The Cackling Goose swims among many Canada Geese.
This morning I headed back to the Orange County Black Dirt Region. I was pleased to see that many more geese had arrived since my last visit. (or I just hit it right) Though I still didn’t find a Greater White-fronted Goose, I did have two CACKLING GEESE and three blue phase SNOW GEESE! The Snow Geese were at the Camel Farm and the Cackling Geese were, one at Liberty Marsh observation deck and the other at Pierce Circle, eventually flying to a local pond where I was able to photograph it. Good morning!
This morning I headed to Orange County to try for a Greater White-fronted Goose. By the time the morning was over, I had sifted through at least 6,000 Canada Geese in Orange and Ulster Counties. I had fewer geese in the Black Dirt Region than I would usually have at this time of year. I headed around the county to see where else I might find them. I had many Canada Geese on both Rt. 416 between Goshen and Montgomery, and many more on Rt. 17K between Montgomery and Bullville. I also headed over to Blue Chip Farms to see what might be there. I would estimate at least 4,000 Canada Geese there. Bottom line, I found NO rare geese in most locations. The only good goose was found along Rt. 416 east of Montgomery at Hillcrest Farms. I found a nice CACKLING GOOSE among the 500 Canada Geese in that field. Photo attached!
The Cackling Goose can be seen in the upper center of the shot. Note the smaller paler goose with the tiny bill.
I needed something different to do today, and all it took was seeing Curt McDermott’s post last evening saying he had a Cackling Goose on Bates Lane at Blue Chip Farms and I knew what I was going to do. I have been checking the geese in Sullivan County for the last couple of weeks, hoping for a rarity. So far I’ve had thousands of Canada Geese, hundreds of Brant a few Snow Geese. I headed down to find far more geese in Ulster than in Sullivan. I was only there a few minutes when I spotted a juvenile BRANT in a field with hundreds of Canada Geese. Much to my surprise, this was a new county bird for Ulster County for me. I continued to check through the geese, and eventually the Brant and a few Canada Geese took off and flew up the road to a field on the left. I headed that way to find many hundreds of Canada’s there. As I scanned through them, I found the Brant again. Shortly thereafter, I found the CACKLING GOOSE that Curt had seen last night! I continued to bird the many fields and found a total of over 3,000 Canada Geese, and I think that’s a conservative estimate. I was surprised that I couldn’t find any other species among them. I still need a Greater White-fronted Goose for the year, so I hope one shows up soon. I stopped over to the grasslands for a quick visit and was lucky enough to run into Ralph Tabor. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and it was nice catching up! Great morning of birding!
The juvenile Brant along Bates Lane this morning.
Nothing exceptional this morning, just a nice walk around several areas of the kill. It was sleeting for some time while I was out, but with no wind, it was of no bother. I didn’t even get wet. The Birch Trail off the Main Boat Launch continues to be the most entertaining. Winter Wren abound, Fox Sparrows are present in modest numbers and Rusty Blackbirds continue to pass through, some of which may overwinter. A Hermit Thrush was particularly cooperative this morning. The Deli Fields were quite active too. Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebirds and an assortment of woodpeckers were all upstaged by over 100 Cedar Waxwings feeding in the Crab Apple Grove at the back of the fields. My only raptors today were Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawk. A nice peaceful walk!
This morning I headed out around the county with a list of specific target species in mind. I never found one of them. That said, I had a great day of birding and had some nice highlights. Common Goldeneye, American Pipits, Horned Lark, Brant, Red-throated Loon and Red-necked Grebe were all seen! Lake Superior had an abundance of waterfowl, with my FOS Common Goldeneye present, 12 in all. The Sullivan Grasslands area produced 5 Horned Lark and 40 American Pipit as well as 2 American Kestrel! We have yet to find our first Snow Buntings of the fall. Leaving the area, I took a road I don’t normally take. I spotted a large flock of Canada Geese in a field near a large pond, and stopped to ask the farmer if he would mind if I checked out the geese from the road. He said yes he would, he’d rather I drove back in the field and check them out much closer, such a nice guy! He was really pleased when I took him to see a juvenile BRANT that I found among the Canada Geese! He had no idea that it was there or what it was. A nice moment in birding! From there I headed to the Neversink Reservoir. At first I didn’t spot anything, but then I noticed a grebe pop up. RED-NECKED GREBE! My second this week. As I watched the bird, further away a very pale loon popped up. My brief look made me think Red-throated, but it dove so quickly I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t find it for the longest time, and when I found a loon, it was a Common Loon. Thinking that must have been the bird, I continued scanning the reservoir. Nearly ten minutes later I looked at the Grebe again, and the RED-THROATED LOON was right near it! All three birds now not far apart. I tried getting shots of the loon, but it was under more than it was up and every time I nearly had it, down it went. I attached and awful shot of the Red-necked Grebe, though distant, he at least stayed up most of the time. Great day of birding with 41 species seen.
This morning, after a rather quiet tour of the county that revealed most of the waterfowl had moved on, I went to the Bashakill. One note from up county was the continuing 3 Dunlin at Morningside Park! I started at the Pine Boat Launch where I found little. I then went to Haven Road where Canada Geese and 2 Pied-billed Grebe were seen. There was also a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as many flyovers. From there I headed to the Main Boat Launch where I ran into Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris. They too were finding it rather quiet. We birded the Birch Trail together, and things began to pick up. Maria had already found her life Winter Wren before I arrived, but was amazed to find no less than five more along this trail. Sparrows began to show, Song, Swamp, White-throated and American Tree Sparrow were all seen. The bird in the highest number among them were Dark-eyed Juncos. On the kill, we found the on-going flock of American Coot! The Green-winged Teal with them yesterday, were gone. A very large flock of Canada Geese began to circle the kill at that point, at least a couple of hundred birds in all. We headed back to the boat launch, on the way finding a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Hairy Woodpecker. Back at the boat launch, we found a juvenile BRANT! The bird was quite confiding and many photos were taken. Arlene Borko was able to come and see the bird, new for the year for her! What started out as a very quiet visit, ended up being an enjoyable and productive day!
I am so sad to report here that the Corn Crake was found dead this morning on Long Island. There is no immediate report as to what happened. I will update once I hear more. This is devastating news for the bird and for the hundreds of people still traveling to see it.
Addendum: a necropsy on the Crake revealed it had been most likely hit by a car. Both its legs and pelvis had been broken. It will have a permanent place in the Museum of Natural History. An extremely sad ending to a history making visit.