My Bad!

For those of you who have already read the previous post, I apologize.  I somehow completely skipped over COMMON GOLDENEYE on the list.  There were 23 of these birds between two locations in the county.  This brings the total to ten species and 568 individuals. I have corrected the original post.

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Sullivan County Mid-winter Waterfowl Count


This weekend, Arlene Borko, Scott Baldinger and I (John Haas) participated in the Mid-winter Waterfowl Count for Sullivan County, sponsored by New York State DEC. The count took place during one of the most prolonged deep freezes we have had in years, initially resulting in our lowest waterfowl count in all the years I have done it. (appox. 20) On Monday, 1/15, another deep freeze concentrated more birds in accessible areas, increasing our total count.  This brought us up to our third lowest count, not that bad.  That said, there were also some nice highlights to the count.  The primary birding locations were The Bashakill, Wurtsboro, Rio Reservoir, Mongaup Reservoir, Neversink River and Rondout Reservoir.  The forty mile stretch along the Delawar River failed to produce a single species/individual due to ice jams and dense ice flows.  Our typical birds counted include Canada Geese , Mallard, Black Duck, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers and Common Goldeneye .  Any additional species for this cold, mountain county are a bonus.  This year the highlights were  REDHEAD,  NORTHERN PINTAIL,  LESSER SCAUP and  AMERICAN WIGEON.  Here are our totals:

Canada Goose – 157 all time historic low

Mallard – 90 all time historic low

American Black Duck – 205 average

Common Merganser – 53 average

Hooded Merganser – 23 average

Common Goldeneye – 35 a good count

Lesser Scaup – 1 immature drake

Redhead – 2 adult drake

Northern Pintail – 1 adult drake

American Wigeon – 1 adult female

Total – 568 individuals

Since the Midwinter Count is a prolonged count, not ending until next Sunday, more species may be added over the course of the week.  I’d like to thank Scott and Arlene for their efforts with the count.  While traveling around the county, we had Snow Buntings in four locations today! Great weekend!


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Another Great Day in Sullivan County!


The owl that usually inhabits this tree is normally a red-phase, this years is a gray-phase.

This morning I headed to the Rio Reservoir to see if the good waterfowl continued, it did.  I enjoyed photographing the Grebe, Goldeneye and Scaup for some time before heading to Wurtsboro for a personal matter.  I had to pass through town and decided to try once again for an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL!  I had tried many locations all week, but today I was successful!  A bit later, I heard from Karen Miller that she had been up county looking for Pine Siskins when she found 11 SNOW BUNTING on Hunter Road.  I was able to zoom up and find them right where she had left them!  Thanks Karen!  I have to mention the find of the day.  As I was touring around the county, I spotted something moving.  I stopped to take a quick look and spent the next ten minutes with a gorgeous BOBCAT!!!  I used to see one about once a year, but it has been a couple of years since my last.  For some reason he seemed as interested in me as I was in him.  He eyed me from several angles as I snapped shot after shot of the cat.  He must have decided he’d had enough, because he suddenly slinked away into the undergrowth. Very exciting!  A great end to a great day!

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The Bobcat was content to sit and watch me for some time!

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He seemed quite at ease, but he did have other plans. He suddenly, quietly slipped away.


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Are Birds still coming?


One of ten Purple Finches seen at the Bashakill on 1/9.

Now that we are nearing the middle of January one must wonder what is happening with bird movement well into the winter season.  The deep freeze we’ve experienced over the last several weeks has had an interesting effect.  The fall waterfowl season in our area was anemic at best.  Now, as cold temperatures continue to press south, we are having a late movement of birds.  Both finches and waterfowl are showing up in notable  numbers. In just the last couple of weeks, Purple Finches and Pine Siskins have begun to arrive in Sullivan County. Purple Finches are being seen in the Rio/Mongaup Reservoir area, the Bashakill and town of Neversink.  Pine Siskins thus far, are showing up in the town of Neversinks Hunter Road/Blue Hill Road area.  A notice I received this morning from Cornell suggests Red Crossbills are still supposedly on the way. ( I personally think that ship has sailed, but would love to be wrong).  Also on the move is waterfowl.  Lance Verderame first noted it this past weekend in Delaware County.  Many more species and individuals had come in to the hotspots on the reservoirs in that county.  I went out on Monday to check the Sullivan County hot spots and found the same to be true here.  While numbers aren’t  tremendous, they are notable.  Black Ducks have increased significantly and Common Goldeneye are now in a couple locations.  Most notable among the movement are two Horned Grebe at the Rio Reservoir.  This species does not normally occur in the county in winter.  A Greater Scaup is also a good find.  Orange and Ulster Counties already have significant numbers of waterfowl, but this is a special event in winter for Sullivan County.  Scott Baldinger and Karen Miller have both had the chance to check out this influx of waterfowl with good results. Hopefully this will all last at least through this coming weekend when the January Mid-winter Waterfowl Count takes place.  I’ll be out and about checking for new arrivals and will keep you posted!

