I got a call from Bruce Nott first thing this morning informing me he had some distant “grasspipers” at the Warren Sod Farm on Rt. 12 in Orange County. This is the heart of the “Black Dirt Region”. I headed down, stopping to check Turtle Bay on my way. There were about 55 Killdeer there. On to the sod farm. There I met Bruce, Linda Scrima and Karen Miller. The birds had flown (tremendous amount of truck traffic there this morning) and we all searched to try to relocate them. Kathy Ashman and Scott and Paula Baldinger eventually joined us. As I was scanning up one of the side fields, sifting through a large flock of Killdeer, the two BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS flew in just a short distance up the field from me. I alerted all the others who were searching and we eventually all got great looks at the birds. Thanks Bruce for finding them and alerting us to their presence! Linda Scrima had been to Six and a Half Station Roads Citgo Pond earlier and had the Baird’s Sandpiper there as well. We are at the peak of shorebird season and it is beginning nicely! From there I headed to Morningside Park. The list of birds is about the same, with a few more of this and a few less of that. Snipe, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover, Least and Spotted Sandpipers are all present. I am keeping vigil, knowing something good is about to show up!
Two Semipalmated Plovers and a Least Sandpiper at Morningside.
The beautiful Baird’s Sandpiper at the Citgo Pond.
I got a call from Matt Zeitler this afternoon that he had found a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER at Six and a Half Station Roads Citgo Pond. I flew down to find Matt with Karen Miller and Diane Bliss enjoying good views of the bird. Eventually, Bruce Nott and Kathy Ashman arrived. Once we all saw the bird well, we changed position to get better views. The bird was very cooperative, posing for many photos by all present. Also present were Least, Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Killdeer, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Great Egret, Great Blue and Green Herons were all there too. Ducks included Green-winged Teal, Mallard and Wood Ducks. We also saw a single Common Nighthawk flyover. Many thanks to Matt for yet another great find!
Baird’s Sandpiper feeding with a Least Sandpiper
Baird’s Sandpiper feeding.
The whole gang getting great looks at the Baird’s Sandpiper
This adult Bald Eagle was way to interested in a pair of fisherman in a rowboat nearby me. It circled them quite low several times this morning and it was clear if they had pulled in a fish he was going to go for it. Not good behavior at all. It flew over and rested on and island not far from me giving me some photo ops.
Its been a relatively quiet week since our big day at sea. I’ve visited Morningside each day and had a total of seven species of shorebird there. Today, only four were present. Least and Spotted Sandpipers and Killdeer and Semipalmated Plover. It was still and interesting morning with Great Blue and Green Herons and an adult Bald Eagle. Four species of swallows were also present. A quick stop by Haven Road afterward yielded Great Blue and Great Egrets, Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Harrier. Three juvie Gallinules are still just off the bridge.
There were 15 Least Sandpipers present this morning.
This Semipalmated Plover is now in its third day.
Matt and Karen during a quiet moment on board the Viking Starship.
This morning a small group of us from Orange and Sullivan Counties headed to Montauk Point to join the Viking Starship Whale Watch. We had a super day, though there wasn’t a whale to be seen. We did have some great pelagic birds though! Lance Verderame, Karen Miller and Matt Zeitler joined me for a full day 4:30 am until 9:30 pm door to door! We didn’t get as many birds as they have been having recently, but we got our desired targets and a bonus bird as well! We headed out of port at 9:30 am to a bit rougher seas than had been predicted. Though a bit rough, it was nothing that we couldn’t handle without difficulty. Some of the other folks onboard weren’t so fortunate. That said, it wasn’t long before birds began to show. First, a raft of loafing Herring Gulls contained a single GREAT SHEARWATER! Definitely one of our targets we were pleased and encouraged by seeing it. Almost immediatley, this bird was followed by a flock RED-NECKED PHALAROPE! Shortly thereafter, the first of many WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS began to show. Though bird numbers were relatively low, there were few times that we didn’t have something to see. Next, a beautiful COREY’S SHEARWATER came into view and provided excellent looks. The next several shearwaters couldn’t actually be identified to species as they were quite distant. Later in the afternoon, two more Corey’s Shearwaters gave us a great show! All of the attached bird photos are courtesy of Matt Zeitler who did a great job of capturing many images and sharing them with the rest of us! Thanks again Matt! This was an exhausting but really enjoyable day with great birds and great friends! If you are interested in seeing more of Matt’s photos from the trip go to http://orangebirding.com and enjoy!
