2022 Year in Review

Honest to goodness, the years go by faster and faster as I get older. Today puts yet another year of birding in the books, and as always, I like to take the opportunity to look back on my year here at Orangebirding.com. I had an enjoyable year where I once again focused on the birds and the types of birding that brought me the most joy. That said, I end the year with a respectable 209 birds in Orange County. And, I put some effort towards getting my Sullivan County life list over 200 birds; I added 12 species, putting my total life birds for the county at 206.

~My 204th bird in Sullivan County: Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park 08/15/22.~

For this year’s wrap up post, I thought I would look back month by month at the year’s highlights here on the blog.

JANUARY: The year got off to a sad start when I located a sick Iceland Gull at the Beacon waterfront. I brought it to a veterinary hospital, but ultimately the bird was too far gone and passed away there. Things could only go up from there for the month, and I was able to get some really good birds for the area, including the MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD in Ulster County, CANVASBACKS close to home at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, a LARK SPARROW in Campbell Hall, and the continuing FRANKLINS GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront.

FEBRUARY: Always a favorite, I was able to catch up with the NORTHERN SHRIKE at Wickham Woodlands Park several times. I also was able to get on my first CACKLING GOOSE in a good while. At the end of the month I went to Long Island to visit my dad, and was able to do some good gulling, with Iceland, Glaucous, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the north shore.

~Lark Sparrow in Campbell Hall, 01/23/22.~

MARCH: I continued to enjoy wintery birding in OC, particularly in the black dirt and at the Newburgh Waterfront. My best birds of the month included a large flock of Snow Geese in the black dirt, RED CROSSBILLS at Black Rock Forest, and one of my few good finds this year – four TUNDRA SWANS in muddy field on Celery Avenue.

APRIL: After work on the 19th, I enjoyed the excellent waterfowl fallout at Wickham Lake. Birds included a remarkable 13 White-winged Scoters, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks, and 21 Horned Grebes. Other highlights from the month include a single CASPIAN TERN and 19 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, both at Plum Point.

~Bonaparte’s Gulls at Plum Point, 04/23/22.~

MAY: There were two very exciting birding events in May. On the 13th there was the unprecedented number of ARCTIC TERNS found inland – I followed up on Karen Miller’s report and had 7 at Glenmere Lake. Then, towards the end of the month, a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT was found by Bruce Nott and Ken McDermott. I also went on my first 24 hour pelagic, where I picked up 3 life birds (Sooty Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-petrel, and Leach’s Storm-petrel). Tricia and I spent some time in Cape Cod, and the blog celebrated its 10 year anniversary.

JUNE: Birding started to take on a summery doldrums feel. Exciting birds included a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and a DICKCISSEL in the black dirt. I also saw my first black bear in quite a while, while hiking at Sterling Forest.

~Arctic Tern at Glenmere Lake, 5/13/22.~
~Dickcissel singing in the black dirt, 06/11/22.~

JULY: Summer birding kicked in for sure. I did a good amount of hiking. A photo I took of a beaver at Black Rock Forest made it into their 2023 calendar. Birding highlights included excellent looks at an AMERICAN BITTERN at the Liberty Loop and a very accommodating LITTLE BLUE HERON at Algonquin Park.

AUGUST: August was an excellent month for shorebirds for me. Local exciting birds included: UPLAND SANDPIPER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS), MARBLED GODWIT, and RUDDY TURNSTONE.

~Marbled Godwit at the Liberty Loop, Sussex County side, 08/22/22.~

SEPTEMBER: Hawkwatch began. I enjoyed seeing BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in the black dirt and there was a GLOSSY IBIS at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary. At the end of the month, Tricia and I went on vacation in Maine, which included several days on Monhegan Island.

OCTOBER: I was still seeing some good shorebirds in the black dirt, including more BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, as well as WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. Hawkwatch continued but was mostly uneventful. On the 28th I enjoyed 13 species of waterfowl at Wickham Lake, including a SURF SCOTER.

