Sunday Shots, 05/31/20

This is a weak edition of SS, but I always like to at least check in on the weekends. My birding was a little unfocused; I think migration winding down had a lot to do with it. I tried for shorebirds in the county with almost no success (I did, however, get some at the Liberty Loop in Sussex Co., where I had Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and a Spotted Sandpiper). I also did a little atlasing. I know that’s not a real word. I think that I need to be patient and I will have success with it, but it’s slow going so far for me in my priority block. That said, I did manage to confirm one more species – Swamp Sparrow. Here’s some pics from the weekend (and one from a couple weeks ago – it was slim pickings this week).

~Great Blue Heron just after Sunrise at the Liberty Loop, 05/30/20.~
~There was a good stiff wind at the Liberty Loop on Friday night, this Red-winged Blackbird assumed the position. 05/29/20.~
~Cuteness. Young Brown Thrasher at the Liberty Loop, 05/30/20. It was one of 6 new species I added to my Orange County year list this weekend (others were: Alder Flycatcher, American Bittern, Common Gallinule, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Blackpoll Warbler).
~Singing Indigo Bunting at Goosepond Mountain SP, 05/18/20.~
~Gotcha! Great Blue Heron at Liberty Loop, 05/30/20.~

Memorial Day Weekend, 2020

The past couple of days I enjoyed getting out in the mornings; both days were birdy enough to keep it interesting. On Saturday I went to Port Jervis. Laurel Grove Cemetery was a bust, but Elks Brox had a good number of birds. It was mostly the usuals or birds I’ve already gotten this year, but I was able to pick up two new birds for the year: Swainson’s Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush. I’ve included shots of each below. See my Elks Brox report here.

~This made my day. Today at Goosepond Mountain, this Prairie Warbler landed right in front of me along the trail. It was overcast in the morning, which to me is the perfect light for this bird – any direct light and I just don’t like the way the yellow comes out, especially if the highlights get blown out.~

This morning I went to Goosepond Mountain in an effort to spend some time in my NYSBBA priority block. I was hoping to confirm any breeding species (I didn’t), but I particularly wanted to follow up on the Broad-winged Hawks I saw there a few weeks back (also a fail – unfortunately no sign of them). The highlight of my morning was hearing a WHITE-EYED VIREO just off the trail. The little bugger was stubborn though, and I never laid eyes on it. That’s the second WEVI I’ve heard but not seen this weekend! (The first was at Sterling Forest SP on Saturday). In spite of the above frustrations, it was actually a great walk with plenty of birds (45 species) and very few people.

~Scarlet Tanager female at Elks Brox on 05/24/20.~
~Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at Goosepond Mountain this morning, 05/25/20. This spring I have located 4 BGGN nests – it’s interesting to see how the NYS Breeding Bird Atlas has changed my focus.~
~Male Bobolink at Knapp’s View, 05/25/20.~
~Gray-cheeked Thrush at Elks Brox, 05/24/20.~
~I have this as a Swainson’s Thrush. Elks Brox in Port Jervis, 05/24/20.~

Saturday, 05/23/20

Low tide in Newburgh was at 7:52 this morning. With that in mind, I headed over to the Hudson River in hopes of getting some shorebirds on the mudflats of Cornwall Bay. As luck would have it, upon my arrival I had 3 unidentified peeps in flight, heading north, never to return. Sigh. From there, I went to the waterfront and ran into birding bud, Bruce Nott on the way. He informed me that the LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was still present. I enjoyed my best looks at the bird, as well as some decent photo ops (in spite of the poor lighting).

~Beautiful bird. Lesser Black-backed Gull in flight, Newburgh Waterfront 5/23/20.~
~LBBG in Newburgh this morning, 05/23/20.~

Afterwards, Bruce and I met up at Ironwood Drive in Sterling Forest State Park. We enjoyed a pleasant late morning of birding; the cool rainy weather made it quite pleasant and the birds remained quite active. Highlights included our target birds Golden-winged Warbler and Brewster’s Warbler. A bonus was hearing a White-eyed Vireo. The bird called for about 2 minutes, never showed itself, and then nothing! Frustrating, but still very cool. Pics were tough, I included shots of the Brewster’s in my eBird report, but just for documentary purposes. I do, however, have several shots from the past week or so that I’m including here:

~I forgot about this shot – Chimney Swift at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 05/13/20.~
~This is one of a pair of Worm-eating Warblers that I followed down the trail at Sterling Forest last weekend, 05/17/20.~
~This is a bird that has been scarce for me this year – Veery at Sterling Forest 05/17/20.~
~Chipping Sparrow at Sterling Forest SP, 05/17/20.~

Orange County BLACK TERN, 05/18/20

It was just after 4 o’clock this afternoon, when the bird finding machine known and Bruce Nott reported a BLACK TERN at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop. My problem is that Tricia and I were north of Newburgh at that time and would have to stop home first. I hustled over and arrived just after 5:30, and don’t you know it, the bird hung in there for me! It was an absolute beauty and it was also quite accommodating, feeding right in front of the viewing platform for much of the time I was there. Many other birders came for the bird as well; it was good to see some folks I haven’t seen much lately (at an acceptable social distance!). When I left the bird was still putting on the show. Huge thanks to Bruce, another goodie!

