Shawangunk Grasslands

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow


This morning I spent some time at Blue Chip Farms and Shawangunk Grasslands. My target species was Upland Sandpiper, which I never found at either location. I did have a nice morning and some good birds. I spent most of my time with the Grasshopper Sparrows as I don’t get to see these that often. They were very cooperative this morning, coming right up on the viewing platform and the warning sign at the end of the ramp. This has got to be one of the easiest locations anywhere to photograph this uncommon sparrow. Bobolink, Field, Song and Savannah Sparrow were also present as well as Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel and Willow Flycatchers. A nice assortment of birds. It was also nice to get to meet Scott, Ralph Tabor’s new assistant at the refuge. Scott is very enthusiastic about the refuge and helping Ralph with the many endeavors at the refuge. Its nice to have him aboard.
Singing Grasshopper Sparrow.

Singing Grasshopper Sparrow.


Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

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Long Island Birding

A Saltmarsh Sparrow at Gardiner County Park.

A Saltmarsh Sparrow at Gardiner County Park.

I headed out to Long Island again this morning with some specific sites to bird and target birds in mind. It was a soggy start to the morning when just before I reached my first destination, it began to pour. I only decided to go the last minute last evening when I saw that rain was taken out of the forecast for Long Island today. Once again, they were wrong. My first destination was Connotquot State Park where I was going to try for the Yellow-throated Warbler. When I pulled up to the gate, I was surprised and disappointed when the woman informed me that this is a walk-in only park. I hadn’t realized this. Now it was raining harder than ever and she showed me a map where the bird has been seen. It was far from our location. With regrets, I scrapped the chase for the warbler. I then headed for Gardiner County Park. Here I was hoping for some shorebirds, waders and sparrows. I wasn’t disappointed. The rain let up to a few drops here and there and the birds cooperated. I almost immediately found my target species. SALTMARSH SPARROW and SEASIDE SPARROW! Waders and Shorebirds were in short supply however and only Great Egrets and Glossy Ibis were seen. I then moved on to Captree Island. Here was looking for more shorebirds. I found many. Black-bellied Plover, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dunlin and more. Unfortunately, not one of my targets was among them. I worked my way along the barrier island, hitting Gilgo Beach, Tobay etc. All of this hoping for some target waders. That didn’t happen. Once again, an abundance of Great Egrets and Glossy Ibis were all that were found. At Jones Beach Coast Guard Station, more of the same shorebirds. I then headed to Nickerson Beach. I was sure one of my target species would be there, and indeed they were. Nearly 200 Black Skimmers were resting on the beach among many Common Terns and American Oystercatchers. With another success under my belt, I headed to Jamaica Bay. Here I immediately ran into my good friends Gordon and Lori Lam! We birded the area together and they gave me some good tips on shorebirds and waders. While we had many birds at Jamaica Bay, many responding to the Horseshoe Crab spawn, I missed all of my targets. We did have nice birds like Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plover and you guessed it Great Egret and Glossy Ibis. I finally pulled myself away, looking forward to Gordon and Lori’s visit here next week, and headed home. All in all a great day of birding!

A distant Seaside Sparrow at Gardiner County Park

A distant Seaside Sparrow at Gardiner County Park

Black Skimmers, American Oystercatcher and Common Terns at Nickerson Beach.

Black Skimmers, American Oystercatcher and Common Terns at Nickerson Beach.

My best photo of the day, an immature Yellow-crowned Night-heron at Jamaica Bay.

My best photo of the day, an immature Yellow-crowned Night-heron at Jamaica Bay.

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Bashakill

My FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the Orchard.

My FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the Orchard.


Many birders were present at the Bashakill this morning. Birds were in fairly decent numbers, though slightly down from earlier in the week. The bird of the day was not seen by me. Early this morning, Lance Verderame found a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT on the Stop Sign Trail. Unfortunately, in keeping with Chat protocol, the bird vanished before the rest of us could get to see it. Congratulations to Lance for a great find. Warblers were active, with Blue-winged, Magnolia, Canada, Hooded, Blackpoll, Yellow, BT Blue and Wilson’s seen, the later two by Scott Baldinger. Both Waterthrush and the usual Yellow, Yellow-throat, Ovenbird and Redstart were all abundant. Yellow-billed Cuckoos really moved in over the last few days. I had my FOS this morning, as well as two more. Flycatchers are now in. Acadian, Willow, Wood Pewee, Least are all relatively easy to find. Alder may still be a problem, I haven’t seen one since Wednesday. Yellow-bellied seem to have passed through. Another good find (again by Lance) was a Gray-cheekded Thrush on the Nature Trail. This one wasn’t as cooperative, and took flight without me getting a photo. It should still be around, at least for the day. Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Orioles are everywhere.

