I went up early to kayak Morningside, Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers as well as Killdeer were the only shorebirds present. I then headed to the Bashakill where at first it wasn’t very birdy. I hit the Pine Boat Launch, Orchard and then the Horseshoe Parking lot with very few birds noted. I decided to give the Nature Trail a shot anyway and was really glad I did. At first, the results were the same, nothing. As I neared the opening to the Sand Pit, I heard Chickadees. That’s always a good sign and this time it was a really good sign. A large mixed species flock was just coming in from the Sand Pit area and I just stood and let them stream through to me. I must have stood there nearly a half an hour. The birds kept coming. Also at this spot, I had a SWAINSON’S THRUSH! Scott Baldinger had told me there was one in the area, but I really thought it was to early. Obviously not! Also here was my FOS YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER!! I snapped one really bad shot of it before it flew off. Later I had what I believe was either another or the same bird at our usual spot near the White Birches, but that flew off before I could get the camera up. The problem is the trees are very heavily leaved and the birds can disappear in an instant. I then worked my way around the trail to the right. Fortunately the birds were moving in the same direction and I was able to intersect them frequently. This continued all the way around until I was back at the Sand Pit entrance. Here is a list of the highlights including number of what I had. It was a great morning!
3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpeckers
3 Pileated Woodpeckers
4 Eastern Pewee
4 Eastern Phoebe
1 YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCCATCHER
5 Yellow-throated Vireo
6 Red-eyed Vireo
1 SWAINSON’S THRUSH
3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
4 Blackburnian Warblers (maybe more)
1 Pine Warbler
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Black and White Warbler
2 American Redstart
4 Common Yellowthroat
1 Canada Warbler
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 Scarlet Tanager
There were also many individuals that I couldn’t identify due to their rapid movement through the thick tree tops.
a poor shot of our FOS Pied-billed Grebe at Morningside.
I kayaked Morningside again this morning. There were a few new birds that came in on the northwest winds overnight. Shorebirds were nearly the same, but the Semipalmated Plover and a number of the Least Sandpipers were gone. Continuing were 5 Least Sandpipers, 1 new Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Sandpiper. Also new was our FOS PIED-BILLED GREBE. The Great Egret continues with several Great Blue Herons, but no Green Herons were seen today. One Blue-winged Teal (new or continuing) was present with a Wood Duck. A brief visit to the Bashakill was rather uneventful. The best birds being 4 Ravens and 1 Common Gallinule by the bridge.
We were supposed to have some intense thunderstorms overnight in the northern half of the county. The projected path put them right over the Apollo and Morningside Park between 2-3 Am. They came right at 3 Am, but right over my house. Intense downpours with extensive thunder and lightening. I headed up county this morning with great anticipation. The problem is, they never occurred farther north in the county, rather moving more east. The result was there was no rain at the birding hot spots. Apollo had the usual 7 Killdeer this morning and Morningside had 8 Least Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Sandpiper and the single SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, now in its 5th day. The Great Egret was present again this morning too. One good note, a new island emerged at Morningside overnight. It is only about 20 feet long and 2 feet wide, but it will continue to grow as this is one of the larger islands. Maybe they will all eventually emerge, but they are still way behind and only at about 20%. I then got a text from Bruce Nott (thanks Bruce!) informing me he had found an American Golden Plover at the Pine Island Turf Nursery. I headed down for that, but it had flown before I got there. I searched many areas, including Oil City Road, but had no birds of note at all. Back to the Bashakill by 12:30, but it was now too hot and I couldn’t find anything good there either. Hopefully migration will amp up now that we are almost into September and some good things will come our way.
A beautiful juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper at Morningside. This is the normal pale individual.
I kayaked Morningside again this morning. The light but north winds overnight can put down shorebirds at this time of year. They often won’t fly as far without a good tail wind and I think that’s what happened last night. There was a great change, but a couple of new birds did come in. Our FOS JUVENILE SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS arrived overnight. Two fresh juveniles, in very different plumage. One typically pale, the other browner. Also still present were at least 9 LEAST SANDPIPERS, all juveniles this morning, and the juvie SEMIPALMATED PLOVER continuing from yesterday. Noticeable in their absence were Killdeer, not one to be found my entire time there. As usual the sandpipers were cooperative for photos. The problem for me is when to stop! As I birded there, I got a call from Scott Baldinger that he had found his FOS Philadelphia Vireo. Always one of my favorites, I headed right down. I couldn’t find the bird, but we are just starting the period for good numbers of these beautiful Vireos and I’ll catch up with one before long. I spotted one of the Great Egrets and one Common Gallinule while I was there, little else this morning.
The much browner individual posed nicely too.
The paler bird in full sun.
Juvenile Semipalmated Plover. Note the pale gray face mask, all black bill and fine white scalloping on the scapulars.
