Sunday Shots, Catch Up Edition, 09/05/21

Last weekend was a total bust for me. We had a sick cat which took up all my time (and money!) on Saturday, as I took my sick little girl to two different veterinarians. I spent Sunday staring at the cat, trying to will her back to health. A week later, the cat is doing better and my mind is no longer all consumed by the state of her health.

Meanwhile, this week the tail end of Hurricane Ida came through our area, leaving the black dirt flooded in many areas, creating great conditions for shorebirds. While storm did not bring in as many birds as I might have thought, afterwards and through the week and into the weekend, we accumulated quite a nice shorebird list in the black dirt:

  • BLACK-BILLIED PLOVER
  • AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
  • Killdeer
  • BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
  • Least Sandpiper
  • WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER
  • BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
~A number of Lesser Yellowlegs gather in one of the large puddles found in the black dirt, 09/04/21.~

I also made a relatively quick but very productive stop at Mount Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday afternoon (yes, hawkwatch is starting already!). I joined official counter Ken Witkowski for just about an hour, and we were lucky enough to have nearly 50 migrating raptors – forty something Broadwinged Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles, and an Osprey.

~Backyard Ruby-throated Hummingbird earlier this week.~
~A young Peregrine Falcon in flight over Skinner’s Lane, 09/04/21.~
~Mixed flock of shorebirds. I can identify at least 3 species in this shot: Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpiper, and White-rumped Sandpipers. Black Dirt Region 09/05/21.
~Savannah Sparrow in the black dirt, 09/02/21.~
~Red-tailed Hawk in the black dirt, 09/02/21.~
~There are loads of Brown-headed Cowbirds at Skinner right now. They are characters and have no fear, landing nearby, even on my car. ~

Black Dirt Shorebird Shots, 08/22/21

Shorebirds in the black dirt are generally quite distant; just miles out, which means photos are typically just documentary. But this week, I had some birds which, while not close enough for anything remarkable, were close enough to get some decent shots. I’ve been checking the black dirt frequently, I have the feeling we are going to get something good out there this fall. Or maybe I’m just hoping we will. Either way, it was nice to get some shorebirds which were not Killdeer, and some decent photos to boot.

~Lesser Yellowlegs in the black dirt, 08/22/21.~

One other quick note – I went out the Hudson River this afternoon, hoping the hurricane/tropical storm might bring in something interesting. I don’t think my timing was great, and there wasn’t much going on. Tomorrow might be better, but unfortunately I’ll be working.

~Always a favorite of mine – Pectoral Sandpiper in the black dirt, 08/19/21.~
~I was struggling to confirm the identification of this Least Sandpiper (and one other with it). First, the birds were not near any other birds, so I wasn’t sure of their size. Also, the bird’s posture looked taller and longer than what I would expect for a Least. But, I think it was behaving differently because of the height of the grass. Also, because of the high grass I never got a look at the color of their legs. Anyways, I’m pretty sure this is a LESA, black dirt 08/22/21.

A Good Morning, 08/08/21

I toyed with the idea of heading back north to try for the Wood Stork again, but ultimately I decided to stay local. The bird was reported at the German Church Road location again yesterday evening, but I haven’t heard anything today.

My first stop was the Camel Farm for shorebirds; I found nearly a dozen Least Sandpipers and a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers. Moving on, I went to the Liberty Loop. Again my main goal was shorebirds, but I also was hoping for the SNOWY EGRET and LITTLE BLUE HERON, both of which were present. I had a decent list of shorebirds: Semipalmated Plover (2), Killdeer (25+), Least Sandpiper (1), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), Solitary Sandpiper (2), Greater Yellowlegs (1), and Lesser Yellowlegs (2). It’s great to be seeing shorebirds again.

~Little Blue Heron at Wallkill River Nation Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh, 08/08/21.~

I made a couple more stops after that – I checked Beaver Pond but found poor conditions and no shorebirds. I also went to Skinners Lane, where I had a good number of Killdeer, as well as 3 mystery shorebirds which were rude enough to just do a flyover and not stop. Another exciting thing for me was a decent number of Horned Larks (20 or so), with many young birds in the mix.

~One Snowy Egret with 3 Great Egrets, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and some Mallards. Liberty Marsh, 08/08/21.~
~A messy looking Northern Mockingbird at the Camel Farm, 08/08/21.~

~Mystery shorebirds at Skinners Lane, 08/08/21.

Sullivan County WILSON’S PHALAROPE, 05/31/21

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!

~What a gorgeous little shorebird – WILSON’S PHALAROPE at Morningside Park, 05/31/21.~

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.

~Wilson’s Phalarope giving me a nice profile. Morningside Park, 05/31/21.~

~One more shot of the Wilson’s Phalarope at Morningside Park, 05/31/21.~

Good OC Shorebirding, 05/30/21

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)
~The Semi-palmated Plovers weren’t close by any means, but they were miles closer than the rest of the birds. Semiplover at Skinners Lane, 05/30/21.~

As is usually the case, the birds were distant, so no good pics. But – shorebirds in OC! I was pretty pumped.

~Six Dunlin (front left in puddle), and seven Black-bellied Plovers, Skinners Lane 05/31/21.~

Sunday Shots, 04/11/21

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.

