Orange County Geese

A Cackling Goose just off Onion Avenue

A Cackling Goose just off Onion Avenue


This morning I headed to the Black Dirt Region again to try for some of the species I’ve missed. Still missing. I did find tremendous numbers of geese, at 3000 on Onion Avenue. As I pulled up along the field and rolled down my window, I immediately heard a CACKLING GOOSE calling. This is a high pitched nasally honk nothing like a Canada Goose. I looked up the road from where it was coming and the bird was along the road only fifty feet from the edge. I pulled up and the geese didn’t flush. The bird continued to vocalize, something I never tire of hearing. As I took pictures of it, I realized that only thirty feet away was the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE! They eventually came together and it was neat to see them side by side momentarily. I searched and searched, but found not other unusual geese. I texted a few people, and Linda Scrima responded and got to see the birds. From there, I went around the region, but really found nothing else of note. Returning to Sullivan, I stopped by the Bashakill and found my first MUTE SWAN of the year in the county.
Click on this shot to enlarge it and you will see the birds bill is wide open as it was cackling away.

Click on this shot to enlarge it and you will see the birds bill is wide open as it was cackling away.


Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose


Our FOS Mute Swan on Haven Road

Our FOS Mute Swan on Haven Road

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Neversink River

Female Belted Kingfisher along the Neversink River.

Female Belted Kingfisher along the Neversink River.


Arlene Borko and I took a ride along the Neversink River this morning. While we had nothing exceptional, we had a nice assortment of birds and got to observe some interesting behaviors. Some of our waterfowl are now starting to display for the upcoming breeding season and its always nice to see their bobbing and swaying accompanied by their chattering monologue. Waterfowl present included Mallards, Black Ducks, Common and Hooded Mergansers and Canada Geese. It was the mergansers that have begun their spring rituals. An adult and juvenile Bald Eagle gave us a good show. A pair of Belted Kingfisher were especially cooperative this morning. Add to this the usual passerines and we tallied a modest 20 species. A relatively warm and wind free morning with some nice birds!
Adult Bald Eagles

Adult Bald Eagles

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Blue Chip Farms and Shawangunk Grasslands NWR Ulster County

I was glad to get some decent shots of the Cackling Goose this time around.  Last trip, it was so deep in the Canada Geese I couldn't get any pics at all.

I was glad to get some decent shots of the Cackling Goose this time around. Last trip, it was so deep in the Canada Geese I couldn’t get any pics at all.


This morning Karen Miller and I birded the above areas. Karen arrived shortly before me and had already found the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE before I arrived. Upon my arrival, I immediately found the CACKLING GOOSE! I met up with Karen and we shared each of our finds. There were at least 1000 Canada Geese along Bates Lane, and many more huge flocks in nearby fields and in the air. As I was coming up Bates Lane, I noticed half a dozen Turkeys at the compost pile. We then went to the grasslands. We hiked the entire main trail watching raptors as we went. At least four Northern Harriers, two Red-tailed Hawks and an American Kestrel were present. We saw no Rough-legged Hawks this morning. We searched extensively for Eastern Meadowlarks that have been being reported, but no luck. It was a brisk but beautiful morning and we had some great birds!
Cackling Goose on Bates Lane.

Cackling Goose on Bates Lane.


Greater White-fronted Goose at Blue Chip Farms.

Greater White-fronted Goose at Blue Chip Farms.

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Very birdy day on Long Island

One of many Black-crowned Night-herons at Cammanns Pond Park.

One of many Black-crowned Night-herons at Cammanns Pond Park.


I finally worked out a trip to Long Island today. I was up and out early and had arrived at Cammanns Park in Merrick at 7:30 AM. I had seen BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS reported here and wanted to get one for the year. Quite an active little park and pond. I had a total of 18 BCNH’s here! There were dozens of Northern Shovelers, Mallard and Black Ducks and Canada Geese. There were also quite a few Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Northern Pintail. From there I headed right down to Jones Beach (only a few miles). I started at the Coast Guard Station. Here I had a pair of Surf Scoters, dozens of Common Loons and a few Red-throated Loons. Fifty Bonaparte’s Gulls were following a flock of feeding Red-breasted Mergansers, snatching fish when they would surface. The bushes near the station were loaded with YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS! I headed over to the West End Parking area. From there I walked out to the jetty through the dunes. This is quite a walk both distance and effort wise. The sand is quite soft and you do get a workout. My targets out there were easily found. PURPLE SANDPIPERS and RUDDY TURNSTONES. There were also about 40 BLACK SCOTERS. Also among the shorebirds were 100 Sanderlings and 40 Dunlin. One miss here was Harlequin Duck. Other birders informed me that they had just flown to Point Lookout, I would try for them there later. I tried to find the Lark Sparrow that many had already seen this morning, but missed it. I then headed to Point Lookout. On my way over I had a surprise GREAT EGRET fly up out of the marsh and across the road in front of my jeep. At Point Lookout I walked in through the town park. I immediately came upon four Tree Swallows feeding on the wing among the grasses. There were actually lots of bugs out and I’m sure they were getting their fill. There were thousands of Brant in this area, as well as probably 50 Common Loons. A few more Bonaparte’s Gulls as well. I walked along the jetty and came upon three of the six HARLEQUIN DUCKS that had been seen at west end earlier. Beautiful birds and a nice add for the year. When I got back into town, I stopped at my favorite deli and had a great sandwich there. Now that it was nearing noon, I decided to head back to the Coast Guard Station and see if the incoming tide had brought in any of the shorebirds I was missing, it had! There were 20 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and 10 RED KNOTS on the sand bar! I must have hiked five miles in the sand altogether and was quite beat by this time. I decided to drive around to see if I could find any Boat-tailed Grackles, my only miss of the trip, but couldn’t find them. Really great day with very nice mild conditions for January at Jones Beach! Some of you may have noticed that I did a lot of birding this month. January is usually just bleak and I always try to get as big a list of birds as I possibly can. Its a lot of fun and it helps a rather dismal month pass quickly. This year I set a goal to get the most birds for the month that I ever have. My previous high was 123 species. This year I ended with 135 species for January!! Next years going to be a tough one!
A Bonaparte's Gull at the Coast Guard Station.

