Truth Muller is a wonderful young man from Sullivan County who has a vast array of interests and has been recognized by the birding community a couple of times recently. Currently he had been asked to write an article for eBird in regard to some research he has done at his home feeding station. Here is a link to the article. I am honored to have been mentioned by Truth in the article. I expect we will be seeing great achievements by this young man in the future. Hope you enjoy the article.
The Marbled Godwit sits among an abundance of birds on the sand spit.
Bill Fiero and I traveled to Jones Beach today to try for some new year birds for me, and some state and year birds for Bill. We had used Sy Schiff’s recent reports to pick out targets. In an uncommon twist, we were able to find all of our target birds. We started at the Coast Guard Station. We checked the sand spit just off the east end of the pier. It was covered with birds. Abundant American Oyster Catchers, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover and gulls covered nearly every spot of sand. Among them were two of our targets. Two ROYAL TERN and one MARBLED GODWIT! Many Brant, Double-crested Cormorants and Canada Geese were present as well. We then checked the bushes all around the area of the parking lot and back out to the road. Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song and White-throated Sparrows were abundant. Among them were a number of White-crowned and Field Sparrows. A couple of Gold-crowned Kinglets were also seen as well as a heard only Red-breasted Nuthatch. From there we headed over to the West End Parking Area. Here we found a good size flock of gulls containing 16 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS! They were various ages from first year to adult, with most of the birds being second and third winter birds. We then walked out to the beach where we scanned for GANNETS. We weren’t disappointed, as we had a total of 21 fly by us while we were there. Mostly adults, at least four were immature birds. We then headed to the exit at the east end of the parking lot. We had run into Sy (great to see you and thanks for the help!) and he directed us to some birds. The one of most interest to Bill were three VESPER SPARROWS at the parking lot exit. It only took a couple of minutes, and we found all three. From there we went to Point Lookout, had lunch and checked out the inlet. A lone Sanderling was seen there. Many of four species of gulls and a single Red-throated Loon. We then made the long ride home, happy with our success from the day.
One of two Royal Terns at Jones Beach today.
Six of the Sixteen Lesser Black-backed Gulls at the West End Parking Area.
A beautiful immature GOLDEN EAGLE at the Bashakill 10/27/14 click on to enlarge
This morning I wasn’t quite sure of what to do. Days like this I tend to just follow my nose rather than make a definite plan. I started by walking across the street to the lake and checking for birds. 4 Common Mergansers and 3 Ring-billed Gulls were my initial spots. I then saw something fly straight up and then nose dive into the lake. When it took off again, it became clear it was a winter-plumaged BONAPARTE’S GULL! Bonies are not very common in the fall and much more reliable in spring. This however (as you know) is my second Bonie in a week. I watched for a while as the bird continued to feed, eventually flying off with the Ring-billed Gulls. I then decided to check the rest of the water hotspots to see if anything else had come in. All the locations had the usually expected species with good numbers of Ruddy Ducks in a couple of Spots. Ring-necked Duck, Mallard, Black Duck, Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe and Common Mergansers were all seen. I then decided to head to the Bashakill briefly before heading to the tower for the Hawk Watch. I stopped just as Scott Baldinger was pulling up. As we spoke, we first saw an adult Bald Eagle fly up. As we watched, an immature GOLDEN EAGLE took off from between Haven Road and the Pine Boat Launch. I ran for my camera, and was able to get a couple identifiable shots. It was amazing how fast this bird gained altitude making it hard to photograph. The really amazing thing to me was how huge the Golden seemed in comparison to the Bald Eagle. Fantastic sighting for both Scott and I.
Golden Eagle another shot. Click on either shot to enlarge.
A beautiful Vesper Sparrow by the bridge on Haven Road.
This afternoon, once the rain stopped, I headed to the Bashakill to see what might be happening. I never made it off Haven Road. The place was alive with birds, including some nice ones. I immediately realized more sparrows had come in. There was a nice assortment, Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-throated and White-crowned. The shinning star for me however was when I flushed a sparrow with white outer tail feathers from right along side the bridge. I followed the bird and was happy to find a beautiful VESPER SPARROW! Always one of my favorites. For some reason, the more unusual the sparrow, the more they cooperate for photos. This bird was no exception and the only problem was my ability to get a good shot. Other birds of particular interest were a female AMERICAN REDSTART! This is perhaps the latest I’ve ever had one here. Near the parking lot, I found a beautiful male RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH! (Sorry Steve, there are some still around). I had 30 species, and never left Haven Road, pretty good afternoon.