~A good looking Great Blue Heron in the pond around the corner from my house in Goshen Village, 04/11/21.~
~Bufflehead at Round Lake, 04/11/21
~A pair of Blue-winged Teal at Beaver Pond in Florida NY, 04/11/21.~
~This Eastern Bluebird with nesting materials was nice to see this morning with the NYS Breeding Bird Atlas ramping up again. Wickham Lake, 04/11/21.~
~It’s so good to see shorebirds again. Solitary Sandpiper at Beaver Pond, 04/11/21.~

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.~

Sullivan Co. Shorebird Shots

I usually like to get my posts out in timely fashion, but I’ve had some problems with my computer and then when I sorted it out, it just took ages to get through all my photos and edit them. So, this post is from Sunday evening.

Sunday afternoon I was home for the day, done birding, relaxing. Then I read a post by Bashakill Birder and birding bud John Haas. He kayaked at Morningside Park, as he does most days this time of the year; he’d had a number of good birds there recently and they all were continuing. What got my attention was his excellent photo of a fabulous-looking American Golden-Plover.

~The American Golden-Plover did not disappoint. What a bird! Morningside Park on 08/30/20.~

With that, I got up off the sofa and loaded the kayak onto my car! What followed was a gorgeous night of paddling around the islands at Morningside Park with some very accommodating shorebirds. I’ve written about it before, but it is an incredible experience; it’s as if they don’t even know you are there. At one point, I had “docked” my kayak against one of the islands and I was just relaxing and watching some Least Sandpipers. They worked their way around island, towards me until they were close enough that I could reach out and touch them if I wanted! I sat motionless and just enjoyed their company. What a great evening, I have to thank John for his inspiration, it certainly beats sitting on the sofa watching the tube.

~On the prowl. AMGP at Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~A Spotted Sandpiper in the wind, right as the sun was setting. Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~AMGP at Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~What a cutie. Least Sandpiper at Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~This bird fooled me. It was tucked into the wood and looked so comfortable that I just kept my distance and cruised by, taking a few shots. When I got home and looked at the pics, I realized that this was the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER. Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~I like this shot. Solitary Sandpiper looking, well, solitary. Morningside Park 08/30/20.~
~AMGP reflecting on things. Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~
~I wanted to include one shot that showed how beautiful this bird was from the back. American Golden-Plover at Morningside Park, 08/30/20.~

A Few Good Days

I’ve had some good birds over the last three days. Unfortunately, as it often goes with shorebirds in our area, most of the birds were too distant for photos. After work on Thursday I ran for a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER that Bruce Nott had located earlier in the day at Pine Island Turf Nursery. It took me nearly an hour, but I finally relocated the bird, just before the rain started. BBSA is an all-time favorite, so I was pretty happy to have caught up with that bird.

~Belted Kingfisher at the Liberty Loop, 08/29/20.~

On Friday morning Rob Stone found another BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, and Linda Scrima located a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER; both birds were at Skinner’s Lane. I headed over during my lunch hour; I had no luck with the Buff-breasted, but fortunately the Baird’s was still present and relatively close to the road. I got great views, but unfortunately the heat shimmer during the early afternoon was brutal and killed my photos.

~Beautiful bird. BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Skinner’s Lane, 08/28/20.~

This morning I got out early, with expectations of more shorebirds in the black dirt. This was not the case, so eventually I went to the back pond of Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Loop. The Little Blue Heron continues, and I believe the Snowy Egret does too (just as I got on the bird, a young Bald Eagle flushed it, so I’m not 100%). Shorebirds had a good showing, with: Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and not one but two BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS. Also noteworthy was a decent number of raptors: Red-shouldered Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (1), Bald Eagle (2), Northern Harrier (2), and Osprey (1). Not bad!

~Laying low. BASA at Skinner’s Lane, 08/28/20.~

While I was at the back pond, birding bud Maria Loukeris gave me the heads up that a BLACK TERN that she located at Owens Station Road had flown and was heading my way. I kept my eyes to the sky, but I didn’t see the bird. After leaving (via Owens Station Road), I went to the Liberty Loop parking area on Oil City Road, and lo and behold, there was the Black Tern feeding at the front pond. It flew back south only minutes after I’d arrived, towards the back pond. I knew that a birder that I’d met earlier in the morning, Yahvey, was at the back pond. I called him and gave him the heads up… and don’t you know that bird showed up there as well! That tern was seen in 3 locations, by 3 different birders, in about 30 minutes! Pretty crazy.

~If you are a fan of Killdeer, the black dirt did not disappoint this week. Killdeer and more Killdeer!~

OC Shorebird Update, 08/09/20

We’ve had some decent shorebirds in the county this week. It started with some post-tropical storm Isaiah puddling at Turtle Bay Road. Right after the storm, Linda Scrima was on the scene and located a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER as well as: 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 3 Pectoral Sandpipers, 4 Least Sandpipers, 3 Semipalmated Plovers, a Spotted Sandpiper, and of course a bunch of Killdeer. Not a bad haul! A couple of days afterwards, I finally made it over, and fortunately the dowitcher had stuck around, as did the Semipalmated Plovers. Turtle Bay continues up to today as pretty much the only good shorebird spot that I know of in southern part of the county, and although the SB Dowitcher has moved on, I had as many as 8 Pectoral Sandpipers over the weekend. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts, as the spot is getting dryer by the day. Meanwhile, Beaver Pond and the Camel Farm appear to have water levels too high for optimum conditions. I haven’t been out to Citgo Pond, but I’m assuming the same holds true there. Let’s hope they dry up enough for good conditions soon.

~I tried Pine Island Turf Nursery on Saturday and had a grand total of one shorebird, this Solitary Sandpiper. PI Turf Nursery 08/08/20.~
~Short-billed Dowitcher at Turtle Bay Road, 08/06/20.~
~A typical Orange County look at shorebirds: two Pectoral Sandpipers WAY downtown. Location Turtle Bay Road, 08/09/20.~