White-tailed Tropicbirds!

Two of the three White-tailed Tropicbirds.  Click on to enlarge and then zoom in with the magnifying glass.

Two of the three White-tailed Tropicbirds. Click on to enlarge and then zoom in with the magnifying glass.


Short on time, but had three White-tailed Tropicbirds today! Here are a couple of poor shots, but still exciting! Tomorrow El Yunque National Park Puerto Rico!
WTTB with fish in its mouth.

WTTB with fish in its mouth.

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Brown Booby!

Juvenile Brown Booby from our Norwegian Cruise ship!

Juvenile Brown Booby from our Norwegian Cruise ship!


I am away on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise! I didn’t expect to have internet access while I was away, but am pleasantly surprised to have it, at least at this time. Today while cruising 200 miles east of Florida and 75 miles southwest of Bermuda, I had some pelagic birds. Actually most were land birds. A Great Egret circled the boat for nearly an hour before departing and a Barn Swallow showed up several times. The best bird of the day however was a juvenile BROWN BOOBY! This bird rode the bow of the ship for quite some time, shooting down the side of the ship then catching up to the bow again. It repeated this many times over the course of an hour. Finally as my friends and I were watching, a flying fish took off from the water. I was able to get my friends right on it and they were thrilled to see this fish that none had seen before. As the fish continued through the air, the Brown Booby suddenly came out of no where and caught the fish right out of the air! Everyone gasped! I have never seen a booby do that before, it was pretty neat to see. Shortly thereafter the bird was gone. I submitted it to ebird, and of course it had to go in under a rare bird. It was supposedly considerably out of its range. Fortunately I got lots of photos, some you can see here to verify the sighting.
The Brown Booby just kept circling the side of the ship off the wake as we cruised along.

The Brown Booby just kept circling the side of the ship off the wake as we cruised along.


Brown Booby

Brown Booby

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Traveling

I will be away for the next couple of weeks. Tune it around that time to see where I’ve been birding and what great things I hope I’ve found!

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Red Crossbill Followup

This morning, Deb Kral, Aimee LaBarr, Maha Katnani, Arlene Borko and I searched the conifer forests surrounding the Rondout Reservoir for the Red Crossbills I had found yesterday. We had no luck in the area where I had seen them. We went to several nearby areas. On Muhlig Road, near a large stand of Red Pine, Deb initially heard the crossbills. She alerted us to the birds coming in. Two large green finches flew directly overhead, cross the road and flew off into a dense and vast expanse of forest. I only heard chip calls as the birds flew over, but Deb was sure they had been calling on their way in, which is what alerted her to their presence. That was the only sighting today. This is a vast area, and these birds could be present and go undetected. If anyone is interested, continue to check these stands of pines and hopefully you will come across these birds.

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Amazing day again!

Male Red Crossbill

Male Red Crossbill


This morning, Bill Fiero and I met to do some county birding to spruce up his list. It was a cold start (10 degrees) but it began to warm up at least a little. The Bashakill was mostly frozen yet again, reducing numbers of birds. Wood Duck, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese and Black Ducks were all we could find. Only a couple of Bald Eagles were present, but it was earlier than I usually go. We then headed up the Neversink River. Both Common and Hooded Mergansers, Mallards and Canada Geese were all present. The best bird along the stretch was a nice BELTED KINGFISHER. My first in a long time due to the harsh winter. From there we went to the Rondout Reservoir. One of the REDHEAD DRAKES continues among an assortment of common species. One Killdeer was still present as well. From there we headed through the mountains, looking for winter finches. We had lots of continuing Pine Siskins and one Common Redpoll. As we were heading back down county, I asked if Bill had had a RED BREASTED NUTHATCH yet this year. We were off to find a pair that are very regular on Huson Road at the Neversink Reservoir. When we pulled over I didn’t hear anything at first. As I listened I thought I heard a RBNH. I spished to bring it in and immediately heard a familiar call. I exclaimed “CROSSBILL”!! It took a minute for me to locate it, but I then pointed out a female RED CROSSBILL to Bill! I began to search the trees and spotted a total of four Red Crossbills, one male and three females! This is only the second time I’ve ever had them in the county, the last being just last fall. I made several calls, but was only able to reach Scott Baldinger. Though we had to leave, I explained to Scott exactly where to find them. He called a short time later to say he had found the same birds we had seen. Great birding!
Female Red Crossbill - click on photos for best viewing size.

