Bashakill: Haven Road Sparrow Quest


This afternoon I went to Haven Road to see if I could find some good sparrows.  It was clearly a great day for them and I found far more than I thought I would.  I had the following during the course of two hours working from the Orchard to the DEC Parking Lot.  White-throated Sparrows 40,  Song Sparrow 40, Swamp Sparrow 15, White-crowned Sparrow 2, Vesper Sparrow 2, Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 and Fox Sparrow 1. The high counts are estimates, there were so many, keeping track was pretty much impossible.  I was surprised to find a Lincoln’s, I thought they were all gone by now.  I also had two Winter Wrens.


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Another productive morning!

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Things were a bit quieter this morning, but there were a couple of hot spots.  Unusual for the site, Morningside Park was dead.  Apollo Plaza had fewer sparrows, the most common, 5 White-crowned.  Wanaksink Lake however was quite busy.  This spot is hard to bird because of limited access to viewable spots.  That said, I was able to get quite a few birds from along Old RT. 17 where the lake is nearest the road. 35 Ruddy Ducks, 15 Ring-necked Ducks and a RED-NECKED GREBE were all seen from this spot.  I’m sure there were many more birds I couldn’t see in the side bays.  Kiamesha Lake had 5 Ring-billed Gulls and the ongoing Pied-billed Grebe.  I had little luck elsewhere until I reached Swan Lake.  No motorboats today and quite a few birds.  In the section near the hotels, there were 3 Ruddy Duck, 1 Horned Grebe, 1 RED-NECKED GREBE (above), 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Bufflehead and about 20 Common Mergansers.  The next section along Shore Road was very quiet.  Further down Shore Road near the back end of the lake, it was hopping.  17 Ring-billed Gulls, 2 BONAPARTE’S GULLS (one adult one juvie below), 16 Black Duck, 12 Mallard, a single Lesser Scaup and quite a few more Common Mergansers were all there.  Another great morning.


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A bit quieter today.


I was out early, as were our other local birders, seeking the birds that might have dropped in overnight with the intense northwest winds.  It was a bit quieter this morning though there were some nice highlights.  A stop at Wanaksink Lake provided views of at least 75 Ruddy Ducks, our highest count so far this fall.  There were also 10 Bufflehead and a couple of Common Mergansers.  My next productive stop was Apollo Plaza. No shorebirds, but a nice group of sparrows.  A dozen Song and a single White-crowned were accented by three VESPER SPARROWS!  High winds, blowing snow flurries and a very black sky prevented me from getting even one decent shot of these very flighty birds. My next productive stop was Swan Lake.  Bird numbers were way down from yesterday, in fact its a miracle there were any at all.  Some sort of fishing contest was taking place and fisherman in motorboats were all over the place! I think they’re crazy, as the wind and waves were off the charts!  I guess we all enjoy our hobbies. What I did find were 10 Common Mergansers, 1 Hooded Merganser, 4 Ruddy Ducks in the main part of the lake.  A the far end of the lake, I found Mallard and Black Ducks, a Belted Kingfisher and a small flocks of gulls that included two BONAPARTE’S GULLS! (with Ring-billed Gulls above) From there I went to Morningside Park where it was quite quiet.  No Canvasbacks!  I had 4 Green-winged Teal, 1 Ring-necked Duck, a few Ring-billed Gulls and the only shorebirds of the day.  A Spotted Sandpiper (same juvie) and a Pectoral Sandpiper were the only ones present today. Still, not a bad morning. BTW, Scott Baldinger had Red-breasted Mergansers at a couple of locations, but the were pushed out before I arrived.

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Birdcast predicted no migration for us last night and the radar overnight that I viewed this morning supported that assertion.  I wasn’t disappointed because I knew I was going to be busy all morning, so what better time to have no influx of birds.  After I got home today, I couldn’t make up my mind if I was going out or not.  Lance Verderame called me and told me he had heard there were some good birds on Swan Lake, so that made up my mind.  When there are good birds up county, they are usually in a number of spots.  I know that Morningside Park is a big draw, so I headed there first.  I am so glad I did!  I immediately spotted five CANVASBACK!!! (above) This is the first record of this species in the county in five years!  They used to occur more commonly, but in the last ten years they have been nearly non-existent.   I was thrilled!  I posted them to “Whats App” and Karen Miller and Diane Bliss were able to come get these great new county birds for their list!  Along with them were a Double-crested Cormorant, 7 Ruddy Duck and 12 Common Mergansers. I got some shots of the Canvasbacks and then headed on to several other locations.  I had no luck until I reached Swan Lake.  This site had many FOS birds!  RED-NECKED and HORNED GREBE, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Mergansers, BONAPARTE’S GULL, (below) Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Duck, Mallard and Black Duck and of course Canada Geese. What a great afternoon with so many unexpected birds coming in on a night that no one thought they would!  GREAT BIRDING!



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A Little something different.


This morning, Lance Verderame and I presented the “Birds of the Bashakill” program at the Bashakill Area Associations annual meeting.  The program was well received and Lance especially does a great job at presenting a great slide show of the many common and rare birds that have been seen at the Bashakill. I kind of assist with the questions and background information and we make a good team.  It was then my great honor and privilege to be recognized by the Bashakill Area Association for my ongoing efforts in assisting with the education of the public about the Bashakill, it birds and wildlife and the overall environment. I really want to thank Paula Medley and the Bashakill Board for this generous tribute!  I’d also like to thank Lance for always making the presentation a memorable event for all who attend!


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A bit quieter today.


This morning I was headed to the Bashakill when I got an alert from Scott Baldinger that he had found a juvenile Dunlin at the Apollo Plaza.  I headed right up to try for some photos.  The bird was present with four Killdeer.  Very cooperative for photos (above).  From there I headed to the Bashakill.  It was still very cold and windy.  It was pretty clear that many birds had left overnight.  The massive flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers was still present, though perhaps slightly fewer in number.  Most of the interesting sparrows were gone, leaving Song, Swamp and White-throated.  A single Magnolia Warbler was across from the entrance to the Orchard. I had a total of five Hermit Thrush on the Stop Sign Trail.  Two Greater Yellowlegs were flying around the marsh. As the wind died down and it warmed up, it proved to be a beautiful day.

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The Day had only just begun!


This afternoon as soon as I finished my entries and lunch, I headed to the Bashakill to see if anything had come in there.  As soon as I arrived on Haven Road, I found a VESPER SPARROW! (above) There were so many sparrows it was amazing!  I posted to “Whats App” and Karen Miller and Scott Baldinger joined me.  In the end, between Haven Road, the Orchard and the entrance road to the Pine Boat Launch I had 25 White-throated Sparrows, 24 Song Sparrows, 1 Savannah Sparrow, 3 Swamp, 2 Vesper Sparrows and 13 White-crowned Sparrows! Also on Haven a huge flock of warblers flew in. There were nearly 100 birds in this mega flock! Among them, 1 Palm and 1 Tennessee Warbler.  Scott had a Cape May earlier in the morning, perhaps the same bird present yesterday.  When I was done there, I went over to Scott’s to see the winter finches.  He has over two dozen each of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins!(some below)  It was quite a show, thanks Scott!  A really great end to a very birdy day!


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