A Quiet Week

A beautiful pair of Red-shouldered Hawks are feeding daily on a deer carcass on Haven Road.

A beautiful pair of Red-shouldered Hawks are feeding daily on a deer carcass on Haven Road.


Just a quick update to birding in the county. Everything seems to remain about the same around the county this week. Highlights of the week are all ongoing birds. Common Goldeneye at the Rondout Reservoir continue in fair number. At the Bashakill (and throughout the valley) the same holds true. Gray Catbird, Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbirds, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches are the best birds. Red-shouldered Hawks are being seen in decent numbers around the county, and a particularly cooperative pair can be found at the Bashakill. Hopefully things will begin to move and bring us some new arrivals for the year.

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Sullivan County Winter Waterfowl Count Follow Up

Today, Arlene Borko and I covered the only remaining area of the county with open water, The Delaware River. Conditions weren’t much different then yesterday, starting the morning at 19 degrees. The river was open at its fastest flowing areas and huge rafts of icebergs clogged other areas. The numbers of waterfowl continued to be down from our usual counts for this area as well. We were able to add another 78 birds as follows:
Canada Geese – 70
Common Mergansers – 5
Hooded Merganser – 1
Mallard – 1
Black Duck – 1
The highlight of the day was the number of Bald Eagles along the river. We had 5 Adults and 9 immatures. This brought our count total to 24 Bald Eagles. Our total for Waterfowl Count was 567 individual birds, our lowest tally ever.

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Sullivan County Winter Waterfowl Count

Three of the female Common Goldeneye at the Rondout Reservoir.

Three of the female Common Goldeneye at the Rondout Reservoir.


Arlene Borko and I covered much of the county today for the Winter Waterfowl Count. The areas we covered included: Wurtsboro, The Bashakill, The Neversink River and The Rio, Rondout and Mongaup Reservoirs. Since the county has been in a deep freeze most of the last two weeks, all standing water was frozen. The only open water was the river, the channel at the Bashakill, the outflow creeks at the reservoirs and spring fed ponds in Wurtsboro. We started the morning a 16 degrees and drove 131 miles over the course of six hours traveling. As one would guess, the waterfowl count was low, perhaps our lowest. All of the birds seen were usually expected species for mid winter. We had no surprise finds. We also had a total of 10 Bald Eagles, 7 adults and 3 immatures. Here is the total list:
Canada Geese – 257
Mallard – 120
Black Duck – 88
Common Merganser – 13
Hooded Merganser – 11
Common Goldeneye – 8
Total Individuals – 497
Three Hooded Mergansers on the Neversink River.

Three Hooded Mergansers on the Neversink River.

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The Bashakill

Green-winged Teal at the Bashakill.

Green-winged Teal at the Bashakill.


With the county gripped in a deep freeze the last several days, I’ve spent a bit more time at the Bashakill. Both Scott Baldinger and I have been out searching for some new year birds. Continuing good birds include: Gray Catbird at the Orchard and Pine Siskin and Purple Finch at Scott’s feeders. It may take some time to find them, but they are still around. The Eastern Phoebe and Rusty Blackbird haven’t been seen since last week. We’ve each had some good finds for the Bashakill in January. Yesterday, at the Deli Fields, I found a juvenile NORTHERN HARRIER feeding on a small rodent. Scott was able to come over to see it before it took flight. Today, Scott found a couple good species of waterfowl. From the boat launch at the Deli Fields he spotted a couple of small ducks among the Canada Geese. The first was a GREEN-WINGED TEAL and the second was a RUDDY DUCK! Both are rare in the county in winter. The Ruddy Duck and Northern Harrier were only my second instance of either of these species in January.
I stopped back later, and though the Ruddy was a bit further out, it stayed up long enough to get a couple shots.

I stopped back later, and though the Ruddy was a bit further out, it stayed up long enough to get a couple shots.

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Around the County

The Gray Catbird, my first time seeing it since the first of the year. It is readily feeding on the suet at the corner of the Orchard and Haven rd.

The Gray Catbird, my first time seeing it since the first of the year. It is readily feeding on the suet at the corner of the Orchard and Haven rd.


Karen Miller and I toured the county today to start her new year list. We had a really productive day of birding. We started at the Bashakill where we had many of the usual suspects. The best birds of the morning however were the Gray Catbird which was feeding on my suet block near the Orchard, and the Eastern Phoebe (originally found by Scott on the CBC) catching some sort of insects in the dense weeds just off Haven Road. From there, we worked our way along the Neversink River. We had all the usual suspects here as well, ducks, mergansers and eagles. We then hit the Rondout Reservoir, hoping that the waterfowl from yesterday would continue. Not only were the LONG-TAILED DUCK and RING-NECKED DUCK still present, but a female BUFFLEHEAD had joined the birds there. I still couldn’t find the Gadwall, but I’m sure its still around. We eventually proceeded to Hunter Road and then Aden Hill Road. The highlights at both locations were flocks of SNOW BUNTINGS! 9 on Hunter Road and 7 on Aden Hill. We eventually worked our way back down county and found two Herring Gulls on Kiamesha Lake. A great day of birding!
Snow Buntings were plentiful in the county today.

Snow Buntings were plentiful in the county today.

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Around the county

A distant shot of the Long-tailed Duck!

A distant shot of the Long-tailed Duck!


This morning I made a run around the western side of the county. I mainly hit Bethel, Delaware and Liberty townships. I started on Dr. Duggan road to check out the feeders there. I had my FOS BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS there, about twenty of them. It was a short lived viewing of what was around, as a Cooper’s Hawk flew in and chased everything away. It then came back and stood guard to make sure I didn’t get to see anything else. Moving further up county, I had many Turkeys, Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles. On Radio Tower Road I almost certainly had a Golden Eagle. I had several looks at the bird, and can see no reason it wasn’t a Golden, but it was so dark (complete black cloud cover) and misty at the time that I never could see a gold nape. I’m just going to let this one pass. I was searching for the American Kestrel and Rough-legged Hawk that I had the other day, but found neither. I got a text from Scott Baldinger that he had a nice assortment of waterfowl at the Rondout Reservoir. Indeed he did! A LONG-TAILED and RING-NECKED DUCK were both FOS for me! I also added a COMMON RAVEN. I missed the Gadwall, but I’m sure it will be back as it has been a couple of times recently. Also present were Mallards, Black Ducks, Common and Hooded Mergansers and Common Goldeneye! Thanks Scott for the heads up! When I left there, I decided to head to Woodbourne to see if I could find the AMERICAN KESTREL that has been there recently. Found it immediately! Great day!
The American Kestrel at Woodbourne.

The American Kestrel at Woodbourne.

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Soggy but productive day at the Bashakill

The Pine Siskin at Scott's feeders (on left)  on South Road.

The Pine Siskin at Scott’s feeders (on left) on South Road.


I spent the morning birding the Bashakill. I had only intended to spend a short time there, but it was quite active and I ended up spending the morning. There was a heavy mist falling and intermittent rain. All the usual suspects were easily seen. Some nice new birds for me for the year included, a PINE SISKIN at Scott Baldinger’s feeders, a male RUSTY BLACKBIRD at the Orchard off Haven Road, a duo of WOOD DUCKS at the pond on the Stop Sign Trail parking lot, and a singing WINTER WREN also at the Orchard. I had no raptors at all in the soggy weather, but it was a nice morning of birding in spite of the weather.
The male Rusty Blackbird at the Orchard.

The male Rusty Blackbird at the Orchard.

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