Florida Bound

~If anyone has any ideas what this male Wood Duck is eating, can you please leave a comment? Taken at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/30/15.~

Tomorrow night, Tricia and I are heading to Bonita Springs, Florida for a week’s vacation. I’m excited as I plan on doing a fair amount of birding while we are there. I am going to post if I find the time while were are down there, otherwise I will post next weekend – I’m hoping for some good birds!

~This is my FOY Gray Catbird, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/30/15.~
~This is my FOY Gray Catbird, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/30/15.~

Orange County Weekend

~Greater Yellowlegs at the Camel Farm, 4/2615.~
~Greater Yellowlegs at the Camel Farm, 4/2615.~

It was a beautiful weekend to get outside and do some birding. On Saturday morning I got up early and headed over to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, where I had my first Green Heron of the year which was distant and in flight, so no photo. From there I made my way to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area; I was scheduled to volunteer alongside Karen Miller at the Bashakill Area Association’s Nature Watch Program. This is my fourth year participating in the Nature Watch. Most years the program revolves around the Bald Eagles that nest within viewing distance from the main boat launch. Unfortunately, this year the eagles lost their eggs; it is believed that the extended spell of cold weather may have taken its toll. So this year will be a little bit different. We kept at least one scope on the Osprey Nest across the Bash from the main boat launch. The Osprey are in the process of building the nest and it is still on the small side. We saw both perched on or near the nest at different times during our shift. We kept track of all species seen and heard from the boat launch during our 3 hour shift: we had 17 species total. We also kept track of the number of visitors (37) and the number of boats that go out (12). The birding highlight for me was getting my FOY (first of the year) Eastern Kingbird at Haven Road on my way to the main boat launch. The Nature Watch Program runs on weekends (10am – 4pm)  from now until the last weekend in June, so stop by if you would like to check out the Osprey nest or anything else seen from the boat launch through the program’s spotting scopes.

~FOY Eastern Kingbird at Haven Road in the Bashakill, 4/25/15.~

On Sunday I went to Glenmere Lake first thing but had no luck. From there I went to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to walk the Liberty Loop. I walked the west side of the loop first, and about halfway up that side another birder caught up with me. We started talking and made introductions; his name was Dick Champion. We walked the remainder of the loop together, Dick has a good eye and the birding was good but the conversation was better. The highlight of the walk for me was when Dick located 5 Greater Yellowlegs at the southern end of the loop, they were my first of the year. I ended the walk with a total of 33 species.

~Greater Yellowlegs at the south end of the Liberty Loop, 4/26/15.~

I made a couple more stops after the loop, I walked a little bit at Pochuck Mountain State Forest but it was pretty quiet there. I also made a quick stop at the Camel Farm and although quiet, I picked up a single Greater Yellowlegs for my Orange County list.

~Tufted Titmouse at Pochuck Mountain State Forest, 4/26/15.~
~This was actually my first bird of the day on Sunday, one of three Northern Flickers in my yard in Goshen NY, 4/26/15.~

Bring on the Warblers!

~A Common Yellowthroat on the west side of the Liberty Loop Trail, 4/24/15.~

I had some decent passerine movement today at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop trail. I walked the west side of the loop, highlights included: Blue-headed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, and Common Yellowthroat. All were my first of the year with the exception of the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

~To me, this is a tough bird to photograph, so I was pretty happy with this shot. Black-and-white Warbler at Wallkill River NWR, 4/24/15.~
~An Eastern Bluebird earlier in the afternoon in some good light. Warwick, NY 4/24/15.~

Glenmere Lake Red-necked Grebes

~The bird on the left spent most of the time I was there tucked in, as seen in this photo. This is a heavy crop of a distant shot of two Red-necked Grebes at Glenmere Lake, 4/23/15.~

QUICK POST: After work this afternoon, I checked out several waterfowl spots in southern Orange County without much going on until I got to Glenmere Lake, where from the fishing dock I saw two distant birds on the water. They were all tucked in and quite far – I was thinking RED-NECKED GREBES, but I was not sure. I followed the trail that runs along the water’s edge, heading southwest for about a half mile to get a better look. At first I had trouble relocating the birds, but once I did, I was sure they were RNGRs. I spent some time on the shore getting good looks in my binoculars and great views through the scope. The birds slowly worked their way towards me a little bit and I was able to get some usable photos, the light even improved a little to help me out.

