Orange County Caspian Tern, 04/30/22

I had two target birds when I left at sunrise this morning. I dipped on my first one – I went to Black Rock Forest and hiked up to Jupiter’s Boulder to try for Ruffed Grouse. Unfortunately, not only was it painful because I’m so out of shape, I had no luck with the bird. Afterwards I headed to the Hudson River to try for Caspian Tern. I was not optimistic; the timing was right, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I had no luck at the Newburgh Waterfront and the Newburgh Rowing Club, so I headed to Plum Point.

~Caspian Tern at Plum Point this morning, 04/30/22.~

I scanned Cornwall Bay and found a distant Caspian Tern perched with a handful of Ring-billed Gulls. I’m not sure if they were clinging to the last of the sandbar, or if they were on a piece of driftwood. I was happy to get the bird, but not thrilled about the distance and no photos. Then, the unthinkable happened. The bird picked up and flew right to me, dove for and caught a small fish, and then proceeded north along the river with a Ring-billed Gull giving chase. Talk about timing!

~A Ring-billed Gull gives chase as the Caspian Tern evades with a fish in its bill. Plum Point, 04/30/22.~

The tern was relocated at the Newburgh Waterfront by Bruce Nott Yard a little later, and apparently several birders were able to see it.

Birds 2022: (39) – I added Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and House Wren this week.

~CATE in flight over the Hudson River, Plum Point 04/30/22.~

Sunday Shots, 04/24/22

It’s the time of year when most birders are getting excited about the arrival of passerines, particularly the wood warblers. I’m not there yet, and I spent the weekend trying for waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls. I didn’t connect with any new or interesting waterfowl; as for shorebirds, I had some modest success this morning with a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers and (2) Least Sandpipers at the Camel Farm and a couple of Greater Yellowlegs at the Liberty Loop. And regarding gulls, I was pleasantly surprised to find the highlight of my weekend – 19 Bonaparte’s Gulls at Plum Point early Saturday afternoon.

~Apparently there was only room for 14 Bonies on this piece of driftwood. I was entertained by the gulls as they kept trying to muscle in for a spot on this coveted perch. Plum Point, 04/23/22.~

Other highlights for me included some very good looks at Rusty Blackbirds at Wickham Lake on Saturday morning, as well as a flock of approximately 50 American Pipits at Skinner’s Lane on Saturday morning as well. I was just settling in to watch these birds and wait for them to hopefully come closer to the road, when the entire flock picked up and flew northwest, not to return.

~Always a favorite – Rusty Blackbird on a nice perch at Wickham Lake, 04/23/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (36) – I didn’t add any new species since my last post.

~BOGUs in flight at Plum Point, 04/23/22.~
~Rusty Blackbird at Wickham Lake, 04/23/22.~

Excellent Evening, 04/19/22

After last night’s rain storms, today was quite a day for birding in the area. There was a tremendous fallout of waterfowl; I received reports of large numbers of Horned Grebes, White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-necked Grebes at various lakes and on the Hudson River. The most remarkable siting, however was up to 700 Bonaparte’s Gulls on the Hudson River near Newburgh. I have never heard of any report of near that many BOGUs in Orange County before; it must have been quite the event to witness.

~This is nothing I’ve ever seen before – 6 Horned Grebes in flight over Wickham Lake, 04/19/22.~

I was unsure where to head when I got out of work; at first I thought I might go to Wickham Lake and then to the river. At the lake, there were still loads of good birds: White-winged Scoter (13), Long-tailed Duck (2), Horned Grebe (21), Ruddy Duck (15), and a distant scaup, which looked to me to be good for a Lesser. It was cold and windy, but also the sun was peeking out, making for a gorgeous night. At one point there was even a rainbow. Rather than spend the time driving, I decided to stay at Wickham and just enjoy being out with the birds.

~Two Long-tailed Ducks in flight at Wickham Lake, 04/19/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (36) I’ve added 2 species since my last post – Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Chipping Sparrow.

~Rainbow at Wickham Lake, iPhone photo 04/19/22.~

Sunday Shots, 04/10/22

I covered a lot of ground in Orange County this weekend; I went to the Newburgh Waterfront three times, I birded the Hudson River south of Newburgh, drove through Harriman State Park checking the lakes for waterfowl, and did the same at Sterling Forest SP. I hit my “local” lakes both days (Wickham, Greenwood, Walton, and Round). And first thing this morning I spent some time in the black dirt, wishing the heavy puddling would lead me to an interesting bird; it did not.

