Sullivan County Long-billed Dowitcher, 10/17/21

While I was out birding this morning, I got a call from John Haas – he had a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Morningside Park in Sullivan County. At first I was hesitant about running for the bird; I would first have to go home for my kayak and then head to the the park, it would be close to an hour and a half of travel time to get there. But then I thought about it and there were too many good reasons for me to go for it. At this time of the year how likely is it for me to see any more shorebirds in our area? Plus, Long-billed Dowitcher is a great bird that I don’t get to see very often, especially not locally. And, I would get great views of the bird in the kayak. AND, it would be a new species for me in Sullivan County (my 191st).

~Beautiful bird. Long-billed Dowitcher at Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~

So I ran for the bird, and I’m sure glad I did because I had an awesome time. It was great to see John, and as I paddled up to him he informed me that the dowitcher was still present, and had in fact been joined by a Pectoral Sandpiper. It was very windy on the lake, so I wedged my kayak against some branches in the water not too far from he island the birds were on and sat tight. They weren’t very close at first, but I stayed put and they both moved a little closer and I was able to get some great looks and photos before backing my kayak away and heading back in. On my way back I stopped to enjoy a couple of Ring-billed Gulls on a couple other islands; you know I always enjoys seeing and photographing gulls. Huge thanks to John for heads up, he made my day.

~LBDO at Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~
~Pectoral Sandpiper shaking it off. Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~
~LBDO at Morningside Park 10/17/21.~
~Morningside PESA, 10/17/21.~
~LBDO at Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~
~Long-billed Dowitcher, Sullivan County NY 10/17/21.~
~Subadult Ring-billed Gull, Morningside Park, 10/17/21.~
~RBGU at Morningside Park 10/17/21.~

Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 10/16/21

I was the official counter at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch today. It was a relatively slow day, with a total of only 19 migrating raptors. But, it was an absolutely gorgeous day to be outside and there was just enough raptor activity and non-raptor activity to keep me entertained nearly the entire time. Jeanne Cimorelli joined me for a couple of hours and helped assure we didn’t miss any birds shooting through the “gap” between the trees on the east side of the lookout. There was a pretty good southeast wind blowing, and I think that kept the birds down, giving us some pretty good views of the few birds that passed through. My Hawkcount.org report is included below.

~Cooper’s Hawk in flight over Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 10/16/21.~
~Terrible photo, but check out the full crop on this Peregrine Falcon! My goodness. Mt. Pete 10/16/21.~

October Big Day and Mount Peter Hawkwatch

On Saturday morning, my phone let me know that it was eBird’s October Big Day. I certainly wasn’t doing a bid day, but it did make me curious to know how many birds I would get on a normal day out in early October. So, I eBirded more locations than I normally would, and I kept track of the birds that I saw en route to get a total for the day. I spent the early morning in the black dirt, where my highlight was a sizable flock of American Pipits, always a favorite of mine. From there I went to Wallkill River National Wildlife refuge. I walked Winding Waters Trail for about a mile or so, and then I spent some time at the viewing platform at the Liberty Loop. I didn’t have any exciting birds, but it was busy enough to add a good number of birds to my tally.

~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mount Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday 10/09/21.~

My next stop was Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, where I joined Tom Millard and Judy Cinquina for about an hour and a half. The flight was slow but steady, and with a good variety of migrants. My raptor highlight was a Peregrine Falcon which flew, very high, directly over the platform. For non-raptors, we had a migrating Common Loon fly close enough for a photo, a first for me at Mt. Pete. My final stop was Wickham Lake, where my best bird was a Greater Scaup. I finished the day with 57 species; I’ve included a complete list at the bottom of this post.

~Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Mount Peter on Sunday, 10/10/21.~

On Sunday I was the official counter at Mount Peter. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, with a combination of clouds, fog, and light rain making the flight practically non-existent. I had a total of 4 migrating raptors, 2 Cooper’s Hawks and 2 Northern Harriers, before I called it at 1:30 when the fog had really rolled in and the rain was starting up again.

