Sunday Shots – Yard Raptors Edition, 07/31/22

Well I finally added a new yard bird to my 2022 list this week. Early in the week I was hearing a Broad-winged Hawk calling somewhere in the vicinity. On Friday while I was working, I heard it again and it was loud. I went out my side door and the bird was perched in the large maple tree in the corner of our yard. I clicked a few photos before the bird flew, but my settings weren’t great and my shutter speed was very slow – 1/125th of a second. I didn’t think I had a prayer of getting anything sharp, especially because I was hand-holding my super heavy 500 mm lens. Lucky for me, I managed a couple of acceptable shots.

~Broad-winged Hawk in my yard, 07/30/22.~

Meanwhile, the Cooper’s Hawks which nested in my neighbor’s yard had at least three chicks successfully fledge. They have been making a racket all week, and this afternoon, after several blown opportunities, I was able to get a good shot of one of them in the same maple as the BWHA. It was funny because I was “watching the golf” (ie napping on the sofa), when Tricia woke me up to tell me the bird was in our yard.

~Young Cooper’s Hawk in my yard, 07/31/22.~

I didn’t get out at all on Saturday, but this morning I got out for a few hours. I checked 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, following up on some shorebirds that Karen Miller told me about. Conditions are good, but the only shorebirds I was able to locate were about a dozen Killdeer and and a single Solitary Sandpiper. The sanctuary is loaded with Green Herons right now – I had at least 8 while I was there this morning. And as you would expect, there were also many Wood Ducks around; I was happy to capture this one just off the trail.

~Wood Duck in the muck at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 07/31/22.~
~One of several Green Herons at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary this morning, 07/31/22.~

I also tried Beaver Pond for shorebirds – I found several Least Sandpipers and 10 or so Killdeer. Conditions are good – I’m prediction at least one good bird there this fall.

My last stop was the Liberty Loop. I birded from the platform and was able to locate a single, distant American Bittern. I checked the west side of the loop for shorebirds but only found a couple of Killdeer. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing some more good shorebirds in our area.

~Cedar Waxwing at Beaver Pond, 07/31/22.~

Yard Birds 2022: (50). I FINALLY got a new bird (the Broad-winged Hawk), my first since May 17th.

Orange County Little Blue Heron, 07/26/22

On my third attempt, I finally caught up with the LITTLE BLUE HERON that has been hanging around the small pond at Algonquin Park recently. The bird was originally located by Ken McDermott last Friday, and I have to thank Ken for posting that the bird was present this evening. His timing was impeccable; I was just wrapping up work. The bird hung in for me this time, and I enjoyed some fantastic looks. I was particularly impressed when the bird caught and ate 2 large frogs, one right after the other. Ken had returned for another look, and Joe Chernek showed up as well, so it was really good to see both of them as well. It felt good to have an exciting evening of birding – it’s been a while.

~Little Blue Heron at Algonquin Park, Newburgh NY 07/26/22.~
~LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~It was cool to watch the bird take short flights around the pond. LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~Little Blue Heron at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~
~The bird hunted and ate 2 frogs this big right in a row. And it continued hunting! LBHE at Algonquin Park, 07/26/22.~

Sunday Shots, 07/24/22

So it’s still feeling like the summer doldrums to me. That said, there was a little excitement in the local birding scene. On Wednesday, an ANHINGA was reported at Lake Tappan in Rockland County. I went for the bird after work on Thursday and was lucky enough to see it. The bird was distant and my photos were barely good enough for documentary purposes, but I enjoyed watching the bird in my scope, waiting it out until it finally left its perch and fished a little. It was excellent to see such a cool bird and to add it to my New York State list.

On Friday, Ken McDermott found a LITTLE BLUE HERON at Algonquin Park. It was reported on Saturday as well, but I tried to relocate it on Sunday and had no luck. Also, John Haas had a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront on Saturday. I tried for that bird this morning, but didn’t have any luck.

~I have this as a young Red-shouldered Hawk. Bullville Pond, 07/24/22.~

Not very shockingly, shorebirds were my main targets this week. I visited Beaver Pond near Glenmere Lake on Friday and had Least, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers along with a good number of Killdeer. At the south pond of the Liberty Loop on Saturday morning, I had the same list of shorebird species (although Kyle Knapp had a Pectoral Sandpiper there on Sunday morning). The Camel Farm it totally dry and I didn’t even stop by. This morning I went to Bullville Pond, where there were a couple Solitaries and a couple Spotteds. Hopefully we will begin to get some more diversity soon.

~Great Blue Heron at Bullville Pond, 07/24/22.~
~Killdeer at the south pond of the Liberty Loop, 07/23/22.~
~Solitary Sandpiper in the muck at the Liberty Loop, 07/23/22.~
~One of three young Cooper’s Hawks at Black Rock Forest last Sunday, 7/17/22. I took an 8.5 mile hike on Sunday but it wasn’t overly noteworthy in terms of birds so I didn’t post.~
~That’s it for this week. Hopefully things will start to pick up soon.~

Liberty Loop 07/16/22

I arrived at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Loop just after sunrise this morning, with hopes to catch up with the American Bittern Ronnie DiLorenzo reported on Thursday. Shortly after my arrival, Kyle Knapp joined me with the same target bird. As he was preparing to hike the loop, I spotted an AMERICAN BITTERN flying across the marsh. I couldn’t see where it put down, but Kyle did and we walked the trail to the approximate area.

