Orange County Waterfowl Fallout, 03/27/17

~I spotted this Lesser Scaup in a small pond as I neared Wickham Lake – it was a small taste of what was to come! LESC in Warwick, 03/27/17.~

Last night’s rain must have had some good timing – it grounded a fair amount of waterfowl in Orange County. My first indication that it was going to be a good day was when I received a text around noon from Bruce Nott. He had a RED-THROATED LOON at Orange Lake. Which was followed shortly afterwards with a text that he had 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and a Common Loon at Washington Lake. Then, a half hour before quitting time I got word from Rob Stone that he had a slew of birds at Wickham Lake. I joined Bruce Nott, Kathy Ashman, and Linda Scrima at the lake to enjoy this waterfowl bonanza. Including the Canada Geese I had as I drove in, we had 17 (!) species of waterfowl!

Canada Goose 45
Wood Duck 1
Gadwall 3
American Wigeon 10
Mallard 6
Northern Pintail 20
Green-winged Teal 2
Ring-necked Duck 7
Bufflehead 12
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 3
Ruddy Duck 6
Pied-billed Grebe 2

How’s that for a waterfowl list?!? I was particularly happy to see Redheads in Orange County for the first time ever. This is the sort of day, as a birder, that I get really jazzed about, and Bruce, Kathy, and Linda all seemed equally excited about it. Another good bird we had while were there was a single BONAPARTE’S GULL, always a favorite of mine. The only downside was that, of course, the birds were quite distant. Scope views were pretty amazing but photos were nearly impossible. Huge thanks to Rob and Bruce, great birding for sure!

~Can you spot the Bonaparte’s Gull? A nice assortment of waterfowl at Wickham Lake, 03/27/17.~

Ulster County SANDHILL CRANES, 03/26/17

~One of four beautiful Sandhill Cranes, Shawangunk NY, 03/26/17.~

I was not planning doing any birding this morning. But, when I woke up, there was already a text from Curt McDermott – he had four SANDHILL CRANES in the town of Shawangunk. I quickly made some coffee and ran for the birds, which ended up sticking around and being very cooperative. When I arrived, Bruce Nott, John Haas, and Bill Fiero were on the birds already; they had all been there for a bit and headed out shortly after I arrived. Karen Miller joined me and we enjoyed super looks at the birds along with Scotty Baldinger. The birds flew at one point and relocated in an area where they could still be view well. Several Ulster County birders arrived for the birds and when I left they were still enjoying excellent scope views of the birds. What a great way to start the day! Huge thanks to Curt for the heads up on these great birds.

~Three of the four Sandhill Cranes, Shawangunk NY, 03/26/17.~
~The birds walked out over this crest in the field and out of sight temporarily. Then they picked up and relocated in another field, offering more great looks. SACR in Shawangunk NY, 03/26/17.
~One last shot. SACR in Ulster County, 03/26/17.~

OC Waterfowl Survey, Take 2

~One of my few photo ops today –  Merlin with prey at Wickham Lake, 03/25/17.~ 

Three weeks ago I did a waterfowl survey of 9 locations not too far from my home in Goshen. Today I repeated this survey, hitting the same 9 locations in the same order. The overall number of birds was down from over 950 to under 700 birds, but I had a little more variety today with 16 species of waterfowl (up from 14). I’ve included species lists by location below.

I was hoping for some more interesting birds, but all 16 species were what I consider the usuals. Things were better in that regard earlier in the week, when I had a trio of Long-tailed Ducks at Glenmere Lake, and yesterday when I had a single Common Loon at Wickham Lake:

~My FOY Common Loon at Wickham Lake, 03/24/17.~ 


Wood Duck 9
Mallard 2
Bufflehead 3
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 148
Ruddy Duck 5


Canada Goose 2
Gadwall 1
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 2
Northern Shoveler 1
Green-winged Teal 12
Ring-necked Duck 32
Bufflehead 6
Ruddy Duck 8
Pied-billed Grebe 1

I did not have many close up looks at ducks today, so not too many photo ops. This Bufflehead was near the shore of Round Lake as I pulled up, but it move out pretty quickly.


Canada Goose 2
Mute Swan 2
Hooded Merganser 4


Canada Goose 4
Ring-necked Duck 25
Bufflehead 14
Hooded Merganser 5
Common Merganser 6
Ruddy Duck 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 1

WALTON LAKE: No waterfowl present.


Canada Goose 12
Ring-necked Duck 7
Common Merganser 169
Ruddy Duck 6
Double-crested Cormorant 1


Canada Goose 4
Gadwall 4
Mallard 1
Ring-necked Duck 64

~Some of the many Ring-necked Ducks in the pond across the street from Warwick Town Hall, 03/25/17.~


Canada Goose 4
Mute Swan 2
Gadwall 4
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 6
Green-winged Teal 4
Ring-necked Duck 4
Hooded Merganser 1


Mute Swan 3
Wood Duck 2
Ring-necked Duck 45
Bufflehead 4
Common Merganser 6
Ruddy Duck 2

Orange County Long-tailed Ducks, 03/21/17

~Excellent birds! Three LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Glenmere Lake this afternoon, 03/21/17.~

QUICK POST: I was doing some lazy birding after work this afternoon. I stopped by Glenmere Lake and I was scanning the lake from my car and getting ready to leave, having seen just the usuals. But, then 3 ducks caught my attention; I half-thought they might be LONG-TAILED DUCKS, but it wasn’t until I got out of the car and put the scope on them that I really believed it. The birds were very distant, too distant for even documentary photos, so I walked the snowy trail that heads southwest along the shore of the lake to get a little bit closer. This did allow me to get some documentary photographs and some great looks at the bird, which were in beautiful light. I put the word out and although I had to leave, Karen Miller reported back that she too had gotten the ducks. Good (if lazy) birding!

