Cape Cod 2022

I really enjoyed my birding time in Cape Cod over the weekend. It was an extended weekend for me, as I took Thursday and Friday off work. Birding bud Rob Stone does a lot of birding on the cape, so he provided me with some good intel prior to the trip. Based on this information, the primo spot from my perspective is Race Point, so I went there first thing Friday morning and then, as fate would have it, Rob was also on the cape over the weekend, and we joined up to bird Race Point again on Saturday morning.

~Black Scoters in flight at Race Point, 05/06/22. I believe the fifth bird from the back might be a Surf Scoter with them.~

I really enjoy birding at the shore, and the highlight of the 2 days was getting eight species of gull: Herring, Ring-billed, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Laughing Gull, Iceland Gull, and Glaucous Gull. The only real disappointment was not also getting Black-legged Kittiwake, which is apparently expected at this time of year at Race Point. We also had plenty of Common Terns, but were unable to locate any Roseate Terns which would also be expected.

~Two Bonaparte’s Gulls lead the larger Laughing Gull into the wind at Race Point, 05/07/22.~

I was also impressed with the high numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers – there were hundreds present on both days. Other waterfowl included large numbers of White-winged Scoters, loads of Double-crested Cormorants, plenty of Common and Red-throated Loons, some Common Eiders, and possibly one Surf Scoter.

Other than several Piping Plovers each day, shorebirds were a disappointment with only a few Willets and a single Spotted Sandpiper observed. Northern Gannets were nearly a no-show on Friday, but Saturday were plentiful.

~Two White-winged Scoters cruise by at Race Point, 05/06/22.~

The weather was another big factor. Friday was calm, with the sun trying to poke out all day; the ocean was like a lake, smooth as glass for the most part. On Saturday, the winds really picked up as the morning progressed. On our way back from the point we were walking into 25 mph winds with gusts which we estimated in the 40 mph range. The sand, which is very course, was up and flying, pelting our faces as we walked into it.

~I saw whales both days. I think this is likely a Humpback Whale, if anyone out there knows please comment. Race Point 05/06/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (43) – I added 4 new species since last weekend: Nashville Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Yellow Warbler.

~Glaucous Gull on the beach at Race Point, 05/07/22.~
~Common Eider zipping by at Race Point, 05/06/22.~
~Piping Plover at Race Point, 05/06/22.~
~Common Eider on the beach right across from where we were staying in Wellfleet, MA 05/05/22.~
~Osprey overhead in Wellfleet, MA 05/08/22.~
~Willet in Provincetown, MA 05/07/22.~
~Iceland Gull alongside a Great Black-backed Gull, Race Point 05/06/22.~

Excellent Evening, 04/19/22

After last night’s rain storms, today was quite a day for birding in the area. There was a tremendous fallout of waterfowl; I received reports of large numbers of Horned Grebes, White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-necked Grebes at various lakes and on the Hudson River. The most remarkable siting, however was up to 700 Bonaparte’s Gulls on the Hudson River near Newburgh. I have never heard of any report of near that many BOGUs in Orange County before; it must have been quite the event to witness.

~This is nothing I’ve ever seen before – 6 Horned Grebes in flight over Wickham Lake, 04/19/22.~

I was unsure where to head when I got out of work; at first I thought I might go to Wickham Lake and then to the river. At the lake, there were still loads of good birds: White-winged Scoter (13), Long-tailed Duck (2), Horned Grebe (21), Ruddy Duck (15), and a distant scaup, which looked to me to be good for a Lesser. It was cold and windy, but also the sun was peeking out, making for a gorgeous night. At one point there was even a rainbow. Rather than spend the time driving, I decided to stay at Wickham and just enjoy being out with the birds.

~Two Long-tailed Ducks in flight at Wickham Lake, 04/19/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (36) I’ve added 2 species since my last post – Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Chipping Sparrow.

