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 Common Terns at the Bashakill. 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.~