Good Birds, 02/23/20

I birded locally, and I got some good birds this weekend. On Saturday I added a few birds to my year list: I had a pair of Wood Ducks at Wickham Lake and I really scored with two excellent birds at Lockenhurst (284) Pond – a dozen REDHEADS and a VESPER SPARROW. On Sunday, I located a large flock of Snow Geese (approximately 3,000 birds) on Turtle Bay Road. They eventually moved to the pond on Breeze Hill Road, where they were terrorized by the subadult GOLDEN EAGLE that has been in the area. At one point, in the air just over the pond, the eagle had a Snow Goose in it’s clutches but was unable to hold on. About twenty minutes later I watched in the distance as the Golden Eagle, high in the air, in a steep dive, isolated a single Snow Goose and disappeared behind some trees. I assume that the GOEA was successful, because after pestering the geese all morning, it didn’t return after that.

~I still can’t believe we are getting repeated excellent looks at this GOLDEN EAGLE in the Black Dirt Region, 02/23/20.~
~VESPER SPARROW near the 284 Pond in Westown NY, 02/23/20.~
~I’m sparing everyone the mass Snow Goose photos this week. Here’s a blue morph instead, 02/23/20.~
~Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 02/23/20.~
~One more of the GOLDEN EAGLE, Breeze Hill Road 02/23/20.~

Weekend Wrap-up, 02/16/20

I had a pleasant, if uneventful weekend of birding. I spent time at the Hudson River, the Black Dirt, and in between, finding mostly the expected species. Highlights included the continuation of several thousand Snow Geese as well as three Rough-legged Hawks in the black dirt on Sunday. It’s been a slow winter for RLHAs, so that made me pretty happy. On Sunday afternoon I attended workshop on the 2020 New York State Breeding Bird Atlas, which I plan on participating in. I will write more about that in an upcoming post.

~Bald Eagle in flight at Wallkill River NWR, Winding Waters Trail 02/16/20.~
~I’m still obsessed with Gulls, so I spent Saturday afternoon at the Newburgh Waterfront. I had the three expected species: Herring, Great Black-backed, and Ring-billed (like this individual, stealing bread from a Mallard).~
~This shot is representative of how this winter has gone in regards to Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and Lapland Longspurs – few and far between.
~Is everyone tired of Snow Goose pics? I’m not tired of seeing these birds, it’s always quite a scene. Black dirt 02/16/20.~
~Ring-billed Gulls loafing at the Newburgh Waterfront, 02/116/20.~

Heckuva Day, 02/08/20

As I was heading out this morning, I drove along 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, and I saw in the distance a pair of Red-tailed Hawks perched in a tree. They were about 15 feet apart, and in the perfect early morning light the difference between the larger female and the smaller male was quite obvious. It was a beautiful image, and for some reason I took this as an omen that it was going to be a good day.

~ It’s still hard for me to believe that we are getting to see a GOLDEN EAGLE on a somewhat regular basis right now. GOEA in the black dirt, 02/08/20.~

Every once in a while you have a day where things fall into place. It started with a GREAT-HORNED OWL on a nice perch, sunning itself. Add to that several flocks of Snow Geese moving around the black dirt. The icing on the cake was a relatively low flyover by the GOLDEN EAGLE that has been in the area. Getting a better look and photos of this bird was my main goal today, so that was awesome. As the morning ended and crept into the afternoon, things slowed down, but still, I was happy to find a cooperative Red-tailed Hawk on a wire, a bunch of vultures on a deer carcass (not for everyone, but I love those birds and find them very photogenic), and a couple thousand Common Mergansers at Greenwood Lake. Heckuva day for sure.

~Snow Geese in the black dirt, 02/08/20.~
~Black Vulture enjoying a meal. Warwick NY, 02/08/20.~
~GREAT-HORNED OWL sunning itself at an undisclosed location, 02/08/20.~
~I’m not usually a big fan of birds on a wire, but it’s been a while since I’ve taken a Red-tailed Hawk photo. Black Dirt, 02/08/20.
~Beautifully ugly bird. Turkey Vulture in Warwick, 02/08/20.~
~One more shot of the GOLDEN EAGLE. I know I definitely shouldn’t complain, but the light was tough for pics of this bird. Black dirt, 02/08/20.~

Wow, Black Dirt GOLDEN EAGLE!

My plan for the morning was to get outside and take a hike without worrying too much about getting any birds. I walked the trails near Reservoir 3 in Port Jervis. It was predictably quiet, but it was a pleasant walk in the woods on a cool, partly cloudy day. It wasn’t until I was on my way back that I started to think about getting some birds. Earlier, while I was hiking, Joyce Depew reported thousands of Snow Geese in the black dirt. On my way home, Ken McDermott followed up with another report of SNGOs in the fields off Onion Avenue. I figured I would stop by and check them out, especially because it was on my way home. Then, it got interesting: Bruce Nott reported a GOLDEN EAGLE flying over the Snow Geese, heading east.

~GOLDEN EAGLE flyover in the black dirt, photograph by Linda Scrima, 02/02/20.~

I arrived at Onion Avenue convinced that I had missed any opportunity to see the Golden Eagle. But, as I got out of the car everyone was urging me to hurry up – I jumped on Bruce’s scope and sure enough there was the Golden Eagle circling in the distance! It wasn’t great timing (see Linda’s photos in this post), but it was pretty darn good! Another minute or so, and I would have completely missed the bird. Exciting birding!

~One more shot of the GOLDEN EAGLE by Linda Scrima, 02/02/20.~
~My documentary shot of the GOLDEN EAGLE in the black dirt this afternoon, 02/02/20.~

Down in the Dumps, 02/01/20

I’ve been down in the dumps for a couple of weeks. Literally. Well, not the whole time, just the past 2 Saturday mornings, chasing gulls at Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority. Last week Maria Loukeris and I had no luck, but today, Linda Scrima joined us and we had an excellent morning. We had two main targets: the GLAUCOUS and LESSER BLACK-BACKED Gulls that were reported earlier in the week.

~Now this is a beautiful bird! GLAUCOUS GULL in flight at SCMUA, 02/01/20.~

Our morning had a slow start due to the heavy fog. When we first arrived at SCMUA, it was totally fogged in and from what we could tell, there were very few gulls present. So, we went and grabbed some breakfast (french toast!), and when we got back some of the fog had lifted and there were plenty of gulls around.

We got lucky and located the GLAUCOUS GULL within minutes of our arrival. It took over an hour, but eventually Maria located the LESSER-BLACK-BACKED GULL. Both gulls were close enough for some pretty good documentary shots and at different times we were able to photograph each species in flight. We were hoping that we might locate an ICELAND GULL, that would have been the icing on the cake (sorry couldn’t resist), but alas it was not to be.

~LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in flight at SCMUA, 02/01/20.~

Other good birds included several Bald Eagles, and just as we were getting ready to leave, several skeins of SNOW GEESE totally approximately 2,000 birds. It was a great morning of birding at the dump, and for me, since I’ve been so into gulls this winter, it was especially satisfying.

~GLAUCOUS GULL with Herring Gulls, SCMUA 02/01/20.~
~LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at SCMUA, 02/01/20. I like this shot because it shows 3 separate species, the LBBG front and left, a single Ring-billed Gull front and right and the remaining gulls are Herring Gulls.~