~Rainbow at Wickham Lake, iPhone photo 04/19/22.~

Sunday Shots, 04/10/22

I covered a lot of ground in Orange County this weekend; I went to the Newburgh Waterfront three times, I birded the Hudson River south of Newburgh, drove through Harriman State Park checking the lakes for waterfowl, and did the same at Sterling Forest SP. I hit my “local” lakes both days (Wickham, Greenwood, Walton, and Round). And first thing this morning I spent some time in the black dirt, wishing the heavy puddling would lead me to an interesting bird; it did not.

~Male Hooded Merganser at Silver Mine Lake, 04/09/22.~

The results were mixed. I had a lot of strike outs, but also some decent birds. I’ve decided to rank my top birds of the weekend:

  1. Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22. I guess I never get tired of this bird; it was a pleasant surprise to find one loafing on the floating docks this morning.
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull at Round Lake, 04/09/22. I watched this bird as it intermittently floated and fed in a steady rain on Saturday afternoon.
  3. Long-tailed Ducks, Plum Point 04/09/22. I was happy to see these two birds; unfortunately they were quite distant, so the looks weren’t great, and no pics.
  4. Common Loons, 2 at Greenwood Lake and 3 at Round Lake on Saturday, and 1 at Wickham and Round Lakes on Sunday.
  5. Scaup, Lesser and Greater. I had the Lessers at Plum point on 04/09/22 and the Greaters at Round Lake on 4/10/22,
  6. Notable Mention: A female Red-breasted Merganser at Greenwood Lake, 04/10/22.
~Iceland Gull loafing on the floating docks at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (34) – On Friday evening I added 2 birds flying over, American Kestrel and Tree Swallow. The kestrel was the first falcon I can remember seeing from my yard.

~Eastern Meadowlark giving me the usual distant look in the black dirt, 04/10/22.~
~Female Hooded Merganser at Silver Mine Lake, 04/09/22.~
~Fish Crow at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22.~

Orange County Waterfowl, 04/03/22

I went out this morning in search of waterfowl. I checked several lakes and ponds in southern Orange County, and finished up at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh. In all, I totaled 17 species of waterfowl. My best bird was Common Loon, of which I found four individuals at three different locations. The hottest spot was definitely Liberty Marsh, which I walked in the rain. Below I’ve included a complete list of species seen, with locations.

~Common Loon at Wickham Lake, taken on Thursday 03/31/22.~
  1. Canada Goose (Glenmere Lake, Beaver Pond, Wickham Lake, & Greenwood Lake)
  2. Mute Swan (Wickham Lake, Liberty Marsh)
  3. Wood Duck (Glenmere, Wickham, Walton, & Liberty Marsh)
  4. Blue-winged Teal (Liberty Marsh)
  5. Northern Shoveler (Liberty Marsh)
  6. Gadwall (Beaver Pond)
  7. American Wigeon (Liberty Marsh)
  8. Mallard (Glenmere, Beaver Pond, Wickham, & Greenwood Lake)
  9. American Black Duck (Liberty Marsh)
  10. Northern Pintail (Liberty Marsh)
  11. Green-winged Teal (Liberty Marsh)
  12. Ring-necked Duck (Glenmere & Liberty Marsh)
  13. Bufflehead (Greenwood)
  14. Common Merganser (Wickham & Greenwood)
  15. Pied-billed Grebe (Liberty Marsh)
  16. Common Loon (Greenwood, Walton, & Round)
  17. Double-crested Cormorant (Wickham, Greenwood, & Round)
~Three Blue-winged Teal at Liberty Marsh, 04/03/22.~

Yesterday morning, Linda Scrima joined me, as I headed back to Black Rock Forest. I was hoping for a better look and photos of the Red Crossbills, and Linda was hoping to get them for the first time in Orange County. We had success on one count, as we saw and heard the birds several times and Linda was able to get some documentary shots of the birds, but the birds never really cooperated for better looks/photos. The area by Tamarack Pond is really a fun spot to bird and many good birds continued (Red-breasted Nuthatch, Fox Sparrow, many Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finches, and Brown Creepers).

On our way out, we ran into Ken McDermott who was trying for the birds. He reported later that afternoon that he’d been successful, pushing his total birds in Orange Count to an absolutely astounding 305 species. Congrats Ken!

