This morning after hearing Bruce Nott once again had scoters in Orange County, I decided to head up county to check the water. It was impossible to tell if there was anything on Yankee Lake as three foot white caps prevented any kind of viewing. I was hoping I wouldn’t find the same elsewhere. Kiamesha Lake was my first stop and there were birds. The positioning of that lake makes it somewhat calmer in wind and that was the case this morning. 11 Bufflehead, a Common Loon and a RED-NECKED GREBE were all the birds present. I moved on, not finding anything else until I reached the Neversink Reservoir. There I had four Common Mergansers, 11 Ring-billed Gulls and 3 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. I went on to Swan Lake where I found 7 Double-crested Cormorants, 3 Bufflehead, a Common Merganser and a HORNED GREBE. That did it for the water. I decided to head on to the grasslands in hopes of a VESPER SPARROW. My very first stop, on Deppa Road provided the only Vesper of the day! I couldn’t get a photo of the bird, but was glad to see it none the less. I moved on to the Beechwoods area, which was quite productive in spite of the high winds, cold temps and dark skies. I would have had more birds if not for those conditions. That said, I had 5 Brown Thrashers, 1 Savannah Sparrow, 2 Eastern Meadowlarks, 5 American Kestrels, 5 Eastern Bluebirds and my FOS YELLOW WARBLER! This is the first time I’ve ever had my first Yellow Warbler of the year this far north of the Bashakill where they usually show in abundance literally overnight. Glad to see here none the less. A pretty decent morning overall!
I arrived at the Bashakill at 8 am today, confident that some good migration had taken place and actually dropped some birds in our area. I wasn’t disappointed! My first stop was the Ranger Cabin on the entrance to the Pine Boat Launch. This was the best stop of the day. I had at least 24 Yellow-rumped Warblers at this stop. There may actually have been more, but I gave up trying to keep track. Among these birds were at least two and probably three BLACK AND WHITE WARBLERS (above), two BLUE-HEADED VIREO and a singing male NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH already on territory in its usual spot! There were also many Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Pine Warblers. From there I moved to Haven Road. I checked both the Duck Blind Trail and Orchard/Stop Sign Trails, but they were rather quiet. The best birds there were a small flock of White-throated Sparrows, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and two Gray Catbirds. I ran into Scott Baldinger and he informed me that the COMMON GALLINULES were calling frequently just off the Horseshoe Parking Area. I headed right down as I’ve missed these the last two days. They were calling indeed. At least two. I decided that they were in such a small patch of vegetation that I would wait them out. Eventually, they became excited over something and three of them passed in front of a small opening in the weeds. I was not quick enough with the camera though. I worked my way around the Bash, hoping for a Green Heron that has been being seen (Scott had it this morning), but I didn’t find one. I finally gave up and headed home with three new year birds and some really nice birding under my belt.
Following my post this morning, it down poured. I decided to check the water in the county to see if anything new had put down. There were birds as several locations. Morningside Park had half a dozen Double-crested Cormorants, Neversink Reservoir had fourteen Ring-billed Gulls and one Bonaparte’s Gull, and a pair of Greater Scaup. Swan Lake had two more Cormorants, Common Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks and Bufflehead. Most of the birds were new, but the species wasn’t. I decided to head to the Bashakill. I spent some time on Haven Road where I also had the typical species. The only bird of note was a migrant Northern Mockingbird I watched fly in to Haven from down the kill. It landed on the wires, then dropped to the ground where it immediately began to feed. At that point, I got a notice from Whats app that the YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (above) in Howells was still present. I decided to go for it. No sooner had I seen the bird and gotten some good shots, that I got another notice that there was a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (below) on Quasaick Creek in Newburgh. I headed right- over where I met birding bud Bruce Nott. He got me right on the bird which had originally been reported by Ken McDermott earlier. Though I’ve had Black-crowned Night-heron a number of times in the region, this is only the second time I’ve had Yellow-crowned Night-heron making it only the second time I’ve had both in one day in region 9. Great day!