~Black Tern at the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 05/18/20.~
~Up in the clouds. Black Tern at the loop, 05/18/20.~

A Good Morning, 05/16/20

I can’t imagine many other birders feel this way, but warblers stress me out. Every spring I worry that I’m not going to be at the right place, on the right day, at the right time, and poof all the migrating warblers will be gone. It’s never happened, I always get my share, but this is what I do. Fortunately, today I was in the right place at the right time. After a relatively uneventful visit to Pochuck Mountain early this morning, I headed to Laurel Grove Cemetery, where I met up with Linda Scrima.

~We had at least half a dozen Bay-breasted Warblers at Laurel Grove this morning. They spent most of their time in the shadows, but I caught this one in good light.~

In spite of our late(ish) arrival, the place was hopping. And the birds lingered into the late morning, an unusual occurence at this location. We had a total of 13 species of warbler, highlighted by several Cape May Warblers, at least six Bay-breasted Warblers, a couple of Blackburnian Warblers, at least a couple of Magnolia Warblers, and a single Canada Warbler. Other good birds included Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Least Flycatchers (2), and I got my first Eastern Kingbird of the year. We had a total of 42 species for the morning, and some decent photos to boot.

~Cape May Warbler at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~This was probably my favorite bird of the day: Canada Warbler at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~Not as flashy as the male, but still pretty in her own way, female Cape May Warbler at LGC 05/16/20.~
~American Robin amongst the headstones at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~Cape May Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/16/20.~
~Magnolia Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/16/20.~
~The disappointment of the day – in spite of ample opportunity, this is the best shot I got of a Blackburnian Warbler. So many blurry shots! Maybe next time.~

Pochuck Mountain, 05/10/20

After a pretty disappointing day of birding on Saturday, I was happy to have a pleasant and birdy walk at Pochuck Mountain State Park this morning. It was a sunny and cool morning, and had the place almost completely to myself; when I arrived there were no turkey hunter’s vehicles in the lot at all, my only contact with anyone was a single mountain biker on the trail briefly. I had a total of 31 species, which is just slightly above average for me at this location in early May. Highlights included 8 species of warbler (Ovenbird, Worm-eating, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, and Black-throated Green), Yellow-throated Vireo, my first Baltimore Orioles of the year, and probably my best photo op of a Pileated Woodpecker to date.

~Pileated Woodpecker at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~Chestnut-sided Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~This is a bird I’ve struggled to get shots of – Black-throated Green Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~One more of the PIWO, with an ant on its bill. This bird was enjoying a nice snack, Pochuck Mountain, 05/10/20.~
~My yard continues to entertain. This week I watched Blue Jays build a nest in the tree right outside the window where I have my work computer set up. Also, two Wood Ducks roosted in the yard on Saturday night, I flushed them as I walked through the yard early Sunday morning. Here’s a Black-capped Chickadee in our crabapple tree.~

05/03/20: Backyard LINCOLN’S SPARROW!

This evening, Tricia and I were sitting on the back deck having a cocktail. Tricia stepped inside for something and I took the opportunity to check out a wren that was making a racket on the far side of one of the evergreens. I made my way around, but I couldn’t locate the bird until it flushed into the neighbor’s yard. Meanwhile, the wren was replaced with another bird – I got my bins on it and was very surprised to see it was a LINCOLN’S SPARROW!

~Beautiful bird! LINCOLN’S SPARROW, my yard, Goshen NY 05/03/20.~

I didn’t have my camera with me, so, barely moving a muscle I reached into my pocket and quietly called Tricia. Thankfully she answered immediately; I asked her to bring me my camera. I kept my eye on the bird while Tricia smoothly walked the camera out to me; the bird hadn’t moved an inch! I clicked away like mad, I was shaking from the excitement, so I knew there would be a lot of throwaways. The bird changed its perch one time before disappearing behind the evergreen and we never saw it again. Lincoln’s Sparrow in my back yard! I’m still floored by this!

~LINCOLN’S SPARROW, my yard, Goshen NY 05/03/20.~

A Good Morning at Goosepond Mountain, 05/02/20

In spite of a late start, I had an excellent morning of birding at Goosepond Mountain State Park. I walked for over 3 1/2 hours and it was quite productive. I had a total of 41 species, 12 of which were year birds for me. Highlights included: BLUE-HEADED VIREO, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, and BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. I also had a pair of Broad-winged Hawks, deep in the woods. On my way out, I had one with a fresh kill (chipmunk). On my way back I watched as the two birds copulated high in the trees. It was pretty cool.

~Yellow-rumped Warblers were quite numerous at Goosepond Mountain today, a conservative estimate would
~For as often as I hear this bird, I rarely get photographs. Carolina Wren at Goosepond Mountain, 05/02/20.~
~Blue-headed Vireo, Goosepond Mountain 05/02/20.~
~Broad-winged Hawk with chipmunk. Goosepond Mountain 05/02/20.~

I also had a couple of interesting yard birds this week. Who knew what I’ve been missing by going in to work every day? Working from home certainly has its advantages.

~I was sitting at my desk working and I caught a bird landing in one of our trees out of the corner of my eye. I was certainly surprised to see it was a Wood Duck!!! My yard, Goshen NY 04/27/20.~
~Tricia spied this Wood Thrush out our kitchen window and called me in. I grabbed my camera a got a few shots – all with its back to me – before the bird took off. My yard, Goshen NY 05/01/20.~