Rye New York

Great Cormorants on the jetty.

Great Cormorants on the jetty.


Bill Fiero and I were looking for something different to do today, so we headed to Westchester County. It had been a while since we were down, so we were hoping for some new birds. It was a nice morning, with many species seen. Ducks covered the now ice coated inlets and bays at Read Nature Sanctuary and Rye Playland. Bufflehead, Gadwall, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Mallard, Black Duck and American Wigeon were all seen. A single Horned Grebe was present. Four breeding plumage GREAT CORMORANT were nice to see. The three common gulls were present too. Not a single loon of either species could be found. From there we headed to Marshlands Conservancy. There were many passerines present including my first of the year FOX SPARROWS. We ended the morning with 40 species.
Fox Sparrow at Marshlands.

Fox Sparrow at Marshlands.

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Golden Eagles on the move!

My second adult Golden Eagle in the county in a week!  This one on Radio Tower Road in Delaware Township.

My second adult Golden Eagle in the county in a week! This one on Radio Tower Road in Delaware Township.


This morning I headed to the Delaware River to see if I could find four Redheads that were reported there a couple of days ago. I never found them. Since I had to pass anyway, I stopped to see if the Red-breasted Mergansers were still at the Rio Reservoir. At least two of them continue, and the others may have just been up Eagle Creek where you can’t see them. I actually got a decent shot of one of the mergs today. I headed on to Delaware Township to see what was happening in the Beechwoods area. I found no grassland birds, but something even better. As I was heading east on Baurenfiend Road, I notice a large dark raptor flying upslope toward me only a few feet off the ground. It was rocking and I thought I had my FOS Turkey Vulture for the county. As it got closer, I realized it was yet another adult GOLDEN EAGLE!! It shot upslope and crossed the road only three feet in the air about 100 feet in front of my jeep! Wow!! It then paralleled the road, and shot right between a house and barn at the end of the road! It banked left and swooped over the ridge top, down slope from me. I quickly got to Radio Tower Road, the road it had now gone to, expecting to see it soaring over the valley there. I couldn’t initially spot it until I looked up and behind me. It had caught and updraft and was soaring above the highest point on the ridge. It then nose dived toward the ground, swooping just before ground level and shot down the entire slope of the ridge to the floor below. Once it reached the floor, it caught the intense winds again and shot right back up the ridge, shooting straight into the sky once it reached the top. It was having FUN! I had never seen a Golden do this before and it was amazing to watch. The Golden then shot down the valley to the far end. I could see it through my bins and realized that a small bird was chasing it. When they headed back toward me, the small bird turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk! So much for small! As they headed back toward me, I jumped out of the jeep and waited. As they passed, I was able to snap one shot of the eagle before they were gone. Great birding! I then went on to Faubel Road where I found 61 Horned Lark, 36 Turkeys and about 40 crows. I then headed back home. No Redheads, but no problem!
A somewhat better shot of the Red-breasted Merganser.

A somewhat better shot of the Red-breasted Merganser.

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Rio Reservoir Red-breasted Mergansers

Two of the drake Red-breasted Mergansers at the Rio Reservoir this morning.

Two of the drake Red-breasted Mergansers at the Rio Reservoir this morning.

This morning I headed to the Rio Reservoir in Forestburgh. I hadn’t been there since just before the “Feathered Frenzy” when I found it completely frozen with no birds at all. With the continuing deep freeze, I thought it would have remained frozen. Actually, as is often the case with the reservoirs, the water level had been lowered and the rapid current opened up the reservoir on Plank Road. There were quite a few birds there. 15 Common Mergansers, 45 Black Ducks, 2 Mallard, 2 Bald Eagles, Chickadees, Nuthatches and a Gold-crowned Kinglet were all present. The birds of the morning however were 4 drake RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS!! New for me for the year in the county, it was great to see them. I wanted to make it a clean sweep, so I then headed to the Bashakill where I found the ongoing 4 Hooded Mergansers. All the mergansers in the county in one morning is a nice find in February.

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

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Wow! Great Day!

Golden Eagle at Arlene Borko's home.  A new yard bird for her!

Golden Eagle at Arlene Borko’s home. A new yard bird for her!


