With practically no birds at the Bashakill for the last three days, I was looking for something different to do. Last nights forecast was for heavy rains coming from the southwest into our area. I was hoping that the timing would put some birds down in our shorebird spots. It did! I first went to Apollo Plaza where I found three Killdeer and a Solitary Sandpiper. Not having had any birds here recently, I hoped that these finds were promising. I then headed directly to the college. With Morningsides Islands being so reduced this year, the college has actually been more productive. This morning it came through again. Upon pulling up to the puddles along the circle, I spotted three shorebirds. Two Wilson’s Snipe and a Pectoral Sandpiper! As I photographed them, I looked down to see how the shots were turning out. When I looked back up. A Semipalmated Sandpiper had joined the group. More pics and then I heard Killdeer flying in. At first only ten, but eventually, 32 Killdeer showed up. Along with the Killdeer came two more Pectoral Sandpipers and another Semipalmated Sandpiper. At total of 39 birds. Not at all bad since I had no birds on my last visit. From there I went to the Rondout Reservoir. The water here continues to be very high since the tropical storms. There were no dabbling ducks or geese at all. There was the ongoing female Bufflehead and a Pied-billed Grebe along with three Common Mergansers. A Belted Kingfisher and six Cormorants as well as the pair of Bald Eagles completed the list. I then headed back to Morningside Park where I found no shorebirds. There was a Great Egret, Cormorant and three Ring-billed Gulls among the geese and ducks. Not a bad morning at all!
Birdcast not only showed no migration to our area last night, if I read it right, it showed considerable movement out. I would have to say that was a pretty accurate assessment. Though it was quieter than the last several days, there were still birds to be found. Somehow, I have hit the Stop Sign Parking lot just right every day this week, sometimes twice in a day. That happened again this morning. though I didn’t arrive there until just after 10 am, I had a nice movement of birds right off the parking area. Magnolia, Black and White, Chestnut-sided and Redstarts were all present as well as Chickadees, nuthatches, Red-eyed Vireo and a Brown Creeper. Woodpeckers too. There were five Great Egrets and three Great Blue Herons as well as a Northern Harrier off Haven Road. From there I headed to the Nature Trail. It was birdy by the boardwalks, but not too diverse. I worked my way around the entire area including the far back loop with only a few birds seen. Once I reached the “T” between the Tower and the Longpath, everything changed. There was a nice movement of birds there. Always check this spot as it is usually one of the best areas. My highlights there were a beautiful Philadelphia Vireo and a Tennessee Warbler, my first in several days. When I was done, I received word from Renee Davis that there were once again two Pectoral Sandpipers at the college. I went up to see them and then stopped by the Apollo Plaza just in case. In all I had the Pecs, Killdeer and a Solitary Sandpiper. Not a bad day at all! Tonight, Birdcast is saying major migration in the entire northeast. Lets hope some of them put down here in Sullivan County!
The last two days have been very productive here in Sullivan County. Wednesday nights forecast was for rain in the night with shifting winds that ran the gamut from SW to NW and back again. This sort of unsettled weather usually puts down some birds and it did that night. I started the morning Thursday by heading up county to check for shorebirds. They have been in short supply recently and I was hoping for some to have put down. They did. It wasn’t a windfall, but there were some nice ones. Killdeer, Solitary Sandpiper, a single Semipalmated Sandpiper and three Pectoral Sandpipers were all seen. The Pecs were at the college and remained the entire day, enabling all our local birders to see them. From there I headed to the Bashakill where there was a really good movement of birds. It was easy to tell they were new flocks as they contained different birds than I’ve been seeing. In fact, I had my FOS Wilson’s Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler and Prairie Warbler, bringing to 22 species of warbler for me in the last week or so. Other highlights included Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Swainson’s Thrush. Today, birding was similar with rapidly moving mixed species flocks at both the Orchard and the Nature Trail. The heavy drizzle and dark skies made it tough, but there were so many birds moving you were bound to see some nice ones. The highlights for me today were yet another gorgeous Bay-breasted Warbler, several Northern Parula and a Blue-headed Vireo. The forecast for migration this weekend is good so lets hope more new birds put down in our area. My next big target is a Gray-cheeked Thrush. We missed them this spring which is unusual, so I’m hoping for a good showing this fall.
To the Bashakill again this morning, the best place to go now. I had more birds this morning than yesterday, but fewer warblers (only 11 species) and few in number. Other birds were about the same with slightly fewer noted. A Bay-breasted at the Orchard was a highlight, but the only one I saw this morning. Swainson’s Thrush were in good number at the back of the Nature Trail with a single Wood Thrush among them. Another beautiful Philadelphia Vireo at the Deli Fields was really nice, though not as cooperative for photos as yesterdays bird. A Pied-billed Grebe off Haven Road was my first since breeding season was over. Good birding overall!
Following a one day break in activity, the Bashakill was alive with birds again this morning. I ran into four mixed species flocks today, one at the Orchard, two along South Road, and one at the Nature Trail. Actually, the Nature Trail probably had more than one group, it was just so big, it seemed to be everywhere. The Orchard had 8 species of warbler, the highlight of which was yet another beautiful fall Bay-breasted Warbler! These birds just seem to be in fine color this fall. Along South Road, the highlights of the two flocks were the abundance of Magnolia Warblers and a beautiful male Northern Parula! The Nature Trail had the most diversity with all of the warbler species seen here. That was 13 species in total for me. Another Bay-breasted, Magnolia, BT Blue and BT Greens, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Black and White, Northern Parula, Canada, Chestnut-sided, Pine and Palm Warblers were all seen! Other highlights of the morning included many Vireo’s, including a beautiful PHILADELPHIA VIREO spotted by John Mueger! There were also lots of Swainson’s Thrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I never spotted a Scarlet Tanager even though they were numerous for the last several days. Non-passerine highlights included Great Blue Heron and Great Egret and a single Common Gallinule. Though I seldom had my eyes to the sky, I did manage to spot a Merlin at the Main Boat Launch. Overall another great morning!
