Yet another great day!

Gray-cheeked Thrush on the Nature Trail.

The Bashakill exploded to life again today with a new influx of warblers. By the time I’d finished my morning I had had 19 species of wood warblers between the Orchard and the Nature Trail (if only yesterday could have been that easy). The best new bird for me was TENNESSEE WARBLER! I had four of them singing their hearts out on the Nature Trail. They were singing continually between chasing each other around the forest. Besides warblers I also had a couple of Black-billed Cuckoos and a Yellow-billed as well. I also had some Swainson’s Thrush and my FOS GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH! Others had Bay-breasted Warblers, but I missed them. Hopefully they will stick around for a day or two, so I’ll have another chance for them. There are plenty of birds yet to come and there’s still the chance for more great rarities as well so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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So much has happened!

Unbelievably, an Arctic Tern wafts over the Bashakill!

The four days since I last posted seem to be a blur. So many things have happened and so many new birds have arrived I hardly know where to begin. There have been so many new arrivals I can’t keep track of how many have come in. I guess I’ll start with the warblers. We continue to have a total of 25 species recorded for the county so far this year. The turnaround of the winds the last two days enabled many of the birds to depart, and there were few arrivals. That said, other types of birds have begun to arrive and are certainly making birding a lot of fun. Two significant events occurred since I last posted. The first was unprecedented incursion of ARCTIC TERNS into the northeast and the second was the combined “Break 100 Day” and “Global Birding Day” both of which occurred today. I will start with the terns. On Friday 13 May I was birding the Bashakill when four terns passed me as I stood on Haven Road. The only tern that would be expected that met the description was “Common Tern”, so I naturally assumed that was what the birds were. The birds flew out of the Bashakill and I thought that would be the end of it. A while later I ran into Karen Maloy Brady and Kevin Brady and told them about the terns. As we spoke, Kevin said “there are some white birds out there now”. When I looked, the Bashakill had many terns. There was a total of 14 at the time. We spent a lot of time trying to get photos and document the event. This would prove to be fortuitous later in the day. I put the word out and a couple of other people were able to see the birds, notably Scotty Baldinger and Gary Zilkulski. The terns remained for the rest of the morning, and I kept close eye on them. At around 11 am I noticed that there seemed to be more of them, and another count revealed that there were now 16 Terns. That was a total of 20 terns for the morning. Suddenly, around 11:45, the terns disappeared. I didn’t see them go, they were just gone. Just about that time I received many notices on Whats App stating that an unprecedented irruption of Arctic Terns was taking place in the northeast. This brought up so many questions. Did I misidentify the terns. Were they actually Arctic Terns and not Commons?. I began to contact friends down state to try to get some clarification on what had happened. Since everyone was running around the region trying to connect with the terns, they said they would get back to me later in the day. I was hopeful that my birds may have been Arctic Terns, but this was unimaginable. This has never happened before. Eventually, Shai Mitra and Pat Lindsey (foremost authorities on terns) got back to me and informed me they had reviewed my photos and all of them were in fact of Arctic Terns! I couldn’t believe it! When the dust finally settled, Arctic Terns accounted for nearly all the terns seen in our region that day. I’d really like to thank Shai and Pat for their help with this great event! Next, I would like to address the “Big Day”. Lance Verderame and I began our day on Haven Road at the Bashakill at 4 am. The day started off splendidly and many marsh birds could be heard before the sun ever came up. New birds for the year for me included COMMON NIGHTHAWK, YELLOW-BILLED and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, EASTERN WOOD PEWEE and HOODED WARBLER! We spent much of the morning at the Bashakill, adding more and more species for the day. Once again I mention that warblers were way down and many species we found only one individual of. We finally pulled ourselves away from the Bash and moved on throughout the valley. On McDonald Road we had or FOS INDIGO BUNTINGS! On Gumaer Falls Road we had our first ACADIAN FLYCATCHER! We had many shorebirds on the Hurleyville Rail Trail and many new birds at the Nevesink Reservoir and Cooley Bog. Moving on to Fir Brook, we got our FOS ALDER FLYCATCHER! Returning to the Bashakill for the end of the day we added a few new birds and finally a Common Raven on the tower off Rt 112 on Rt. 17. We ended the “Big Dau” with a total of 120 species! Not a bad total at all. I of course don’t know yet how the other teams did, but as usual the fact that we were so pleased with the bird we got is what is so rewarding. I am about as beat as can be now and I am signing off. I will be back with more news as soon as I am up to it. Get out there and enjoy!