~Yellow-rumped Warbler with a snack at Wickham Lake, 10/09/21.~
~Blackpoll Warbler at Mt. Peter 10/10/21.~
~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mt. Peter 10/09/21.~
~This got me really pumped – Common Loon flying over Mount Peter, 10/09/21.~
~A subadult Bald Eagle flushes some Mallards at Wallkill River NWR’s Liberty Loop, 10/09/21.~
~Love these dudes! Cedar Waxwings at Mt. Pete, 10/10/21.~
  1. Canada Goose (Wallkill River NWR, Mount Peter, Black Dirt, Wickham Lake)
  2. Mute Swan (Glenmere Lake, Wickham Lake)
  3. American Wigeon (WR NWR)
  4. American Black Duck (WR NWR)
  5. Mallard (WR NWR)
  6. Greater Scaup (Wickham Lake)
  7. Common Loon (Mt. Peter)
  8. Double-crested Cormorant (Wickham Lake)
  9. Ring-necked Pheasant (Black Dirt)
  10. Great Blue Heron (WR NWR)
  11. Great Egret (WR NWR)
  12. Black Vulture (Mt. Peter)
  13. Turkey Vulture (Mt. Peter, WR NWR)
  14. Bald Eagle (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
  15. Sharp-shinned Hawk (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
  16. Northern Harrier (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
  17. Cooper’s Hawk (Mt. Peter)
  18. Red-shouldered Hawk (WR NWR, Mt. Peter)
  19. Red-tailed Hawk (Black Dirt, Mt. Peter)
  20. American Kestrel (Black Dirt, Mt. Peter)
  21. Peregrine Falcon (Black Dirt)
  22. Common Gallinule (WR NWR)
  23. Killdeer (CVS Goshen)
  24. Ring-billed Gull (Wickham Lake)
  25. Rock Pigeon (Wickham Lake)
  26. Chimney Swift (Mt. Peter)
  27. Belted Kingfisher (Beaver Pond)
  28. Red-bellied Woodpecker (WR NWR)
  29. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Wickham Lake)
  30. Downy Woodpecker (Wickham Lake)
  31. Northern Flicker (WR NWR)
  32. Eastern Phoebe (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
  33. Blue Jay (Mt Peter, WR NWR, Black Dirt, Wickham Lake)
  34. American Crow (WR NWR)
  35. Common Raven (Mt. Peter)
  36. Black-capped Chickadee (WR NWR)
  37. Tufted Titmouse (WR NWR)
  38. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Mt. Peter)
  39. Northern Mockingbird (Mt. Peter)
  40. White-breasted Nuthatch (WR NWR)
  41. Eastern Bluebird (Wickham Lake)
  42. American Robin (WR NWR, Wickham Lake)
  43. European Starling (Wickham Lake, Black Dirt)
  44. American Pipit (Black Dirt)
  45. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Mt. Peter)
  46. Black-throated Green Warbler (Mt. Peter)
  47. Blackpoll Warbler (WR NWR)
  48. Common Yellowthroat (WR NWR)
  49. Field Sparrow (WR NWR)
  50. Savannah Sparrow (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
  51. Song Sparrow (Black Dirt, WR NWR)
  52. Swamp Sparrow (WR NWR)
  53. White-throated Sparrow (WR NWR)
  54. Red-winged Blackbird (WR NWR)
  55. House Finch (WR NWR)
  56. American Goldfinch (WR NWR)
  57. House Sparrow (Wickham Lake)

Winding Waters, 10/03/21

This morning I got out relatively early and went to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge’s Winding Waters Trail. It was a cool, mostly sunny morning; pretty much a perfect fall morning for birding. The trail was hopping, and I found myself enjoying birds for nearly every step of the my 2.5 mile walk. Sparrows were numerous and the expected species for this time of the year: Savannah, Song, Swamp, White-throated, and I’m happy to say, a good number of LINCOLN’S SPARROWS.