This morning there were many birders out taking advantage of the continued good migration this week. There was clearly more movement overnight and there was much to see. The Nature Trail continues to be the stronghold for the migrants coming in and I was able to see a dozen species again this morning. I spent the morning birding with Scotty Baldinger and some time with Lance Verderame and his NYS Young Birders Group. Its always nice to see the kids out birding, they are so skilled and so good at getting photos. I didn’t see everything and several species were reported I missed. In all, if I am aware of all species that have been seen, we have a total of 19 warbler species at the Bashakill over the last three days. I did have my FOS PHILADELPHIA VIREO this morning. I was able to get on the bird several times and though I would have liked even better looks, I was sure of the species. Hopefully I’ll have some more chances at getting a photo of one. Other species seen, some in really good numbers included, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, Swainson’s Thrush and many more! I hope this burst of migrants continues because its been a lot of fun.
This morning I headed back to the Bashakill with hopes of more warblers. The Birdcast map showed significant migration through our area overnight, but that can be a bad sign as we are often overflown. That wasn’t the case today. Though I found few birds in most locations, the Nature Trail was once again fantastic! I had a total of 13 species of warblers, 38 individuals that I reported, and that doesn’t include all the birds I missed. Birds were coming by me so fast in waves that I don’t think I identified more than half of them. Warblers were without a doubt the birds of the day. I had no Thrushes, Orioles, Tanagers nor any other larger passerines. The only exception was a single Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Vireos were scarce as well which is quite surprising since there have been many this week. A few Red-eyed and a single Yellow-throated were all I had today. That was of little matter as the warblers really pleased. Highlights included Nashville (2), Bay-breasted (3), Tennessee (1), Northern Parula (4), Blackburnian (4) and Blackpoll (FOS). There was an abundance of the more common species such as Black and White, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and Common Yellowthroat. I had one Palm Warbler at the Deli Fields, but there may have been more. It was quiet there so I returned to the Nature Trail. The birds seen today brought my total to 16 warblers in the last three days! Somehow, today, I missed Canada and Black-throated Blue, both of which were seen.
It looks like fall migration is actually in full swing and the birding at the Bashakill has been really great the last couple of days. Today, the Nature Trail was the most productive this morning with at least 8 species of warblers seen. Magnolia, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue and Canada Warblers as well as American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat were all present. Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and an abundance of the more common birds were all seen. Upon leaving there, I went to the Deli Fields where I found 3 Palm Warblers, Magnolia, Blackthroated Blue and Canada Warblers and more Yellowthroats. Eastern Phoebes and Pewees were present as well as several empids. This afternoon, I returned to the Bashakill. This time, I found many birds right at the parking lot by the Stop Sign Trail. Magnolia, Canadas, BT Blue, Pewees, and common passerines. As I watched the Pewees fly to the back of the parking area, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher popped up in a Virginia Creeper and picked a berry. It was a great day and it should only get better. All of this gave me 11 warblers for the day and 13 for the last two days. Tonight, I’m hoping the rains will put down some shorebirds for my morning trek up county. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Finally, following another week of little movement in the county, I connected with a nice passerine movement at the Bashakill’s Nature Trail. Scotty Baldinger has been having some good days there recently, but I just hadn’t connected. This morning, arriving at the Nature Trail at 10:30 am, I hit a flurry of birds right at the parking lot. Magnolia Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, Swainson’s and Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager and more were working the thicket right off the parking lot. Moving on into the board walk area, I found that the water had receded. The most common birds here were Swamp Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat. Once I moved on in to where the trail splits, going left, right and out into the sand pit, I wasn’t sure which way to turn. It seemed birds were in every direction! Eastern Wood Pewee, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted, more Magnolias (the most common warbler of the day) and Ovenbirds (second most common) were all seen. In an opening in the central part of the trail with no access, I spotted a small empid flycatching and had my FOS YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER! Others seen were American Redstart, Black and White and Black-throated Blue Warblers were seen for a total of 9 species of warblers! It was an enjoyable experience to finally connect with a nice assortment of birds for fall migration!
This morning I headed to the college early hoping that some new birds came in with the torrential rains overnight and the northwest winds. There were some new arrivals, but not a real blowout morning. At the college I had 62 Killdeer, 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 1 Solitary Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs. From there I kayaked Morningside Park. There were actually few birds there, but I had a nice paddle on a beautiful morning. I did get one new bird, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER which was new for me for the year. The Merlin was also present and gave both the Pec and a Spotted Sandpiper the usual run for their money. Eventually, the Merlin flew off, and the sandpipers went back to their usual activities. Another bird I wasn’t quite expecting was a Virginia Rail. They normally breed at Morningside, but I hadn’t seen them this year. This is not unusual as the islands have impenetrable habitat that keeps them secreted away. At any rate, I heard one calling and eventually tracked it down. Always great to see them. Apollo Plaza had only Killdeer when I was there, so that was it for the shorebirds. I made an attempt to spend some time at the Bashakill this afternoon but it was quite flooded and Haven Road was impassible, so I will try again tomorrow.