Sullivan County has it’s share of rarities each year with at least two or three showing up annually. Back in 2008, we had an exceptional year with seven rarities showing up in a six week period from March to May. This year, 2011 is turning out to be nearly as good, and may be before the years end. We have had five rarities in the period of March through May this year as well. It began with the discovery of the VARIED THRUSH this winter which lingered into March. Then I found a EURASIAN WIGEON, likely a pair at the Pine Boat Launch on 4/3/11. This was followed on 4/26/11 with a CASPIAN TERN found by Bob Schlecta at the Bashakill on 4/26/11 while I was away in Arizona. My first day home, 4/28/11 I was fortunate to find a TRICOLORED HERON on Haven Road at the Bashakill. Though the bird remained only two hours, four people got excellent views of the bird, while another three pulled up just as the bird was flying off. The next rarity showed up in my yard. As I was walking out of my yard to check the lake for Loons, I heard a call in the trees that I didn’t recognize. As I searched for the bird, a distant memory (’02) of displaying woodpeckers entered my mind. I searched the tree tops in earnest and found an adult male RED-HEADED WOODPECKER!! (see photo gallery). The woodpecker is still present as of this writing on 5/18/11. With five rarities already, and it only being early May, I think we might be in for another record setting year.
Update: on 5/22/11 The Queens County Bird Club found a MISSISSIPPI KITE at the Deli Fields, giving us our sixth rarity. Also found that day was a Least Bittern which though recorded annually is seldom seen.
Update: WHITE-EYED VIREO, 5/26/11, a first county record for me brings us to seven rarities so far this year.
Update: On 7/28/11 I found a WHITE IBIS on Haven Road at the Bashakill!! This was the first county record and a rare New York State record for this species. Arlene Borko and Scott Baldinger were able to see the bird as well. Sullivan’s 8th rarity this year!!