Orange County NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, 05/30/22

I spent my birding time over the past couple of days trying to catch up with the NEOTROPIC CORMORANT that Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott found at the Newburgh Rowing Club on Saturday evening. I was in Newburgh twice yesterday and had some rotten luck, missing the bird by less than 10 minutes. Today was a different story and I finally connected with the bird thanks to two birders up from the city (Heydi & Ryan maybe? Sorry I’m so bad with names). I connected with them when they first arrived, and not to long after that, they contacted me to let me know they had found the bird by the Newburgh Ferry. The bird was cooperative until birding bud Rob Stone arrived and got it, but shortly after that it was flushed by a pair of jet skis.

~Wow! NEOTROPIC CORMORANT on the Hudson River near the Newburgh Ferry 05/30/22. From what I understand, this is only the 6th NECO record in NYS .~

The NECO wasn’t the only excitement I had this week. I was focusing on breaking 200 birds in Sullivan this week. On Thursday I joined Karen Miller out at Haven Road and we heard a solitary Eastern Whip-poor-will (#199) calling. On Saturday I went to the Neversink Reservoir and got Bobolink (200) and Savannah Sparrow (201). Afterwards, I birded Hurleyville Swamp and was able to clearly hear an Alder Flycatcher (202) calling away. I was going to head home at that point, having cleaned up pretty good, but John Haas contacted me to let me know he had a Mourning Warbler calling near Cooley Bog. I ran for that bird, and although I didn’t ever lay eyes on it, I heard it well. The Mourning Warbler bumped my Sullivan County total to 203 and it was also a life bird for me (4 in a week! Craziness!).

~A wet and bedraggled looking Bobolink was my 200th bird in Sullivan County. Neversink Reservoir, 05/28/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (49) For all the good luck I had this week, it didn’t come home with me; I didn’t add any new birds to my yard list.

~Bald Eagle at the Newburgh Rowing Club, 05/29/22.~
~Now this was crazy. When I arrived at the Newburgh Rowing Club this morning, Matt Klein was there. He immediately got me on this white-tailed deer swimming across the river! The deer must have realized it was longer than it thought, and just under halfway across it turned back and made it back to Orange County unscathed.
~Cuteness. Killdeer and chick at Hurleyville Swamp 05/28/22.~
~Yellow Warbler at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/28/22.~
~Osprey on the Hudson River, 05/29/22.~

24 Hour Pelagic, 05/23/22

Last Sunday night, after a 2 1/2 hour drive to Emmons Avenue in Brooklyn, I set sail on the American Princess, embarking on a 24 hour pelagic birding trip. It was my third true pelagic (not counting the several whale watching excursions I’ve been on), and my first 24 hour/overnight experience. Unfortunately, winds had shifted from south to north that evening, leading to waves that were quite disorganized, which made for a rough journey. I stayed up for a couple of hours, enjoying the fresh air and the views, before lying down on my sleeping mat to try and get some sleep. I thought I might finally be able to relax once I reclined, but that was not the case. The boat was pitching front to back and side to side severely enough to make it hard to keep from rolling over, regardless of the position I tried.

~Probably my favorite bird of the trip – Sooty Shearwater during the American Princess Cruise’s 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~

So it was a long, restless night and I got barely any sleep; I don’t think many people slept. Folks started to get up at first light, and I got up, packed up my sleeping gear, and joined them shortly after. It was the start of a long but productive day of pelagic birding. It’s not very often that I actually bird for a complete day – during this trip I was pretty actively birding from around 5:00 am until 7 or 7:30 pm. There are some times which are exciting and there are loads of birds and cetaceans, but most of the time there isn’t much going on and you’re just scanning and searching.

