Sunday Shots, 07/30/23

I had an enjoyable weekend of birding, but Saturday was particularly productive. We had a storm pass through early in the morning which left some nice puddling in the black dirt. I had loads of Killdeer, several Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, a single Greater Yellowlegs, and my personal highlight of the morning: (4) Pectoral Sandpipers.

In the early afternoon I went to Piermont Pier to follow up on some recent eBird reports. My target birds from the reports included Laughing Gull, Semipalmated Plovers, and Red-breasted Merganser. Well, I dipped on all three, lol. BUT, the birding was still really good. I enjoyed seeing (4) Caspian Terns as well as great looks at nearly a dozen Semipalmated Sandpipers. It was hot as blazes on the pier, but the birding was still very enjoyable.

~One of nearly a dozen Semipalmated Sanpipers at Piermont Pier, 07/29/23.~
~Pectoral Sandpiper alongside a Killdeer in the black dirt, 07/29/23.~
~Red-tailed Hawk on a bale of hay in the black dirt, 07/29/23.~
~The elusive turtle action photo, inclusive of hovering mosquitos. I helped assure that this Box Turtle safely crossed the road – appropriately on Turtle Bay Road in the black dirt.~
~A singing Savannah Sparrow in the black dirt, 07/29/23.~
~I found a pair of presumed sibling fawns on Turtle Bay Road on Saturday morning. So cute!~
~And the sibling.~
~Mourning Dove in the black dirt, 07/29/23.~
~European Starling in the black dirt, 07/30/23.~
~This is likely the last of our House Wren photos – the chicks fledged on Saturday morning and they have been scarce since then. HOWR in our yard, 07/27/23.~
~Great Blue Heron in Montgomery, 07/30/23.~

Sunday Shots, 07/23/23

I always like to post on Sundays, so while I don’t have anything to report since yesterday’s post, here’s some additional shots from this weekend, as well as some shots from earlier in the week of the House Wrens that are breeding in our backyard. If you’ve ever had House Wrens breeding in your yard, you know they are hard to miss – they are extremely protective and they make a racket whenever the situation makes them the least bit uncomfortable.

~House Wren with what appears to be a spider. Our yard earlier this week.~
~Least Flycatcher at Black Rock Forest, 07/22/23.~
~A foggy shot of one of the House Wrens in our yard from earlier this week.~
~Eastern Phoebe on Celery Ave, 07/23/23.~
~Green Heron in flight at the Liberty Marsh, 07/23/23.~

Black Rock Forest, 07/22/23

I woke up nice and early and I started my hike at Black Rock Forest right around 6:30 am. I enjoyed a very birdy and extremely peaceful hike of just a hair under eight miles. I tallied 47 species and a I had a few surprises: I heard a calling Winter Wren, a first for me at that location. I also had a singing Cerulean Warbler high in the trees that I was eventually able to get on with my binoculars. I’m not 100% sure, but again, I believe that is a first for me at this location. Other surprises included the lack of certain species: I had only one single, silent Ovenbird – they are typically numerous. And I also had only one single Yellow-throated Vireo, when typically I have 3 or 4.

~Least Flycatcher at Black Rock Forest, 07/22/23.~
~Indian Pipe (also called Ghost Plant or Corpse Plant) at Black Rock Forest. I’ve only ever seen this plant one other time, at Hickok Brook back in 2017. It was strange because I was walking along and I saw some mushrooms; I immediately thought about Indian Pipe, and don’t you know about a minute later I found this.~
~I believe this is a Red-eyed Vireo fledgling. I’d never seen one before today. BRF, 07/22/23.~
~Worm-eating Warbler at BRF, 07/22/23.~


I’m pretty jazzed as I write this. After work this evening I headed out to the black dirt with shorebirds on my mind. The evening was mostly a bust, with only Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers being observed. I was just about wrapping up, and I was looking in an area that has been good for Horned Larks, not really shorebirds, when I saw a bird naked eye that I knew had to be an Upland Sandpiper. I got my bins on it, and sure enough, it was! I was thrilled! What a bird! Regular readers of the blog know that I’m shorebird obsessed and I’m particularly partial to Uppies.

UPLAND SANDPIPER in the black dirt this evening, 07/21/23.~
~Uppy in the BDR, 07/21/23.~

Sunday Shots, 07/16/23

With even more rain falling overnight and into the morning, I headed back out to the black dirt to try for shorebirds again. I was really feeling like there might be an exciting bird out there today, but, alas, it wasn’t to be. I did enjoy observing the same 5 shorebird species (Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs), and I had some decent photo ops with a small flock of Least Sandpipers that flew in and landed not too far from my car.

~Least Sandpiper in the black dirt, 07/16/23.~

Later in morning I went to the Newburgh Waterfront to see if anything good was going on there, or if I could at least finally catch up with the Neotropic Cormorant. Unfortunately it was mostly uneventful, but I did manage to see my first Orange County Great Egret of the year.

