Ulster and Orange County Birding

The second Iceland Gull present was also a third winter bird.  Even though it is in adult plumage, the black tip to the bill means it has not yet reached adulthood.

The second Iceland Gull present was also a third winter bird. Even though it is in adult plumage, the black tip to the bill means it has not yet reached adulthood.

This is a third winter Iceland Gull.  The bird is not quite in adult plumage. Notice the greater and lesser coverts are still in juvenile feather.

This is a third winter Iceland Gull. The bird is not quite in adult plumage. Notice the greater and lesser coverts are still in juvenile feather.

I had a really great day of birding today. I headed over to Ulster County, planning on spending the day looking for some target birds, new for the year. As I traveled through Ellenville in pouring rain, a Cooper’s Hawk flew right in front of my jeep. My first destination was the field across from the Mohonk Mountain House Compost Pile (restricted area). You can view these fields where the gulls come to rest between feedings at the pile. Today I had 200 Herring Gulls, 3 Great Black-backed Gulls and 2 ICELAND GULLS. Both Iceland Gulls were third winter birds. I was hoping for something more, but that was it this morning. From there I headed to Weston Road Swamp. Here I easily found 4 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS. As I headed to Shawangunk Grasslands NWR I passed 4 BLACK VULTURES and 2 Turkey Vultures. At the grasslands, I found 7 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 4 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 Northern Harriers. As I was looking for another area to bird before returning later in the day for Short-eared Owls, Rob Stone called and informed me he had found 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE on Onion Avenue in New Hampton. I headed over there and found them right away. There were at least 3000 geese in the fields and I scanned them to try for something else. I first found a barnyard/Canada hybrid, and then found a fifth GWFG. I was able to photograph all of them. Thanks Rob! I then headed to Oil City Road where I had 7 Northern Harriers, 3 Rough-legged Hawks and 5 Red-tailed Hawks. I then waited until dark to try for SHORT-EARED OWLS. Ken McDermott and Lisa O’Gorman joined me and we eventually saw 6 SEOs. One of the most exciting sightings for me today was as I scanned the marsh for bird I spotted a huge BLACK BEAR come out of the woods and cross the Liberty Marsh trail. This is the first time I have ever seen a Black Bear in January. I can only guess that yesterdays warm weather got him moving about. A really great day!
One of the four Red-headed Woodpeckers at Weston Road Swamp today.

One of the four Red-headed Woodpeckers at Weston Road Swamp today.


Three of the five Greater White-fronted Geese on Onion Avenue today.

Three of the five Greater White-fronted Geese on Onion Avenue today.

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6 Responses to Ulster and Orange County Birding

  1. kathy/kate zeller-hyden says:

    Hey great finds but don’t end up Lunch! I guess the thaw brought the bear out as I saw and fed one of our resident chipmunks… hope they are both safely back in their burrows with this cold! Kate

  2. Wilma Amthor says:

    John, great pictures and I love the educational info you put in your posts

  3. Tara says:

    Love the shot of the red headed woodpecker that you got!

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