Back Yard Surprise

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I managed one shot of one of the Blackpoll Warblers in my yard this afternoon.

Following a morning devoid of migrants, I went to leave the house this afternoon and noticed a flurry of birds at my birdbath.  Two Chickadees and two Tufted Titmouse were the first I noticed.  As a Black-throated Green Warbler flew in, I ran out to assess the situation. I was very surprised to see a Black-throated Blue join the green, immediately followed by two FOS BLACKPOLL WARBLERS!  I quickly snapped a couple of shots when I realized that now a TENNESSEE WARBLER was taking a bath. This was a new yard bird for me.  I quickly repositioned to try for a photo, but it took off before I could get it.  It paid to come home for lunch today!

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Morningside Park

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Kayaked the lake again this morning.  The BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER is now in its third day. (depending on whether or not there were two birds) The five SEMIPALMATED PLOVER are in their second day.  No Least Sandpipers this morning.  A Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper present as well.  Great Blue and Green Herons still present, as was a Bald Eagle.  Wood Ducks were the only waterfowl seen this morning.  Once I was done there, I headed to the Bashakill.  I spent two hours and only had eleven species. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so dead.  Just prior to my leaving for lunch, I spotted a thrush jump up in the Virginia Creeper berries at the Stop Sign Parking Lot.  I was sure it would be a Swainson’s Thrush, but was really surprised when it came into the open and was a beautiful GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH!  It was the only migrant I found at the Bash this morning!

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Morningside Park

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I kayaked the lake again this morning, and once again had a few shorebirds.  I was trying to photograph a Red-shouldered Hawk when I heard a plover call.  I looked across the nearby islands and saw it land on the far island.  I wasn’t sure which one it was and paddled right over.  It was a very pale, large juvenile bird and I thought it was a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER! It took a few minutes and a bit better look to see its black arm pits and large bill. This is our fourth BBPL this year! It is never common in Sullivan County. As I finished getting  a number of photos, I spotted a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER!  Another juvenile bird, what would be expected at this time of year. As I turned to another island, my pal the Merlin flew through.  I followed him to his perch where he posed for the daily photo.  Great Blue Herons, Green Herons and Wood Ducks were about it for the rest of the morning. Karen Miller joined me on shore and got to see the birds as well.  We made our way to the Bashakill shortly there after, but it was quiet.  Yesterday’s Northern Harrier was about it.

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Around the county over the last few days

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The first winter male Northern Shoveler was a surprise, and an early record date.

The only real way to describe this week would be “quiet”.  On the heels of nine good days, things dropped off after last Saturday. Warblers were few and far between.  A couple of PHILADELPHIA VIREOS are always nice to see and they were at the Deli Fields and Nature Trail this week.  Giving up on passerines for a while, I headed back to Morningside Park and our reservoirs yesterday and today.  The bird of the day yesterday goes to an odd duck, literally. At Morningside Park I found a first winter male NORTHERN SHOVELER! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this plumage in the county before, our usual fall birds being adult males and females.  It could be overlooked in a good flock though. Today, I covered all the areas again.  Double-crested Cormorants, Belted Kingfishers, Great Egret, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Gallinule and our four most common species of shorebirds were all nice finds, but nothing exceptional. With winds forecasted to turn to the west/northwest by mid week and stay that way for several days, some good birds lie ahead.

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Bashakill jumping again!

This morning I got a late start. By the time I had checked Morningside and had gotten to the Bashakill, it had gotten quiet.  A number of people told me it had been pretty good early on, but had dropped off the last hour. Everyone had told me the Deli Fields were dead, so I initially didn’t go there.  After checking just about everywhere else, I figured what the heck, maybe some stuff had come in.  I had an abundance of birds as soon as I arrived.  More than thirty each of Goldfinches and Waxwings as well as lots of sparrows.  The sparrows were all Song and Field, but this is the only spot I’ve really been seeing any lately. As I walked back toward the entrance to the fields I immediately noticed some warbler activity. I got on a small group feeding in the Goldenrod along the hedge row.  Two TENNESSEE WARBLERS, one NASHVILLE, one MAGOLIA and several Common Yellowthroats!  Nice!  I followed the group around and they eventually worked their way into the woods on both sides of the access road. This spot was really jumping.  First I spotted four immature INDIGO BUNTING. Cardinals and Catbirds and a few more yellowthroats were seen. I got on a group of warblers that all three turned out to be Tennessee Warblers when I noticed a fourth bird skulking near the ground. My first though was that it would be a Common Yellowthroat, but it was larger and had a different stance.  It disappeared for a moment or two and then popped up. I was sure It was a CONNECTICUT WARBLER! Of course it dropped down and I couldn’t locate it for about twenty minutes. Just as I was going to give up, it popped up again and this time I was certain! I called Scott Baldinger who came right over. As we searched the dense vegetation, many of the birds worked their way around the edge of the field on the left. We followed.  As we watched, one Nashville Warbler after another emerged. All in slightly different plumage. Jeesh, could I have mistaken a Nashville for a Connecticut? My confidence isn’t great lately and I wondered out loud to Scott. We finally gave up and went back to the spot I had originally seen the bird and sure enough, there it was! This time we both had pretty good looks before it dropped again and now Scott was certain I had been right all along. It took a while to relocate, but eventually it came up and this time there was no question. A first winter bird, larger than the now nearby Common Yellowthroats and Nashvilles. Bold white eye ring, large bill, dull green overall with yellow-green underparts with long wings and vent giving it a short-tailed appearance.  The close comparison with two species with which it could be confused really helped clarify the ID as well. We saw the bird a number of times over the next couple of hours, but its keeping to the dense undergrowth prevented any success with photos.  Quite a few others came in the afternoon to try to see the bird, but only had a brief glimpse.  As consolation, we had a PHILADELPHIA VIREO, more Wilson’s (three in total) more TENNESSEE (four in total) and another Nashville. A pretty exciting morning!

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Bashakill Warbler Fallout!

This morning I met Scott Baldinger on Haven Road.  We were there to meet Lee Jones from Belize to take him birding for the morning. Just as Lee arrived, so did Karen Miller who joined us for the morning. We had some nice birds along Haven Road, Common Gallinule, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron.  We then headed to the Orchard which was very unproductive. We decided to head to the Nature Trail which ended up being a very wise choice.  Once we reached the Sand Pit, finding a few warblers along the way as well as hummingbirds and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers,  we hit the mother load of warblers!  It was one of the most amazing warbler days I’ve ever experienced!  We had so many birds, Magnolias and Black-throated Green were the most abundant with lesser numbers of Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, American Redstarts and more.  The most impressive totals for me were the BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS! I have never seen so many in my life!  At one point I had three in a tree, only to find four in another a short time later.  I only entered ten in my ebird report, but included there were likely several more.   I also entered 40 “warbler species” at the advice of Lee, a regional reviewer for Belize, to indicate just how many birds were passing, without actually being identified.  If I’m correct, we had a total of 15 warbler species between us, but the total of individuals far exceeded 100!! Unbelievable morning on the Bashakill!

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Tern Update

I heard from our Regional reviewer this evening that my entry of Forster’s Tern has not been accepted by ebird.  He was able to site several reasons that the bird was in actuality a Common Tern.  The bird is a very specific age, a hatch year juvenile, that shows the combination of characteristics that this bird displays.  The white forehead, carpal bar in wing and paler underwing with slight dark edging, orange bill, the back color which is difficult to assess except in the last photo from the second day, all indicate a juvenile Common Tern.  While I love terns, my expertise is still wanting with these birds.  I just don’t get enough exposure to them.  My apologies for the mis-identification.

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