~One of several LINCOLN’S SPARROWS on the trail this morning. Winding Waters at Wallkill River NWR, 10/03/21.~

Other highlights included a couple of Blue-headed Vireos, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a couple of Blackpoll Warblers. By the time I got back to the lot, I had tallied 36 species for the morning, and managed to add (2) species to my Orange County 2021 year list (Golden-crowned Kinglet and Lincoln’s Sparrow).

~I got some super looks at this Blue-headed Vireo, Winding Waters Trail 10/03/21.~
~Blackpoll Warbler with a meal, Winding Waters 10/03/21.~
~Unidentified flycatcher at Winding Waters this morning, 10/03/21.~
~Another Lincolns’ Sparrow. Winding Waters Trail, 10/03/21.~
~I took this earlier this week – Savannah Sparrow at Skinner’s Lane, 09/30/21.~
~We’ve been lucky enough to have this Red-shouldered Hawk hanging around the house for the past week or so. It has been giving the Turkey Vultures hell, repeatedly flushing them from their favorite perch. My yard, 10/02/21.

Shorebirds, Mt. Peter, & Reservoir #3

I went out to the black dirt first thing Saturday morning. I was counting at Mount Peter in the afternoon, so I wanted to get an early start. As always, I was looking for shorebirds – any new species or some better looks and photos of some of the birds we’ve been seeing. Well, I didn’t see any new species, and the best I could do for photos was a decent shot of a Greater Yellowlegs. But it was still a decent morning with 6 species of shorebirds: Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Greater Yellowlegs.

~Greataer Yellowlegs at the Camel Farm, 09/25/21.~
~Fogbow at Skinners Lane Saturday morning 09/25/21. According to Wikipedia, “a fog bow, sometimes called a white rainbow, is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow; however, as its name suggest, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain.”~

MOUNT PETER HAWKWATCH

In the afternoon I was the official counter at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, taking over for BA McGrath who, unfortunately had a terribly slow morning. The afternoon, in general, wasn’t much busier but ultimately, I counted a total of 67 migrating raptors. A surprise kettle of 39 Broad-winged Hawks accounted for most of that number. I had (3) migrating Bald Eagles, and there were several Common Ravens putting on a show on the cell tower and in the air over the platform. You can see my report for HMANA at the bottom of this post.

~~ The Common Ravens helped pass the time when it was slow at Mt. Peter on Saturday, 09/25/21.~
~Broad-winged Hawk directly over the viewing platform, Mt. Peter 09/25/21.~

RESERVOIR #3

This morning I decided it was finally time to give the shorebirds a break. So I headed to Port Jervis and I birded Reservoir #3. It was just what the doctor ordered, birdy, peaceful, perfect weather, and some good photo ops. I tallied 30 species for the morning, with highlights of Brown Creeper (Res 3 is money for that bird!), several Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a pair of Blue-headed Vireos. Actually the real highlight for me came afterwards – after shooting distant shorebirds and raptors, it felt good to look at some decent photos of songbirds.

~Always a favorite of mine – Brown Creeper at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~Pine Warbler at Res 3, 09/26/21.~
~ I am generally not to quick to ID silent flycatchers, but I’m thinking this bird is a juvenile Eastern Wood-Pewee due to the buffy wing bars.~
~Eastern Phoebe at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~One more of the Brown Creeper, Res 3 09/26/21.~
~One of several Yellow-rumped Warblers at Reservoir #3, 09/26/21.~
~And, one more Pine Warbler shot. Res 3 09/26/21.~
~I was struck by how beautiful Beaver Pond looked on Saturday morning, so I took a photo with my phone.~

Sunday Shots – A Pretty Good Week, 09/19/21

I enjoyed some pretty good birding this week and into the weekend. As regular readers of this blog know, I’m obsessed with shorebirds and that’s how I spent most of my birding time. I did not add any new species to my year list, but I just enjoyed the variety we’ve been having and trying for photos. The highlight was seeing the largest flock of American Golden-Plovers I’ve ever seen in the black dirt, a remarkable 76 birds. Two Buff-breasted Sandpipers continued up until Thursday evening, but I haven’t seen or heard any reports since then.