~I was pretty excited to see this bird -AMERICAN BITTERN at the Liberty Loop, 07/16/22.~

After a good while of searching, I finally found the bird, feeding in a little wet area behind some dense vegetation. We enjoyed spectacular views in my scope, and tried to find any angle where we could get photos. As I was watching the bittern, a SORA walked into my view, feeding just in front of the bittern. I got Kyle on the Sora, and in his bins he saw that there were actually 2 Soras present. It was fantastic to get pretty good looks at such a secretive bird.

~SACR at Wallkill River NWR, 07/16/22.~

Afterwards, we headed to the back pond of the Liberty Loop. We were hoping for shorebirds and Least Bitterns. We totally dipped on the Least Bitterns, but we did have a smattering of shorebirds – 3 Least Sandpipers, 3 or 4 Solitary Sandpipers, several Killdeer, and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. The highlight, however, was finding the 2 local Sandhill Cranes feeding just 20 or so feet off the trail. We snapped some photos as we passed, shocked to be so close to them, and left them feeding in the same spot as we continued on our way.

~American Bittern shot through the grasses. Liberty Loop, 07/16/22.~
~This is what approximately 20 feet at 500mm looks like. Sandhill Crane at the Liberty Loop, 07/16/22.~

Black Rock Forest, 07/10/22

I took advantage of the relatively cool weather this morning and took an 8 mile hike at Black Rock Forest. It was a pleasant and relatively birdy hike, especially the first half of it, which provided a variety of habitats and most of the nearly 50 bird species I identified for the morning. Bird highlights included two Broad-winged Hawks (2 separate encounters), recently fledged Worm-eating Warblers, and recently fledged Prairie Warblers, neither of which I’d ever seen before. Non-avian highlights included a cooperative family of Beavers at Upper Reservoir.

~A female Scarlet Tanager at Black Rock Forest, 07/10/22.~

I’ve included my full list of birds species as well as a screenshot of my All Trails tracking information at the bottom of this post.

~One of 3 beavers at Black Rock Forest, 07/10/22.~
~A recently fledged Prairie Warbler at Black Rock Forest, 07/10/22.~

I did get out locally yesterday evening and on Thursday night as well. Both days I went to the Camel Farm to check on shorebird progress, and it’s not bad at all with a decent species list: Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper. I also made it out to the Liberty Loop on Thursday and finally caught up with a Least Bittern in Orange County.

~Eastern Kingbirds at Liberty Marsh, 07/07/22.~
~There are loads of Wood Duck ducklings at the Liberty Marsh right now.~
~Willow Flycatcher at Liberty Marsh, 07/07/22.~
~One more shot of the Eastern Kingbirds at Liberty Marsh, 07/07/22.~

4th of July Weekend, 2022

Well, it sure feels like summer is finally here. And, for me, it’s brought along the birding doldrums with it. I’ve tried to be resourceful and to think of some places to visit and birds go for; that’s helped, but ultimately my birding on this long holiday weekend felt uninspired.

On Saturday morning I went to Sullivan County to bird Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area. My target bird was Ruffed Grouse, and I’m happy to report that I did, in fact see one. For about 1 second. I paused to try to find a singing Magnolia Warbler, when about 30 feet away, a Ruffed Grouse exploded out of the brush and flew like a rocket deep in to the woods. It was simulaneously exciting and disappointing, as it was great to get the bird, but a total bummer to once again get such a brief, poor look. Otherwise, the trail at Hickok Brook was birdy enough to keep it interesting, but as it goes at this time of the year, most birds were heard, not seen.

On my way home, I went through the black dirt region. The Camel Farm was surprisingly active with shorebirds – I observed over 20 Killdeer, several Spotted Sandpipers, and a single Lesser Yellowlegs.

~House Wren in my backyard last week, 06/29/22.~

On Sunday evening I went out to Sterling Forest. I went a little later in the evening so that I would still be there around sunset; my target was to finally get Eastern Whip-poor-will in Orange County this year. The Whip-poor-wills were right on time and it was really cool to hear them calling on and on, sometimes from quite nearby. Otherwise, it was quiet birding with not much going on.

~Bobolink in the black dirt, 07/02/22.~

This morning I went to the Liberty Loop nice and early, hoping for Least Bitterns. I did observe (2) LIBIs briefly in flight, but the birds were not as numberous/accommodating as they have been in past years at that location. I stopped by the Camel Farm on my way home and had basically the same shorebirds, but today there were at least (6) Spotted Sandpipers present.

Yard Birds 2022: I am stuck on 49 species; I had no new birds since I last posted.

~Great Blue Herons are already gathering in numbers at the Liberty Loop. I had at least 20 birds there this morning, 07/04/22.~.
~Green Heron at the Liberty Loop, 07/04/22.~
~Black Vulture over my house on Friday evening, 07/01/22.~