The last week has been a bit quiet and little has changed bird wise in the county. Today, it was about as quiet as I’ve seen it in a long time. Raptors clearly worked their magic today. The Apollo Plaza was devoid of birds entirely and that only happens when a raptor has passed through recently. Moving on to Morningside, it was also quiet. As I kayaked among the islands, coming up on the most recently emerged mud flat, I pulled up on the edge and was surprised to see the Merlin just sitting there twenty feet from me on the ground. I moved to quickly to get my camera and flushed him. He flew around a bit and then to a dead tree on the far side of the lake. Needless to say, there were few shorebirds at all today (2 Least, 1 Spotted) the entire place. Down at the Bashakill, Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons were the only real birds to see, it was just quiet. I decided to return this afternoon to check the Deli Fields. I had been looking for Olive-sided Flycatchers earlier without luck, but this time I found some. A juvie was fly catching along the road in through the fields, perching in the dead snags at the top of the trees. I posted it to “Whats App” and Karen Miller came to see the bird. We had no sooner found it, when a second one flew in. They squabbled quite a bit and the second one flew off to the hedge row crossing the field. This repeated itself twice and then the second bird disappeared. We had many photo opportunities and eventually left the bird there quite contentedly feeding. There were lots of birds around. Pewees, Phoebes, and an unidentified empid rounded out the flycatcher group. It was a nice pick-me-up in an otherwise quiet day.
Above, one of the chicks with an adult.
This morning as I kayaked the lake, I once again located the Virginia Rail family that I initially found 18 days ago. It was amazing to see the chicks, which I last saw 15 days ago and see how much they had grown. They are nearly the size of the adults. They seem to be much more wary than when they were tiny puff balls. That said, they did pose for some decent photos. In other news, shorebird numbers in the county remain about the same, with the same half a dozen or so species being seen. I’m still waiting for the first really good ones to show up. Great Egrets continue at the Bashakill and Great Blue Heron numbers are way up. I had 18 Great Blues, 6 Great Egret, one American Bittern and one Green Heron at the Bashakill yesterday. Today, my FOS Northern Harriers, 2 were on Haven Road this afternoon.
Remember two weeks ago when the chick stood under the water lily flower!
Morningside has proven one of the easiest places to photograph Virginia Rails!
Saturday and Sunday provided some interesting birding and the prospect for more to come. On Saturday, following torrential rains, I had some good birds in the county. First, Morningside Park had a smattering of shorebirds that included a Semipalmated Sandpiper. This was my first in ten days. Apollo continues to be productive, with all the common species of shorebirds present. Their presence has attracted some raptors as well and today, an American Kestrel and a Cooper’s Hawk were both making an attempt at a meal. I don’t know the outcome, because within minutes, all the birds were gone. Yesterday, the Bashakill was quite productive. Many Great Blue Herons were once again joined by Great Egrets, four to be exact. Belted Kingfishers, Virginia Rails, Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks were all seen from Haven Road. Today, another modest influx of shorebirds included my FOS LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Morningside Park, bringing to nine the number of shorebird species so far this fall. Also for the first time this weekend, juvenile shorebirds outnumbered adults. We usually get a nice showing of hatch year birds, so hopefully, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Our two weeks of fabulous birding came to an abrupt halt this week. There has been little movement of anything. Shorebirds continue to move through the area, but they are all basically the common species. Nothing exciting since Matt Zeitler’s Whimbrel. Even the waders have dropped off considerably. In an amazing twist to the Roseate Spoonbill saga, the bird has apparently shown up in Quebec, Canada! An astonishing first record for them, and much to their delight! There is one new bird in Sullivan County, my dear “Frenemy” the Merlin has returned to Morningside Park. Its either him, or there is another one that doesn’t mind me kayaking up to him and taking a zillion photos. Maybe this year he’ll hit the road quicker than last (TWO MONTHS!). I wish I had more, but that’s all folks!
Many of you may remember that back in July of 2013 I discovered the first ever recorded RUDDY TURNSTONE in Sullivan County. Making the discovery even more significant was the fact that the bird had been banded in 2011 in southern New Jersey as an adult male bird. This put its date of birth at most likely prior to 2010*, but not absolutely. At any rate, I check on this bird on a fairly regular basis, often not finding new reports. The last positive report I had was from a two years ago. I checked it out a few weeks back with no new updates. Today, for some reason, I thought to check it again. A number of observers reported the bird again this spring at Fowler Beach, Delaware. The bird was last reported on 5/17/18. This make him a minimum of eight years old!!! Wouldn’t I just love it if it would drop in and visit us again. Since a number of people saw this beautiful bird during its one day stay, I thought you might be interested.
*If the bird had been an extremely early hatch in 2010, it is not impossible that it attained full adult plumage by spring of 2011, but not likely. This means the bird was most likely a 2009 hatch if not earlier.
This morning I got a call from Matt Zeitler that he had found a WHIMBREL on Skinner Lane in Orange County! A great find by Matt, this was a first county bird for me (#269). I zoomed down to find the bird sitting quietly and being viewed by Matt, Karen Miller and Kathy Ashman. I only had the chance to chase this bird once before in Orange County. I believe it was in 2011 (I’ll check on that) when Ken McDermott found one in the Black Dirt Region as well. I missed that bird. Once I left Orange County, I made my rounds. I was hoping the heavy rain overnight had put down something good in Sullivan as well. I had the usual five species of common shorebirds, but little else. Still it was a great day and hopefully, so early in the season, we still have many more great birds to come! Thanks Matt for finding the bird and getting the word out so quickly!!
I just want to send out a big CONGRATULATIONS!!! To Matt Zeitler, Rob Stone and Ken and Curt McDermott for getting the ROSEATE SPOONBILL in Orange County, New York! I can’t think of a more deserving group of dedicated birders to get this bird for the county and the state. I still hold out hope that I might get to see it in the county, so lets all keep our fingers crossed that it decides to spend a bit more time in Orange County!