It was a mostly uneventful weekend of birding for me. On Saturday I birded in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block and was able to confirm three additional species: Northern Mockingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, and House Sparrow. On Sunday I decided to change it up a little and I headed to Sullivan County, where I birded Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area. I was hoping for the outside chance at seeing/hearing Ruffed Grouse, but had to settle for seeing and hearing some species I don’t see very often in Orange County: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warble, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Magnolia Warbler.
I birded along the railroad tracks north of Sugarloaf again this morning – it’s turning out to be a very productive spot in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas Priority Block (Warwick_CE). I confirmed (8) species this morning, (3) of which were new confirmations: Song Sparrow, House Finch, and Downy Woodpecker. Other highlights included watching a family of Barn Swallows during feeding time, and a rather charismatic Gray Catbird. I’ve actually always thought they were quite a photogenic species, I even included a shot of one in my top ten photos of the year back in 2016.
Just after sunrise this morning I was hitting the trail at Black Rock Forest. I was, of course, trying for Ruffed Grouse again; it was a total bust. The rain was relentless, the hike was difficult with slippery rocks, and there were hardly any birds – and no grouse.
Afterwards, I went home, dried off, got changed and went back out. This time to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary to try for Least Bittern. The rain had finally subsided, it was a cool, pleasant walk on level ground, and yes, I got a Least Bittern. It was actually a pretty productive visit; I had nearly 40 species. I got a decent look at the bittern, as well as a low flying Virginia Rail. I was also able to confirm breeding status for (4) species: Song Sparrow, Common Grackle, Wood Duck, and Common Gallinule.
I did most of my birding this weekend in my NYS Breeding Bird Atlas priority block, Warwick_CE. I was able to confirm several species, but unfortunately only one new species for the block: Yellow Warbler. Yesterday was pretty much a dud of a morning, but today was much better. I made a quick stop by 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary to try for the Least Bitterns which have been reported there (I still need them for OC this year). I had no luck with the bitterns, but I did find a cooperative Swamp Sparrow, which was a nice treat.
Afterwards, I birded a new spot in my priority block. I walked along the train tracks in Sugarloaf, heading north. The block continues for nearly a mile along the tracks; the birding was pretty much non-stop and I had a total of 37 species in a one mile span, which I didn’t think was too bad at all. It was at this location that I confirmed Yellow Warbler, and I feel like it will be a good spot to confirm other species in the future.
I got a call this morning from John Haas – he let me know that the dove from my last blog post is an African Collared Dove rather than a Eurasian Collared Dove. While it’s still a striking bird, African Collared Doves, also referred to as Ringed Turtle-Doves, are very rarely seen in North America as a wild bird and so this bird is almost undoubtedly an escapee and therefore uncountable.
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.
Early Saturday morning I went to Black Rock Forest and hiked up to Jupiter’s Boulder. I was trying for Ruffed Grouse, but unfortunately I had no luck. I did pick up my first Acadian Flycatchers of the year; it’s always nice to see and hear that bird. Afterwards, I went to Newburgh to follow up on an eBird report of a pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves, but again I had no luck. On my way home a played a hunch and went to the OC Airport to see if the Killdeer there had a second brood. They did, there was one young bird with two adults; the bird was so small it kept tipping over, lol.
This morning I went to the south end of the Liberty Loop. I’ve been meaning to get out there to try for Least Bitterns, so I finally did today and they did not disappoint. Once again, the southernmost compound at the loop is loaded with good birds during the summer. Least Bitterns were the big draw, but I also enjoyed seeing a young Pied-billed Grebe, many Common Gallinules, Killdeer, and loads of Wood Ducks.
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.
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)
- Killdeer (4)
- DUNLIN (6)
- 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.