Morningside Park – shorebird bonanza continues!

This photo actually shows Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers and Dunlin!

I went back out this morning to check Morningside Park for shorebirds. Though there is little habitat at this time of year, there was always a chance something might have put down. Though there were only two tiny strip islands, there were an abundance of birds! 2 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 2 DUNLIN, 8 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 20 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 10 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS and a single Killdeer! More than twice as many birds than at the Apollo Plaza in just a fraction of the habitat! Once again I called Arlene Borko and Scott Baldinger. They both got over to see all the great shorebirds! What a morning!

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Shorebird Fallout at Apollo Plaza!

The gorgeous WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at the Apollo Plaza!

After having some luck with shorebirds at Apollo yesterday, and seeing last nights forecast I knew where I’d be going first thing this morning. Several times in the night I was awakened by torrential thunderstorms! It just made me even more eager to get out. I headed right up to Apollo where I could see lots of rain had fallen. I first spotted a LEAST SANDPIPER, which is expected at this time of year. I then spotted a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, which I had had yesterday. Then, a group of shorebirds were vocalizing as they chased each other around. SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS! Not common in the county, and even more rare in spring. As I watched them two more peeps came into view. Two different species. The first I quickly realized was a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, but the second excited me more WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER! Scanning around, I had half a dozen KILLDEER and then a SPOTTED SANDPIPER! Seven species of shorebirds at one site in spring is great for Sullivan County! Shorebirds are much more common in fall here. I quickly alerted Arlene Borko and Scott Baldinger who both zoomed up, getting to enjoy the fallout! I will be getting back out shortly to see what else I can come up with as a result of the storms!

The five SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at Apollo Plaza.

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A few shorebirds

Four of the five Semipalmated Plovers at the Apollo today.

I spent most of this rainy day indoors. By late afternoon had just had to get out. Where to go when its been pouring like this all day? I headed to Apollo Plaza, hoping for some shorebirds. There weren’t a great many, but I did get a new one for the year. I always enjoy seeing SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and that’s just what I found. Along with three Killdeer and one Least Sandpiper were five of the little plovers. Not a sure thing in the spring, most of our plovers are in the fall. We’re having a pretty good plover year overall with the Killdeer and Black-bellied Plovers having already been seen. From the Apollo I went to the Bashakill briefly where I found two Common Gallinule and an American Bittern along Haven Road.

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Shawangunk Grasslands NWR – HENSLOW’S SPARROW!

The male HENSLOW’S SPARROW at the grasslands today.

I was viewing my third owl species of the day (Great Horned) at the Bashakill this afternoon when I got a call from Tom Burke. He was at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR viewing the continuing Dickcissel when he found a singing male HENSLOW’S SPARROW! I headed right over! I met Tom and Gail along with Karen Miller at the spot, not far from the viewing blind where the Dickcissel is being seen. It took a little while, but the Henslow’s began singing and showing itself. What an exciting experience! Everyone was able to get some shots of the bird and mine weren’t bad either. More and more birders began to arrive as the word spread. Once again Tom has found another great rarity. Thanks Tom and Gail! Hopefully this bird will somehow manage to find a mate and start a breeding population at the grasslands. Another bonus of the trip (as if Grasshopper Sparrow and Dickcissel weren’t enough) was a calling Upland Sandpiper out in the distance. Great birding!

Another shot of this great rarity in our area.

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Bashakill, migration picked up!

The Barred Owl at the parking lot has become almost a mascot!

This morning there was an uptake in migrants. I managed 13 species of warbler, up from 10 yesterday. While there was an increase, it was very species specific. I had 9 Blackpolls, 8 Magnolias and 6 Canada Warblers. All else were breeding species. The Barred Owl at the Stop Sign Parking Area has become a mascot! For the third time this week, I didn’t even know it was around and it flew right in to greet me! I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t the activity of the Chipmunks I’m stirring up that causes the same thing to happen repeatedly. At any rate, the owl doesn’t mind seeing me, in fact after a second or two of checking me out, he just starts looking for a tasty morsel to grab. I walk all around and he does even seem to notice. I notice that many species are already gearing up for a second clutch. Brown Thrashers, Northern Mockingbirds, Pine Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrush are all singing and showing well again after a couple of weeks of quiet. Another migrant I saw today was only my second Lincoln’s Sparrow of the year so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that more birds are coming as I’ve missed a couple of key species this spring. Mourning Warbler being one of them, is often a late migrant anyway.

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Winding Waters Chats…………………………..How many?

This was my only opportunity for a shot of the Chat.

This morning I headed to Winding Waters to try for the Yellow-breasted Chats that have been being seen there. It wasn’t difficult at all. Before I could even reach the spot, I heard the male singing. I was joined almost immediately by one of the New Jersey birders, his name escapes me. We watched the Chat that sang frequently and would pop up from time to time. I got one shot of the bird who turned around just as I snapped the shot. I never got another opportunity as the bird would be up for only seconds. The bird went down in the thicket after about twenty minutes of activity. It was then quiet. We never saw any bird fly out of the spot. As we stood for about five minutes, I said, ” I hear a Chat singing way down the trail!” I was talking about the trail to the left along the river after the “Y”. The other gentleman couldn’t hear it, but I suggested we head out the trail. We were only half way when he said he could hear it. The singing increased. We found the bird in a maple just before what I call “the tunnel”. This is the spot where you enter the portion of the trail that is completely covered by the canopy. The bird sang there, but we couldn’t see it until it flew down into a small brushy thicket in field on the right side of the trail. It immediately stopped singing and we didn’t hear it again. We headed back to the original site at that point, but didn’t hear the bird there at that time. The other gentleman left, but I hung around, not hearing Chats anywhere. I was watching Orchard Orioles build a nest and followed the bird activity back to the area where we had seen the Chat in the maple. I started trying to photograph a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers when suddenly on the side of the trail right next to me, a Chat popped up in a Honeysuckle. I had a several second look, but the second I moved, it dove back down into the bushes. I never saw it again. A short time later, just as I was leaving I thought I heard the Chat again at the original location. My question is – Are there more Chats present than we realize at Winding Waters? If you are out at the site, pay close attention to any song in the area of the “tunnel”, I think there may be an additional pair of Chats in that spot.

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Shawangunk Grasslands!

The Dickcissel at the Shawangunk Grasslands this afternoon.

I wasn’t supposed to be birding today (yeah right) but I got a call from Ken McDermott this afternoon informing me that a Dickcissel had been found at the Shawangunk Grassland NWR. I had already passed on running for the Yellow-breasted Chat at Winding Waters, but Ken was quite convincing that I should head down for this easily seen bird. Thanks Ken for the nudge! I arrived to find quite a few birders there, including Ken and Curt. The bird came up almost immediately and I had great looks at it. I managed a few photos. While there, I had to enjoy the grasslands experience. Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbirds, Savannah Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows and more! It was a fun, quick trip down and I was glad I did it this afternoon as tomorrows forecast isn’t good (rain). A great, unexpected birding afternoon!

One of two Grasshopper Sparrows I saw at the grasslands this afternoon.

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