Sunday Shots 10/30/22 – Catch Up

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:

  • Mute Swan
  • Canada Goose
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Gadwall
  • Am. Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Am. Black Duck
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
~Ring-necked Ducks in flight at Wickham Lake, 10/28/22.~

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.

~Bald Eagles mixing it up at Wickham Lake, 10/27/22.~

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.

~Horned Lark in the Black Dirt Region, 10/29/22.~
~Am. Pipit in the black dirt last Saturday 10/22/22.~
~Killdeer in the black dirt 10/22/22.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 10/29/22.~
~One of two Pectoral Sandpipers in the black dirt on Monday, 10/24/22.~
~Mt. Peter Turkey Vulture flyover, 10/29/22.~

Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/22/22

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.

~An American Kestrel flies over the viewing platform; Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 10/22/22.~
~One of six Red-shouldered Hawks counted today at Mt. Peter, 10/22/22.~

Sunday Shots, 10/16/22

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.

~Euroopean Starling with a snack in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~One more shot of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt yesterday, 10/15/22.~
~Yellow-rumped Warbler in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~
~I thought the posture on this Pectoral Sandpiper was different than normal – to me they show more neck than this. This bird stumped me for a little while because of this. PESA in the black dirt 10/15/22.~
~White-crowned Sparrow in the black dirt, 10/16/22.~

Shorebirds and Sharpies, 10/15/22

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.

~Ahhhh, beautiful bird. Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~Buff-breasted Sandpiper with a blurry Pectoral Sandpiper in the background. Black dir, 10/15/22.~
~Pectoral Sandpiper, this time in focus. Black dirt 10/15/22.~
~Wilson’s Snipe in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~BBSA in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~
~BBSA in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~

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.

~One of the 20 Sharp-shinned Hawks counted today at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/15/22.~

Sunday Shots 10/09/22

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.

~American Pipit in the black dirt, 10/09/22.~
~Swamp Sparrow in nice light at Winding Waters, 10/09/22.~
~American Pipit with pumpkins in the black dirt, 10/09/22.~
~Hairy Woodpecker at Winding Waters Trail, 10/09/22.~

Good Shorebirding in the Black Dirt, 10/06/22

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.

~White-rumped Sandpipers in the black dirt, 10/06/22.~
~White-rumped Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/06/22.~

Maine 2022

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.

~Black Guillemot in non-breeding plumage on the ferry from Monhegan Island, 09/27/22.~

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.

~Nashville Warbler near Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island, 9/24/22.~
~I have this as a Blackpoll Warbler, Monhegan Island 9/24/22.~

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.

~Cape May Warbler near Whitehead on Monhegan Island, 09/24/22.~

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.

~Female Ring-necked Pheasant on Monhegan Island, 09/25/22.~

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.

~Northern Gannet in flight. This was taken on the ferry to the island, 09/24/22.~
~Great Cormorant, Monhegan Island 09/25/22.~

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.

~Young seal near Pebble Beach, Monhegan Island 09/25/22.~
~A more expected look at some seals. Monhegan Island 09/25/22.~
~And more seals, Monhegan Island, 09/25/22.~

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.

~Lesser Yellowlegs coming in for a landing. I was pleasantly surprised by these photos, because it was not nearly as clean and remarkable as I took the pics. Note that this is how calm and smooth the water was – other than reducing the camera noise, no alterations have been made. LEYE at Weskeag Marsh 09/28/22.~
~And touchdown. LEYE at Weskeag Marsh 09/28/22.~
~Probably my favorite bird of the trip, Stilt Sandpiper at Weskeag Marsh, 09/28/22.~

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.

~Herring Gull in Rockland Maine, 09/27/22.~

Maine 2022 Teaser & Hawkwatch 10/01/22

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.

~Red-breasted Nuthatch on Monhegan Island, 0/25/22.~

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.