The Marsh Wren on Haven Road this morning was quite secretive.
With the beautiful weather and southwest winds, one expects there wouldn’t be much movement migration wise. I covered the up county areas, including most of the lakes and reservoirs on Saturday afternoon, following the Bashakill Area Associations annual meeting in the morning . To my disappointment, all the birds I had found on Friday were gone. Nothing remained at any of the sites, much less anything new having come in. I finally returned home late in the afternoon to find an email indicating that Maria Loukeris had found and photographed a SAY’S PHOEBE at Wallkill NWR on Liberty Lane earlier in the day. Her photo was diagnostic and unquestionable. I zoomed down to meet Linda Scrima and eventually many others in search of the bird. Unfortunately, like the previous two Say’s Phoebe’s I had chased in New York, the bird was gone. (I have seen many Say’s Phoebe’s across the country, but never in New York) Thankfully, Sunday proved to be slightly more productive. I birded the Bashakill and had a few good birds. It was an enjoyable morning. Upon arriving at Haven Road, I found an assortment of common Sparrows. White-throated, Song and Swamp. As I walked along the road, a small bird flew across the road. By the fluttery flight, I knew it was a MARSH WREN! This bird can be tough to see at the Bashakill. We believe that a colony has established here, but the density of the vegetation in the marsh makes them tough to access. In the fall, they are often easier to see along Haven Road, and that seems to be the case this year. I spent an hour with this bird, trying for a decent shot. I eventually got an identifiable one at least. From there I went to the Birch Trail. Ducks have really picked up in this area since the hunting ceased last weekend. Unfortunately, the ducks were way out in the marsh and were only viewable sporadically. There was an abundance of them, but counts and species were tough to discern. While on the Birch Trail, I had great looks at my first WINTER WREN of the season. Other birds of interest today included a Hermit Thrush. One bird that isn’t exactly a sought after species was a beautiful pheasant. I believe it to be a Kalij Pheasant. A well established species in Hawaii, where I have seen it many times. Clearly a released bird for hunting, it was a treat to see none the less. This was definitely a make lemonade out of lemons weekend, but there is always something great to see.
My first ever Kalij Pheasant in Sullivan County ( not countable here, but definitely in Hawaii) but none the less, a delight to see!
Distant shot of one of the Pecs at Morningside. Shots are better with the Kayak!
Yesterday, I covered the up county area, checking the water and shorebird habitats. I made out pretty well. I had lots of Ruddy Ducks in several locations. Also seen were the typical Mallards, Blacks and Wood Ducks. One notable duck find was a total of at least 117 Wood Ducks at the Rondout Reservoir. This is my highest count of this species away from the Bashakill. (2,000 can be seen there at times). Common and Hooded Mergansers have started moving in as well as Green-winged Teal. Shorebirds were decent for late October. Two Killdeer at the Apollo Plaza are now getting late. At Morningside Park, I had three PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, the bird of the day for me. Not a bad morning at all!
I spent most of the day at the Bashakill, specifically Haven Road and the Deli Fields. There was an abundance of sparrows at both locations which made it difficult to leave both spots. On Haven Road, two VESPER SPARROWS cooperated the entire day, still there when I left at 5pm. Karen Miller was with me initially and Ken McDermott joined me in the afternoon. Originally, Charlie West and company informed us they were sure they had seen a Vesper, but it disappeared. Almost immediately after they left, both Vespers came into full view. Also present on Haven were a SAVANNAH SPARROW and LINCOLN’S SPARROW. I also had my first migrant Dark-eyed Junco here. Song and Swamp Sparrows completed the list. Also moving through regularly were small groups of AMERICAN PIPITS! I had a total of 15. Moving on to the Deli Fields, Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Field Sparrows and single WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and VESPER SPARROW were present with many Song Sparrows. The other species of interest were a couple of Rusty Blackbirds at the Pine Boat Launch access road. I forgot to mention Shorebirds. While at Haven Road, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER flew through, calling as it went. Later, Ken McDermott had a flock of eight shorebirds (most likely Dunlin or Pectoral) fly by Haven Road. Just before the end of the day, I had another flock of four shorebirds fly by. They never vocalized, and I can’t be certain, but I think they were Dunlin. That makes 18 Shorebirds reported from Haven Road in four days. Not bad for October.
