Good Birding 04/10/21

I’ve enjoyed some good birding in recent days. I got out on both Thursday and Friday evenings after work and a couple of times today. In those three days I was able to add 10 species to my Orange County 2021 list:

  • Barn Swallow, 4/8 at Wickham Lake
  • Osprey, 4/8 at Wickham Lake
  • Palm Warbler, 4/9 at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary
  • Swamp Sparrow, 4/9 at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary
  • American Coot, 4/9 at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary
  • Virginia Rail, 4/9 at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary
  • Eastern Meadowlark, 4/10 at Wisner Road
  • Chipping Sparrow, 4/10 at Greenwood Lake
  • BONAPARTE’S GULL, 4/10 at Washington Lake
  • PECTORAL SANDPIPER, 4/10 at Lynch Road in the black dirt
~Beautiful bird. I almost forgot how jazzed I get about shorebirds. Pectoral Sandpiper at Lynch Avenue, 4/10/21.~

Other good birds included a distant Common Loon at Greenwood Lake this morning, and excellent looks at an immature ICELAND GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront. Huge thanks to Bruce Nott for reporting both the Bonaparte’s and the Iceland Gulls. Also thanks to Maria Loukeris for letting me know about the post regarding the Pectoral Sandpiper on the Mearns Facebook page – thanks to Amy Klein for posting it.

~My new lens (Canon 500m Mark I) is still a work in progress. I took all of my photos of the Iceland Gull with the 1.4x extender attached and they were all quite soft. I was also using a monopod with a gimbal head. That’s a lot of new things at once. I exchanged texts with Kyle Dudgeon and he advised that I leave the 1.4x for now and just get used to the lens/monopod/gimbal head. Good advice, I think. ICELAND GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/21.~
~Singing Eastern Meadowlark at Wisner Road, 04/10/21.~
~Boy, I never really thought about what a Wild Turkey actually looked like until today. Crazy looking bird.. Wisner Road 04/10/21.~
~Tree Swallow at Wisner Road, 04/10/21.~
~Mute Swan at Wickham Lake, 04/06/21.~

Easter Sunday Shots, 04/04/21

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.

~Tooling around in the backyard earlier this week – Northern Cardinal.~
~Wilson’s Snipe in the black dirt, 04/02/21. I originally saw these birds on Wednesday, but went back for photos on Friday.~
~Roadside Red-shouldered Hawk on a wire, Goshen NY 04/04/21.~
~Northern Flicker at Wickham Lake, 04/03/21.~
~There have been loads of American Robins around recently, but none as interesting as this individual. Wickham Lake, 04/03/21.~

Sunday Shots, 03/28/21

So I took the plunge this week. My buddy Kyle Dudgeon was looking to upgrade his equipment, so he offered me a great deal on his Canon 500mm f/4 Mark I lens. It was an offer couldn’t resist, especially since I know that this particular lens is capable of taking spectacular shots – you can check out some of the work Kyle did with it here. I never really pictured myself upgrading to such a large lens, but I have to say, a week into it and I’m hooked.

~Double-crested Cormorant at Round Lake this morning, 03/28/21.~

Kyle warned me that there would be a learning curve before getting optimal results with this lens, and that has certainly shown to be true; I’ve had a real mixed bag of results. But, I like where it is heading, and I’m looking forward to learning some new things. I’m also looking forward to getting some more decent opportunities with birds, because this week was sort of a dud for me with not many opportunities.

~Eastern Bluebird in the black dirt 03/27/21. This shot was taken with my 1.4 extender.~
~On Friday evening we sat out on the back deck to enjoy the warmer temperatures. The Turkey Vultures which normally roost in our yard did a fly-by before deciding to roost elsewhere; I’m thinking it was because of the high winds we had that night.~
~There was something weird about this Greater Scaup’s wing, I’m not sure if it was injured or not. There’s also something funky about this photo, I can’t put my finger on it but I’m not loving it. GRSC at Glenmere Lake, 03/22/21.~
~One more shot of the DCCO at Round Lake this morning in the rain.~

Immature Gulls, GBBG vs HERG

I’ve become more and more obsessed with gulls, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with my ‘Gulls Simplified’ book by Pete Dunne and Kevin T. Karlson, and on the Facebook page North American Gulls. It’s put me in the mind of just trying to get out and enjoy the gulls while I still can. Our “season” for good gulling is quickly coming to a close. So, I headed out to the Newburgh Waterfront this evening to see what was going on. Gull numbers are certainly down a bit, but there were still plenty of birds to enjoy.

~Immature Great Black-backed Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/20/21.~

Unfortunately, most of the gulls were WAY out, and the heat shimmer was making it too difficult to sort through them. So instead, I focused on the nearby birds; they were mostly Ring-billed Gulls, but there was also a handful of immature Herring Gulls (HERG) and what I believe was a single immature Great Black-backed Gull (GBBG). I hope I am correct, otherwise this post will be a total embarrassing bust, lol. The bird (above) shows what Dunne and Karlson refer to as ‘piano keyed appearance’, it was slightly larger than nearby HERGs, and had a noticeable overall whiteness to it, compared to the more drab brown look of the HERG (below).

~Immature Herring Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/20/21.~

Both are good looking birds, but I have to say I’m partial to the GBBG, it’s a handsome beast. As the sun started to set and it cooled a bit, I was able to go through some of the distant gulls – nearly all Herring Gulls, with one adult Great Black-backed Gull and an Immature ICELAND GULL. Good gulling!