~Two Wood Ducks that were working their way along the shore finally realized I was there and fled across the lake, past the two grebes. It was the only time the second Red-necked Grebe looked up. Glenmere Lake, 4/23/15.~

Orange County Weekend

~I love this bird. Black-crowned Night-heron at Frank Masterson Memorial Park, 4/19/15.~

I think my expectations for this weekend might have been a little bit high coming in, because somehow I felt a little disappointed in the weekend’s birding, even though I did get several year birds and was able to get some decent photos. I got out for a little bit on each of the last three days:

Friday 4/17/15, 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary: After work on Friday, I first made a quick stop at Greenwood Lake which was a complete dud. Then I went to Glenmere Lake, where I had a single Common Loon and that’s it. Afterwards, I picked up Tricia at the house and we headed over to 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. The highlight there was getting my first warblers of the year – 5 Palm Warblers, and 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers.

~Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 4/17/15.~
~Palm Warbler at 6 1/2 Station Road. Tricia impressed me by calling this bird in no time at all.~

Saturday 4/18/15, Wallkill Rive National Wildlife Refuge: Early Saturday morning I met Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris out at the refuge. We walked the west side of the Liberty Loop where our highlight was seeing pair of Wood Ducks perched in trees, coincidentally not long after having a discussion of how we never see them in the trees until they are already flying from their perch.

~A male Wood Duck up pretty high in the trees. This is my first time seeing this and getting photos, it was really cool!  Liberty Loop at Wallkill River NWR, 4/18/15.~

We did pretty well for other waterfowl on the loop as well: American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, and a likely Pied-billed Grebe (we got a brief look at the bird but never were able to relocate it to confirm the ID). I was hoping for some warblers, but none were to be had. We went over to Winding Waters Trail afterwards and we walked the entire trail, including a part of the trail that I did not know existed but is really nice because it continues along the river instead of cutting across the field. It was on this section of the trail that we had a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a good look at a Great Blue Heron on a nice perch.

~Great Blue Heron on the Winding Waters Trail at Wallkill River NWR, 4/17/15.~
~Northern Rough-winged Swallow at Wallkill River NWR, 4/18/15.~

Frank Masterson Memorial Park, Sunday 4/19/15: I met Bruce Nott at the park Sunday morning to try for the Black-crowned Night-heron that he had located there on Saturday afternoon. Before looking for the heron, Bruce took me up the road to the marshy area off of Lake Washington to show me the nine Wilson’s Snipe that he had seen there earlier in the morning. The snipe were still present and we got good looks in spite of the birds doing all they could to stay camouflaged. I took photos, but none came out very good. We went back to Masterson Park and located the BCNH in the photo at the top of this post. While we were at it, we had a Pileated Woodpecker come in nice and close – too bad it was backlit!

~This is the first time a Pileated Woodpecker has actually flown closer to me! Masterson Park, 4/19/15.~

Bruce and I decide to head over to Benedict Farm in Montgomery, NY to follow up on a couple of sighting reported by Bill Fiero: Grasshopper Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow. John Haas eventually joined us and Ken McDermott showed up as well with the same idea, but unfortunately we came up empty-handed on both counts. I headed back to southern Orange County and checked in on Glenmere Lake, which had plenty of boats and kayaks and no birds. I then went to Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, where I had 14 Broad-winged Hawks migrating in the 45 minutes I was there. The birds came from the south and were heading north/northeast. Most were distant specks in the sky, but a couple of birds passed over low enough for decent looks.

~Tree Swallow at Benedict Farms, 4/19/15.~

A Little Catch-Up

~I have this as a Greater Scaup based on the shape of its head – to me it has a pretty evenly domed rear crown. Glenmere Lake, 4/15/15.~ 

QUICK POST: There has been some interesting waterfowl movement in Orange County in recent weeks, which I have not posted about here on the blog. I have reported a couple of times recently to the Mearns Bird Club, but between not having much time and honestly not getting any good photos (most birds have been quite distant), I haven’t posted here. Here’s list of highlights from some of my recent sightings:

4/9/15, Greenwood Lake: 11 Common Loon

4/9/15, Glenmere Lake: 11 Bufflehead, 3 Common Merganser, 1 Ruddy Duck, 6 Common Loon, 1 Red-necked Grebe

4/14/15, Glenmere Lake: 10 Bufflehead, 8 Scaup (Lesser??? I’m not sure, these birds were very distant), 3 Common Loon, 9 Horned Grebe

Today – 4/15/15, Glenmere Lake: 3 Bufflehead, 1 Greater Scaup, 2 Common Loon

*One final exciting thing for me – my Canon 70D is repaired and has been shipped back to me. I’m not sure when it will arrive, but hopefully for the weekend!

