Sullivan County Grasslands – great morning!

One of the four American Kestrel Chicks on Long Road this morning.

One of the four American Kestrel Chicks on Long Road this morning.

The summer doldrums have been really hitting hard lately. This morning I just had to get out to see some birds! I decided to go to the grasslands in the Beechwoods area to beef up some of our records of those species. It was a very good morning. I started on Reum Road, and worked my way around the entire area. It was a very birdy morning, and many birds had young in tow. I also had a couple of nice surprises. EASTERN MEADOWLARK were just about everywhere. I had a total of 9 adults and 7 hatch year birds! I also had a decent flock of BOBOLINK. I thought they would have been gone by now, but at least one flock of 20 individuals continue. They are almost all in basic plumage now, with just a few males still showing color. Sparrows were well represented with Song, Field, Chipping and Savannah all seen. My first surprise came on Long Road. Earlier in the season I had seen a pair of AMERICAN KESTREL here, but had not been able to spot them again. This morning, I found the adult pair with four fledged chicks! Six Kestrels are always nice to see, and I was happy to have confirmed that they bred. I’ve had two other pairs in the county this year that I haven’t been able to find again. Now that young have fledged, I should check for them again too. A lone Red-tailed Hawk soared over the hillsides, but that was my only other hawk this morning. A lone BROWN THRASHER had to have some more company in the brushy field it flew into. My next surprise came on Radio Tower Road. I saw a bird fly over a field that I wasn’t sure of the identity of. I pulled over and it again flew out over the field, a female ORCHARD ORIOLE! This was my first time having this species in the grasslands here. As I tried to get a photo, she surprised me further by dive bombing me! I immediately heard the calls of young, and she flew to a recently fledged chick in a rose bush in the field. Further calls from the other side of the road sent her sailing to a second chick in the Poplars along the road. I could hear them well, but only just see them as she tended to them. She then focused on me again, with another dive bombing round. I decided to move off so as not to disturb them further. The only location in the county I have ever had Orchard Oriole is the valley. I have heard scattered reports in the past, but never saw them nor was able to repeat the sightings of others. It is nice to have this first confirmed breeding away from the valley and have another place to look for them in the future. Eastern Kingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern Bluebirds and Indigo Buntings rounded out the list of grassland species. In all I had a total of 37 species here this morning!
Female Orchard Oriole on Radio Tower Road.

Female Orchard Oriole on Radio Tower Road.

female Orchard Oriole on Radio Tower Road

female Orchard Oriole on Radio Tower Road

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2 Responses to Sullivan County Grasslands – great morning!

  1. Wilma Amthor says:

    where is radio tower road?

    Nice shots John!!!

    • Can’t remember is you have my book, if you do, it is in there under Beechwoods area.  Otherwise, its in Delaware Township, just up hill from the Villa Roma Hotel.  Take Rt 164 up from the Hotel then make a right on Baurenfiend Road.  Then a left onto Beechwoods road and the next right is Radio Tower.  Its actually quite easy.

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