~One of my 3 life birds from the day – Black-capped Petrel, APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~

Here’s a list of what I consider ‘pelagic’ birds that we saw:

  • Red Phalarope
  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
  • Leach’s Storm-Petrel
  • Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (this was an observation by one of the trip leaders – I did not see this bird)
  • Black-capped Petrel
  • Cory’s Shearwater
  • Great Shearwater
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Manx Shearwater
  • Atlantic Puffin
  • Dovekie

The Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, and Black-capped Petrel were all life birds for me. It’s not too often these days that I get a lifer, not to mention 3 in a single day. The 2 Atlantic Puffins and 1 Dovekie were the biggest surprise of the day; no one knew what they were doing out there at this time of the year. Other interesting birds included several Common Loons, loads of Common Terns, a single Northern Gannet, and a pair of beautiful young Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

~Beautiful bird. Lesser Black-backed Gull following the boat on the way back to Brooklyn. APC 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~

We also did pretty well with cetaceans. We had 3 species of dolphin (Common, Risso’s, and Striped) and 3 species of whale (Minke, Humpback, and Fin). We also had several Ocean Sunfish (folks were referring to them as Mola Mola); this was the first time I’d ever seen them.

~I’m not sure why these Wilson’s Storm-Petrels were always flying away from the boat. I usually don’t like pics of birds going away, but these are a little interesting to me. APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~

The trip back to Brooklyn was a lot smoother than the trip out, and it was a beautiful evening to enjoy the journey and any sitings along the way. We got back to the dock just after 9:00; by the time I walked to my car and drove home, it was nearly midnight. I was exhausted, to say the least, but happy about a day well spent and to be home in one piece.

~Manx Shearwater, APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~Cool bird. Sooty Shearwater; APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~Top view of the Black-capped Petrel, APC 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~
~I screamed “puffin!” when I saw this bird, lol. Atlantic puffin on the water, APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~Common Dolphin showing off, APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~For as many Common Terns as we saw, photo ops were rare. APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, APC 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~
~Put this in the category of ‘cool birds’. Red-necked Phalarope during the APC 24 hour pelagic trip 05/23/22.~
~One more ass end of a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, APC 24 hour pelagic 05/23/22.~
~Striped Dolphins; APC 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~
~Common Dolphins; APC 24 hour pelagic, 05/23/22.~

Sunday Shots, 05/22/22

I split my time this weekend between Orange and Sullivan Counties. One of my goals this year is to get to 200 birds in Sullivan County, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to add any new species this weekend. I tried two times for the Mourning Warbler(s) which were reported at the Bashakill; I had a near miss (15 minutes or so) on Saturday and no luck on Sunday. I also tried for the Black-bellied Plover that was at Hurleyville Swamp – I missed it on Thursday evening and then by Saturday morning most of the shorebirds had moved on from that location.

Hopefully my luck will change for the better tomorrow; I’m heading out on a 24 hour pelagic tonight through tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it will be a productive trip.

Yard Birds 2022: (49) – I added 2 species this week: Eastern Wood-Pewee and Baltimore Oriole.

~Warbling Vireo at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/19/22.~
~Willow Flycatcher on a foggy Saturday Morning, 05/21/22.~
Red-eyed Vireo at the Bashakill, 05/21/22.~
~Crappy photo of a good bird. Wilson’s Warbler at the Bashakill, 05/21/22.~

Sunday Shots, 05/15/22

After Friday night’s Arctic Tern excitement, the weekend of birding felt a little hum-drum for me – looking for small birds in the treetops doesn’t always do it for me. But, since I was away last weekend, and I didn’t get out much this week, I was well behind my normal pace. I started the weekend with my lowest number of species in Orange County (at this date), in over 5 years. Because of that, many of the birds I heard and saw over the past couple of days were new birds for the year. I added a good number of new species over the weekend – 35 to be exact. Exciting birds for me included Blackburnian Warble, Worm-eating Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush, and Semipalmated Plover. I’ve included a list of all my new birds at the bottom of this post.

~Worm-eating Warbler singing at Pochuck State Forest, 05/15/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (47) – I added 4 species since I last reported: Chimney Swift, European Starling, Northern Parula, and Great Crested Flycatcher.

~Swainson’s Thrush at Pochuck State Forest, 05/15/22.~
~Ovenbird at Elks Brox on 05/14/22.~
~Ruby-throated Hummingbird in our yard, 05/12/22.~
~My FOY Eastern Kingbird, at the Liberty Loop 05/15/22.~
~Great Blue Heron coming in to land at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 05/15/22.~
~A species that I see and hear all the time, but don’t photograph that often – House Wren at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/15/22.~

Wow, Orange County ARCTIC TERNS!