American Wigeon at the Rondout Reservoir.
I hit most of the hot spots in the county this morning hoping for some interesting ducks. I wasn’t disappointed. I had a nice total of ten species of waterfowl, including my FOS AMERICAN WIGEON. I also noted the first real influx of mergansers. All the Mergs we’ve reported over the last five months have been breeding birds. These were the first notable migrants. I had a total of 29 Common Mergansers and 2 Hooded Mergansers. All were at locations they don’t breed. Ruddy Ducks were found at both Kiamesha Lake and Swan Lake. A total of 9 Pied-billed Grebe was a good number. I was wishing for a Great Cormorant (like in Sussex Co. N.J.) but came up with five Double-crested Cormorants. A single hen NORTHERN PINTAIL was the only other duck of note.
This afternoon I returned to Haven Road. I had missed quite a bit of what was there this morning due to some heavy traffic and the fact that I had to leave. This afternoon, the joint was jumping! As soon as I got out of the car, more skeins of geese were going over. Though there were many this morning, all of the birds were Canada’s. The very first flock to go over this afternoon contained three SNOW GEESE flying side by side in a flock of about 75 Canada Geese! Once they had gone over, I started to focus on the sparrows. I immediately noted more Savannah Sparrows than I was able to count this morning. I spotted my first definite VESPER SPARROW of the fall season! I got a few shots of the bird, but wanted better. I followed it to a bush where it had flown and was trying to get a shot when I saw a “duck” flying right at me. I suddenly realized it wasn’t a duck at all, but my first BRANT of the year! I managed to get a couple of shots of the bird flying away, and then followed it to the Pine Boat Launch where it had landed. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the launch my car scared the bird and it took off before I could even get out of the car. I watched the bird, expecting it to depart, but instead, it flew all the way back down the kill. It landed somewhere, but half an hour search failed to find it. There are many Canada Geese out in the marsh, and even they are hard to spot. I suspect the Brant is with them. Back to Haven Road to search for the Vesper again. Two Pied-billed Grebe were now by the bridge. I searched for the sparrow, as Scott arrived. We didn’t find the bird, and it began to rain heavily. Scott headed home and I headed out too. As I reached the stand of Phragmites, there was the Vesper in the road again. It flew off beyond the phrags. Hopefully, some of these birds will continue tomorrow, since it is supposed to rain all night. A little excitement after all!!
The Brant flies away from me toward the Pine Boat Launch.
I’ve birded all the usual spots over the last week. While most days have be quite active, nothing exceptional has been seen. At least eight species of sparrows have been highlighted by Lincoln’s and White-crowned. Warbler wise, Palm and Yellow-rumped have been the usual fare, with occasional Common Yellowthroats and Pines thrown in. Shorebirds have included Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper and Greater Yellowlegs, but that’s it this week. American Pipits are moving through in decent numbers. I understand Scott had the first Rusty Blackbirds of the season at the Deli Fields this morning. Ducks are picking up. Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck and Gadwall have all been seen. Common Loons and Pied-billed Grebe numbers are picking up too.
This morning, the first I’ve been out since Wednesday morning, I headed to all the up county water spots. Yesterday, a group a friends and I kayaked Yankee Lake. Once I was done, I thought we’d put the kayaks away since I hadn’t had any shorebirds in a week. I stopped at Morningside Park and immediately found a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! I was looking for Pectoral Sandpiper, as they are often late in the county and show up at Morningside right into November. Still no Pec, but the Baird’s was a real surprise. Having only gotten my first in the county in three years about ten days ago, I never considered I’d get another this year. A Killdeer was the only other shorebird there. The Rondout Reservoir and Swan Lake were the only other two productive spots. Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Common Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-billed Gull, Gadwall, Northern Pintail and all the usual suspects were all seen between the two spots. Thirty five species, A good morning!