My New York State Big Year 2004 Summary

Big Year 2004!

by John Haas
Last updated 12/31/04

First QuarterSecond QuarterThird QuarterFourth Quarter 12/31
2004 Big Year List 12/31

Some interesting facts about the year: We made over sixty trips around the state during the course of the year, over thirty-five of them to Long Island. My total for the year was 318 species; I added 25 new state birds, including 6 lifers. Ed DeBellevue ended the year with 306 species and Renee Davis ended with 305! Arlene Borko ended with 285!

Many people made this year possible. I’d like to thank the following, each of whom added their support, encouragement and/or vital info on the birds. Without them it would not have been a success! Ed VanBuren, Mark Spina, Mark Lelah (the greatest boss in the world!) Arlene Borko, Renee Davis, Ed DeBellevue, Valerie Freer, Marge Gorton, Carena Pooth, Tom Burke, Tom Fiore, Orhan Birol, Matt Young, Jody Hildreth, Ken McDermott, Andy Baldelli and Hugh McGuiness. And many others who provided info out in the field!

First Quarter Report

As the new year started, I had the urge to do something different, but I wasn’t quite sure what. As January progressed, I realized I was having an exceptional month. When I combined my list of winter finches with rare and uncommon birds I’d seen, I decided to try to break 100 for the month. I was able to pick up some great birds. My first lifer came in the form of a Hoary Redpoll seen at Jody Hildreth’s feeders in Waterville. Some uncommon birds added in January included a Northern Goshawk in Claryville and White-winged Crossbills in Parksville. Arlene Borko and I made many trips to Westchester County and Long Island, adding many coastal wintering birds, such as King Eider, Harlequin Duck, Merlin, Great Cormorant, and Purple Sandpiper. When January was over, I had accumulated a list of 102 species!
Eurasian Wigeon

I was on a roll, having a great time, and beginning to question whether a “Big Year” was possible for me. I had never considered a “Big Year” for the state before. I always thought it was beyond my capabilities logistically. I thought the time and travel required would be a barrier to my success. Then there were the birds—could I actually find more than 300 species in the state in one year? Well, things just started to fall into place. I consulted several of my friends and everyone was very supportive of the idea and encouraged me to go for it.
February went as well as January with rare or uncommon birds showing up around the state, and I was able to see most of them. An “owl prowl” led by Renee Davis during our “Feathered Frenzy” race produced Great Horned, Northern Saw-whet, and Eastern Screech-Owls! I was able to get Barred, Short-eared, and Long-eared on other occasions. Valerie Freer located a Bohemian Waxwing in Grahamsville on February 14th which I was able to see as well. Red Crossbills were found at Bowman Lake Park in Chenango County. Geese made a timely appearance with Ed DeBellevue locating a Barnacle Goose at Grumman Pond on Long Island and Greater White-fronted Geese showing up in Clove Lake Park on Staten Island. February would end with my total being 137 species! Once again exceeding what I thought possible.
Ruffed Grouse

March was no different! Tufted Duck at Fairhaven State Park, Western Grebe at Wolfe Pond Park on Staten Island, Northern Gannets at Point Lookout. My latest trip to Long Island on March 20th gave me my best looks ever at two adult Little Gulls, giving me species number 149! By March 29th I only needed one regularly occurring duck, Blue-winged Teal, which I got on a trip to Iroquois NWR in western New York. On that trip I added two more species, bringing my total to 159 and handily exceeding my goal of 150 by the end of March!


Second Quarter Report

April got off to a good start with 4 wading birds added to my list: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, and Glossy Ibis. A great day of birding at the Bashakill WMA added 4 more species on April 11th: Chipping Sparrow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, American Bittern, and Palm Warbler, bringing my year-to-date total to 167.

I returned to New York on 4/26 following a ten day trip to Colorado. As I expected, the birds had started to move in while I was gone. The Bashakill was alive with great birds including the first Soras and Green Herons as well as the first real wave of Warblers: Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, Louisianna Waterthrush to name a few!

Little Blue Heron – Cow Meadow Park, 4/10/04

A day trip to Doodletown and Schawangunk NWR produced a good number of species. DT gave us great looks at both Cerulean and Hooded Warblers and SNWR showed us the first Bobolinks of the year. On the return trip home through Warwarsing we had a nice pair of Orchard Orioles. As of 5/2 my year total stands at 209!

5/17 – May continues as expected with many new migrants passing through. We were fortunate enough to have a singing male KENTUCKY WARBLER found at the Bashakill on 5/13 which was my second life bird in New York for my big year! We had a great “Break 100 Day” on May 15/16 which enabled me to add several new birds for the year as well. My current total is 231 species!

5/24 – May continues to be a productive month. On 5/19 I was able to get the Sedge Wren in New Paltz as well as several other birds in Orange and Rockland counties. An overnight Pelagic trip to “Hudson Canyon” (New York waters) from Barnegat Light, New Jersey on 5/22-23 was very productive and added nine new species to my list including my third life bird of the year (in New York) Pomarine Jaeger! I also added another four state birds!

