Sunday Shots,Waterfowl Edition 03/26/23

I spent most of my birding time this weekend trying for waterfowl around the county. In two mornings, I had a total of 20 species of waterfowl:

  1. Canada Goose (many locations)
  2. Mute Swan (several locations)
  3. Wood Duck (Wickham Lake and Glenmere Lake)
  4. Northern Shoveler (Wickham and 6 1/2 Station Rd.)
  5. American Wigeon (6 1/2 Station Rd.))
  6. Mallard (many locations)
  7. American Black Duck (6 1/2 Station Rd.)
  8. Northern Pintail (6 1/2 Station Rd.)
  9. Green-winged Teal (Wickham and 6 1/2 Station Rd.)
  10. Lesser Scaup (Wickam)
  11. Ring-necked Duck (many locations)
  12. Bufflehead (several locations)
  13. Hooded Merganser (Round Lake)
  14. Common Merganser (several locations)
  15. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Greenwood Lake)
  16. Ruddy Duck (several locations)
  17. Pied-billed Grebe (Wickham Lake)
  18. Horned Grebe (Wickham Lake)
  19. American Coot (Wickham and 6 1/2)
  20. Double Crested Cormorant (Wickham Lake)
~Ruddy Duck in the rain, Beaver Dam Lake, 03/25/23.~

My highlight of the weekend was locating (8) female RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS at Greenwood Lake. They were a bit distant, but it was really cool to see these birds – I had pretty good scope views until a boat came through and flushed the birds even further out and eventually out of view.

~Red-breasted Mergansers on Greenwood Lake, 03/26/23.~
~Common Merganser coming in hot. Greenwood Lake, 03/26/23.~
~Lesser Scaup move around on Wickham Lake, 03/26/23.~
~A couple of Ruddies at Beaver Dam Lake, 03/25/23.~
~Belted Kingfisher at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 03/26/23.~

Sunday Shots, 03/19/23

It was 25 degrees out when I woke up this morning. When I ventured out, I found it was accompanied by a wicked, cold, strong, wind. It’s past mid-March, and winter is still hanging in there, that much is clear. Likewise, most of my birding this weekend focused on winter birds. On Wednesday evening I got nice scope views of a gorgeous Lapland Longspur; its breeding plumage was coming in nicely. I tried to relocate that bird (or any Lapland Longspurs) both days this weekend with no luck. I was, however, able to get some nice photos of a sharp looking, cooperative Horned Lark.

~A sharp looking Horned Lark shows off its namesake. Black Dirt Region, 03/19/23.~
~American Kestrel in the black dirt, 03/19/23.~

In my travels through the black dirt, I came across loads of raptors this week. I got my first decent looks at Rough-legged Hawks of the year (better late than never). I had a light and a dark morph on Wednesday evening, and another dark morph today. Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks were numerous; American Kestrels were also, but to a lesser extent. Other raptors included Sharp-shinned Hawk, both vulture species, and Bald Eagle.

~Light morph Rough-legged Hawk flying over the black dirt, 03/15/23.~
~Terrible pic, but this was a handsome bird. Dark morph Rough-legged Hawk in the black dirt, 03/19/23.~

I also tried for gulls on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a heartbreaker, Bruce Nott had located an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, I ran for it but missed the bird by 10 minutes or so. Gulls were plentiful on both days, but for me, I had only the 3 expected species. On Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to have a Common Goldeneye fly in. I have to say, even when it’s not necessarily productive, I love birding the Hudson River – sorting through gulls and having that hope that something awesome might just show up.

~Herring Gull taking a dive. Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~
~I had a good number of Killdeer in the black dirt this weekend. This one was at the Hudson River, at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~
~Common Goldeneye at the Newburgh Waterfront, 03/19/23.~

Red Fox, 03/14/23

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic close encounter with a red fox today. The fresh snowfall was the icing on the cake. I watched as the fox successfully dug up several items from the snow and munched on them happily. It’s unclear to me what it was digging up, but it definitely looked like some sort of vegetation; maybe someone who knows more about foxes can enlighten us. All photos were taken today, 03/14/23, in Orange County.