Life Birds X2

~Wow! Lifer LONG-EARED OWL, 03/19/17.~

It’s not very often these days that I can get two life birds in one day, but that’s exactly what happened today. The first was a bird that I have been really hoping to get for some time now, the LONG-EARED OWL. The bird did not disappoint, such a beautiful little owl, absolutely gorgeous. The second was a bird that I’ve had some experience with in the past, the NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. Back in the fall of 2013, Tricia and I joined a John Haas, Karen Miller, Scott Baldinger, and Arlene Borko in Sullivan County to call in migrating NSWOs. We heard several that night and caught a glimpse of one in flight in the dark, but I guess at the time I didn’t think that was enough to count it as a lifer. Today was quite different and there is no doubt about getting my lifer NSWO. These two owls are life birds #373 and #374 for me. Forgive the vague post, but with the best interests of these birds in mind, I will not be sharing their locations.

~I was impressed by how small this bird is in person, out in the field. Beautiful NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, 03/19/17. ~
~One more shot of the LEOW, 03/19/16.~


Beautiful Buntings, 03/16/17

~ Orange County Snow Bunting in the snow,  03/16/17.~

QUICK POST: For the second consecutive time, on my way to participate in a DEC Raptor Survey, I had a really nice photo op.  Two weeks ago I had a large group of confiding Ring-necked Ducks. Last night, it was Six Snow Buntings on the side of the road. They seemed uncooperative at first and flushed, but then came back to land very close to my car, posing nicely on the tops of the piles of plowed snow. Good birds for sure!

~I love these birds, definitely towards the top of my long list of favorites. Snow Bunting in the Black Dirt Region, 03/16/17.~

Orange County Waterfowl, 03/04/17

~A male Common Merganser in flight at Wickham Lake, 03/04/17.~

I decided to do my own Orange County waterfowl survey of sorts this afternoon. I visited nine different locations not too far from my home here in Goshen. First thing I will say is that it was COLD out there today. The temperatures weren’t so bad, in the mid-twenties, but wind made it very cold, bringing tears to my eyes all day. I think if it was a little bit more comfortable out I would have been a little bit more thorough; I felt like I certainly could have spent some more time at some of the locations. That being said, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon and I ended up with 14 species of waterfowl and over 950 individuals. I had a Northern Shoveler and a Pied-billed Grebe at Brown’s Pond and both birds were my first of the year in Orange County. Scroll down to see my results by location.

~Male Bufflehead at Wickham Lake, 03/04/17.~ 


Wood Duck 5
Common Merganser 122


Canada Goose 43
Mute Swan 9
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 54
Northern Shoveler 1
Green-winged Teal 12
Ring-necked Duck 23
Hooded Merganser 2
Pied-billed Grebe 1


Canada Goose 9
Mallard 3


Canada Goose 5
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 7
Greater Scaup 1
Ring-necked Duck 8
Bufflehead 14
Common Merganser 165

~Northern Shoveler at Brown’s Pond, 03/04/17.~ 


Bufflehead 1
Common Merganser 7


Canada Goose 17
Wood Duck 5
American Black Duck 28
Mallard 3
Bufflehead 7
Common Merganser 275


Canada Goose 2
Gadwall 33
Mallard 6
Ring-necked Duck 23
Hooded Merganser 2

~A pair of Common Mergansers in flight, Wickham Lake 03/04/17.~ 


Canada Goose 10
Mute Swan 2
Mallard 10
Ring-necked Duck 6
Hooded Merganser 2


Canada Goose 5
Ring-necked Duck 47
Bufflehead 14

Ring-necked Ducks


~A male Ring-necked Duck shows off his namesake, the maroon ring around his neck. Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~

It’s not very often that I get good photo ops with ducks because, as we all know, ducks tend to keep their distance. I think it would take some work, planning, and likely a photo blind to actually get really good shots of most ducks (at least from the shore – I’ve had much better luck from the kayak). Yesterday afternoon I found a group of Ring-necked Ducks at Upper Greenwood Lake that just didn’t seem to care. I saw the birds from my car, I pulled over and parked, but unfortunately the only way to approach was on foot. I did so slowly, fully expecting the birds to swim in the opposite direction, leaving me wanting. I must be on a roll because they did no such thing and instead just carried on as before. I photographed them for about 20 minutes; when I left they were still in the same area going about their business. I then continued towards the black dirt, where I was going to spend the evening participating in the DEC’s Raptor Survey. It was an excellent pit stop which yielded a nice series of pics of these RNDUs, in really nice light.

~RNDU at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~I think this female Ring-necked Duck has some admirers… Upper Greenwood Lake 03/02/17.~
~This is one handsome devil. RNDU at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~The females are a little less dramatic but just as attractive to me. RNDU female at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/02/17.~
~RNDUs at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/20/17.~
~RNDU drake at Upper Greenwood Lake, 03/20/17.~