~BLACK GUILLEMOT on the ferry ride to Monhegan Island, Maine, 09/27/22.~
~Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the black dirt, 10/15/22.~

NOVEMBER: Hawkwatch wrapped up – it was the first season in a while that I did not record a migrating Golden Eagle. But, there were plenty of good birds during the month, including my lifer YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, a nice look at a RED-THROATED LOON at Piermont Pier, a BRANT at the waterfront, and 7 BLACK SCOTERS on Wickham Lake.

DECEMBER: December brought even more good birds. I enjoyed close looks of the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on State School Road, got lucky with the Ulster County ROSS’S GOOSE and LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE on the same day, saw the SURF SCOTER with 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Rondout Reservoir, and I got my county lifer ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at the Newburgh Waterfront.

~Greater White-fronted Goose in the rain on State School Road in Warwick, 12/3/22.~


Here’s my personal top 10 photos that I took in the past 12 months. I start with my favorite shot of the year – the Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, and then I continue from there. I noticed this year how much the species seemed to weigh in on my decisions – many of my favorites are featured.

As always, I’d like to thank all my birding friends that have helped to make another great year of birding (you know who you are). I’d also like to thank everyone for reading the blog, especially those of you who subscribe and if you are a commenter please keep it up -I live for the comments! Happy New Year to everyone, here’s to another great year of birding in 2022

~Red-necked Phalarope at Morningside Park, 08/15/22.~
~Horned Lark in the snowy black dirt, 02/13/22.~
~Northern Mockingbird in the black dirt, 06/04/22.~
~Lesser Yellowlegs at Weskeag Marsh, 09/29/22.~
~Mountain Bluebird at Esopus Meadows Preserve, 01/16/22.~
~Snow Bunting in the black dirt, 02/05/22.~
~It’s been a while since a Short-eared Owl made my top ten. SEOW in the black dirt, 03/02/22.~
~Pied-billed Grebe at Morningside Park, 08/21/22.~
~Northern Harrier in flight, Liberty Loop 09/04/22.~
~This one made the top ten purely because it’s a Northern Shrike! Wickham Lake 02/20/22.~

More OC Gulls, 12/30/22

I didn’t work today, so I spent a nice long day of birding. It was an enjoyable day in spite of not really finding anything out of the ordinary. I birded the black dirt briefly in the early morning and then headed up to the Grasslands. I met up with Jodi Brodsky to try for the Loggerhead Shrike, but unfortunately, we had no luck. It was a good morning for raptors, however. Between the black dirt and the the Grasslands, I had a total of 8 raptor species: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and American Kestrel. Somehow I still don’t have Rough-legged Hawk this season.

~Ring-billed Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront, 12/30/22.~

In the afternoon, Jodi and I joined Bruce Nott at the Newburgh Waterfront to look for gulls. We had one first winter Iceland Gull waaaay out in the river, but besides that, we just had the 3 expected species. Later in the afternoon the light got really nice, so I took a bunch of photos; I always enjoy photographing these light colored gulls in the late day sun with the dark river as a background.

~Ring-billed Gull showing off it’s “bastard wings” or alula as they are called.~
~Herring Gull zipping by the boat launch, 12/30/22.~
~Ring-billed Gull, Newburgh Waterfront 12/30/22.~
~I have this as a first winter Great Black-backed Gull. Newburgh 12/30/22.~
~One more Ring-billed Gull, Newburgh NY 12/30/22.~

Christmas Gulling

Christmas Eve morning Kyle Knapp found a single Bonaparte’s Gull on Wickham Lake. I was birding in the black dirt, so I ran over to try for the bird. The bird was still present and was obliging enough to do a relatively close fly-by. There was a good number of gulls on the lake, maybe 3 dozen or so. Nearly a dozen were Herring Gulls, which is a lot for that location. There rest were the expected Ring-billed Gulls.

~Bonaparte’s Gull at Wickham Lake, Christmas Eve 2022.~

Today I arrived back in Orange County after spending the holidays on Long Island with my family. I went to Newburgh Waterfront – it was a beautiful night with great light and it wasn’t nearly as cold as it’s been recently. It was mostly the usual 3 species (Herring, Great Black-backed, and Ring-billed), but I also located a single Young Iceland Gull; always a favorite. I enjoyed a pleasant evening of gulling and it was disappointing when the sun started setting.