I was hoping the storms that came through last night might have brought some good birds in. They weren’t exactly set up right, they hit north of us most of the time, prompting birds to go down before reaching us, but there is always hope. As it was, a few things did come in. At Morningside Park, the Least Sandpiper count was up slightly. Twelve juveniles and the one ongoing adult were present. Also, two Killdeer and our FOS Green-winged Teal. The best bird for me was a nice FOS juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER! This was our first hatch year bird this fall and was in nice plumage. It actually posed with the Killdeer for a time, something that doesn’t often happen. Killdeer usually seem to chase the plovers around, but not this morning. From Morningside I headed to Orange County. I thought perhaps they would get some shorebirds at Six and a Half Station Road. It was quite birdy. I covered both the Heritage Trail and the Citgo Pond. I had a total of about 30 Least Sandpipers, 4 Semipalmated Sandpipers (may have been more), 20 Killdeer, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 8 Lesser Yellowlegs and my best bird, a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER. I viewed them from a distance through my scope and the Pec and Leasts flew to the other pond when I reached to Citgo Pond, so no pics. Three Great Blues and a Green Heron as well as Mallard, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks and Mute Swans were all present. From there I headed to the sod farms at Turtle Bay and Warren Sod Farm. I should have headed home. There were almost no birds to be found. Only a handful of Killdeer were present. Good morning overall!
Semipalmated Plover and Killdeer together at Morningside.
Giant Swallowtail on Haven Road
Well you could hardly call it morning. I didn’t arrive there until 10:45 following a trip to Apollo and Morningside. The usual suspects were in those locations, nothing new. Once I arrived at the Bashakill, things picked up. I found two of the juvenile Common Gallinules right along the bridge where they can often be found if there hasn’t been too much noisy activity. They showed well for some time. I started to walk down Haven just about thirty feet when a GREAT EGRET came out of the vegetation. It is hard to imagine how high the vegetation is until you realize its been hiding a bird of this size. A second Great Egret emerged just a moment later. I took a couple of shots of the birds when they each flew off, one further out in the marsh, the second just across the street to the Beaver Lodge. Walking up and down the road, I spotted a couple of Wood Ducks and a Great Blue Heron, eventually three of them. As I neared the bridge again, I saw that the Egret near the lodge was trying to catch something at the waters edge. It shortly came up with a six inch Catfish. To my surprise, the bird flew right over to the road with it, landing on just the other side of the bridge from me. I watched for a while as the bird managed the fish. It couldn’t initially swallow it due to the pectoral fins. They lock solid and the fish won’t go down. The Egret eventually maneuvered the fish until it had it by first one and then the other pectoral fin. It eventually broke both of the fins and was able to swallow the fish. It was an amazing sight. The Egret then walked down to the water and took a drink. Les from the Winery stopped and watched the whole event with me, and was likewise amazed. The Egret remained, walking all around us, posing for photos. The gallinules eventually worked there way back into the vegetation as the Egret ate the fish. I started walking along the road again, and was pleased to find my first GIANT SWALLOWTAIL of the summer! It too posed for photos. It was an enjoyable hour at the Bashakill!
The Great Egret lands on Haven Road only twenty feet from me with its catch.
The egret worked its way down the bank, stopping to break off the pectoral fins and swallow the fish.
After swallowing the fish, the egret walked to the water and took a drink. It rested there for the next 15 minutes before flying out into the marsh. It was very confiding throughout the entire event. Les even walked past the bird to meet me and it never flinched.
Another shot of the Giant Swallowtail.
Juvenile Greater Yellowlegs at Apollo Plaza
This morning Karen Miller and I birded several locations around the County. Apollo Plaza, Morningside Park and the Bashakill. The Apollo Plaza was quite productive for a change. I pulled in to see Keven Kriesher with his big lens pointed at the water. I knew there must be some good birds. He had two LESSER YELLOWLEGS and one GREATER YELLOWLEGS in view. They were very cooperative for photos. I had to meet Karen at Morningside, so I headed over there. In contrast, Morningside was not very productive this morning. 1 Least Sandpiper, 2 Killdeer and 3 Spotted Sandpipers were all that were present. We headed back to the Apollo for Karen to see those birds. Upon our return, not only were the three Yellowlegs present, but a Killdeer and two Least Sandpipers were present as well. From there we headed to the Bashakill. One juvenile Common Gallinule was in the channel off Haven Road. We then birded the Nature Trail. It was the first fall visit to the NT for both of us. We had the expected Catbirds and Song Sparrows around the boardwalk. Once we reached the outer trail, we hit a nice mixed species flock. 4 American Redstarts, 1 Black and White Warbler, 2 Canada Warblers, 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, 5 Red-eyed Vireo, 1 Blackburnian Warbler, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmice were all seen. This is the highest number of passerines I’ve had in weeks. By shortly after noon, it was hazy, hot and humid and we called it a day, a good one at that.
Juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs at the Apollo Plaza