QUICK POST: Today I finally got some of the good winter birds that we expect to see in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County. Highlights:
(2) Rough-legged Hawks (one light morph and one dark)
(4) Snow Buntings (3) LAPLAND LONGSPURS
(2) American Pipits
(many) Horned Larks
It was also a good day for raptors with many Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks seen throughout the day. I also had a single American Kestrel and a single adult Bald Eagle. I had two large groups of Canada Geese but the only unusual bird that I could find among them looked to me like a domesticated goose.
Going to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Black Friday has pretty much become a holiday tradition for me. And having an amazing birding experience has grown to be expected; I haven’t had a bad day out there yet. This year had a slow start, it was very cold and windy at the main pool, which made it very difficult to see the waterfowl which were located WAY out in the distance. I made the full circuit of the spots I usually hit, and it was on the quiet side. I was beginning to think that my “slump” was continuing. On my way back to hit Wildlife Drive for a second time, I made a quick stop at Tschache Pool. I picked up 4 Common Mergansers there, but more importantly, I met another birder named Mary Beth, who was out for the day with her sister-in-law (who, though enjoying herself, was not a birder and therefore spent a good amount of time in the car keeping warm). Mary Beth mentioned that there had been Sandhill Cranes reported out on East Road. Now, I had just come from East Road, but I was certainly willing to give it another shot. I followed them over, and moments after arriving, Mary Beth pulled over pointing to the west of the road. I got out of the car and started smiling ear to ear – it was a BIG flock of cranes – I initially counted 58 birds but later got better photos where I could count all the the birds and there were actually 75 Sandhill Cranes there! I high-fived Mary Beth, who was just as excited about it as I was. I was actually a little bit embarrassed because I had missed the birds – I spent all my time looking east of the road down towards Knox Marsellus and Puddler Marsh, where I have had birds in the past.
Mary Beth showed me one more spot that I had not birded in the past, I believe she called the the Potato Barn. It is basically just a vast stretch of farm land and we stopped and looked for Snowy Owls with no luck. Mary Beth mentioned that they sometimes got Short-eared Owls there; I went back just before sunset and had a single SEOW tangling with a Northern Harrier on the west side of the road.
I eventually made it back to Wildlife Drive, where the highlight was a single Snow Bunting, my first of the season. There was a photographer that was pulled over, and I could not see what she was shooting. I eventually, slowly pulled up along side her vehicle and asked her. She pointed down at the single Snow Bunting, not 20 feet from the side of the road. I took a bunch of photos, and I guess this is a good time to mention that I shot all my photos for the day on the wrong setting; a very small file size. I had changed my settings for a project at work on Wednesday and somehow I forgot to change this back. I did not realize until later in the evening when I was looking at the pics and noticed that something wasn’t quite right. I was totally deflated but, live and learn I guess. And, ultimately, I felt like although photos were not like I would want them, they were good enough for a post. It really helped that this bunting was so close.
I went back for another look at the Sandhill Cranes. When I arrived at East Road, all the cranes except 7 were located to the east of the road in Knox Marsellus. Shortly after my arrival, all of the cranes flew over the road and I took a bunch of photos. It was truly very exciting to watch these beautiful birds fly over, calling as they went. What fabulous birds!
Here’s my list for the day (28 species):
American Black Duck
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
American Tree Sparrow
I’ve been feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, so in an effort to mix it up a bit, Karen Miller and I birded Port Jervis, New York this morning. We birded three different locations: a reservoir northwest of Port Jervis, Laurel Grove Cemetery, and a small park in Port Jervis that borders the Delaware River. We identified 27 species for the morning. Before heading home, Karen wanted to show me the “Hawk’s Nest”, which is a beautiful scenic stretch of road just outside of Port Jervis. The road winds alongside the Delaware River, climbing all the time. There are areas where you can pull off and take it all in. We stopped at one of these, where we got our 28th species of the day; an adult Bald Eagle flew right over the car! I was not prepared for it, so my exposure is not great, but I did get some photos, here’s one:
It was good to change things up and bird some new locations; thanks to Rob Stone who helped out with the spots. Here’s our list:
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