~American Golden-Plover at Skinners Lane, 09/17/21.
~Flock of American Golden-Plovers in flight over the fields of Skinners Lane, 09/14/21.~

On the weekend, I also went up to Mount Peter to see how the hawkwatch was going. Right now should be primetime for Broad-winged Hawk migration and I was hoping to see a kettle or two. I went Saturday for a about an hour or so, and unfortunately it was a bust. Sunday was another story and I enjoyed my most successful flight of Broad-winged Hawks ever. When I left in the early afternoon, over 2,500 BWHAs had been counted. We had over 1,500 in a single hour! I also saw the largest kettle I’ve ever seen, consisting of approximately 700 birds. It was remarkable. Will Test was the official counter, and nearly every other counter from Mt. Pete was there as well, giving him a hand and enjoying one of the best days of the season.

~Broad-winged Hawks kettling, Mount Peter Hawkwatch 09/19/21.~
~Most of the birds were quite high; these BWHAs were a little on the lower side. Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 09/19/21.~
~A young Bald Eagle in a field off of Turtle Bay Road…~
~…it was enjoying a snack of who-the-heck-knows-what. Turtle Bay Road 09/18/21.~
~Another American Golden-Plover, Skinners Lane 09/17/21.~
AMGPs in flight at Skinners Lane, 09/17/21.~
~If you are sick of the American Golden-Plovers, you are in luck. I looked for them early this afternoon and didn’t have any luck. AMGPs at Skinners Lane, 09/17/21.~
~Sandhill Crane stretching it out in the black dirt, 09/18/21.~

A Good Monday Evening, 09/13/21

As far as birding went, this past weekend was a total bust. My niece got married, so I spent much of the weekend down on Long Island to attend. But, tonight’s outing definitely took some of the sting out of it. I went to Skinner’s Lane after work, and after a slow start with just a single shorebird (a Black-bellied Plover), things heated up a little bit. First a flock of American Golden-Plovers flew in – twenty birds. They circled around several times before putting down in a distant field. Then a small group of Killdeer flew over; I noticed one bird appeared to be different, so I stayed on it until it landed… and it was a beautiful BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER.

~Black-bellied Plover at Skinner’s Lane, 09/13/21.~

I put the word out, but it was getting dark. Linda Scrima joined me and we enjoyed watching all the birds work their way closer to the road until they were quite close. At that point there was barely any light left, and normally I would have abandoned taking pics, but I really wanted to try for the Buff-breasted. They are all super grainy, but I’ve included my best shot of the BBSA below. It’s always nice to have an unexpectedly nice Monday night after spending the day getting back into the swing of things at work.

~I used some setting that I hardly ever venture into – ISO 10,000 and f/4 aperture. Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Skinner’s Lane 09/13/21.~
~American Golden-Plovers in flight over Skinner’s Lane, 09/13/21.~
~And thinking about landing. American Golden-Plovers at Skinner’s Lane, 09/13/21.~
~What a cutie. Semipalmated Plover in the black dirt last week, 09/09/21.~
~Also from last week, Baird’s Sandpiper in the black dirt, 09/09/21.~

More Good OC Shorebirds, 09/06/21

This morning I met up with birding bud Bruce Nott and we once again hit the black dirt looking for shorebirds. Early on it was not looking good; we were not finding the multitudes of shorebirds we were hoping for, and the puddling was greatly reduced. We did have a single Baird’s Sandpiper at Skinners Lane, so that was nice. Our fortunes changed at Pine Island Turf Nursery. First off, the office was closed for the holiday, but luckily we ran into some of the folks from the nursery in the parking lot as they were leaving, and they gave us permission to go in and look for birds.