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Bashakill continues to deliver!

My FOS Wilson’s Warbler at the Orchard in the Bashakill.

Birding again at the Bashakill this morning I’m as usual hoping for new year birds. Add to that the fact that I’m scoping out birds now for the combination “Global Birding Day”, and Sullivan County “Break 100 Day”, both of which are this Saturday May 14th! The last few days have been very productive. Yesterday I got my FOS SORA off the Stop Sign Trail! The bird was whinnying frequently and doing Kir-reet call as well. It was an especially good day for marsh birds with Great Blue and Green Herons, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Sora and Common Gallinules all seen or heard. This morning, following four days of searching, I finally connected with the Wilson’s Warbler at the Orchard! This was my 23rd species of warbler this year, all seen in the last week! Today was the first day in over a week I wasn’t able to connect with a Cape May Warbler, but hopefully some are still around. The forcast as of now is for ideal winds finally starting Wednesday night and continuing through Sunday. That should make for major migration through the rest of the week. I hope it holds true! See you out there!

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NYC Linnean Society Annual Bashakill Field Trip!

Orchard Oriole on the Long path.

This morning I once again had the privilege to lead the above field trip. We had a total of 19 people and though the weather was cool and windy at the start, the day cleared and warmed with slightly less wind. Everyone had a great time. We saw a total of 68 species including 18 species of warblers. Highlights of the warblers included Cape May, Canada, Blue-winged, Chestnut-sided and more. A beautiful first summer Orchard Oriole was a nice find on the Long Path at the Nature Trail. Baltimore Orioles were everywhere. Other birds of interest included heard only Common Gallinule, Solitary Sandpipers, Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk and Bald Eagles. Yellow-throated, Blue Headed and Warbling Vireo were all seen. It was a great morning overall! I’d like to thank Gordon and Lori Lam for helping out as they always do!

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Good birding in the rain!

A rather damp Vesper Sparrow at the Deli Fields.

This morning the Bashakill had quite a few birders out searching for all the great warblers we’ve been having this week. It was raining, sometimes lightly, sometime not so lightly, but the birding was still good regardless. Reading through several peoples reports I estimate we had a total of 22 species of warblers. I myself had 19 species today. Highlights once again included Cape May, Nashville, my FOS Blue-winged Warbler and many, many more. Sparrows were present in pretty decent numbers for some species and low numbers for others. Song, Swamp, Chipping and White-throated Sparrows were all abundant, but Savannah and Vesper were in low number with only two of each seen. I’m not sure if yesterday’s White-crowned Sparrows were seen or not, but I didn’t connect myself. I didn’t really spend any time on marsh birds today, but what time I did they were rather quiet in the rain. Tonights forcast is for rain and again right through tomorrow. Hopefully this will bring us some new birds on the water and mud flats, that’s where I’ll be looking in the morning. At this time of year, no matter what the weather, something is bound to happen!

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Sensory overload!

Nashville Warbler on the Nature Trail!

This morning was as good as the last several days and probably due to the beautiful weather all the birds were singing this morning. I was only at the orchard a short time when it suddenly seemed like it was just one big continuous song. It took me a while, especially since I haven’t heard some of these birds sing since last year, but I sorted it out. The biggest show of the morning was the continuing Cape May performance. Seldom do I see so many, I had a total of nine this morning, but I don’t recall having them all be singing like they were today. I spent most of my time taking photos of these birds and trying to record their songs. My FOS species today were Great Crested Flycatcher and Nashville Warbler! A big thanks to Mary Buskey for getting me the Nashville! I ended up with 16 species of warblers for the day but missed a number of other species seen by other birders. At least twenty species were seen in total. Vireos, Orioles, Thrush and more all added to the excitement of the day. I hope this goes on for the foreseeable future!

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The great days keep coming!

