser Scaup, Playland Lake 12/26/20.~
~Red-tailed Hawk at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, 12/26/20.~
~Femail Bufflehead at Rye Playland, 12/26/20.~
~GLAUCOUS GULL, Rye Playland 12/26/20.~
~Glaucous Gull in flight, Rye Playland 12/26/20.~