2021 Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that yet another year of birding is behind us. It was a good year for me, one where I changed my approach a little bit. I tried to put aside the birding expectations I’ve had in the past and simply strive for the most enjoyable overall experience at any given time. For example, there where times when a good long hike is what I needed in my life; we know these long hikes aren’t nearly as birdy as some other locations, but I enjoyed the experience and appreciated whatever birds came my way. I also focused more and more on the species of birds that I enjoy most – raptors, gulls, and shorebirds. The result was a year where my species counts were the lowest they’ve been in years, but where I enjoyed my birding time immensely.

~Ferruginous Hawk in the black dirt, 02/07/21.~


We had some very notable rarities our area this year. Here’s my top five, which include the (2) life birds I saw this year:

  1. Ferruginous Hawk in the black dirt. Originally located by Linda Scrima on 01/16/21, this raptor was a BIG deal and pleased birders for most of the winter.
  2. Franklin’s Gull at the Newburgh Waterfront. Originally reported by Ronnie DiLorenzo on 12/16/21. The bird continues as of this writing, being seen mostly at the sewage treatment plant and sometimes at the boat launch.
  3. Sedge Wrens at Wisner Road. I don’t recall the original finder, but I went for these birds on 7/27/21 and was successful in locating at least (4) birds present. This was especially exciting for me because it was a life bird for me.
  4. Ash-throated Flycatcher at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. This might be considered extralimital, but this location was only about an hour away. On 12/28/21 I enjoyed relocating and getting some decent photos of this surprisingly attractive bird. This too was a life bird for me. I believe this bird continues at this location.
  5. Snowy Owl on the Newburgh Ferry. On 12/04/21, while gulling the Newburgh Waterfront with Bruce Nott, I located a beautiful Snowy Owl perched on top of the ferry. The bird, as suspected, was a one hit wonder and wasn’t relocated.
  6. Rarities Notable Mentions: John Haas found a Wilson’s Phalarope at Morningside Park on 05/31/21. Jeanne Cimorelli located a White Ibis at the Camel Farm on 10/18/21. And finally, a bird that seems to be becoming a true rarity in Orange County – I had (3) Upland Sandpipers flyover at Skinner’s Lane on 08/08/21.
~Snowy Owl on the Newburgh Ferry, 12/04/21.~
~Beautiful gull – Adult Iceland Gull preening at the Newburgh Waterfront on 02/13/21.~


It was another great year of gulling in Orange County where I observed a total of (8) species of gull in the county for the second year in a row. This has increasingly become my favorite type of birding; I really enjoy spending the afternoons at the Newburgh Waterfront scanning through all the gulls. Also of note, I ran for the Lesser Black-backed Gull in Sullivan County on 11/21/21, and it was kind enough to stick around for me. It was my 193rd bird in SC.

  1. Ring-billed Gull
  2. Herring Gull
  3. Great Black-backed Gull
  4. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  5. Bonaparte’s Gull
  6. Iceland Gull
  7. Glaucous Gull
~FRANKLIN’S GULL in flight on 12/18/21; Newburgh Waterfront.~
~American Golden-Plovers in flight at Skinner’s Lane, 09/14/21.~


I had a decent year for shorebirds, with (22) species observed. In Orange County and I totaled (18) species for the year (It very easily could have been (19), but I never went for American Woodcock). The highlight of the year for shorebirds was enjoying the large flock of American Golden-Plovers at Skinner’s Lane for a week or so in mid-September. Other highlights included the Wilson’s Phalarope in Sullivan County on 05/31/21, a flyover of (3) Upland Sandpipers on 08/08/21, and kayaking at Morningside Park to get the Long-billed Dowitcher located by John Haas on 10/17/21.

  1. Black-bellied Plover
  2. American Golden-Plover
  3. Semi-palmated Plover
  4. Killdeer
  5. Semipalmated Plover
  6. Ruddy Turnstone (Seneca County)
  7. Dunlin
  8. Purple Sandpiper (Westchester County)
  9. Baird’s Sandpiper
  10. Least Sandpiper
  11. White-rumped Sandpiper
  12. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  13. Pectoral Sandpiper
  14. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  15. Short-billed Dowitcher (Seneca County)
  16. Long-billed Dowitcher (Sullivan and Orange Counties)
  17. Wilson’s Snipe
  18. Wilson’s Phalarope (Sullivan County)
  19. Spotted Sandpiper
  20. Solitary Sandpiper
  21. Greater Yellowlegs
  22. Lesser Yellowlegs
~Long-billed Dowitcher at Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~
~Good yard bird – Ovenbird in my backyard on 04/29/21.~


I continued to work from home of 2021, so once again, yard birding was a focal point. I decided early on to keep a list; I was really curious to see what kind of numbers of species I might be able to observe in my own yard. Part of the way through the year, Judy Cinquina and I were talking about it and decided to place a friendly wager on it. I ended the year with (72) species, and Judy finished with an impressive (68) species, in spite of getting a late start. We have already agreed to a rematch in 2022.