~A nice look at a Lesser Yellowlegs at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~

There was a good number of shorebirds present and we had a pretty darn good list with a cool dozen species when it was all said and done:

  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Killdeer
  • SANDERLING
  • BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
  • Least Sandpiper
  • WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
~Wow, a relatively close Pectoral Sandpiper! PITN 09/06/21.~
~Sanderling in flight at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~
~Baird’s Sandpiper alongside a Lesser Yellowlegs, PITN 09/06/21.~
~Great Egrets in a field at Pine Island Turf Nursery, 09/06/21.~
~I got lucky with this shot – I was focusing on the Lesser Yellowlegs, but happened to also catch what I believe is a Baird’s Sandpiper in flight ahead of the yellowlegs.~

Sunday Shots, Catch Up Edition, 09/05/21

Last weekend was a total bust for me. We had a sick cat which took up all my time (and money!) on Saturday, as I took my sick little girl to two different veterinarians. I spent Sunday staring at the cat, trying to will her back to health. A week later, the cat is doing better and my mind is no longer all consumed by the state of her health.

Meanwhile, this week the tail end of Hurricane Ida came through our area, leaving the black dirt flooded in many areas, creating great conditions for shorebirds. While storm did not bring in as many birds as I might have thought, afterwards and through the week and into the weekend, we accumulated quite a nice shorebird list in the black dirt:

  • BLACK-BILLIED PLOVER
  • AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
  • Killdeer
  • BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
  • Least Sandpiper
  • WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER
  • BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
~A number of Lesser Yellowlegs gather in one of the large puddles found in the black dirt, 09/04/21.~

I also made a relatively quick but very productive stop at Mount Peter Hawkwatch on Saturday afternoon (yes, hawkwatch is starting already!). I joined official counter Ken Witkowski for just about an hour, and we were lucky enough to have nearly 50 migrating raptors – forty something Broadwinged Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles, and an Osprey.

~Backyard Ruby-throated Hummingbird earlier this week.~
~A young Peregrine Falcon in flight over Skinner’s Lane, 09/04/21.~
~Mixed flock of shorebirds. I can identify at least 3 species in this shot: Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpiper, and White-rumped Sandpipers. Black Dirt Region 09/05/21.
~Savannah Sparrow in the black dirt, 09/02/21.~
~Red-tailed Hawk in the black dirt, 09/02/21.~
~There are loads of Brown-headed Cowbirds at Skinner right now. They are characters and have no fear, landing nearby, even on my car. ~

Black Dirt Shorebird Shots, 08/22/21

Shorebirds in the black dirt are generally quite distant; just miles out, which means photos are typically just documentary. But this week, I had some birds which, while not close enough for anything remarkable, were close enough to get some decent shots. I’ve been checking the black dirt frequently, I have the feeling we are going to get something good out there this fall. Or maybe I’m just hoping we will. Either way, it was nice to get some shorebirds which were not Killdeer, and some decent photos to boot.

~Lesser Yellowlegs in the black dirt, 08/22/21.~

One other quick note – I went out the Hudson River this afternoon, hoping the hurricane/tropical storm might bring in something interesting. I don’t think my timing was great, and there wasn’t much going on. Tomorrow might be better, but unfortunately I’ll be working.

~Always a favorite of mine – Pectoral Sandpiper in the black dirt, 08/19/21.~
~I was struggling to confirm the identification of this Least Sandpiper (and one other with it). First, the birds were not near any other birds, so I wasn’t sure of their size. Also, the bird’s posture looked taller and longer than what I would expect for a Least. But, I think it was behaving differently because of the height of the grass. Also, because of the high grass I never got a look at the color of their legs. Anyways, I’m pretty sure this is a LESA, black dirt 08/22/21.