This afternoon I got a call from Matt Zeitler informing me there had been an ebird report today by Kevin McGann (nice birder from way upstate) that he had had a Snowy Egret at the Citgo Pond at Six and a half Station Road. Matt was on his way and would let me know how he made out. I was way out on a trail at the Bashakill, but decided to start making my way back just in case. I had reached my car and was heading for Rt. 17 when I heard from Matt that there was indeed a Snowy Egret there. I zoomed down to join Matt and Linda Scrima who were viewing the bird. We were eventually joined by many others for one of those great gatherings at an even greater bird! Thanks Matt for letting me know about the bird, Orange County bird # 267 for me! Great birding!!
The top photo shows Karen Miller, Linda Scrima, Paula Baldinger and Matt Zeitler viewing this great bird, a new county bird for all present today! The bottom is one of my shots of the bird.
Yesterday I had some chores to attend to in the morning. When I was done I rested a bit then had to get out to do something. I decided to take a hike into the Neversink Gorge from the Katrina Falls Road Access. This is a beautiful hike into the gorge. It was quite birdy, but not as diverse as many of the other access points. The forest here is nearly all mature Hemlock with an understory of Rhododendron. Since the Rhododendron was all in bloom, it was quite beautiful. The most abundant species on the walk were Black-throated Green Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers and Black-throated Blue Warblers. All of these were very numerous with over a dozen BLGR chicks seen following their fathers, begging for food. Other birds seen included Ovenbird, Magnolia Warlbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Veery, Wood Thrush, White-breasted Nuthatch and Hairy Woodpecker. Once on the river, there was a different assortment of birds. Belted Kingfisher and Osprey were both seen. The show stealer of the day though was Spotted Sandpiper! I spent some time observing these birds, which we don’t really get to do very often, especially in this habitat. These birds, four adults, worked the river up and down, flying from rock to rock. They would “bob” around the edges or the rocks, sticking their heads right into the water, gleaning insect larvae from under the edges of the rocks. I immediately noticed how similar to “American Dipper” behavior it was. They of course did not walk under water like a true AMDI, but their habits were quite similar. I enjoyed the opportunity to witness their behavior. While I had no exceptional birds on this walk, it was truly enjoyable. Photographers would have a good time here. There are numerous rills and creeks flowing off the mountainside here. All are rocky, moss and fern laden opportunities for photos. The river view isn’t bad either. Denton Falls was my destiny yesterday and it is also quite beautiful (though not a big falls). If you go in, remember it is an almost entirely downhill hike. While not really strenuous, it is uphill all the way back. Keep an eye for bears, I didn’t see one while down there, but did have another huge beauty on Pine Kill Road. Great day!
Gleaning insects from the edges of the rocks, underwater.
This evening I heard from many of my birding friends (Curt, Matt, Karen etc.) that the White Ibis had returned to Wickham Lake in Warwick to roost for the night. Eddie and I zoomed down and met Kathy Ashman and Bruce Nott. We all began the search for the birds which we had heard had flown from the original roost spot. About twenty minutes into the search, keen eyed Kathy Ashman spotted the birds roosting in a tree at the west end of the lake. Fortunately, she was able to get all of us on them, giving us decent scope views of the birds. Photos were another story. With dark skies due to a pending storm and fading light due to the hour, I thought I wouldn’t be able to get anything to show in my shots. Well that’s about what it amounts to, but at least you can see there are birds there. Many thanks to Kathy for relocating the birds and getting us on them! Great to see Bruce out there too!!! Thanks to all for all the calls and keeping me posted on the birds! Thanks to Linda Scrima for braving the storm to check for the birds!
Photos don’t get much worse than this, but it does show the Ibis’ roosting in the Maple.