The prediction for our area was for no migration last night. The storm coming through most of the night was supposed to put a damper on it. When I opened my door this morning I knew things hadn’t gone quite the way predicted. There was an abundance of Ruby-crowned Kinglets in my yard, at least a dozen! There was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and at least a half dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers! I went right over to the lake and heard the music of calling Common Loons coming from there. There were four breeding plumage birds foraging out from our shore. I headed back to the house to get my camera and as I reached my porch, my FOS GRAY CATBIRD jumped up into the bush and began to mew! That’s a lot of new birds in an front yard and lake front! I grabbed my camera out of the house and snapped a shot of the Catbird just as it began to pour! I think its worth getting out between the raindrops today, it might pay off nicely!
Major migration took place overnight last night. The radar showed significant movemet from well south of us, over us most of the night and finishing up around 4 am. It was clear this morning that all of those birds either passed over us, or left from our area. Most of what we’ve been seeing the last several days was gone. That said, Scott Baldinger and I had an interesting morning of birding at the Bashakill. The bird of the day for me was a female LONG-TAILED DUCK that was swimming right off the bridge at Haven Road. For some reason, when it fed, it liked to dive directly under the bridge. My guess would be that it was either due to the effect of the light under there, or possibly what was hiding out under there, trying to avoid detection. Either way, the bird was happy to feed there throughout the morning, affording some nice photo ops. Other birds today included 3 Pied-billed Grebe, 4 Bufflehead, 2 Ring-necked Duck, many Mallard and Wood Ducks. 4 Great Blue Herons were seen and an American Bittern was gulping on the northwest side of Haven Road. Warblers were few today, though Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumps were found in single digits. Louisiana Waterthrush could be heard singing in several locations along the Bashakill, most notably by the new bridge across from the Orchard on Haven Road and near the falls across from the Nature Trail. We had one small kettle of BROAD-WINGED HAWKS circling over the Deli Fields. For some reason though there was little new, I managed some decent photos of what I did see, and that doesn’t always happen.
I never get good photos of Wood Ducks, but I think that curse was broken with this shot. This Great Blue Heron also cooperated nicely!
This morning I had another late start. When I reached the Bashakill, I met Steve Altman on Haven Road. He had just birded the Duck Blind Trail and had some good warblers there. I could hear from Haven both Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Along Haven Road we had Greater Yellowlegs, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Wood Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe and Ring-necked Ducks. As we were birding, I got a call from Scott Baldinger. He informed us that Bruce Nott and he had just found a male WILSON’S WARBLER behind the Horseshoe Parking area. We met them and Joyce Depew there. We had great looks at a sometimes cooperative bird. This is by far the earliest record of Wilson’s Warbler in the county. It was in the company of a Palm Warbler. Also in the area were several Swamp Sparrows and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Two days ago, Steve had found a singing male LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH by the bridge across from the Orchard on Haven Road. Though we didn’t spend mush time there this morning, we didn’t hear it today. The predication is for good migration tonight, so lets keep our fingers crossed and get out early in the morning!
Gordon and Lori Lam came up for the weekend from Long Island and spent their time birding the Bashakill with Scott Baldinger, Karen Miller and myself. It was a busy and productive weekend. There were many new arrivals. The best bird for me was a pair of AMERICAN BITTERN on Haven Road. They were displaying to each other and flying around a lot. They could be tough to see, but as soon as you had them in the open and thought you could get a photo, one would fly and the other would duck and that would be the end of that. I don’t think any of us got a shot. It was still a really enjoyable experience to see them for the first time this year. Two species that really came in in number were EASTERN TOWHEE and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER! I had four of each, and some of the others had more. Other highlights of the day were ongoing Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown Thrasher, Field, Savanna and Swamp Sparrows, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets and much more!