~Male Hooded Merganser at Silver Mine Lake, 04/09/22.~

The results were mixed. I had a lot of strike outs, but also some decent birds. I’ve decided to rank my top birds of the weekend:

  1. Iceland Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22. I guess I never get tired of this bird; it was a pleasant surprise to find one loafing on the floating docks this morning.
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull at Round Lake, 04/09/22. I watched this bird as it intermittently floated and fed in a steady rain on Saturday afternoon.
  3. Long-tailed Ducks, Plum Point 04/09/22. I was happy to see these two birds; unfortunately they were quite distant, so the looks weren’t great, and no pics.
  4. Common Loons, 2 at Greenwood Lake and 3 at Round Lake on Saturday, and 1 at Wickham and Round Lakes on Sunday.
  5. Scaup, Lesser and Greater. I had the Lessers at Plum point on 04/09/22 and the Greaters at Round Lake on 4/10/22,
  6. Notable Mention: A female Red-breasted Merganser at Greenwood Lake, 04/10/22.
~Iceland Gull loafing on the floating docks at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (34) – On Friday evening I added 2 birds flying over, American Kestrel and Tree Swallow. The kestrel was the first falcon I can remember seeing from my yard.

~Eastern Meadowlark giving me the usual distant look in the black dirt, 04/10/22.~
~Female Hooded Merganser at Silver Mine Lake, 04/09/22.~
~Fish Crow at the Newburgh Waterfront, 04/10/22.~

Orange County Waterfowl, 04/03/22

I went out this morning in search of waterfowl. I checked several lakes and ponds in southern Orange County, and finished up at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh. In all, I totaled 17 species of waterfowl. My best bird was Common Loon, of which I found four individuals at three different locations. The hottest spot was definitely Liberty Marsh, which I walked in the rain. Below I’ve included a complete list of species seen, with locations.

~Common Loon at Wickham Lake, taken on Thursday 03/31/22.~
  1. Canada Goose (Glenmere Lake, Beaver Pond, Wickham Lake, & Greenwood Lake)
  2. Mute Swan (Wickham Lake, Liberty Marsh)
  3. Wood Duck (Glenmere, Wickham, Walton, & Liberty Marsh)
  4. Blue-winged Teal (Liberty Marsh)
  5. Northern Shoveler (Liberty Marsh)
  6. Gadwall (Beaver Pond)
  7. American Wigeon (Liberty Marsh)
  8. Mallard (Glenmere, Beaver Pond, Wickham, & Greenwood Lake)
  9. American Black Duck (Liberty Marsh)
  10. Northern Pintail (Liberty Marsh)
  11. Green-winged Teal (Liberty Marsh)
  12. Ring-necked Duck (Glenmere & Liberty Marsh)
  13. Bufflehead (Greenwood)
  14. Common Merganser (Wickham & Greenwood)
  15. Pied-billed Grebe (Liberty Marsh)
  16. Common Loon (Greenwood, Walton, & Round)
  17. Double-crested Cormorant (Wickham, Greenwood, & Round)
~Three Blue-winged Teal at Liberty Marsh, 04/03/22.~

Yesterday morning, Linda Scrima joined me, as I headed back to Black Rock Forest. I was hoping for a better look and photos of the Red Crossbills, and Linda was hoping to get them for the first time in Orange County. We had success on one count, as we saw and heard the birds several times and Linda was able to get some documentary shots of the birds, but the birds never really cooperated for better looks/photos. The area by Tamarack Pond is really a fun spot to bird and many good birds continued (Red-breasted Nuthatch, Fox Sparrow, many Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finches, and Brown Creepers).

On our way out, we ran into Ken McDermott who was trying for the birds. He reported later that afternoon that he’d been successful, pushing his total birds in Orange Count to an absolutely astounding 305 species. Congrats Ken!

~Roadside Pileated Woodpecker in Sugarloaf NY, 04/03/22.~
~Shorebirds are on the move, I’m happy to say. Greater Yellowlegs in the black dirt 04/03/22.~
~Killdeer at Wickham Lake, 03/31/22.~
~One of my favorite birds from the weekend – Rusty Blackbird at Wickham Lake, 04/03/22.~
~Common Loon at Wickham Lake, 03/31/22.~