A Bonaparte’s Gull at the Coast Guard Station.


Ruddy Turnstone on the West End Jetty.

Ruddy Turnstone on the West End Jetty.


Black Scoters off the jetty.

Black Scoters off the jetty.


Beautiful Purple Sandpipers on the jetty.

Beautiful Purple Sandpipers on the jetty.


One of the three Harlequin Ducks at Point Lookout.

One of the three Harlequin Ducks at Point Lookout.

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Orange County = Great day!

Greater White-fronted Goose on Turtle Bay Road.

Greater White-fronted Goose on Turtle Bay Road.

This morning I headed once again to the Black Dirt Region of Orange County with some target birds in mind. Long story short, I got none of them. What did happen made for some great birding. I made my usual stops along the valley, and found basically nothing. When I reached Breeze Hill Road, I found five Snow Geese, three near the pond and two in the horse paddock. Then on Turtle Bay Road, I found at least 2000 geese! I began to sift through them. At first, looking for Cackling Geese, I found nothing. As I scanned, I suddenly found myself looking at a beautiful adult GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE! This bird was vibrant in color and just a gorgeous goose. I made several calls, alerting all my friends to its presence. Bruce Nott, Linda Scrima, Bill Fiero and Rob Stone were all able to come see the bird. I then toured the valley, continuing my quest for the target birds and came up empty. Finally I returned to the fields at Turtle Bay where I once again found the GWFG. I then headed east to the Newburgh Waterfront to try for the Iceland Gulls that have been being reported there. I met up with Ken McDermott, and it didn’t take long before we found a first winter ICELAND GULL! We searched the abundant gulls for the next hour, but did not relocate the Lesser Black-backed Gull* that has been being seen (we’ve already seen it) the past few days. I finally pulled myself away from a great day of birding with some great birders.

*After I left, the group once again located the Lesser Black-backed Gull

Distant but identifiable shot of the first winter Iceland Gull.

Distant but identifiable shot of the first winter Iceland Gull.

Three of the five Snow Geese on Breeze Hill Road.

Three of the five Snow Geese on Breeze Hill Road.

Another shot of the Greater White-fronted Goose.

Another shot of the Greater White-fronted Goose.

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The Valley

Rusty Blackbird walking on ice on Linear Park Trail.

Rusty Blackbird walking on ice on Linear Park Trail.


I birded the valley from Summitville to Westbrookville today. It was quite a nice day, even though it never got really warm. Here are the highlights of the morning:

Winter Wren – 2, one on Linear Park Trail and one in the usual spot in the development
Carolina Wren – 2, at Linear Park
FOX SPARROW – a county FOS in the development with the wren
Rusty Blackbirds – 3, Linear Park
Belted Kingfisher – 1, Linear Park
Green-winged Teal – 1, Linear Park
Wood Duck – Linear Park
Red-winged Blackbird – 1, development
Brown-headed Cowbird – 1, development
Swamp Sparrow – 2, Bashakill at Melrose Farm
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 2, (1 Nature Trail, 1 Deli Fields) Bashakill
Robins – everywhere

I had a total of 37 species, but never saw a raptor of any kind.

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Cedar Waxwings

Got out for a short time this morning. I checked out the Rondout Reservoir and Neversink River. Everything remained about the same, no new birds. The highlight of the morning were two flocks of Cedar Waxwings. One in Monticello and one at the Orchard at the Rondout Reservoir. They put on quite a show at both locations. Here is a shot of some of the birds in Monticello.

Cedar Waxwings in Monticello

Cedar Waxwings in Monticello

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