Female Red Crossbill – click on photos for best viewing size.


male Red Crossbill

male Red Crossbill

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Another Great Day in Sullivan County!

A beautiful Ruffed Grouse at the Rio Reservoir.

A beautiful Ruffed Grouse at the Rio Reservoir.


This morning, Arlene Borko and I set out to see what was happening with the drop in temperatures overnight. We went to the Bashakill, where things were quieter this morning. The eagle spectacle continues, with 11 seen this morning. I think its fair to say that the pair of Bald Eagles at the Main Boat Launch have lost their eggs. For the third day in a row, the nest is unattended and the pair could be seen soaring high overhead. Most unfortunate! That said, the second pair continue on their nest, and will hopefully be successful for the first time. We had a total of 14 Bald Eagles there this morning, and one juvenile with a gorgeous white band in the tail gave us a start for a moment thinking it was a Golden, but no such luck. Waterfowl numbers were down again today, but the usual suspects were present. From there, we headed to the Rio Reservoir. As we neared the area, we spotted one of Arlene’s most sought after year birds. A beautiful RUFFED GROUSE!!! Fabulous bird and quite cooperative for photos. Once he flew off we continued to the reservoir, but there was little happening on the water. A mixed species flock of winter passerines included two BROWN CREEPERS! This species has been scarce during our harsh winter. We then headed up to the Mongaup Eagle Blind. We found Common and Hooded Mergansers and a few passerines, but little else. As we went to turn around, two eagles flew in from the south. I quipped to Arlene to “look for a Golden”. I immediately lamented that “they are both juvie balds”. I had only just finished the sentence when a beautiful GOLDEN EAGLE flew past us! The birds glowing golden nape shown in the sun. We jumped out, quite excited. I grabbed the camera and was able to snap a shot before he got away. The shot is really poor, but I’m still thrilled to have photographed all four Golden Eagles I’ve had in the last month! We then headed back to the Bashakill where we viewed the many eagles once again. Great morning!!
While the shot was terribly back lit, I was still happy to have caught the bird before it got away.

While the shot was terribly back lit, I was still happy to have caught the bird before it got away.


The feathers of a Ruffed Grouse are amazingly intricate.

The feathers of a Ruffed Grouse are amazingly intricate.

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Bashakill Area Associations Annual Early Spring Migrant Bird Walk

A Common Goldeneye along Haven Road.

A Common Goldeneye along Haven Road.


This morning I led the BKAA Annual Early Spring Migrant Bird Walk. We met at Haven Road at 8 am. 17 intrepid birders followed me along the road and eventually the Birch Trail at the Main Boat Launch on a very brisk first full day of spring. Waterfowl numbers were down somewhat from the past week, but we had a great walk none the less. We managed to see Canada Geese, Mallard, Black Duck, Wood Duck, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and a female Lesser Scaup! At Haven Road, it was surreal watching four TREE SWALLOWS darting among the weeds in the ice and snow flurries searching for insects over the small patches of open water. Soon thereafter, a Killdeer flew over announcing his name as he went by. As is often the case in the early spring, the Bald Eagles were the show stealers. We had a total of 13 this morning, including two adult pairs and nine immatures. You could hardly look in any direction without seeing an eagle. An unexpected surprise was when we flushed an AMERICAN WOODCOCK from a wet warm water seep right along the Birch Trail! Karen Miller spotted it first, a lifer for her! I’d like to thank Karen for her help in directing participants to so many of the great birds with her scope! After over two hours of hiking around on a brisk morning, most participants departed after the Birch Trail hike. A few really gung ho birders continued on with the reward of an Eastern Screech Owl and eventually great looks at the Common Goldeneye and Lesser Scaup that had now moved closer to the road back at Haven Road. I’d also like to thank Gordon and Lori Lamb for being the participants that have attended more of these walks than anyone else. They are always eager participants and come the farthest, from Queens, Long Island every year! A great morning with great people, that’s what birding is all about!

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