The highlight of my week was going to Wickham Lake on Thursday evening, where I had a total of 13 species of waterfowl, including one exciting bird, a SURF SCOTER. On Friday I joined Karen Miller at the lake again, where there were still loads of waterfowl. I increased my total waterfowl species for the two days to 15:
Am. Black Duck
Kyle Knapp joined me on Thursday to get the Surf Scoter, a lifter for him (congrats!). We also saw (4) adult Bald Eagles across the lake, just after sunset. One was perched, but the other three were tangling in the skies just above the tree line.
On Saturday I was the official counter at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch. I feel a little bit snake bit this season as I had another day of negligible winds and a cloudless blue sky of death. I counted a total of 29 migrating raptors in 6 1/2 hours; my Hawkcount report is at the bottom of this post. Afterwards, I went to the black dirt hoping for some new birds, maybe a Lapland Longspur or some Snow Buntings. No luck with either of those species, but Horned Lark numbers were up, if only slightly. American Pipits were still present in large numbers too.
Today I faced the blue sky of death for nearly 7 hours at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch. Fortunately there were some hawks flying early in the day; low enough to not get lost in the vast sea of blue. The afternoon was not as productive; I’ll never know if I just missed all the birds in the blue sky or if the flight slowed down. Regardless, I totaled 66 migrating raptors, just enough to keep me busy enough. Highlights included a half dozen Red-shouldered Hawks and an unexpected (to me) flight of nearly 40 Turkey Vultures. I’ve included my HawkCount report at the bottom of this post.
Yesterday was much more productive, but I did get out this morning as well. I didn’t have much of a plan, so I pretty much just wandered the black dirt in hopes of shorebirds or large collections of geese. I pretty much got neither, lol. The only shorebirds of the day were a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Killdeer at the Camel Farm. And, in spite of seeing flock after flock fly over, I never tracked down any large groups of geese. I always like to check in on Sundays regardless, so here’s a few shots from the past couple of days. I hope you are not sick of pipits yet – they are all over the black dirt and I can’t seem to resist photographing them.
I woke up early this morning and birded the black dirt before heading to Mt. Peter, where I was scheduled to be the official counter. It was a gorgeous morning, and I was happy just to be out and about and not working. I didn’t have high expectations, so I was especially happy to find another nice collection of shorebirds. In one field I had loads of Killdeer, a Wilson’s Snipe, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER. The birds were close, the light was nice; it was a lovely start to my Saturday.
Afterwards, I headed up to Mt. Peter to spend the day counting hawks on the mountain. It was an interesting flight today; I don’t know if it was due to the a substantial south wind we had today, but nearly all the migrating raptors I counted today were low birds, just above the treetops. I had a modest 30 migrants today, 20 of which where Sharp-shinned Hawks. As usual, I’ve included my Hawkcount report below.
I was away this weekend and so the only birding I fit in was Sunday afternoon into the early evening. I checked the black dirt, hoping for shorebirds but no luck. I did come across a flock of American Pipits, always a favorite of mine, feeding on an old pumpkin field. Afterwards, I walked Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Winding Waters trail. It was a pleasant and birdy walk, with mostly the usuals. My best moment was when a Merlin rocketed down the trail, about head high, right towards me, only veering off at the last second.
The first week back at work after vacation is always a doozy, but this one has been especially rough. This seemed to make it that much sweeter when I finally got out to do some birding tonight and found a nice collection of shorebirds in the black dirt. The highlight was (6) WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, which are always a favorite. Also in the same field was over 100 Killdeer, (3) Least Sandpipers, and a single Pectoral Sandpiper. It was a nice break from the grind.
Tricia and I spent last week on vacation in Maine. It’s our third vacation in the state in the last eight years, and we enjoyed this year so much that we had our hotel on Monhegan Island (The Monhegan House) pencil us in for the same week next year.
Monhegan Island is a very small island approximately 10 nautical miles off the coast of Maine, between Portland and Rockland. The entire island is only around one square mile, but it includes 9 miles hiking trails. It has long been a destination of artists seeking inspiration and plein air painting. It also a birding hotspot as it is a famous migrant trap and offers super birding during both spring and fall migrations. My sense is that fall is the best time to visit, but that’s just based on searching the internet and finding more results for fall excursions.
We spent four days on the island, and next year we will do a full week – there is just that much to explore and enjoy. As for the birding, it’s nonstop. There are birds absolutely everywhere. For the time we were there, while there were not many rarities (Red-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-breasted Chat were seen, but I unfortunately missed both), there were many interesting observations. Red-breasted Nuthatches, which we see relatively few of, were everywhere and arguably the most numerous species of songbird on the island. On the second day, we had an influx of Northern Flickers which was remarkable. For the remainder of the week, while hiking I would flush a flicker just about every five minutes or so. Falcons were also numerous; I saw approximately 5-10 Merlins/Peregrine Falcons every day. I never did positively ID any American Kestrels, but I did have a few zip by which I suspected might have been.
In the four days, I had a modest 8 species of wood warblers; I’m sure most folks would do better than I did. I had a few misses with skulking birds, but the birds I did have were typically quite accommodating and provided excellent looks and good photo ops.
The island also is known for its population of very tame Ring-necked Pheasants. I saw many though the days; sometimes seeing up to 10 birds on a lawn.
Just after sunrise on Monday morning, 9/26/22, I did a seawatch at Lobster Cove. The wind was up, but I found a nice low wind area and set up my scope. It was a fun and rewarding morning. I added some interesting birds to my island list, including Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, and Black-legged Kittiwake. There was a nice flight of over 20 Northern Gannets, and of course there were plenty of Common Eiders and Double-crested Cormorants. I’d found a single Great Cormorant the evening before too.
There are also plenty of seals around. I found seals at four different locations and although each time was a thrill, it was especially exciting when this young seal peaked around a rock to check me out.
I had a total of 68 species on the island in four days. I have no idea how that rates, but it was certainly fun seeing them. I’ve included a list of all species at the bottom of this post. You may notice a lack of my favorite type of birds – shorebirds! I asked around, not seeing many shorebirds reported in previous years, and apparently there just isn’t enough good habitat for them. I did not see one shorebird during our stay on the island.
I knew I wanted to make up for that, so at our next stop in Rockland, Maine I sought out a good shorebird spot: Weskeag Marsh. I took one day off to just enjoy the town of Rockland, but was back to it on Thursday and Friday. I found a good spot at the marsh which was somewhat productive and also allowed for some really interesting photo ops. My best bird was Stilt Sandpiper; there was a pair at the marsh on Thursday and one remained through Friday morning.
It was yet another great vacation in Maine. Inland I added another 23 species, bringing my trip total to 126 birds. The weather cooperated unbelievably. The birds were awesome. We can’t wait to get back.
Tricia and I returned on Friday night from a week’s vacation in Maine. We spent 4 days on Monhegan Island and the rest of the week in the Rockland area. Monhegan Island is a birding experience unlike any other; I look forward to getting through my nearly 1,900 photos and putting together a post. For now, here’s a photo of arguably of the most numerous songbirds I observed on the island: Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Meanwhile, I was the official counter at Mount Peter Hawkwatch today. It was raining when I headed out, and when I arrived at the mountain, it was totally fogged in. I did some local birding and enjoyed a flock of 70 or so American Pipits in the black dirt. I went back to Mt. Peter just before noon a it was still socked in. I birded Wickham Lake, and then went back to finally start the watch at 1:30.
The flight wasn’t substantial, but I was happy to get some good variety, with 8 species of migrating raptors. I’ve included my HawkCount report below.