~GBBH in the foreground and HERG in the back. Newburgh 03/20/21.~
~GBBG in flight, Newburgh Waterfront 03/20/21.~
~HERG in flight, Newburgh 03/20/21.~
~One last pretty shot of the immature Great Black-backed Gull, Newburgh Waterfront 03/20/21.~

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.~

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.~

Sunday Shots, 02/21/21

It wasn’t the most exciting Sunday morning, especially after getting so many birds so easily yesterday in Rye. I tooled around the black for while first thing, highlights included my first two Merlins of the year and a Lapland Longspur in very nice plumage. Afterwards, I headed to Beacon to try for gulls, but it was too early in the day and gull numbers were down and I only had the three expected species. Anyways, here’s a handful shots from the morning.

~Lapland Longspur showing off its namesake. Black Dirt Region, 02/21/21.~
~Merlin in the black dirt, 02/21/21.~
~LALO with a HOLA in the background, black dirt 02/21/21.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt this morning, 02/21/21.~
~I never pass on an opportunity to shoot a Northern Mockingbird. Black dirt 02/21/21.~

Sunday Shots, 02/14/21

Well, it was another enjoyable weekend of winter birding. Yesterday was a home run gulling at the Hudson River, then this morning I did a quick cruise around the black dirt where I located a remarkable 8 LAPLAND LONGSPURS. I found 2 off of Route 12 in New Hampton, and an additional 6 on Ridgebury Road in Slate Hill. From there I headed over to the Bashakill to check to see if the large flock of Snow Buntings were still present. They were, and they were quite accommodating. I ran into Karen Miller while I was there and we located a distant Rough-legged Hawk, off of Haven Road; I don’t think they get them there very often. From there I called it a day a little on the early side, but it was a good morning.

~Snow Bunting – Haven Road at the Bashakill, 02/14/21.~
~THE THREE AMIGOS! Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur sharing a snow drift, Slate Hill NY 02/14/21.~
~Lapland Longspur in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Snow Buntings coming in for a landing on a wire, Bashakill 02/14/21.~
~A pair of Lapland Longspurs in the Black Dirt, 02/14/21.~
~Northern Mockingbird at Galeville Park, 02/13/21.!

Adult Iceland Gull, 02/13/21

I feel like I’ve been on a pretty good roll lately. Last night Bruce Nott, birding bud and fellow Larophile, emailed me some fabulous photos he took of an adult Iceland Gull. I was already planning to head to the river the next day, but this gorgeous bird got me really excited to head over – I’ve been saying for years that I’d love to get a look at an adult ICGU. So, I joined Bruce and Joe Chernek at the Newburgh Waterfront early this afternoon; Bruce had already relocated the bird and it wasn’t very far out. We enjoyed tremendous looks at this beautiful bird and, of course, took loads of photos. Karen Miller joined us and she got the bird as well.

~Beautiful Bird. Adult Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront this afternoon, 02/13/21.~

Joe and Karen left, but Bruce and lingered. More gulls were moving in, and we were hoping to see the immature Glaucous Gull. I located an interesting bird that was a little bit distant. It was definitely a white-winged gull that was showing some gray on its upper back and wings. Eventually the bird relocated and we got some better looks – it was a subadult Iceland Gull! We were both pretty jazzed about that bird, but also greedy… and it paid off as Bruce was able to locate the immature Glaucous Gull before we got too cold and wrapped things up. It was another great day of gulling; I can’t thank Bruce enough for all the work he’s been doing and for keeping everyone informed.

~Adult ICGU at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/13/21. We believe this is Kumlien’s sub-species, based on the light colored eye and the limited streaking on the nape/neck.~
~Adult ICGU in flight, 02/13/21.~
~Adult ICGU with an adult Ring-billed Gull. I like this shot because it shows the difference in the stark black wing tips of the RBGU, versus the muted gray wing tips in the ICGU.~
~Showing off. Adult ICGU in Newburg 02/13/21.~
~Subadult Iceland Gull (behind a Herring Gull), Newburgh Waterfront 02/13/21.~

Excellent Saturday, 01/30/21

I had a fabulous day of birding today. I started out nice and early. I was in a great mood because once again it was a nice, sunny, cold, and crisp morning – perfect for winter birding. I hit the black dirt first; my first highlight wasn’t a bird, but a good looking Coyote. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one, so it really got me pretty damn excited. Not long after that, I had a nice sized flock of SNOW BUNTINGS. Again, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an actual flock of SNBUs, so it was great to see 35 or so of them together.

~Coyote in the black dirt, 01/30/21.~

A little later, on Skinners Lane, I had a couple of interesting sparrows flush as I was driving along. They landed back on the road ahead of me, this time I got my bins on them – it was a pair of VESPER SPARROWS! The rest of my time in the black dirt was mostly uneventful. I ran across many birders presumably looking for the Ferruginous Hawk (it was relocated today, btw), so that was my cue to head home for lunch and avoid all the nonsense. On my way home I saw a light morph Rough-legged Hawk off of Maple Avenue, and then right around the corner from my house I got a great look at a young Cooper’s Hawk stalking a neighbor’s feeder.

~SNOW BUNTINGS! In the black dirt, 01/30/21. Check out the plumage of the second highest bird – very pale all over – I’m wondering if it is leucistic? ~

In the afternoon, I headed to the Hudson River and met up with birding bud Bruce Nott. We had two excellent birds, both immature – ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS. I put the word out and eventually Rick Hansen joined us and we got him on both birds. As I was leaving, more birders were arriving, and Bruce later reported to me that they located an incredible 3 Glaucous Gulls! I was sorry to have missed that, but still, what a day!

~Neigborhood Watch. Cooper’s Hawk in Goshen Village, 01/30/21.~
~Snow Bunting in the black dirt, 01/30/21.~
~VESPER SPARROWS in the black dirt this morning, 01/30/21.~