This morning I awoke to minus 12.8 degrees at my house. I wasn’t sure what I would do today, but was sure it was going to be much later. I spoke with Arlene Borko and we agreed to meet at 11:00 am to do some local birding. When I reached Arlene’s, it was about 10 degrees. I stepped out of my jeep to check out the ducks on her pond. Arlene came out and as we watched, the ducks all went nuts. Arlene has Bald Eagles in her yard regularly and we were sure that was what was going on. I checked the spot the eagle usually perches, but it wasn’t there. Arlene alerted me to the fact that it was right over our heads, below the tree tops. It appeared the bird was going to come in for the ducks. As it banked I realized it was a GOLDEN EAGLE!! I shouted it to Arlene. We were amazed at the beauty of this bird. I ran for my camera in the jeep. I got it just in time, as our activity became clear to the eagle and it started to climb. I got a few shots, before it circled and flew over the ridge behind Arlene’s house. What an unexpected surprise! We headed out and it was surprisingly birdy. We had many species, including Pine Siskins, Northern Mockingbird, Common Redpoll etc. At that point, a friend alerted us to the presence of a couple of good birds. Off we went to see a beautiful Red phase EASTERN SCREECH OWL! This was the first red one I’ve seen in a long time. (sorry folks, due to the circumstances, no info will be released on this bird) We then headed off again, where we found the second bird. Our first GREAT BLUE HERON in the county this year! We continued birding a while longer, having great looks at a Pileated Woodpecker. We had only been out a couple of hours and had seen 37 species!
Beautiful Red-phase Eastern Screech Owl

Beautiful Red-phase Eastern Screech Owl


Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

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A very cold morning

Some of the turkeys feeding in the spread on Faubel Road.

Some of the turkeys feeding in the spread on Faubel Road.


This morning I headed to the north western part of the county, mostly grasslands, to see what I could find. It was only in the single digits when I started out, but finally got up to a brisk 15 degrees. There weren’t too many birds this morning, but I did find some good ones in the farm fields of Delaware and Bethel Townships. On Birch Ridge Road, I found a small flock of turkeys, two Red-tailed Hawks and my first county ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK this year. A beautiful light-phase bird. Moving on to the Beech Woods area, I found only a few sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds and one immature Bald Eagle. When I reached Faubel Road, it was quite birdy. In spite of the high winds and blowing snow, the spread on the fields was attracting quite a few birds. The farmer was just finishing up spreading as flock of 9 Wild Turkeys were following behind the spreader. At least a couple of dozen crows were making their way through muck and around 50 Horned Lark were feeding vigorously as well. Overhead, a beautiful adult Bald Eagle soared. I always enjoy seeing such diversity at a spot like this. As I headed back down county, I found a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk sitting in the full sun in a large spruce. Another nice morning of birding
At first glance, you can miss the Horned Larks feeding in the spread.  When you look closely, there are quite a few around.  When they suddenly flush, you see just how many there are.

At first glance, you can miss the Horned Larks feeding in the spread. When you look closely, there are quite a few around. When they suddenly flush, you see just how many there are.

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Rondout Reservoir

Some of the ducks present at the Rondout today.

Some of the ducks present at the Rondout today.

Today, Karen Miller and I birded the north eastern part of the county. The Rondout Reservoir has just a few open spots of water, and is the last spot in the county with some decent waterfowl. The deep freeze continued the last couple of days and only the spill way and one small opening were left today. We had Common Mergansers (14), Hooded Merganser (1), Greater Scaup (2), Bufflehead (1), Black Ducks (12), Mallard (6) and Common Goldeneye (13). We also birded several locations in the nearby ridges, having many Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches and a few Common Redpoll.

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Gyrfalcon continues, new location.

though the light was better today, the distance was greater.  still, not to bad a shot.

though the light was better today, the distance was greater. still, not to bad a shot.


This afternoon I headed back to Blue Chip Farm to try to find the reported Northern Shrike. Of course while there I wanted to see the Gyrfalcon again. After quite some time with the Gyr a no show, we heard it had been found at another location. This spot is on Marabec Road right near the intersection with Sandhill Road. From Blue Chip Farm, take Bates Lane to the Lipponcott Road end. Make a left on Albany Post Road. Go approx. 1 mile to Galeville Road on the right. Cross the bridge over the Wallkill River and go uphill about three Quarters of a mile. Make a left on Sandhill and continue about three miles to Marabec. The Gyr was feeding on a duck in the field on the left side of Marabec behind a barn. Good luck if you go! I also think the Gyr will ultimately return to Old Fort Road. FYI no Northern Shrike today. Did see a Merlin though.
Gyrfalcon on Marabec Road in Wallkill

Gyrfalcon on Marabec Road in Wallkill

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