Sunday Shots, 02/26/23

My best birding today was first thing at Wickham Lake. It was a little bit cold, but the wind was down, making it relatively comfortable. I joined Kyle Knapp, who was there when I arrived. Of course I got zero photos, as the birds were distant, but we tallied an enjoyable 15 species of waterfowl:

  • Canada Goose
  • Mute Swan
  • Wood Duck
  • Northern Shoveler
  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • American Wood Duck
  • Northern Pintail
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Wood Duck
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Common Merganser
  • American Coot
~Orange County Mink, 02/26/23.~

Afterwards, I checked on various other lakes in the region. The single CANVASBACK continues at Greenwood Lake; I thought its days were numbered as an adult Bald Eagle tried to take it – the Canvasback went under just before the eagle hit the water. At Round Lake I found both Lesser and Greater Scaup. I also had two exciting water mammals in my travels – a river otter (no pics) and a mink, see above.

~Blue morph Snow Goose in the black dirt, 02/26/23.~

I also briefly cruised the black dirt region; it was mostly the usuals. I was happy to see some of the Snow Geese are still hanging in there. The ones in this photo were hanging out with a large flock of Canada Geese that I sifted through but didn’t find any rarities.

~Snow Goose in the black dirt, 02/26/23.~
~It was pretty cool to see these birds so relaxed, even though they were within photo range. SNGOs in the BD, 02/26/23.~

Sunday Shots, 02/05/23

Early this morning, I birded Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge with Linda Scrima. Raptors were well represented; we had 5 species: Red-tailed Hawk (5), Rough-legged Hawk (1), Red-shouldered Hawk (1), Northern Harrier (5), and one small falcon which I believe was a Merlin. Snow Geese could be seen in the distance, to the north of the refuge, and there was a steady stream of Canada Geese flying over, heading north.

~A cold looking Great Blue Heron in the black dirt, 02/04/23.~

Afterwards, I headed to the Hudson River, where I had one exciting species. I was looking through a raft of Common Mergansers in the middle of the river, when two CANVASBACKS flew through my scope view. I was pretty excited because Canvasback is a pretty darn good bird for Orange County, I think I’ve had them in the county 2 or 3 times before. Bruce Nott and Ronnie DiLorenzo joined me and got the birds; while they were there I also located a single male Red-breasted Merganser. Gulls were a bust yet again for me, with only the three expected species seen. Later in the day is better for gulls at the Newburgh Waterfront, so I think I need to make an effort to be there a little later in the afternoons.

~Canvasbacks in flight at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/05/23.~
~There were some ice floes on the river; these Ring-billed Gulls were clinging onto what little ice they could find. Newburgh Waterfront, 02/05/23.~
~You’ll have to trust me on this one – the bird on the right is a Red-breasted Merganser. Newburgh Waterfront 02/05/23.~
~Mallard close up at the boat launch in Newburgh, 02/05/23.~

Good Birding in Sullivan County, 12/04/22

My original plan this morning was foiled. I was going to hike at Black Rock Forest with winter finches on my mind, but when I arrived, the forest was closed due to hunting season. It’s closed until 12/11/22, so maybe I’ll try again in a couple of weeks.

I eventually decided to head up to Sullivan County. I wanted to add Snow Goose to my Sullivan County list; one had been reported at Phillipsport Marsh. Unfortunately, the bird was not present when I arrived. So I continued to Rondout Reservoir to try for the sea ducks John Haas wrote about on his blog yesterday.

~Bald Eagle in flight over Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

When I arrived, it was unclear to me where these birds might be – Rondout Reservoir is huge! I went to the Sullivan County portion of the reservoir (at the northernmost area). As I walked up, it was a Bald Eagle bonanza. There were two adults sitting on the shore with a fish between them, as well as two young birds flying in the vicinity. It made for some good photo ops – I haven’t had a good opportunity with any eagles in a while, so I enjoyed it as well as the results.

~Coming in hot! Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Just as the eagles settled down, Renee Davis pulled up and gave me the lowdown on the sea ducks. Not only that, she drove back to the spot and got me on the birds immediately: (1) SURF SCOTER and (2) LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Huge thanks to Renee for all the help. The birds were distant, but the light was perfect so I had excellent looks in my scope. Photos were a different story, as you can see below. The Surf Scoter was my 206th bird in Sullivan County. Hopefully the Snow Goose will stick around and I’ll get another shot at it.