Just a few of the Thirty Pine Siskins being seen on the corner of Hunter and Blue Hill Roads.


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Touring the Reservoirs


One of the two Horned Grebe at the Rio Reservoir this morning.

After having such a great day with waterfowl yesterday in Delaware County, I decided to check Sullivan County’s water today to see if there had been similar movement here.  On a whim, I decided to head to the Rio and Mongaup Reservoirs first. Everything that I had  been seeing here a week ago was still present, but in higher numbers.  American Black Duck 193, Common Mergansers 31, Mallard 20 and Hooded Mergansers 2 (lower # for the HOME). Added to the mix now was a Scaup which I have determined is a LESSER SCAUP. It is an immature male.  Also present were two HORNED GREBE! We almost never have them in the county in winter. The tremendous numbers of White-throated Sparrows continue, among them a single FOX SPARROW this morning.  A few Bald Eagles were hanging around the reservoir to be near the open water. There was also an adult and juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk and two Common Raven seen.  From there, I traveled across the county to the Rondout Reservoir.  Here I found the same species as have been being seen recently, but also in slightly higher numbers.  Common Goldeneye were up to 18 individuals,  6 males and 14 females.  Hooded Mergansers were up to 19 individuals.  The now long staying female AMERICAN WIGEON was in her usual location near the spillway.  Mallards, Black Ducks and the only Canada Geese I found today rounded out the list. 9 Species of waterfowl in winter in Sullivan County is a good number, especially considering we’ve been in a two week long deep freeze!


The immature male Lesser Scaup at the Rio.


The female American Wigeon at the Rondout Reservoir.

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Delaware County


This morning I headed north to Delaware County to spend the day with Lance Verderame birding that county for the first time this year. Lance has been having a great year there so far and he wanted to share some of the birds with me.  I was really glad he did!   We had another great day.  We birded the Pepacton Reservoir, Bridge Street in Downsville, the outflow from the Cannonsville Reservoir, Deposit and Houck Road.  I amazed at the number of waterfowl in Delaware in winter.  At the first stop, I added my year HORNED GREBE.  Shortly thereafter on Bridge Street we had Greater Scaup, Mallards, Black Duck, Common Goldeneye, another Horned Grebe, Hooded and Common Mergansers and my FOS RING-NECKED DUCKS.  We had two BELTED KINGFISHERS, one at Houck Road, the other in Deposit.  The number of ducks at the Cannonsville was amazing!  We had 9 species here alone, including my FOS REDHEADS  and some Gadwall!  Birding the river at Deposit, we had an abundance of waterfowl as well.  They included a Red-breasted Merganser, all the aforementioned ducks and a NORTHERN PINTAIL!  As we started in the road, we had our FOS SHARP-SHINNED HAWK! I ended the day with 36 species, 6 of them new for the year! This brings my year total to 91 species!

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Westchester County


There were at least 31 Monk Parakeets on Church Street in New Rochelle.


I headed south this morning with hopes of some new year birds.  I knew it was going to be a good day when I stopped in Wurtsboro to refill my window washer and three FISH CROW called out in the trees above the station.  Bird number 70 for the year!  I then headed to Croton Point Park.  There were many common sparrows, twenty Horned Lark and  a single Snow Bunting.  The water was mostly frozen, but I found a couple of Bufflehead there.  I continued on to Read Nature Sanctuary in Rye New York.  I almost immediately ran into my friends, Tom Burke and Gail Benson.  They generously offered to take me around to their hot spots, enabling me to pick up many new year birds. We had most of the commonly expected birds, adding species after species.  The bird of the day was the BLACK-HEADED GULL at Five Islands Park!  I’ve seen this same bird a number of times before at this same location.  How great is it that it returns year after year.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that it was in COLD!  The temps were in the single digits and the wind wouldn’t stop. Still, Tom and Gail found me one bird after another. I’ve birded Westchester County for many years, but they introduced me to many new spots.  In the end, I had 15 new species for the year and 45 for Westchester County.  I can’t thank Tom and Gail enough for a great day!

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