This afternoon Karen Miller reported several tern species at Glenmere Lake. Meanwhile John Haas had 18 terns at the Bashakill which would prove to be ARCTIC TERNS. I was dying at work, as you can imagine. Then, I saw a report on the NYS list serve for Arctic Terns in Westchester County. I knew I had to get to Glenmere after work if the birds stuck around. Linda Scrima kept me posted, and I ran for the birds after work. There were 7 individuals present, all in constant flight, quite distant, feeding over the lake. Linda left and had one of her photos confirmed as an ARCTIC TERN! I took over 1,000 photos, and this evening I reviewed them and could not find any individual which didn’t look like an Arctic to me. Apparently this is a first county record for Orange County, so that’s pretty exciting!

All photos ARCTIC TERNS at Glenmere Lake on 05/13/22.

Cape Cod 2022

I really enjoyed my birding time in Cape Cod over the weekend. It was an extended weekend for me, as I took Thursday and Friday off work. Birding bud Rob Stone does a lot of birding on the cape, so he provided me with some good intel prior to the trip. Based on this information, the primo spot from my perspective is Race Point, so I went there first thing Friday morning and then, as fate would have it, Rob was also on the cape over the weekend, and we joined up to bird Race Point again on Saturday morning.

~Black Scoters in flight at Race Point, 05/06/22. I believe the fifth bird from the back might be a Surf Scoter with them.~

I really enjoy birding at the shore, and the highlight of the 2 days was getting eight species of gull: Herring, Ring-billed, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Laughing Gull, Iceland Gull, and Glaucous Gull. The only real disappointment was not also getting Black-legged Kittiwake, which is apparently expected at this time of year at Race Point. We also had plenty of Common Terns, but were unable to locate any Roseate Terns which would also be expected.

~Two Bonaparte’s Gulls lead the larger Laughing Gull into the wind at Race Point, 05/07/22.~

I was also impressed with the high numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers – there were hundreds present on both days. Other waterfowl included large numbers of White-winged Scoters, loads of Double-crested Cormorants, plenty of Common and Red-throated Loons, some Common Eiders, and possibly one Surf Scoter.

Other than several Piping Plovers each day, shorebirds were a disappointment with only a few Willets and a single Spotted Sandpiper observed. Northern Gannets were nearly a no-show on Friday, but Saturday were plentiful.

~Two White-winged Scoters cruise by at Race Point, 05/06/22.~

The weather was another big factor. Friday was calm, with the sun trying to poke out all day; the ocean was like a lake, smooth as glass for the most part. On Saturday, the winds really picked up as the morning progressed. On our way back from the point we were walking into 25 mph winds with gusts which we estimated in the 40 mph range. The sand, which is very course, was up and flying, pelting our faces as we walked into it.

~I saw whales both days. I think this is likely a Humpback Whale, if anyone out there knows please comment. Race Point 05/06/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (43) – I added 4 new species since last weekend: Nashville Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Yellow Warbler.

~Glaucous Gull on the beach at Race Point, 05/07/22.~
~Common Eider zipping by at Race Point, 05/06/22.~
~Piping Plover at Race Point, 05/06/22.~
~Common Eider on the beach right across from where we were staying in Wellfleet, MA 05/05/22.~
~Osprey overhead in Wellfleet, MA 05/08/22.~
~Willet in Provincetown, MA 05/07/22.~
~Iceland Gull alongside a Great Black-backed Gull, Race Point 05/06/22.~

Cape Cod 2022 Teaser

Tricia and I enjoyed a long weekend in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. It was great to get away for a mini-vacation; we enjoyed going out for some delicious food, Tricia did some plein air painting, and I of course did some extremely enjoyable birding. I won’t be able to put together a post for tonight, so enjoy this Piping Plover teaser shot while I try to get a full post together for tomorrow.

~Piping Plover on the move at Race Beach, Cape Cod, 05/06/22.~

Happy Anniversary

Today marks 10 years since my first ever post here at Back then I included the sub-header ‘The education of a novice birder in Orange County, NY.’ The time has gone by quickly, I’ve learned a lot since then, and I removed that sub-header several years ago at the prodding of several readers of the blog. To commemorate the occasion, I figured I would look back at my personal favorite photo from each of the past ten years. I’ll mention that years ago, the theme I was running the blog on showed portrait cropped photos better than squares or landscapes. Now it is the opposite, and you might notice that the portrait crops don’t fill the screen as nicely now.