Quick update on this post: I did a brief Google search and I think this fox was maybe digging for some sort of tuber. We all know the internet never lies:

And regarding the fox being pregnant, if you look at the second image from the top, you can see that her teats appear quite full and pronounced.

Sunday Shots, 03/12/23

After photographing Northern Harriers at the grasslands on Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend was pretty much the usuals. I did see my first Tree Swallows of the year – at two locations – Wisner Avenue on Sunday and the grasslands on Saturday. There are plenty of ducks around, but I didn’t find anything new for the year. I visited the Hudson River and several lakes over the 2 days: Wickham, Greenwood, Walton, Round, Orange, and Brown’s Pond. I also spent time on both Saturday and Sunday looking through flocks of Horned Larks hoping for Lapland Longspurs. I feel like I’m normally pretty lucky when it comes to finding LALOs, but this weekend it was not in the cards. It’s too bad too, because it’s nearly mid March, and I imagine they might be in some impressive plumage.

~For a bird that we see and hear so often, I don’t often get good opportunities to photograph Northern Cardinals. This one was near the feeder station at the Grasslands, 03/11/23.~
~Always a good subject in my opinion, Northern Mockingbird at Brown’s Pond 03/11/23.~
~Eastern Bluebird at Wickham Lake this morning, 03/12/23.~
~Common Merganser at Wickham Lake, 03/12/23.~
~One more Northern Harrier shot from yesterday morning at the grasslands, 03/11/23.~

NOHAs in the Snow, 03/11/23

I took the opportunity of a snowy morning to head out to the Shawngunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. I did one of my favorite things; which I haven’t done in ages – I spent several hours in one of the refuge’s photo blinds. On a good day (like I had today), it’s hard to beat being in a blind. The birds have absolutely no idea you are there, so with just a little luck, close up flight photos are likely. I had an excellent morning; Northern Harriers were numerous and relatively cooperative.

Sunday Shots 03/05/23: Looking Back at Some Glory Days

This weekend was a complete bust for me. I’m actually surprised that this doesn’t happen more often. I checked some of the lakes in southern Orange County on Saturday and didn’t get anything to speak of. I was feeling wiped out from the work week, so I called it quits early.

Then, on Sunday Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, and I headed up to Williamstown Massachusetts, where we joined Rob Stone to try for the Bohemian Waxwings that have been reported there recently. Suffice to say we didn’t even see a single Cedar Waxwing. It was a pretty grim morning of birding, and after a delicious lunch (which took the edge off a little bit), we headed back to OC.

With all the time spent in the car, we of course got to telling stories and reliving some of the glory days in the past decade or so that we’ve spent birding in the area. I figured since I came up empty this weekend, I would take the opportunity to look back at some old posts and relive some of the good old days – this edition will focus on raptors:

~Valentine’s Day, 2014. I got super lucky with excellent views and some decent photos of a rare (for our area) BARN OWL. This shot is a little bit soft – my settings were not correct at all, and I feel lucky that it came out this good. This bird was absolutely incredible to see in person; it still blows my mind to think about it.~
~On February 7th, 2015, I was able to relocate this gorgeous GYRFALCON in Ulster County, not too far from the Grasslands. The bird was originally located the day before by Karen Maloy Brady; birders combed the area on 02/07/15 in the morning, but the bird was unable to be rolocated. I tried for the bird in the afternoon and got super lucky, finding it perched on an evergreen and then watched as it ate a duck. This photo is three days later on 02/10/15.~
~In early April of 2015, Curt McDermott found a CRESTED CARACARA in Ulster County. I was able to catch up with bird a few times afterwards; on April 12th I spent an excellent evening photographing the bird as it dined on an opossum at a small golf course.~
~Back in 2012, there was a pair of MISSISSIPPI KITES at Sterling Forest. I don’t who originally located them, but I was lucky enough to spend a day watching and photographing these incredible raptors. MIKI at Sterling Forest SP on 05/29/12.~