Haven Road Bashakill

A beautiful Vesper Sparrow by the bridge on Haven Road.

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 not 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.

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No Fallout.

White-winged  Scoter on a dark day at Swan Lake.

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.

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Rondout Reservoir – another great morning! Also Swan Lake.

Without a doubt, the best in flight Bonaparte's Gull shot I have ever gotten!  Thanks Wilma for some helpful hints!

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.

The Bonie relaxes in the water.

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More Pectoral Sandpipers

Two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers at the Rondout Reservoir

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

A closer shot of one of the Pectorals

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Bashakill

At a time when we are usually thinking sparrows, Finches seem to have taken the spot light. Sparrow numbers at the Bashakill have been good, but the diversity has not been great. Today, White-throated, White-crowned, Song and Swamp were the only sparrows I saw. On the other hand, PINE SISKINS are everywhere! I easily had over 100 of these finches between my two visits to the Bashakill today. Also of note were the good numbers of PURPLE FINCHES! Not only were many seen at Scott Baldingers feeders, I also had them at every field along South Road, at the Orchard, and at the Deli Fields. While the numbers aren’t as high as the Pine Siskins, they are being seen throughout the Bashakill. Interesting was the fact that American Goldfinches were in the lowest number today. The other bird of note today was RUSTY BLACKBIRD! When I visited the Main Boat Launch, I found a flock of 70 Rusties! Scott was able to make it over and see them as well. Raptors continue to move through, I had Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, Osprey, Bald Eagles and two Merlin today. Three American Pipits flew past Haven Road while I was there. Duck numbers were way down with the intense hunting that took place over the weekend. Up county, Swan Lake had the most waterfowl. 48 Common Mergansers, 34 Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot were all seen.

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Sullivan County Red Crossbill and Waterfowl influx!

Surf Scoter on Yankee Lake

Surf Scoter on Yankee Lake

This morning I checked the lake for waterfowl. There has been nothing of note so far this season, but this morning was different. The first bird I spotted was a female SURF SCOTER! This was the first scoter I have had in the county this year. The best part is it is the least common of the three scoters here. I called Arlene Borko and Scott Baldinger and they were both able to come over and see the bird. Also present was a Bufflehead and an Osprey. I then headed up county to check if anything had come in there. As I was scanning Kiamesha Lake, I heard the familiar call of a RED CROSSBILL !!! Though I have seen these birds many times, this is the first time I have ever had one in Sullivan County. The bird, a female, was calling repeatedly from a stand of nearby White Pines. I scanned and scanned, but couldn’t spot the bird. Fortunately it kept calling its chp chp chp notes and as it took off from the tallest pine I was able to get on it. At that point I saw the pea-green color and realized it was a female. Fortunatley, it flew down the side of the lake directly to me. It then banked right in front of me (I think it was going to land on the beach) but my movement startled it. It flew to several stands of pines and then finally right up the road. I drove to the end of the road, sure I would never see it again, and relocated it immediately. This time when it took off, heading back toward the lake, I wasn’t able to find it again. It has been predicted that we might get a modest influx of this species this winter, hopefully this is a good sign that it is going to happen. I then went to the Bashakill where things were about status quo. Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin being the best birds I saw. I then returned home for lunch and to check the lake for the scoter. Not only was the scoter still there, but it had been joined by several other species. I immediately launched my kayak, setting out to get some photos of these birds. The Surf Scoter was joined by a Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and a Double-crested Cormorant. The Bufflehead was nowhere to be found. I got some identifiable shots of a couple of the birds. All in all it was a great weekend for waterfowl. Pied-billed and Horned Grebe, Ring-necked, Black, Ruddy, Mallard, and Wood Ducks, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead and Northern Pintail, Common and Red-breasted Merganser. What a great weekend!

Female Red-breasted Merganser on Yankee Lake

Female Red-breasted Merganser on Yankee Lake

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Sullivan County Weekly Report

Six of the ten Pine Siskins at the Nature Trail today.

Six of the ten Pine Siskins at the Nature Trail today.

This week has had an influx of later fall migrants, though no real standouts have occurred. The highlight of the week is the PINE SISKIN irruption and the beginning of the waterfowl movement. While I’ve birded throughout the county, the Bashakill, Kiamesha Lake and Swan Lake have had the most interesting birds. Pine Siskins began showing up about ten days ago and have continued throughout the county since then. Most recently, they have arrived in the Bashakill. I have had several small flocks each of the last three days. Also, American Pipits are coming through and also have been seen and heard from Haven Road. A Marsh Wren has been present there for a while now as well. Red-breasted Nuthatch’s continue to be found at both the Pine Boat Launch and the Haven Road parking lot. Waterfowl has begun to show up at all locations, with Ruddy Duck and Pied-billed Grebe being the most numerous thus far. As of today, 30 Ruddy Duck are at Kiamesha and 9 at Swan Lake. There are Pied-billed Grebe at Morningside Park, Kiamesha and the Bashakill. Both Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal are present at the Bashakill, in pretty good numbers, but difficult to see. If an Eagle is hunting over the marsh, be prepared, they will put up many teal at times. Merlin, American Kestrel and Northern Harriers have been present each day. Peregrine Falcons have been coming by the Hawk watch, but I haven’t had one at the Bashakill yet. Perhaps our last shore birds of the year have been showing up at Morningside, with two Lesser Yellowlegs present on Wednesday. The Deli Fields are alive with birds! Bluebirds, Northern Flickers, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, House Finch and up to 8 species of sparrows have been present. The first White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos have just begun to show up. Great birding throughout the county!

Perhaps our last two Lesser Yellowlegs of the season at Morningside Park.

Perhaps our last two Lesser Yellowlegs of the season at Morningside Park.

A distant shot of a few of the many Ruddy Ducks that have come in the last few days, including a breeding plumaged male.

A distant shot of a few of the many Ruddy Ducks that have come in the last few days, including a breeding plumaged male.

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