A young Tree Swallow flying over the puddles in the black dirt, 07/15/23.~
~Marsh Wren at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Liberty Marsh, 07/15/23.~
~A Least Sandpiper reflects on things in the black dirt, 07/16/23.~
~I was enjoying the swallows that were feeding on insects above the puddles in the black dirt. Here’s a young Barn Swallow swooping in, 07/15/23.~
~A young raccoon peers from behind its parent. Purgatory Road, 07/16/23.~
~Great Egret fly-by at the Newburgh Waterfront, 07/16/23.~

OC Shorebirds, 07/15/23

With all the rain we got in Orange County this week, I was optimistic that we would see some shorebird activity. I went out after work on Monday and searched in the black dirt. Conditions were good, and Killdeer were plentiful. I also saw a decent number of Spotted Sandpipers, a single Solitary Sandpiper, and a handful of Least Sandpipers. This morning my plan was to go hiking at Sterling Forest, but I changed my mind after last night’s rainfall. Conditions in the black dirt were good again, and I added several Lesser Yellowlegs to the mix. Unfortunately, they were flying model airplanes over the field and the LEYEs flushed before I got any photos. Spotted Sandpipers were more scarce, but I did have close to a dozen Solitary Sandpipers.

~A couple of Solitary Sandpipers in the black dirt, 07/15/23.~
~Spotted Sandpiper in the black dirt, 07/15/23.~
~One more Solitary Sandpiper. Black Dirt Region 07/15/23.~

Sunday Shots – Catching Up, 07/09/23

It’s the time of year where there’s not much exciting happening, but, of course, I’ve still been getting out. I’m catching up a bit here today because with the 4th of July holiday, I was able to get out Monday and Tuesday as well as this weekend. I’ve been mostly sticking to my usual haunts in Orange County, but I’ve also checked out some spots in Ulster and Sullivan Counties, to mix it up a little bit.

Locally, I dipped on the Neotropic Cormorant at the Newburgh Waterfront a couple of times since the end of June when Bruce Nott discovered that it had returned. Hopefully I’ll catch up with it sooner than later. In the black dirt, I was happy to catch up with some juvenile Horned Larks this morning; I’ve been on the lookout for them. And, I found even more Killdeer chicks this morning; they seem to be everywhere this year.

~A young Horned Lark in the black dirt, 07/09/23.~

Outside of OC, my favorite trip was heading up to Peekamoose Road yesterday morning. I just love the name of that road, first off, but the spot is really worthwhile. I missed my target bird (Mourning Warbler), but got excellent binocular views of both Canada Warblers and Blackburnian Warblers. It was also a treat to hear several Winter Wrens singing; I was never able to lay eyes on them unfortunately.


On my way home yesterday, I stopped at the Bashakill. I checked in on the Prothonotary Warbler at the Stop Sign trail – I heard the bird but it never came close enough for looks. I enjoyed a few other stops at the Bash, including the Deli Fields where I got some decent shots of a Red-eyed Vireo (one of those birds always heard but not seen nearly as often). Earlier in the week, I birded The Grasslands in Ulster County, where I enjoyed hearing and finally locating and photographing a Grasshopper Sparrow just south of the viewing platform. My target bird was Upland Sandpiper (at Grasslands and Blue Chip Farm), but that was always a long shot.

~To me, this Grasshopper Sparrow’s head shape is not what I’m used to seeing. Usually, the transition from bill to head is flat, whereas this bird there is a little bit of a rise at the bird’s forehead. This sort of threw me at first. GRSP at the Grasslands, 07/03/23.~
~A young European Starling in the black dirt, 07/09/23.~
~Blue Jay fledgling in our yard, 07/03/23.~
~The 2 adults were never very far away.~
~No Neotropic, but I of course found several Double-crested Cormorants at the Newburgh Waterfront, 07/04/23.~
~Killdeer puffball in the black dirt this morning, 07/09/23.~

Sunday Shots 07/02/23

In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s July already, but with the birding doldrums kicking in, it sure feels like summer. On Saturday morning I headed to Sullivan County in an effort to spice things up a little bit. I birded Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area, hoping to get lucky with a Ruffed Grouse. I’ve had them there in the past, but on Saturday I didn’t have any good fortune. Still, I really enjoyed the morning and it was good to see and hear some species that I don’t see as often in Orange County, such as Magnolia Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Hermit Thrushes.

~I finally found a cooperative Common Yellowthroat. Hickok Brook MUA, 07/01/23.~
~Ovenbird at Hickok Brook, 07/01/23.~
~I’ve never had this happen before – a male Scarlet Tanager landed on the trail directly in front of me. Hickok Brook MUA, 07/01/23.~

On Saturday evening, Tricia and I enjoyed a cocktail on the back deck. The birds were active, so I grabbed my camera and grabbed some shots of some the birds that are nesting in the yard.

On Sunday I stayed in Orange County – I found a very distant perched and singing Grasshopper Sparrow at the OC Airport. Aside from that, there wasn’t much to report on and the poor light did not lend itself to good photos. There are still many Killdeer and Killdeer chicks around, both at the airport and in the black dirt.

~House Wren in our yard, 07/01/23.~
~House Finch in the crabapple tree in our backyard, 07/01/23.~
~Any thoughts on the species of this fledgling? I feel like I’m usually pretty good at identifying these very young birds, but this one has me stumped. I was thinking Hermit Thrush, someone suggested Ovenbird too. Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area, 07/01/23.~