2012: Black-crowned Night-heron at Denning’s Point in Beacon. At this time, I didn’t think I would ever get a decent shot of a BCNH, never the less one in beautiful light. It blew me away that I was able to pull this off!


2013: Common Loon chick in the Adirondacks. Cuteness overload, enough said.


2014: Foster’s Tern in flight at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. This is a shot which just worked out very nicely; I love the pastel colors in the background and it’s always nice to get the catchlight in the eye of a tern.


2015: Short-eared Owl in the black dirt. At the time I was trying for Short-eared Owls quite a bit and I got lucky with this very cooperative owl on a man-made but visually nice perch.


2016: Black Vulture in Blooming Grove NY. This was a shot that I almost didn’t even bother to take. It was an overcast day with very poor lighting, but I figured I’d overexpose it and I snapped a few pics. The result struck a chord with me and this remains a favorite of mine.


2017: Common Loon in the Adirondacks. Common Loon is the only species to make my top photo twice in the last 10 years. It’s quite an experience to kayak with the loons in the Adirondacks – the birds have what seems to be a sense of curiosity and will often come over to check you out. It allows for plenty of opportunities for interesting shots of the birds.


2018: Horned Grebe at Greenwood Lake. At a location where good photos are few and far between, I got lucky with this HOGR that was getting lucky fishing right near the shore.


2019: Semipalmated Plover at Stone Harbor Point. My shorebird obsession was well kicked in at this point and I was happy to get a crisp shot of this bird on the move with such an nice background.


2020: Great Blue Heron in the Adirondacks. I’m realizing as I write this that 3 of my top photos from the past 10 years were not only taken while kayaking, they were all also taken at the same location – Follensby Clear Pond in the Adirondacks. This photo is still my all time favorite and I have it printed large scale and hanging in our living room.


2021: American Pipit in flight in the black dirt. I just think this is a cool shot of one of my favorite birds.


Sunday Shots, 05/01/22

I can hardly believe it’s May already. Maybe it’s because it’s been unseasonably chilly recently, I don’t know. Anyways, the birds aren’t paying any mind, and it’s that time of year when they are plentiful and it just depends on where you go and what you try for. The highlight of my weekend was certainly the Caspian Tern I found yesterday at Cornwall Bay, but the rest of the weekend was good too, with plenty of new birds to be seen and to add to my year list.

~Palm Warbler at Hurleyville Swamp this morning, 05/01/22.~

I had some local (Orange County) targets yesterday, but this morning my goal was to see some shorebirds. In particular I wanted to see if I could get lucky with the Greater Yellowlegs reported at Hurleyville Swamp; it would be one species closer to my objective of breaking 200 birds in Sullivan County this year. It was my first visit ever to the swamp, and I have to say it’s a great spot. It’s a rails to trails so the walk is easy and flat, and the spot was jamming pretty good with birds. I added the Greater Yellowlegs to my list easily, as there were at least 4 present. Other shorebirds included Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Solitary Sandpipers. I did not relocate the Least Sandpipers which had been reported there recently.

~Greater Yellowlegs at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/01/22.~

Afterwards, I came back to OC to see if I could track down any local shorebirds. The Camel Farm was a total bust, but Beaver Pond now has some nice looking shorebird conditions and there were several Solitary Sandpipers and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs present. I went to Wickham Lake to see if there were any shorebirds in all the puddles there, but I was surprised to see the puddles had all dried up this week. I was also surprised to find a distant White-winged Scoter out on the lake.

~Red-winged Blackbird at the Liberty Loop, 04/29/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (39) – I didn’t add any new birds since my last post.

~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Hurleyville Swamp, 05/01/22.~
~Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Winding Waters Trail, 04/29/22.~
~A young Snapping Turtle at Winding Waters Trail, 04/29/22.~
~I had several encounters with Hermit Thrushes Saturday morning at Black Rock Forest, but unfortunately the light was never good for photos. HETH at BRF 04/30/22.~