~I have seen many Common Loons this spring, but I’m yet to have one close enough for a decent photo. This one was at Glenmere Lake on 4/14/15.~
I came across this Red-tailed Hawk in my travels yesterday on Mt. Eve Road.
I came across this Red-tailed Hawk in my travels yesterday, 4/14/15, on Mt. Eve Road.


Crested Caracara Part II

Huge thanks to Mary B. for giving me a call this evening to let me know that the CRESTED CARACARA was actively feeding on a poor dead possum. I rushed out there and was able to get some much better shots than I did yesterday.

~Crested Caracara with its meal, Montgomery, NY 4/12/15.~
~Whenever a car would pull into the area, the bird would flee…
… and go perch in the trees.~
~But the bird would come back: It’s my possum! Crested Caracara in Montgomery NY, 4/12/15.~


Weekend Wrap-up 4/12/15

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

~A sweet looking Ruddy Duck at Piermont Pier, 4/11/15.~

The highlight of the weekend was, of course, the Crested Caracara in Montgomery, which I saw Saturday afternoon (I’ve received reports that this bird continued at the same location on Sunday 4/12). While looking for the caracara on Saturday, I came across many raptors and I was lucky enough to get a decent photo of a couple American Kestrels. Later that evening, Tricia and I went to Piermont, NY to go out for her birthday dinner. We did not have tons of time, but we made a quick stop at Piermont Pier where we got very appropriately lucky with the very blue-billed Ruddy Duck at the top of this post (appropriate since Ruddies are Tricia’s favorite, the blue bill was the icing on the cake!).

~American Kestrel on River Road in Montgomery, NY 4/11/15.~

On Sunday morning, I joined Karen Miller and Sharon Dewey Scavatto (who drove in that morning from Massachusetts) and we birded the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It started out on the chilly side with enough of a cold breeze to make my hands uncomfortable as we birded Haven Road first thing. Highlights at Haven Road included: 1 Common Goldeneye, 2 Northern Shoveler (first ones at the Bash this year), and 4 Blue-winged Teal (my first of the year). From there, we headed over to the Nature Trail, hoping for the Red-necked Grebe and the Common Loon that had been seen there. We struck out with the RNGR, but we did get brief but good looks at the Common Loon. We also heard a Barred Owl from across the Bash, and I got my first Golden Crowned Kinglets of the year. Our next stop was the Deli Fields where I got my FOY Field Sparrows. Our final stop was at the Main Boat Launch to go for the Horned Grebes that have been there. We got very good scope views in perfect light of 4 HOGRs. We walked part of the Birch Trail and I got my FOY Swamp Sparrows. By my record we had 44 birds for the day, I’ll put the list at the bottom of this post.

~Yet another one of my favorites, it was great to see my first Blue-winged Teals of the year, Haven Road at the Bashakill WMA, 4/12/15.~

Bashakill State WMA

~I’m not sure why American Kestrels love to perch on wires so often. This one was located on East Searsville Road in Montgomery, 4/11/15.~

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eastern Screech-Owl
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Orange County Crested Caracara!

~Wow wow wow! CRESTED CARACAR in Montgomery NY on 4/11/15.~

Early this afternoon, I finally caught up with the rare CRESTED CARACARA which was found by Curt McDermott yesterday morning. I tried for it yesterday after work but I had horrible timing and missed it twice! You can go to John Haas’ blog to see more details about how yesterday went down.

Today looked like more of the same; I received several calls and texts that the bird had been seen, but I kept missing it. Just around one o’clock, while I was making a final sweep of the area by River Road (where the bird was first located), I got a call from Karen Miller. The bird had been relocated near the intersection of Route 208 and Route 17K! I’m not entirely sure who exactly relocated the bird, but huge thanks to them! And also thanks to Al (whose last name I never got and who relocated the bird several times today!), Dan Whalen, and Karen Miller for keeping me in the loop which made it possible for me to see this bird. At first the bird was in very thick trees and photos were nearly impossible. Then the bird repositioned, a little further out, but with a less obstructed view. It was incredible to see this bird! It’s a lifer for me (#320) and to see it in Orange County was just awesome.

To see just how far out of its range this bird is click here for a range map.