Greater Shearwater
Hudson Canyon

5/31 – May concluded with two more trips to Long Island and a hike up Slide Mountain! I added my fourth New York lifer when I was able to see the Bar-tailed Godwit at Mecox Bay! I also increased my New York list by the eleventh new bird when I saw the Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows at Marshland Conservancy. All these bring my year total to 265 species thus far!!

Bicknell’s Thrush – Slide Mountain

6/6 – June is off to a great start. A group of us took a trip to Shinnecock on 6/2. We were able to add a number of good birds for the year. On Saturday, 6/5 I discovered a Mourning Warbler in my yard. This was a new state bird for me, having evaded me for many years. Arlene Borko got to see the bird just before we headed to Ithaca to see the Dickcissel, which was very cooperative. Later that same day, Renee and Edna Davis and I headed for the Adirondacks. It was a great trip to Ferd’s Bog and Springpond Bog. With the new birds added there, my year total stands at 274!


6/13 – Several of us from Sullivan (Renee and Edna Davis, Ed DeBellevue, Arlene Borko and I) took another trip north on 6/13. We birded Toad Harbour on Onieda Lake, Montezuma NWR and a couple of spots in between. We were able to add some good birds for the year, including: Prothonotary Warbler, Caspian Tern, Sandhill Crane, Black Tern and Clay-colored Sparrow. My year total stands at 279!

6/28 – It is hard to believe that the year is half over. With it, passes the majority of birds I will have seen for the year. Even so, I feel now that my goal may well be in reach. At 281 species, I am beginning to feel confident that I will succeed. It appears that the shorebird migration as well as gulls in the late fall will be my best bets for some additional birds. I also plan to try to fit in another pelagic trip before summer’s end. Thanks to all, for your support, and info on the birds!


Third Quarter Report 9/28

7/25 – Following a hiatus from my big year to take a birding trip to Washington State, I got back to pursuing my goal when Ed DeBellevue and I traveled to Jamaica Bay and were able to get some of the first fall shorebirds of the year. Wilson’s Phalarope was a highlight, as well as Western Sandpiper, which was a state bird for me.

7/29 – Half a day off from work and a quick trip to Jamaica Bay today enabled me to add American White Pelican to my list.

American White Pelican – Jamaica Bay

8/8 – As shorebird numbers begin to build, some nice birds have been showing up at Jamaica Bay. Ed DeBellevue and I spent the day there on 8/7. We had 13 species of shorebirds and added two new birds for the year — Hudsonian Godwit and Gull-billed Tern!

8/14 – A great mid-August day on Long Island for Arlene Borko and me resulted in the addition of several great birds. Pike’s Beach at Cupsogue yielded eight Royal Terns and a Marbled Godwit; Jamaica Bay gave great views of a Whimbrel!

8/22 – On 8/17 a quick trip to Pine Island Turf Nursery provided an early American Golden Plover. A return trip with Renee Davis, Ed DeBellevue, Arlene Borko and Marge Gorton on 8/22 provided a new state bird, Baird’s Sandpiper, for all of us!

8/28 – Pine Island Turf Nursery is a fabulous birding location for fall shorebirds. The first real influx of birds arrived this week and included at least 10 Baird’s Sandpipers, 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 American Golden Plover and many of the more common species.

Another trip to Jamaica Bay on 8/28 gave me surprise views of three Seaside Sparrows that were flushed by a foraging Great Egret. Ed DeBellevue used his expertise with Long-billed Dowitchers to locate one bird in a large flock of Short-billed! Again excellent diagnostic views!

American Golden Plover!

Another trip to Jamaica Bay on 8/28 gave me surprise views of three Seaside Sparrows that were flushed by a foraging Great Egret. Ed DeBellevue used his expertise with Long-billed Dowitchers to locate one bird in a large flock of Short-billed! Again excellent diagnostic views!

9/3 – A quick stop just outside of Wurtsboro on 9/2 enabled me to find a Philadelphia Vireo in a mixed species flock!

9/6 – On 9/5, Ed DeBellevue, Renee Davis and I traveled to Dune Road and Shinnecock, Long Island to try for the reported Sandwich Terns at Pikes Beach. We had a great day and Renee actually added 5 species for the day. The Sandwich Terns were missed, even though they were there at 9 am that same morning. While searching for some of our other targets with Andy Baldeli, Ed received a call from Hugh McGuiness informing us of a Ruff at Montauk. We all headed off for great views of our new state bird! The following morning Arlene Borko, Ed DeBellevue and I went to several locations locally. The first stop was the Bashakill WMA. As I pulled up, Ed, who was waiting, informed me there was a good mixed species flock right at the parking lot. I was only out of the car a couple of minutes when a Bay-breasted Warbler flew to the top of a nearby tree. I was so excited, number 300!! What a great weekend, I can’t help but wonder what great birds still await with four months left to go.

Juvenile Ruff
Rita’s Horse Farm, Montauk, LI

9/12 – Yet another trip to Jamaica Bay on 9/12 proved very productive. Renee Davis, Arlene Borko and I saw some great birds. The first was a Western Kingbird I located behind the visitor center at the trail entrance to the South Garden. The bird was very actively feeding and didn’t stay put for long. We were able to relocate it once, but it was not seen again that I know of. The second great bird was a Red-necked Phalarope which had been discovered the previous day. It hung around to give us excellent views.