~Iceland Gull in flight over the Hudson River at Newburgh Waterfront, 12/26/22. Look at that beautiful wing!~
~Herring Gull coming right at me; Newburgh Waterfront 12/26/22.~
~All for one scrap of bread! Gull melee at the Newburgh Waterfront, 12/26/22.~
~Herring Gull and Canada Goose at the Newburgh Waterfront, 12/26/22.~

Sunday Shots, 12/18/22

Yesterday I arrived at Black Rock Forest just after sunrise. I slogged through the snow out to Tamarack Pond, in hopes of finding Red Crossbills or any other winter finches. Unfortunately, I was not rewarded for my efforts. There were actually very few birds in the area, and no winter finches at all. It was nice to be out in the forest on such a beautiful morning, but I was really disappointed in the lack of birds.

~Iceland Gull at the Beacon Waterfront, 12/17/22.~

Afterwards, I birded the Hudson River, both from Newburgh and Beacon. In Beacon I got lucky with a first winter ICELAND GULL, always a favorite of mine. I wasn’t feeling so great, so I headed home a little early and unfortunately missed out on an adult Iceland and an adult Lesser Black-backed; both located by birding bud Bruce Nott.

~Iceland Gull with a Herring Gull at the Beacon Waterfront 12/17/22.~

I ended up fighting a bout with gallstones Saturday evening into Sunday morning. I had no idea what was going on; I had severe abdominal pain all through the nigh and I barely slept a wink. I went to Urgent Care this morning and they told me it was gallstones. Fortunately, it was not severe enough to have to have anything done at this time, but I will have to shift over to a more low fat diet moving forward. This afternoon, I was feeling well enough to cruise the black dirt, but really it was a bit half-hearted and unproductive.

Black-capped Chickadee at Black Rock Forest, 12/17/22.~
~Backyard Dark-eyed Junco from this past Friday, 12/16/22.~

Wintery Birding, 12/11/22

I know winter doesn’t technically start for another 10 days, but today certainly had a wintery feel to it. What a difference a day makes – yesterday was crisp and full of light but today was dark, gray, and snowy. Interestingly, it felt just as refreshing to be out both days – there is something I really enjoy about cold weather birding. I tried for the Hammond’s Flycatcher again this morning for nearly 3 hours before heading to the black dirt, where it was quite birdy. I didn’t find anything as exciting as yesterday, but still I had some really good winter birds, including: Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, American Tree Sparrows, a Merlin, and a small flock of Snow Geese. Here is a collection of what I would consider typical winter birding images from the area.

~A couple of Canada Geese in the snow at the Bashakill, 12/11/22.~
~Red-tailed Hawk perched on some farm equipment in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Snow Geese in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Merlin in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~Horned Lark in the black dirt, 12/11/22.~
~There are actually 2 Lapland Longspurs in this photo -its head is out of focus and barely visible in the foreground. Black dirt 12/11/22.~

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

I chased some local rarities today. I headed out before sunrise, and headed up to Ulster County. My first stop was at Stone Ridge Pond in Stone Ridge, NY, to try for the ROSS’S GOOSE which has been seen there. This was a very easy get; the bird was present and sticking out like a sore thumb among a medium sized flock of Canada Geese. The bird was a little distant, but the light was decent and I kind of like these moody pics of this bird.

~Sweet looking bird. Ross’s Goose at Stone Ridge Pond, 12/10/22.~

My second stop was at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge to try for the LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE which was photographed and reported in early December and reported again just the night before by Karen Maloy Brady. My timing was good for this bird – not long after I arrived Karen once again located and reported the bird. I got excellent looks at the bird in my scope and some documentary shots before the bird made itself scarce and I moved on. The bird was a NYS bird as well as an Ulster County bird for me.

~LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE at the Grasslands, 12/10/22.~

My final destination of the day didn’t work out quite as well. I headed to the Bashakill to try and catch up with the HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER that John Haas found and reported the day before (read about it HERE). The bird was being seen in the morning, but unfortunately I was unable to connect with it. I stayed for a couple of hours, left, and the bird was seen again. Sheesh. I headed back to the Bash to give it one more go, but after another 45 minutes I called it. Tomorrow is another day.

~Gadwall at Stone Ridge Pond, 12/10/22.~
~Loggerhead Shrike at the Grasslands, 12/10/22.~
~ROGO in Ulster County, 12/10/22.~

Good Birding in Sullivan County, 12/04/22

My original plan this morning was foiled. I was going to hike at Black Rock Forest with winter finches on my mind, but when I arrived, the forest was closed due to hunting season. It’s closed until 12/11/22, so maybe I’ll try again in a couple of weeks.

I eventually decided to head up to Sullivan County. I wanted to add Snow Goose to my Sullivan County list; one had been reported at Phillipsport Marsh. Unfortunately, the bird was not present when I arrived. So I continued to Rondout Reservoir to try for the sea ducks John Haas wrote about on his blog yesterday.

~Bald Eagle in flight over Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

When I arrived, it was unclear to me where these birds might be – Rondout Reservoir is huge! I went to the Sullivan County portion of the reservoir (at the northernmost area). As I walked up, it was a Bald Eagle bonanza. There were two adults sitting on the shore with a fish between them, as well as two young birds flying in the vicinity. It made for some good photo ops – I haven’t had a good opportunity with any eagles in a while, so I enjoyed it as well as the results.

~Coming in hot! Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Just as the eagles settled down, Renee Davis pulled up and gave me the lowdown on the sea ducks. Not only that, she drove back to the spot and got me on the birds immediately: (1) SURF SCOTER and (2) LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Huge thanks to Renee for all the help. The birds were distant, but the light was perfect so I had excellent looks in my scope. Photos were a different story, as you can see below. The Surf Scoter was my 206th bird in Sullivan County. Hopefully the Snow Goose will stick around and I’ll get another shot at it.

~Long-tailed Ducks and a Surf Scoter at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22. There are three Common Goldeye in the background. ~
~A young Bald Eagle flies overhead at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~
~And finally finding a nice perch. Bald Eagle at Rondout Reservoir, 12/04/22.~

Excellent Birding in the OC, 12/3/22

My first goal of the day was to try and track down the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE originally located by Ronnie DiLorenzo on Monday of this week. I went to Wickham Lake first thing; unfortunately all of the geese were already picking up and heading out. My consolation prize was seeing my first American Tree Sparrows of the season. I left the lake and headed to State School Road, where I found a small group of Canada Geese, but no GWFG.

~What a good looking bird. Greater White-fronted Goose on State School Road, 12/03/22.~

I checked some of the local lakes for any good birds, but did not find anything out of the ordinary. I went back to State School Road, and sure enough the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was present, up front of the flock and looking beautiful. I put the word out and then snapped a bunch of photos. GWFG is always a favorite of mine, and on top of that it was an Orange County year bird.

~Wow! Orange-crowned Warbler at the Newburgh Waterfront Trail, 12/03/22.~

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Newburgh Waterfront. I had a couple of goals: one to follow up on Bruce Nott’s report of an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER from yesterday, and two, to try for some interesting gulls. I succeeded with the OCWA, finding a relatively cooperative bird on the trail near the large sign that faces towards the river. I was pretty excited because it was an Orange County life bird for me, as well as, of course, a year bird.

~American Tree Sparrow at Wickham Lake, 12/03/22.~

Gulling was less exciting, as I only found the three expected species for our area (Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed). My day was capped off as I drove home on Route 84 through the Stewart Forest area. I was driving into the sunset and the skies were filled with absolutely massive flocks of mixed blackbirds. It was quite a sight, too bad I was driving on the highway and couldn’t document it.

~Greater White-fronted Goose at State School Road in Warwick, NY 12/03/22.~
~OCWA on the Newburgh Waterfront, 12/03/22.~