~Long-tailed Ducks and a Surf Scoter at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22. There are three Common Goldeye in the background. ~
~A young Bald Eagle flies overhead at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~And finally finding a nice perch. Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Rockland County Red-throated Loon, 11/26/22

I got off the beaten path a little bit today, spending time in Rockland County, Westchester County, and of course, Orange County. The highlight of the day was finding a RED-THROATED LOON at Piermont Pier. It was funny because I ran into Jody Brodsky while I was out there. We were commenting on how quiet it was, and Jody mentioned that she was hoping that there might be a Red-throated Loon… Well, we parted ways, and on my way off of the pier, sure enough, I saw a RTLO. I got word to Jody, and she came and enjoyed the bird as well. I thought that maybe the loon was a new county bird for me, but looking back at my records, I had one in Stony Point back in 2018.

~Now this is a beautiful bird. Red-throated Loon at Piermont Pier, 11/26/22.~
~And one more shot of the bird of the day. RTLO at Piermont Pier, 11/26/22.~

A Good Weekend, 11/13/22

We had some weather move in this weekend, and along with it came some good birds:

WICKHAM LAKE: First thing Saturday morning, I met up with Kyle Knapp and we had 15(!) HORNED GREBES on the lake. We had a spectacular photo op as the birds came right to us… until afterwards when I went to look at my shots and the back of my camera read “NO MEMORY CARD”. Ugh! I was initially a little sick about it, but I got over it. I went back in the evening to try for them again; no magical close up opportunity, but I did document the birds. On Sunday morning, Kyle Knapp had 22(!) Bonaparte’s Gulls over the lake. I arrived a little bit later (after spending time at the Hudson River), and one Bonaparte’s remained. As did one Horned Grebe. New birds included 5 Lesser Scaup, a pile of Buffleheads, and a single Ruddy Duck. I also tried Greenwood Lake early on Saturday morning; I had one single duck, a very accommodating Bufflehead – see pic below.

~14 of the 15 Horned Grebes at Wickham Lake on Saturday, 11/13/22.~
~Female Bufflehead at Greenwood Lake, 11/12/22.~

HUDSON RIVER: I went to the river first thing this morning. My first good find was 6 Bonaparte’s Gulls. They were distant, but nice to see. The highlight, however, was a single Brant associating with a flock of Canada Geese just south of the boat launch. It was my first Brant of the year in Orange County, and the bird was close enough to get some decent photos.

~One Brant on the Hudson River near the Newburgh boat launch, 11/13/22. I was pretty darn happy to get this bird – I’m a huge fan of Brant, and I hadn’t had them in Orange County yet this year.~

HUDSON RIVER: I went to the river first thing this morning. My first good find was 6 Bonaparte’s Gulls. They were distant, but nice to see. The highlight, however, was a single Brant associating with a flock of Canada Geese just south of the boat launch. It was my first Brant of the year in Orange County, and the bird was close enough to get some decent photos.

~2 of the 6 very distant Bonaparte’s Gulls on the Hudson River this morning, 11/13/22.~

MOUNT PETER HAWKWATCH: The season wraps up this Tuesday, so Saturday was my last day of the year counting. I thought I had a possible Golden Eagle, but upon review of the photos and help from John Haas, the bird was an immature Bald Eagle. That said, my final day was a pretty good one. Highlights included 5 migrating Bald Eagles, 18 Red-tailed Hawks, and I was joined by Hawkwatch Leader, Judy Cinquina. I didn’t get to spend much time with Judy this season, so I really enjoyed our time. As usual, you can see my report at the bottom of this post.

BLACK DIRT: I only got out to the black dirt region one time this weekend, but it was a goody! Loads of Horned Larks have moved in. A good number of American Pipits are still around. Add about a dozen SNOW BUNTINGS and a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and you’ve got some darn good black dirt birding.

~Turkey Vulture at Wickham Lake, 11/13/22.~
~Ring-billed Gulls on Wickham Lake, Saturday evening 11/12/22.~
~Another shot of the Brant on the Hudson River, 11/13/22.!

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.~