Here is the list of our target birds:
Great Shearwater – 1
Corey’s Shearwater – 3
Wilson’s Storm-petrel – 46
Red-necked Phalarope – 12
Shearwater sp. 3
Phalarope sp. 6
One of the dozen Red-necked Phalarope we saw today.
One of Matt’s excellent shots of a Corey’s Shearwater.
Olive-sided Flycatcher #2 atop the Poplar along the trail.
I returned to the Bashakill late this afternoon to see if the Olive-sided Flycatcher was still present. I knew some people planned on coming to see it and was curious to see if it was still there. As I worked my way down the Stop Sign Trail, I came upon the flycatcher on top of the tallest dead Poplar Tree. I assumed it had moved up the trail. As I watched it, it appeared slightly different to me than this mornings bird. I decided to head down to the dead Oak Tree and check it out. Sure enough, the original Olive-sided was still atop this tree. I moved into a position to see both trees, and both birds were able to be seen simultaneously. Due to the afternoon light, photo ops were better than this morning. I’ve attached a shot of each of the birds. One other note, I thought that I had glimpsed a Canada Warbler this morning, but it just went to quick to be sure. This afternoon, I easily relocated the bird in the same spot. FOS!
Olive-sided #1 still atop the Oak Tree.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher on the Stop Sign Trail.
A nice morning to be out, kayaked Morningside Park and then birded the Bashakill. With the northwest winds from the last two days and the heavy rain overnight, I really expected more shorebirds at Morningside. As it was, the list was about the same: 3 Spotted Sandpipers, 1 Killdeer, 1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 4 Least Sandpipers and 2 Wilson’s Snipe. At the Bashakill, I was hoping the winds might have had a better effect. It was a good morning, quite a few birds, especially raptors, but few warblers. The highlight of the morning was a beautiful FOS OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER hawking insects from the large dead tree on the Stop Sign Trail. A year bird for me. I ran into Charlie West and company from New Jersey who were having a good morning themselves. I told them about the flycatcher, and they went right over and found it. Many Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and a Cooper’s Hawk were all seen by me. Charlie and friends had a nice Merlin at the Main Boat Launch. I had a Great Blue and a Green Heron, but I didn’t spot any egrets this morning.
The Wilson’s Snipe can both be seen in this photo. They seem to have stopped flushing when I come by, maybe they are getting used to me.
My 2016 top ten predictions for most likely birds to be added to Sullivan County List.
Every five years, NYSOA puts out a list of birds predicted as the most likely next additions to the New York State list. When it came out five years ago I made a prediction list for Sullivan County. Here is the list I predicted.
In the five years since I wrote this list, five birds have been added to the Sullivan County list. They are Ruddy Turnstone, Cackling Goose, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher and Western Sandpiper. As you will immediately notice, three of the species were predicted. In my humble opinion, Cackling Goose , Long-billed Dowitcher and Western Sandpiper were all long overdue. All three species have been seen in neighboring counties and it was just a matter of time before they were documented here. Of the remaining seven species, some are also long overdue. Rufous Hummingbird has been seen multiple times in all our neighboring counties and should show up at any time. The remaining species have all been seen in region 9 (our region) and are likely additions, though not as common as the three that were added. The remaining two new species that were added were Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Ruddy Turnstone. I missed these as potential adds. First, Ruddy Turnstone is such a strong flyer that it seldom puts down inland during migration. It usually just continues on until it reaches the coast. We were fortunate to have this individual show up at Morningside. Lastly, Black-bellied Whistling Duck was so new on the radar that there were only two other records in the state. Ironically, one record right next door in neighboring Orange County. It was considered so unlikely at that time that it was beyond my predictability. Since that time, there have been ten records in New York and the arrival of six birds in Sullivan County (at Morningside Park) was the fifth record. With all this said, here are my predictions for the next ten species likely to turn up in Sullivan County.
All of the above have been seen more than once in region nine and are good candidates to show up here in the county. If anyone would like to comment or make a prediction of their own, please feel free to send in your choice for the next new Sullivan County record.