White-winged Scoter on a dark day at Swan Lake.
The heavy rain and north winds did little to effect the incoming birds overnight. That said, a few new birds were found. First thing this morning, Lance Verderame found a beautiful adult drake SURF SCOTER at Kiamesha Lake. The bird was still present when I arrived an hour later. No birds at all at Morningside Park nor the Neversink Reservoir. The Rondout continues to have many birds, though the best species were gone today or at least not seen while I was there. No Bonaparte’s Gull nor any shorebirds at all. All other species had increased in number. Pine Siskins continue in big flocks just about everywhere. Three Common Loons were new for the fall here. On to Swan Lake. It was evident that quite a few birds came in there, but most were again an increase in number of the same species. Two notable exceptions were yet another Common Loon and our FOS WHITE-WINGED SCOTER! The bird is a first year male. So while no fallout, it was a decent morning of birding with one new species added for the year.
Without a doubt, the best in flight Bonaparte’s Gull shot I have ever gotten! Thanks Wilma for some helpful hints!
This morning I returned to the Rondout Reservoir in hopes that more shorebirds had come in. It was very birdy and I wasn’t disappointed. My first stop was at the west end near Grahmsville. There was an abundance of waterfowl here, but nothing exceptional. Canada Geese, Mallards, Black and Wood Ducks were all common. As I scanned them, I heard Pine Siskins flying in. A very big flock ended up in the tree tops right in front of me. 75 Pine Siskins and 20 American Goldfinch fed on the catkins in the Black Birch Trees. From there I went to the Eagle lookout. A few more siskins and Blue Jays were all I saw here. On to the power house lookout. I was scanning the many Geese, Ducks and Gulls when I spotted a small gull among them. As soon as I got on it I knew it was a BOANAPARTE’S GULL! One of my favorites, I followed it to the spillway, where I was able to get some half way decent shots. I continued to observe the bird, a first winter gull, and check out the other waterfowl. I realized I hadn’t seen or heard any shorebirds, so I looked for them, initially without success. As I was taking a few more shots of the gull, I heard Killdeer in the distance. As I waited, four Killdeer and the two juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPERS flew in to the same spot they were yesterday. I think they had been out on the distant flat and to far for me to hear or see. I ended my visit there (nearly an hour later) with only twenty species, but some really nice birds!
From the Rondout, I went to Swan Lake. Here I had Common Mergansers, Ruddy Duck, Wood Duck, Ring-billed Gull, many Pied-billed Grebe and the continuing two American Coot! More Pine Siskins as well. Click on the shots to enlarge. I also stopped at the Apollo Plaza this morning where I found three Herring Gulls still in breeding plumage. Three gull species in the county, not bad. Tonight, they are predicting northwest winds at 13 mph and intense rain throughout the night into the morning. This could be a set up for a great fallout in the morning. Lets keep our fingers crossed!
The Bonie relaxes in the water.
Two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers at the Rondout Reservoir
Right on the heels of having two Pectoral Sandpipers nearly land on Haven Road yesterday, (think I forgot to mention that in my post) I had a small flock of shore birds on the mud flats at Rondout Reservoir this morning. As soon as I pulled up, I heard Killdeer, which have been absent from the county recently. As I scanned the flats, I found a couple of Killdeer, and then three more flew in. As I scanned further, I saw two more birds join them from farther out. I was surprised to see two juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPERS! These are beautifully plumaged birds. Other birds present included Mallard, Black Duck, Canada Geese, Wood Duck and Common Merganser. As if on cue, a small flock of Pine Siskins flew over. I don’t think I have birded any location in a couple of weeks without having some Pine Siskins fly through. On Hilldale Pond, a flock of ducks included 30 Ring-necked Ducks, the largest flock so far this fall.
A closer shot of one of the Pectorals