~Roadside Pileated Woodpecker in Sugarloaf NY, 04/03/22.~
~Shorebirds are on the move, I’m happy to say. Greater Yellowlegs in the black dirt 04/03/22.~
~Killdeer at Wickham Lake, 03/31/22.~
~One of my favorite birds from the weekend – Rusty Blackbird at Wickham Lake, 04/03/22.~
~Common Loon at Wickham Lake, 03/31/22.~

A Couple Good Birds Close to Home

My first stop on this icy, cold, morning with freezing rain was at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, which thankfully is only a mile or so from our house. Peter and Joe Chernak reported a couple of Canvasbacks there late yesterday, and I was hoping the birds were still around. When I first arrived, I was not having any luck with my targets, but I did locate a pretty darn good bird for the county – a single Common Goldeneye. Then, partially hidden by Canada Geese, I located one and then two CANVASBACKS. Canvasback is a really good bird for Orange County – I checked my personal records and I’ve only had them in the county two times prior to today. Huge thanks to Peter and Joe for finding and reporting the birds.

~Two Canvasbacks with a trio of Ring-necked Ducks, a Mute Swan, and some Canada Geese. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary 01/09/22.~
~A pair of Black Vultures on Lower Wisner Road, 01/09/22.~
~It was slim pickins for photos today, so I’m throwing in a shot of the Franklin’s Gull that I took last week and never processed. Newburgh Waterfront, 12/31/21.~

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, 03/07/21

I can remember, way back when, when I was just starting birding and I had just begun this blog (nearly 9 years ago now!), I always wanted to photograph male Hooded Mergansers. They are a fabulous looking bird, and while these days I’m not quite as enamored with them as I used to be, it was nice to happen upon one this morning at Greenwood Lake. The drake was accompanied by two females and I had some good timing and was able to get some decent shots.

~Male Hooded Merganser at Greenwood Lake, 03/07/21.~
~One of two female Hooded Mergs at Greenwood Lake, 03/07/21.~

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.

A Full Day, 01/16/21

This morning, for the third year running, I teamed up with Linda Scrima to do Mearns Bird Club’s Orange County Winter Waterfowl Count. Our area is basically the black dirt region; we divided and conquered with Linda taking the west side along Route 12 for the most part, while I was mainly on the east side off of Pulaski Highway. It wasn’t the most exciting waterfowl count, but I do enjoy contributing towards these counts from time to time. Linda had our best birds, a couple of Snow Geese and an American Coot. Here’s our totals:

  • Canada Goose: 3,009
  • Snow Goose: 2
  • Mallard: 13
  • American Black Duck: 12
  • Mute Swan: 9
  • Common Merganser: 12
  • American Coot: 1
~Snow Goose in the Black Dirt, 01/16/21. Photo by Linda Scrima.~

In the afternoon I headed over to the Hudson River. My first stop was at the Storm King State Park parking area, where I was finally able to catch up with the wintering GOLDEN EAGLE. I’d tried for this bird several other times this month without any luck, and I was beginning to worry that maybe the bird hadn’t returned. From there I went to the Newburgh Waterfront for some gulling. There were plenty of gulls present, with more coming in as the day drew to a close. Bruce Nott joined me, and not too much later, he located an adult ICELAND GULL in flight. I was able to get on the bird and get some documentary shots of it. We believe this is likely the same bird we had last Saturday, which, upon further review was determined to be an Iceland rather than a Glaucous. It wasn’t a good day for photos, but it was a good day for birds.

~Adult Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 01/16/21.~
~GOLDEN EAGLE at Storm King State Park, 01/16/21.~

Adirondacks 2020 Teaser

I just spent an amazing weekend in the Adirondacks; definitely my best to date. I spent some time kayaking with the Common Loons, as I always do (it’s one of my favorite things to do all year!), but this weekend was about so much more. I’m exhausted tonight, and it will likely take be a few days to go through and edit all the photos, so I will be posting sometime this week.

~Quick edit of a Common Loon with uncommon beauty at Follensby Clear Pond, Adirondacks 09/19/20.~