This beautiful Semipalmated Sandpiper was present this morning.
This morning I headed to Morningside Park and was pleased to see the trees and sky filled with swallows when I arrived! This indicated to me that the Merlin was gone!! I kayaked the lake and was pleased to find some shorebirds had come in. Five Least Sandpipers, one Semipalmated Sandpiper and two Spotted Sandpipers were present. I had great photo ops for all the birds. Also indicative of the Merlin’s departure was the fact that Green Herons were once again all around the lake. They had really been hiding out the past week. Sparrows, both Song and Swamp were again active as well. Two Belted Kingfisher were present, but things almost went sour. As I watched one fly across the lake, a hawk came out of nowhere and knocked the kingfisher right out of the air. I thought sure it was the Merlin until it banked and came around showing itself to be a Cooper’s Hawk. The hawk flew off and landed in a tree, while the kingfisher got itself out of the water and shook off in the air. What happened next was another surprise. The kingfisher flew over to the Cooper’s and dive bombed it several times! I held my breath wondering what would happen next, but the kingfisher flew off and the Coop disappeared into the woods. That was it for the excitement there. I then headed to the Apollo Plaza to try for more shorebirds. Before I got there I passed the Sullivan County Landfill and saw that many vultures were still roosting. I went in to check for a Black Vulture and had a real surprise. We have had a little cell of three Black Vultures in the area for the last three years. They were usually always together and no sign of breeding was ever noted. This year, they returned again, but two of them disappeared shortly thereafter. I wondered if breeding might be possible, but had no way of knowing. This morning, I found an adult Black Vulture perched with a recently fledged chick!! This is a first confirmed record of breeding of this species in the county! The chick was exploring its world, chewing on the ends of the branches and checking everything out very inquisitively. The young birds head was still covered in gray down! For me, this was pretty exciting! I pulled myself away, found nothing at the Apollo and headed to the Bashakill. The Mearn’s Field Trip was held this morning with good results and I was hoping to get in on some of the birds they had. I missed most of them, but found a FOS OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER in the dead Poplar on the Stop Sign Trail. I always enjoy seeing this bird. I was able to get lots of photos, but unfortunately, it flew off before anyone else got to see it. (Mearn’s group found another at the Deli Fields shortly thereafter). I ran into some of the group and it was great to exchange stories of good finds with them all. All in all, this was a really good morning of birding!
If you look closely, you can see the chicks head (upper bird) is covered in gray down.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher on the Poplar on the Stop Sign Trail.