It’s that time of year again, when my evening birding time is severely reduced by the shortened days and Canada Geese gather in numbers in Orange County. Tonight I made it out to the Black Dirt Region and located a flock of approximately 1,700 Canada Geese with 3 blue morph Snow Geese among them. It was a distant look, but still nice to sift through the geese and find some gems. Oh, and it is also that time of year when it is COLD! Windy and low temps made for some uncomfortable birding. Here are some shots of the Canadas:
QUICK POST: I took a driving tour of the Black Dirt Region this morning to see what was going on. It was an uneventful morning; I had relatively few species (25 in the black dirt), and most were expected. American Pipits are still present in decent numbers, I saw several smaller flocks in various locations. I had many Horned Larks for the day, but never got any good looks at some of the larger groups to sift through them for longspurs. I did have a couple of interesting birds – there was a single Snow Goose way out in a field with about a dozen Canada Geese on Celery Avenue. The highlight of the morning for me was locating a BRANT among a group of approximately 100 Canada Geese on Missionland Road. From what I read in the Crossley Guide, this is a juvenile because of the white fringes to the coverts and the lack of a white necklace, which will grow in through the fall. The light did not lend itself to good photography, but here are some shots from the morning:
Today was my final day of the season at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch, and it ended up being a really good one. It was a sunny, cool, and crisp day with very few clouds in the sky (which makes it difficult to locate birds). I had one major goal for the day: to surpass 9,000 birds for the season at the watch. We started the day needing 60 migrating raptors to reach this goal. We were successful, thanks to the help of fellow counters Ken Witkowski, Ajit Antony, Denise Ferrel, and Judy Cinquina and once again the young eyes of Kyle Dudgeon. By the end of the day, we had counted 71 birds moving through, which put our total for the season at 9,012 migrating raptors. I was, of course, also hoping for a Golden Eagle or a Northern Goshawk, but both eluded me for this season. It was a tough day for photos, but here is a distant shot of one the adult Bald Eagles that we saw today.
Total: 71 889 9012
Start time: 09:00:00
Observation end time: 16:00:00
Total observation time: 7 hours
Official Counter Matt Zeitler
Observers: Ajit I. Antony, Denise Farrell, Judith C. Cinquina, Ken Witkowski
Kyle Dudgeon, Bobby Kerr, and Liza Antony.
Sunny and cold with very few clouds. Winds out of the NW at 10-15 km/hour. Temperatures ranged from -2 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Two migrating Bald Eagles, one adult and one immature. An additional adult was observed heading NNE.
Other Species: Common Loon (7), American Goldfinch (25), Black-capped Chickadees (4), American Robin (37), Ring-billed Gull (12), Canada Goose (22), Pine Siskin (60), American Crow (22), Eastern Bluebird (6), Common Raven (3), and Cedar Waxwing (15).
Quick Post: I tooled around the Black Dirt Region for a little while this morning, mostly in hopes of relocating a Lapland Longspur that had been reported from the Mearns Bird Club field trip the day before. I dipped on the longspur, but there were plenty of Horned Larks and American Pipits to sift through. The birds were in loose flocks and most were quite distant, but I did have a few closer birds which allowed for some photos. I really enjoy seeing and photographing these birds, and although it didn’t happen for me today, it’s really exciting because there is always the possibility of finding Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings among them.
I had a nice day at Mt. Pete today. The weather was nice – sunny, crisp, and cool without being too cold, and I had enough birds flying to keep it interesting. Thanks to Kyle Dudgeon and Bobby Kerr (whose young eyes helped to locate many birds), and also to Rob Stone and Ajit and Liza Antony for their help. Here’s my report for the day:
Warwick, New York, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Nov 08, 2014
Observation start time: 09:00:00
Observation end time: 16:00:00
Total observation time: 7 hours
Official Counter: Matt Zeitler
Observers: Ajit I. Antony, Rob Stone
Liza Antony, Kyle Dudgeon and Bobby Kerr.
Sunny and cool with some clouds. Temperatures ranged from 1 to 8 degrees
Celsius, with moderate winds from the southwest.
One immature and one unknown Northern Harrier.
Three adult, two immature, and three unknown Red-shouldered Hawks.
Other Species: Ring-billed Gull (15), Canada Goose (17), Dark-eyed Junco
(2), White-breasted Nuthatch (2), American Robin (22), American Goldfinch
(2), Common Raven (2), American Crow (12), Blue Jay (8), Tufted Titmouse
(4), Eastern Bluebird (1), Rock Pigeon (1).
On Friday evening I hit the Black Dirt Region and tried again with the American Pipits:
I was on the road for work today and I was passing near State Line Hawk Watch right around lunch, so I stopped in. The raptors were certainly flying; I was there for less than a half hour and I saw: Turkey Vulture (8), Black Vulture (2), Peregrine Falcon (2), Red-tailed Hawk (4), Sharp-shinned Hawk (2), and a single Merlin. Not too shabby for some unexpected birding!
Right before sunset, I was in the Black Dirt Region and I finally got a half way decent shot of an American Pipit (which are plentiful in the area right now).