The river twists and turns for nearly a mile and is mostly covered with geese. It is hard to get shots as it is deep and winding. This is just one small section.
One of two fields of Canada Geese along the Wallkill River. The other field offers no good photo vantage.
Cackling Goose with pair of Canada Geese.
I was tied up this morning so I didn’t get out until nearly noon and headed to the black dirt region to see what was happening. I started once again on Celery Avenue where a 15 minute search turned up the CACKLING GOOSE just 150 feet down river from its location on Tuesday. Unlike Tuesday when it never came out of the water, I found it sleeping on the ice along the shore. It never entered the water the entire time of viewing. I get a real kick out watching this little guy, especially when he honks. Between the adjacent fields and the water I believe at least 5000 geese are present. From there I toured the entire area to Missionland Road, Oil City Road and Skinner Lane. The only birds of note were 7 Rough-legged Hawks and 100+ Horned Lark. There were of course many many Red-tailed Hawks as well.
Wilson’s Snipe at the Rondout Reservoir.
Today I returned to my usual haunts. Everything remains about the same at these two spots. The same species continue with slightly different counts each day. One new bird for me was my FOS WILSON’S SNIPE at the Rondout Reservoir. This bird was first reported to me by Wilma Amthor on 3/2. She had found it later in the day than I was there. I tried unsuccessfully to relocate it on Monday, presuming it was gone. This morning when I pulled up to the bridge, it was the first bird I noticed on the first mud flat near the road. I watched it feed almost continually and it was quite successful in feeding, though I’m not sure what it was it was getting. Thanks Wilma for finding and letting me know about this bird. This is the earliest in the year I have ever had a snipe, and the first time I ever had one before an American Woodcock. Wood Duck numbers are rising, I had five drakes today and though I didn’t see them, I know two hens are around.
A nice comparison of the Cackling Goose with Canada Geese. Note the smaller size, small round head with tiny triangular bill.
Cackling Goose on the Wallkill River at Celery Avenue.
Wood Duck at the Bashakill
This morning I wanted to bird the Bashakill, but with the temp hovering around 2 degrees, I knew the timing could be better. I decided to head to Orange County to take care of some business and try for some of the geese that have been reported there recently. Karen Miller had encouraged me to check out a spot on Celery Avenue (thanks Karen)where geese have been roosting on the Wallkill River. I have birded the black dirt region for 20+ years and never been on Celery Avenue. I found the spot quickly and was amazed at the number of geese there. Apparently, due to the extreme cold, the geese didn’t leave the river this morning. I would guess there was somewhere between 3500 and 4000 geese in less than a mile of river. The geese were so thick, I thought it would be impossible to find different birds among them. First I spotted a white goose with some black spots. Though it was deep in a pile of geese and never raised its head, I believe this to be a hybrid barnyard goose I had seen back in December. A while later I spotted another hybrid goose, Canada x barnyard cross. Over the next 45 minutes, everything looked the same to me. As I was pulling away from an open spot, I spotted a small goose swim into the open quite close by. As I got on the bird, realizing it was a CACKLING GOOSE, it flapped its wings and vocalized several times. It is so neat to actually hear a Cackling Goose. It is so much higher pitched and nasally, it is unmistakable. I only spotted the one Cackling Goose, but it was very cooperative. I also spotted half a dozen Common Mergansers and a pair of Black Ducks. From there I headed back to the Bashakill. It was warmer now, in the mid teens, and there was quite a bit of bird activity. The small pond along the south end of South Road had the most waterfowl. Mallards, Blacks, Canadas were joined by single Ring-necked and Wood Ducks. The channel had three Common Mergansers. I have seen a number of Wood Ducks in the last couple of weeks, but getting one to hold still hasn’t been easy. All the usual passerines were seen at the Bash and hopefully the warmer temps predicted for the next few days will bring in more birds.
This morning, Karen Miller and I met at the Rondout Reservoir where everything remains status quo. Afterward, I headed to the Bashakill just to check it out. On Friday, there was no open water at all and no birds. Today was another story. Only two days of just above freezing temps and the channels began to open. From Haven Road looking northeast toward the back bay, several curves of the channel are open. At the opposite end of the Bash along South Road, the marshy areas on the north side have opened as well as the channel and the small spring fed pond on South Road. All of this resulted in a surprising number of waterfowl. Here are the totals of what I saw:
Canada Geese – 50
Black Ducks – 45
Mallard – 35
Common Mergansers – 14
Hooded Mergansers -3
Wood Ducks – 4
Ring-necked Duck -1
Not a bad count up from zero. Of other note, Scott Baldinger called to inform me he had seen the Sandhill Cranes in Ulster County this morning, so they continue for anyone interested in trying for them.
we’re having a great year for Redheads in the county with at least some present ever since the first of the year.
This Killdeer (one of 4) looks like it could have been on a tropical beach, but in reality it was only 1 degree this morning.
Red-shouldered Hawk enroute to the Rondout Reservoir this morning was very cooperative.
I headed over to the Rondout Reservoir again this morning to see what was happening. I immediately ran into Scott Baldinger and together we sorted through the water fowl. All of the birds from yesterday continued this morning with slightly different numbers.
Canada Goose 2
Mute Swan 3
Black Duck 30
American Wigeon 5
Common Goldeneye 7
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 20
American Robin 5
A really nice assortment of winter water fowl, glad Scott got to see them with me.
The Rondout was alive with water fowl this morning. Besides the usual birds present, there were a number of FOS species. Common and Hooded Merganser, Mallard and Black Duck, the ongoing REDHEAD, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and Canada Geese were joined by FOS MUTE SWAN (3) AMERICAN WIGEON (6) and a lone KILLDEER. Also among the new arrivals were six Redhead (three pairs) I couldn’t help notice that the ongoing Redhead was still with the Black Duck flock near the power house while the new Redheads were out near the mud flats, diving and displaying to each other the entire time. Depending on how far out they are, a scope would be helpful. The presence of these Redheads offers people an opportunity to hone their skills with identifying the female ducks. The ongoing bird remains close in, but is easily compared with the females farther out with the males. All of the females are in identical plumage and it makes it nice to actually know that these rather non-descript ducks are indeed Redheads. Many American Robins continue to forage on the mud flats as well. It was also nice to see the American Wigeon, also three pairs displaying to each other as well. As cold as it was it was a hint of spring to hear the Killdeer calling as it foraged with the American Robins.
Drake American Wigeon with some Canada Geese
Sandhill Crane pair along Union Center Road not far from Rosendale.
After several days of being housebound (sick…..eeesh) I managed to get out for a while this morning. I headed right over to Ulster County to try for the Sandhill Crane pair that has been being seen there. The site was just 45 miles from my home. Upon arrival I spoke with a gentleman looking for the cranes. He said he hadn’t seen them yet, so I went and parked, walking back to the narrow spot along the road crossing a creek. As we checked the woods (yes woods), I spotted the cranes at the back of the creek. They slowly worked their way closer to us. This is without a doubt the strangest spot I have ever seen Sandhills (including last years lawn ornament in Saugerties), Wooded brushy habitat along a small creek. Another gentleman soon joined us, informing us he had first seen the birds a week ago. We enjoyed great views of these once again, confiding birds. A train came along (right near the creek only 50 ft. away) It blew its horn as it reached the road. The sound was extremely loud, but the birds just looked over and then went back to foraging. This is just great! In the last ten years, I have had Sandhills in either Orange, Ulster or Sullivan Counties nearly every year.