With the overnight rain continuing into the morning was what I think of as a perfect set up to put down migrant birds. Thats exactly what happened. I headed out to check the water and shorebird habitats up county. Shorebirds were pretty typical at Apollo and Morningside with Greater Yellowlegs, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Wilson’s Snipe and Killdeer seen. I stopped at Kiamesha Lake along the way where three Ring-billed Gulls and a Bonaparte’s Gull where the only birds present. When I reached Neversink Reservoir I got my first real target of the day, a COMMON TERN! There were plenty of other birds present as well including 5 Ring-billed Gulls, 7 Common Loons, 2 Ring-necked Duck, 3 Double-crested Cormorants and 2 Bonaparte’s Gulls! As I spent quite a bit of time trying to get photos of the tern, I was still present when a second Common Tern arrived. Renee Davis and Marge Gorton were able to arrive and see them as well. Later this afternoon, Scott Graber went as found one tern still present with pther birds as well. In the afternoon I birded the Bashakill. I ran into Scott Baldinger, Steve Altman and Mary Buskey. They were already on a nice influx of warblers, most of which I was able to eventually see as well. The highlights for me were two CAPE MAY WARBLERS (I finally got on both together) and also an FOS MAGNOLIA WARBLER! It was just another fabulous day!

Common Tern on the Neversink Reservoir!

Common Tern.

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An amazing day!

My much hoped for blast of migration was a slam dunk overnight! Today I birded the Bashakill and my own yard and ended the day with a total of 90 Species! In fact, all but two of the birds were seen at the Bashakill! I had nine new year birds today with my FOS Yellow-throated Vireo, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Chestnut-sided, Cerulean and Blackburnian Warblers, Chimney Swift, Veery and Vesper Sparrow! The day included 16 species of warbler (15 seen by me). There were also four species of shorebird including both Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and a late Wilson’s Snipe. Karen, Scotty, Scott and Renee were all out searching for new birds, and no one was disappointed. The winds will be changing back to northwest over the next few days, but there are plenty of birds out there that I haven’t connected with yet and I’m sure thats the case for the others as well. That means we should be having some productive coming days!

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The south winds delivered!

Red-throated Loon on Kiamesha Lake.

Karen Miller, Scott Baldinger and I were all out birding most of the day yesterday in hopes that the first south winds in weeks would produce good birds, they did! There were many birds around the county and it was tough to try to be everywhere at once. I started out up county where the birds of interest included a Common Loon and a Bonaparte’s Gull among the Ring-billed Gulls on the Neversink Reservoir. Hurleyville Rail Trail produced a few shorebirds with 6 Solitary Sandpipers, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs and 3 Killdeer present. Close up views of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak were nice too! I then headed to the Bashakill where Scotty and Karen were already out. Scotty had had a Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Oriole already and eventually Karen had two Yellow-throated Vireo. Warblers were plentiful once again, but no new species were noted. Other birds of note at the Bashakill included 2 Great Egrets, 3 Solitary Sandpipers, a Green Heron and of course the ongoing American Bittern and Great Blue Herons. Common Gallinules are actually plentiful right now as are Pied-billed Grebe. Though I actually missed all the new species, I had a great consolation prize. Karen found a Common Loon and Red-throated Loon on Kiamesha Lake later in the day. Though upon my arrival we were met with the continuing rain and fog, it eventually lifted and the loon moved close to shore on the main road. I was able to get the best photos I’ve ever had of a Red-throated Loon in the county and that was great fun for me. Hopefully, as I predicted, today will be another great day! See you out there!

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Things are moving, just a bit slowly.

This morning I once again birded the Bashakill. For the first time in a week, the wind was under 10 mph and the sun was out. It seemed like spring might actually be here. It was a nippy start at 32 degrees, but it warmed to 60 degrees by mornings end. Though the past week has been pretty birdy, today was a bit subdued. We continue to have 14 species of warblers, but they were a bit harder to come by today. I only managed 8 species myself. For me, the best warbler was the continuing Northern Waterthrush on the Duck Blind Trail. Though these birds will be common enough, right now it is the only one I know of. The only new bird for me today was a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, also on the Duck Blind Trail. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick around for long, allowing me only a single photo. Our marsh denizens are doing well, and I was pretty successful with them today. I had one American Bittern and Great Blue Heron (where are they this year?), six Common Gallinule and two Pied-billed Grebe. Virginia Rails were missed by me, but there were a lot of people walking the trails today and that may have quieted them. Still no Marsh Wrens yet, but I expect them any minute. Tomorrow, for the first time in a couple of weeks, the winds will turn to the south for a whole 24 hours! Thats not long, but with things backed up I expect a lot of birds to come on the scene! Monday should be an excellent day!

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