I guess it was just a shorebird kind of weekend. This morning I went back to Skinners Lane; nearly all the shorebirds I had yesterday continued. Linda Scrima reported that the three Black-bellied Plovers, which I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post, also continued. I headed back to the west side of the Liberty Loop, convinced there had to be something good there. Maria Loukeris had the same idea and joined me out there, unfortunately we were both disappointed. But! When I got back to my car and was starting to head home, John Haas had put out a notification on the Mearn’s Bird Club app that he had a WILSON’S PHALAROPE at Morningside Park!
I hustled out to the park, and the bird hung in there. I joined John and several other birders as we enjoyed some of my best views ever of this species. What a treat it was and a great way to end a killer shorebird weekend. Huge thanks to John for locating the bird and for putting the word out. You can see his blog post about it here. If he hasn’t posted about it yet, I’m sure he will this afternoon or evening.
~One more shot of the Wilson’s Phalarope at Morningside Park, 05/31/21.~
This morning I was put off by the cold temperatures and the incessant rain, so it took me a little while to work up the gumption to go out. Once I did, it was totally worth it. I ran around southern Orange County, hoping for shorebirds. I came up with just the usuals in my first four stops, the usuals being: Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Solitary Sandpiper and Spotted Sanpiper. But, when I got to Skinners Lane, that all changed and I got some really good birds:
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (23)
SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER (7)
Least Sandpiper (2)
Greater Yellowlegs (1)
As is usually the case, the birds were distant, so no good pics. But – shorebirds in OC! I was pretty pumped.
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.
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:
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (25+)
Semipalmated Plover (6)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (7)
Least Sandpiper (15+)
Semipalmataed Sandpiper (1)
Short-billed Dowitcher (2)
Greater Yellowlegs (2)
Lesser Yellowlegs (3)
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.
I enjoyed a cool, rainy morning and early afternoon of birding today. Ironwood Drive at Sterling Forest State Park was far and away my most productive stop. I tallied 15 species of warbler there, and I added 13 birds to my Orange County year list. Best birds for me included Cerulean Warbler (great looks but lousy pics), Hooded Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and my first Scarlet Tanager of the year.
I headed north to the Newburgh Waterfront to try for waterfowl, gulls, and terns. I’d already checked Glenmere Lake and Greenwood Lake without much success (other than the continuing Greater Scaup – see photo below). There wasn’t much happening at the river, so I headed to Orange Lake to try for the White-winged Scoter that Bruce Nott reported earlier. Unfortunately the scoter had moved on, but remarkably, it had been replaced by 11(!) Common Loons. A quick stop at Washington Lake added Bank Swallow to my year list, but nothing else.
My final stop of the day was at the Orange County Airport, hoping for Upland Sandpipers. No luck with the Uppies, but I did find some recently fledged Killdeer chicks, which were super cute. I also found a pair of Northern Harrier, a female and a young male; they appeared to be performing courtship behavior. It would be awesome if they bred out there. It’s a good time of year with loads of new birds every day; I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning already.
Well, in spite of still waiting for spring migration to really kick in, I had a satisfying weekend of birding. I spent Saturday morning at the Hudson River, but aside from the continuing Iceland Gull, it was uneventful. That gull frustrated me because it was on the floating docks at the Newburgh Waterfront, not too far out, but the bird kept its back to me and it was backlit to boot. I successfully chased a Long-tailed Duck at Orange Lake (thanks Bruce), and picked up a Red-breasted Merganser as a bonus. On my way out, I stopped at Gardenertown Road and patience paid off as I was able to locate 2 Wilson’s Snipe after some extensive searching.
Saturday afternoon I walked the Liberty Loop for the first time in ages. IT was a pleasant, if uneventful walk. Highlights included: American Coot, Common Gallinule, and my first Lesser Yellowlegs of the year. All three highlight birds were located on the Sussex County side of the loop.
Sunday morning I checked a number of lakes in southern Orange County, looking for new waterfowl or Bonaparte’s Gulls. For the most part I came up empty, but did manage to find a distant Horned Grebe in beautiful plumage at Round Lake. I stopped to use the restroom at Sterling Forest, and on my way out I had one of my best birds of the day, a Pine Warbler. I had to run to the car for my camera, but fortunately the bird lingered for me. A quick cruise through the black dirt yielded nothing of note, so I called it a day.
This morning started out well, I was able to add two new Orange County year birds at my second stop – Solitary Sandpiper and Blue-winged Teal at Beaver Pond near Glenmere Lake. The rest of the day proved to be uneventful. Wickham Lake held no new birds. I tried Greenwood Lake but it was socked in with fog. I stopped at Round Lake and photographed a Bufflehead. Then I headed to the Hudson River where the birds were on the scarce side. It was a tough day for pics with few opportunities and poor light. I had my best photo op of the day with a Great Blue Heron in the pond near my house, just before finishing up for the day.
Happy Easter to everyone that celebrates. It’s been a quiet one here; hopefully the last quiet holiday of this rotten pandemic. This week was mostly uneventful as far as the birding goes. I got out often, but without many exciting birds nor good photo ops. On Wednesday I went out to Lynch Avenue in the black dirt to chase the Wilson’s Snipe that had been reported by Bruce Nott and Linda Scrima. It was nice to get a shorebird in Orange County that wasn’t a Killdeer. Yesterday I only had the early morning to bird and today I got out all morning. I spent both morning checking lakes and the Hudson River, mostly for ducks but also on the off chance of a Bonaparte’s Gull or a Caspian Tern (no luck on either). I added Ruddy Duck to my OC list yesterday morning at Glenmere, and I added Lesser Scaup (Orange Lake) and Common Loon (Greenwood Lake) to it this morning. Anyways, here’s some shots from the week.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes, at the end of a rough week of work, I just desperately need a good birding experience. That was the case this week, and and this morning Skinner’s Lane delivered. I went primarily for shorebirds, and it was good with five species present throughout the morning: Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, and likely White-rumped Sandpiper.
~Yes!!! One of the coolest birds in North America – LAPLAND LONGSPUR at Skinner’s Lane, 10/31/20.~
But, it was the mixed flocks of American Pipits, Horned Larks, SNOW BUNTINGS, and LAPLAND LONGSPURS that really made my day. Among a large number of American Pipits and couple dozen Horned Larks, I found three Snow Buntings, and 3 Lapland Longspurs. The Longspurs, of course made my day, especially when one came and landed on the road not too far from me. I put the word out and Rob Stone, Linda Scrima, and Bruce Nott eventually joined me and we enjoyed a really a good morning, which was just what I needed.
This weekend I was finally able to connect with some shorebirds in the black dirt. On Saturday, Jodi Brodsky reported an American Golden-Plover on Missionland Road. I was at the back of the Liberty Loop with birding bud Maria Loukeris when she reported it, but luckily the bird stuck around long enough for me to get it (thanks Jodi!). Then, this morning, after getting a relatively late start, I was able to locate 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on Skinner’s Lane. Initially I had them waaay out in a field; they flew shortly after I’d located them, and I thought they were long gone, but I was able to relocate them, and this time they were a little closer to road and I was able to get some shots, though most were ruined by the dreaded heat shimmer.
I’ve, of course, done some other running around, so I’ve included several shots from last Sunday and this weekend. Good birding!