The last week has seen an uptake of in interesting finds, especially the Black Dirt Region. As is often the case, Rob Stone has played an integral part in most of the finds. Last week. Rob found an immature singing male BLUE GROSBEAK! When I went to try to find it, I also found a female BLGR, a bird that Rob had suspected was there. This weekend, several days following an ebird report of WHITE IBIS, Rob found the five birds roosting at Wickham Lake Park in Warwick! I wasn’t able to get down to try for them last night, but I went this morning. I arrived at the park at 5:30 am, but was unable to locate any of the birds. Fortunately, many people had gone right over last night and the birds were seen and well documented. After leaving the park, I went back to bird the Black Dirt to see if I could find the Grosbeaks again. I met Karen Miller there. We couldn’t find either of the Grosbeaks I viewed last week, but found yet another male Blue Grosbeak. This bird is in entirely different plumage than last weeks male. One has a blue head the other brown. One has a steel gray belly, the other so pale as to almost appear white. I found the second bird in the exact spot I had the female last week, so hopefully one combination or the other is paired up. Also of interest was a singing male GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and a singing male ORCHARD ORIOLE. Good birding!
The second male I found today. Notice the differences in the birds.
This morning I made a quick trip along the Neversink River at Bridgeville. It wasn’t very birdy, but two beautiful White-tailed Bucks in velvet entertained me for a while. There have been so many deer along the river this spring/summer. I couldn’t resist getting a couple of shots of them. I then went on to meet Karen Miller and Scott Baldinger at the Bashakill. We had an enjoyable morning there. The highlight was listening (though still unable to spot any) to the Marsh Wrens sing at the colony off the Observation Tower at Moose Head Cove. We had at least three singing males there this morning, and possibly more. What a benefit it will be to all of us if a colony has indeed established here! The other highlight was the family of Common Gallinule along Haven Road. The birds are almost always in the vicinity of the there and can easily be seen with a little patience. From there, we traveled to Thorton Road in Phillipsport to see the Snow Goose that is oversummering there. The bird can fly, but there is something is not quite right with its left wing. Hopefully it will regain complete use of it and eventually move on. Also at this spot we enjoyed a family of Belted Kingfishers. Both parents and three juvies were seen fishing at both the ponds on this road. It was nice to be out with Scott and Karen again, with everything so quiet recently, we hadn’t been out birding together.
Two of the Gallinule chicks off the bridge at Haven Road.
The last week has been relatively quiet in the county. The most interesting occurrence took place on Monday when Scott Baldinger found a singing Marsh Wren in the vast cattail marsh off the observation tower at Moose Head Cove at the Bashakill. I went down to see if I could repeat it and found that at least two birds were singing. Moose Head Cove is not a big birding destination and I only occasionally visit there once waterfowl migration is over. I hadn’t been in quite some time. I think Scott has discovered that there’s a good chance a small colony of Marsh Wrens have taken up residence in this spot. It is ideal habitat for them. I returned the following day and found two birds still singing. Since it is so late in the season, we will have to wait until next spring to know for sure if they return. On the Neversink River, the single Hooded Merganser chick is still being seen, but its tripled in size since I first saw it. There is also a new clutch of Common Merganser chicks at Bridgeville, they have done really well this year. I also checked the Osprey nests earlier this week. The Wolf Brook pair has at least one chick, as does the Kiamesha Lake pair. Still not sure how many the Apollo pair has as the nest is so deep that they hardly show. Hopefully there will be some new activity around the county soon. I have gotten a new computer (eeeeeesh) and its been an experience. Getting things installed and transferring information (double eeeeesh!) At any rate hopefully I’ll get out to bird a bit more and have something of more interest to share in the coming days.
A male American Kestrel in the Sullivan Grasslands this morning.
This morning I headed up to our grasslands once again to check on the status of our breeding birds there. My morning took a bit of a turn however once I began finding American Kestrels. This has been a good year for this species (as was last year) in the county. I almost immediately found the same seven Kestrels on Gabel and Long Roads this morning that I had on July 1st. One single bird and a family of six. I eventually moved to the next good area for the species and found a family of four. An adult pair and two begging juveniles. Moving on to another area of grasslands just north of Jeffersonville, I came upon another family group. An adult male and two begging juveniles. As they flew to the other side of the field, another bird joined them. I’m not sure if the fourth bird was another fledgling or if it was an adult female, I couldn’t get a good enough look. Moving on further, I was on McKay Road when I came upon an adult male Kestrel. I watched him for some time, but never saw any other Kestrels with it. That was sixteen Kestrels this morning. If you were to check the ebird map, you would see I’ve had several additional birds over the last couple of weeks in entirely different areas. You would also see that others have been reporting additional birds in additional locations as well. With all the discussion in recent years about the decline of American Kestrels in the northeast, I think this bodes very well for our breeding population!