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Bashakill – Thursday and Friday

Migration seemed to be on hold the last couple of days. That said, some birds did move. Acadian and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were seen in good numbers in the area. Thursday was best for YBFL while Friday for ACFL. Tom Burke and Gail Benson birded the Bashakill and environs today and found many of the good birds. They first found two Mourning Warblers, one at the Stop Sign and the other at Moose Head Cove. A couple of Tennessee Warblers were in the same general area. The male Hooded Warbler continued at the corner of Haven Road and the entrance to the Orchard, just off to the west near the foot bridge. Swainson’s Thrush were way down today and no Gray-cheeked Thrush were seen. All the usual breeding birds were present. Surprisingly, Eastern Wood Pewee, which were found in several spots yesterday, were unfound (at least by me and anyone I spoke to) today. Willow Flycatchers are now regular on the marsh, but yesterday’s Alder was not seen nor heard. Hopefully more is yet to come, we are still missing many species and many birds in any number.

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Bashakill continues to please!

Gray-cheeked Thrush on the Nature Trail

Gray-cheeked Thrush on the Nature Trail

This morning, Karen Miller, John Mueger and I birded the Bashakill. We covered most of the best areas. It was immediately clear that an abundance of flycatchers had come in overnight. Three Willow Flycatchers and one Alder Flycatcher were calling from the Stop Sign Trail. Many empids were seen, but not identified. Great Crested, Least, Eastern Kingbird and Eastern Phoebe were all plentiful. At the Nature Trail, another YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and probable ACADIAN FLYCATCHER were also seen. Among the thrush today, another GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH joined the Swainson’s Thrush on Thrush Point. Warblers were down slightly, but still made a notable presence. This afternoon I returned to the Bash to try to photograph some of these birds. I was able to get good shots of the Gray-cheeked Thrush, but the flycatchers didn’t cooperate today. I did have my first INDIGO BUNTING at the Nature Trail this afternoon. It was a great day. Scott Baldinger found all of the above birds a bit later this afternoon, confirming the one flycatcher to be an Acadian.

Gray-cheeked Thrush. Note the overall cool gray/brown color, plain gray cheeks, black mustacial streak and black spotting on the breast. (next shot)

Gray-cheeked Thrush. Note the overall cool gray/brown color, plain gray cheeks, black malar streak and black spotting on the breast. (next shot)

 

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Perhaps the most colorful denizen of the Nature Trail today, an Indigo Bunting.

Perhaps the most colorful denizen of the Nature Trail today, an Indigo Bunting.

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Unexpected pleasant end to the day

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on the Nature Trail.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on the Nature Trail.


Late this afternoon, after I had rested from my busy morning, I headed to the Bashakill to try for the Least Bittern again. I dipped on the bird, the wind still howling. I decided to head to the Nature Trail to try for the YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that Lance Verderame had had last evening. I spotted a couple of warblers, and then a flycatcher that vaporized before I could get an ID. Just around the corner I ran into Rich and Greg Prelich. They are great guys and really good birders. Rich immediately informed me there were still lots of warblers around and at least a couple of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. He offered to show me where he had the last one they had seen. The spot was the regular location these birds always show up. Sure enough, one showed up in just minutes. We had great looks at the bird and got some photos. We moved around a bit and I managed to get a shot of a Bay-breasted Warbler. As we worked our way out of the trail, we had more warblers including Black and White, Canada and Yellow-rumped. Once we reached the last board walk before the parking area, they told me they also had a YBFL here. It showed up in just a minute and we had more great looks. It was a surprise ending to the day and great to catch up with Rich and Greg!
Bay-breasted Warbler on the Nature Trail

Bay-breasted Warbler on the Nature Trail


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

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Doodletown and Sterling Forest

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Kentucky Warbler at Doodletown Road.

Kentucky Warbler at Doodletown Road.


This morning I birded the above locations with specific target species in mind. Both sites were quite birdy in spite of the high winds. Doodletown had all the usual suspects with Cerulean and Hooded both being quite common. Two Orchard Orioles right in the parking lot when I got out of the car was a nice find. My target species for Doodletown were Olive-sided Flycatcher and Kentucky Warbler. I spotted a large flycatcher up hill from me, but before I could even raise my bins, it took off, flying down under the ridge never to be seen again. Fortunately, the KENTUCKY WARBLER was much more cooperative. At first it sang continuously just down slope from me, giving great views, but no photo ops. Just as I was about to give up, it suddenly flew up slope, landing in a maple right over the road. The bird remained there when I left. It gave some interesting opportunities for photos, at least to document my sighting. Really neat bird! On to Sterling Forest where my target was GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. No problems. I had tow singing males just uphill from the parking area. Photos were tough, but again I documented it. Great morning that started out with 35 degree temps and forty mile per hour winds!
Golden-winged Warbler at Sterling Forest.

Golden-winged Warbler at Sterling Forest.

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