Unexpectedly good morning and a couple of predictions.

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This morning I had to decide what to do with the remnants of Hurricane Michael hitting us with heavy rain.  I decided my best bet was to look for sparrows and search the up county water for anything that may have come in from north or south.  To make a long story short, I never saw a sparrow of any kind and the only bird I had on any body of water was a Double-crested Cormorant at Morningside Park.  That said, I had a productive morning!  My first good stop was Sullivan County Community College.  I had spotted some Killdeer as I rounded the circle and went over to check them out.  There were 15 in total.  As I was watching them, I realized there were more shorebirds a short distance away.  I pulled up to a group of 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS feeding in the grass.  They were immediately flushed by a passing car, but flew around and landed with the Killdeer.  I circled back around and had good long looks at the birds.  I believe them all to be immature male birds.  From there I visited several spots that failed to produce.  I went on to Clements Road where I was stopping to check out the fruit crop.  Both the apple and crabapples are abundant there.  As I was checking the fruit, a Tennessee Warbler flew into a small crabapple from out in the field.  It flew back out before I could get a shot.  I looked for the bird and realized the field of Goldenrod was quite full of warblers!  As I checked through the Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers, I spotted the Tennessee again.  Then I spotted a warbler I couldn’t quite see. I moved a bit and the bird popped up on top of the Goldenrod and it was a beautiful ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER!  I got a good look at the bird.  Gray head, black eye line, olive breast with faint streaking and yellow undertail coverts.  Before I could even try for a photo, the bird dropped. I spent about ten minutes looking for it, checking through many of the warblers again.  Just as I was about to give up, it popped up about thirty feet from where I had seen it.  I got another good look, raising my camera when all of the birds flushed and flew over the hill, further down into the field.  A Red-tailed Hawk flew in right afterward and I assume it must have been what flushed them.  I moved on and the rain just got worse.  After little luck elsewhere, I decided to check Resnick Road in Bethel on my way home.  As I passed by the cow pasture, a flock of Canada Geese flew in.  I stopped to check them out and found there were many birds in the field.  Cowbirds and Starlings were the most common, but a dozen Killdeer and six AMERICAN PIPITS were a nice add.  A Merlin flushed everything briefly, but they put back down and the Merlin moved on.  Not bad results for a soaking wet day!

Prediction #1: You have probably all seen the “Winter Finch Forecast” for the coming winter.  It is the best forecast in the last ten years, and it has been that long since we’ve had a major irruption of winter finches.  They are saying that this year, the Mountain Ash and berry crops in general have failed in Canada.  I wanted to check our local crop today and am thrilled to report that Apple, Crabapple, Winterberry and Bar Berry crops are outstanding in our county!   All of this fruit is a particular draw for Pine Grosbeak and Bohemian Waxwings. The combination of a good crop here and failed crops there should add up to the fantastic irruption they are predicting!

Prediction #2:  The forecast for the next forty eight hours is for some strong northwest winds coming down out of Canada to our region.  Since this is the first that winds have been favorable for any decent period, I believe that the next three to four days of birding should be great for our area.  Late warblers (Orange-crowned), Sparrows, Waterfowl (sea ducks) and late shorebirds (Dunlin and Pectoral Sandpipers) should all be found somewhere in our area.  I hope everyone gets out and covers their favorite patch to see what they can find. Good luck!

This is how I found all the Crabapple Trees in the county today.  Lets keep our fingers crossed!


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