I was surprised by how many warblers I had in my yard – (9) species. I never considered my yard a place to get warblers until the past couple of years. And some of them were impressive, including Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Cerulean, and an unexpected Ovenbird. Other surprised include a Hermit Thrush, and my final bird of the year, a Brown Creeper. There were also three birds I would have expected to have a good chance to see, but did not: Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Pigeon, and Hairy Woodpecker.


Here are my personal favorite photos that I took in 2021, starting with my number one shot of the year, an American Pipit in flight. Each year choosing the top photos seems to get more difficult for me. As I go through the year’s pics, each year I am more and more underwhelmed. I think it’s because now that I’ve been doing this for a good number of years (this spring will be 10 years doing the blog!), it’s becoming more difficult to get new and exciting shots. Anyways, here’s my picks for the top ten photos of the year:

~American Pipit in flight in the black dirt, 10.24.21.~
~Ring-billed Gulls in the snow at Beacon Waterfront, 11.28.21.~
~Eastern Coyote in Warwick, 11.06.21.~
~Great Blue Heron in the small pond in my neighborhood, Goshen NY 04.11.21.~
~Great Crested Flycatcher at Elks Brox Park, 05.15.21.~
~Canada Geese at Wickham Lake, 11.06.21.~
~Blue-winged Warbler at the Bashakill, 05.02.21.~
~Black-bellied Plover at Skinner’s Lane, 09.13.21.~
~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/09/21.~
~Double Crested Cormorant, Round Lake 03.28.21.~

As always, I’d like to thank all my birding friends that have helped to make it such an enjoyable year of birding (you know who you are). I’d also like to thank everyone for tuning in to the blog, especially those of you who subscribe and those of you who comment – it makes my day when I get a comment on a post! Happy New Year to everyone, here’s to another great year of birding in 2022.

24 thoughts on “2021 Year in Review”

  1. Great summary Matt. I love seeing all the photos and understand how hard it must be to pick from so many.. I also get the feeling of being underwhelmed. Probably because we are all our own worst critic.

    Something about the gulls in the snow gets me. I will gladly push you to hike when it is needed. Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks for checking in Bill. Yes to the hikes, it’s therapy as you know. And also, yes, I’m my own worst critic. Happy New Year. Matt

  2. Just…..WOW! You need to know this…. Matt, Your Photographs and sharing your knowledge… INSPIRE
    Thank You, and Happy New Year!

  3. Matt,
    Your photos are amazing! Who would think that a Double-crested Cormorant would be such an awe-inspiring photo! Thanks for sharing your shots with us! John

    1. Thanks John. The crazy thing about that cormorant shot is that it was taken on a dark gloomy day – I credit my new lens from Kyle for that one! Happy New Year. Matt

  4. Unable to get out to bird this year, your birding adventures and photos have kept my zeal and love of birding an important part of my life. Thank you so much and looking forward to a Happy New Year.

    1. While I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been able to get out, it gives me great pleasure to know that I have helped in a small way. Thanks for checking in and Happy New Year, here’s to many more bird posts and photos! Matt

  5. Many thanks for the great recap with awesome memorable photos. Your enthusiasm and zeal are inspiring and have led me to read more and do my own research, albeit quick and with shortcuts. Looking forward to more incredible shots and posts. Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe New Year!

  6. Thanks for sharing your 2021 birding highlights, Amazing photos as usual. Looks like I will not hit my 300 species for the eastern USA this year. Ended up with 294 –my best so far. Missed some common birds but saw some rare ones instead. Almost went up to Newburgh today but was dedtained longer in my unsuccessful quest for the male king Eider in Staten Island. Hope to try agaion early tomorrow and take some friends down to Salem co. for the Lapwing. If the Franklins is still around I may try next Sat. and then go to the Grasslands Have a Happy New Year and a great 2022 0f Birding. I,m not going to chase as much and try to concentrate more on my photography. . Thanks for sending the blogs on a regular basis.

    1. Thank you Bruce. Congrats on 294, that’s impressive. Enjoy your New Years Day, hopefully the Lapwing cooperates for your friends. Happy New Year. Matt

  7. Great post Matt!
    Thanks for showing me a bunch of new birds the few times we ran into each other. Truly a pleasure.
    Here to an even better 2022!!
    And great shots too!


    1. Thanks, Kyle. It was nice to meet you this year and share some good birding; I look forward to seeing you out there in 2022. Matt

  8. Thank you Matt! We love reading your blog and seeing your beautiful photos. Cheers to another great year of birding! Your top 10 list is spectacular!

    1. Thanks so much Joe! Here’s to an even better 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours. Matt

  9. Did see the Lapwing yesterday in Cumberland co_ about 3 miles from where it was first seen The cooperative farmer let us walk much further back on his field since it was not visible from the road. The rain and fog made for poor viewingRan into Ray Duffy who had just returned from seeing the Stellers Eagle in Maine. Trust you had a productive day yesterday

    1. Wow, that’s very nice of the farmer; glad the bird was still around. I hope the Steller’s Eagle works its way down the coast again! Matt

  10. All your photos are terrific!! It’s impossible to pick a favorite. Hope you have an enjoyable birding year in 22!!

    1. Thanks so much Mary, Happy New Year to you and yours, and here’s to looking forward to an excellent 2022! Matt

Comments are closed.