9/28 – Word of a Cackling Goose near Baldwinsville had me heading north on 9/25/04. Initially discovered by Joseph Brin, I had the pleasure of getting great views of the bird with him accompanying me. This recently split bird, less than half the size of a Canada Goose, was a lifer for me!


Fourth Quarter Report 12/31

10/15 – Following what seemed like a long lull since my last new bird on 9/25, word of a Purple Gallinule in Prospect Park, Brooklyn sent me scampering to the city on 10/15. I had good views of the bird foraging on the edge of the phragmites in the lullwater near the Ice skating rink. This species is kind of special to me, as I had located one two years ago at the Bashakill.

10/18 – We took another trip to Long Island on 10/17 to get the Purple Gallinule for our members who had not yet seen it. We followed the stop at Prospect Park with a jaunt to Robert Moses Park on Fire Island to try for some sparrows. While enroute, a call from John Fritz sent us sailing to the Coast Guard station at Jones Beach where we all had great looks at a Yellow-throated Warbler!

10/26 – On 10/22, Renee Davis located a Vesper Sparrow on Stump Pond Road in Livingston Manor. She notified all of the locals and we had great views! This was followed on 10/23 by my spotting a Golden Eagle on the Summitville hawkwatch!

10/31 – A trip north to Cayuga Lake failed to produce the Black Guillemot, but all of us added at least one bird for the year. Ross’s Goose was new for all of us!

11/21 – Renee Davis, Arlene Borko and I traveled to Long Island to chase some rarities on 11/21/04. We were not disappointed! We first found the Mountain Bluebird at Robert Moses State Park, went on to Jones Beach where we found both Snowy Owl and Lapland Longspur, and finally to Orient where we got to see the Rufous Hummingbird! Can you imagine, four new species in one day!

12/7 – Renee Davis, Ed DeBellevue and I traveled to Niagara Falls to try for some new gulls for the year. Renee and I only added California Gull. Ed added two others as well. The great news is that Ed is now at 304 species and Renee is at 301 species meaning that they have each successfully completed a “Big Year” as well! Heading back from Niagara, a stop at Hamlin Beach State Park gave us great views of the Ash-throated Flycatcher there!

Ash-throated Flycatcher

12/24 – Another eventful weekend on 12/19-20! Our usual group headed to Westchester county to search for a bird found on the Peekskill CBC. We had great views of a new state bird for us all — Lark Sparrow. On Monday Arlene and I headed to Manhattan and had great views of the Central Park Boreal Owl! A lifer for both of us!

Boreal Owl – Central Park, NYC

12/31 – The year came to a close with two final trips south. The first to Central Park where we finally added Orange-crowned Warbler and the second to eastern Long Island where we found the Townsend’s Solitaire. My “Big Year” total was 318 species!


2004 Big Year List! 12/31

Key: * denotes life bird. # denotes state bird.
Species in boldface type are rare/irruptive/uncommon—key to reaching my goal of 300!

January – 102

1 Great Cormorant
2 Great Blue Heron
3 Canada Goose
4 Mute Swan
5 Tundra Swan
6 Gadwall
7 American Wigeon
8 American Black Duck
9 Mallard
10 Canvasback
11 Lesser Scaup
12 Bufflehead
13 Common Merganser
14 Hooded Merganser
15 Red-breasted Merganser
16 Bald Eagle
17 Sharp-shinned Hawk
18 Red-tailed Hawk
19 Rough-legged Hawk
20 Wild Turkey
21 Ring-billed Gull
22 Herring Gull
23 Iceland Gull
24 Great Black-backed Gull
25 Rock Pigeon
26 Mourning Dove
27 Short-eared Owl
28 Red-bellied Woodpecker
29 Downy Woodpecker
30 Hairy Woodpecker
31 Pileated Woodpecker
32 Blue Jay
33 American Crow
34 Fish Crow
35 Black-capped Chickadee
36 Tufted Titmouse
37 Red-breasted Nuthatch
38 White-breasted Nuthatch
39 Carolina Wren
40 Eastern Bluebird
41 Hermit Thrush
42 American Robin
43 Northern Mockingbird
44 European Starling
45 Cedar Waxwing
46 American Tree Sparrow
47 Song Sparrow
48 White-throated Sparrow
49 Dark-eyed Junco
50 Snow Bunting
51 Northern Cardinal
52 House Finch
53 Pine Siskin
54 American Goldfinch
55 House Sparrow
56 Northern Harrier
57 Belted Kingfisher
58 Cooper’s Hawk
59 Glaucous Gull
60 Common Redpoll
61 Black Vulture
62 Peregrine Falcon
63 Common Goldeneye
64 Brant
65 Purple Sandpiper
66 Savannah Sparrow
67 Ruddy Duck
68 Ring-necked Duck
69 Horned Lark
70 Red-headed Woodpecker
71 Northern Flicker
72 Bonaparte’s Gull
73 White-winged Scoter
74 Red-throated Loon
75 Sanderling
76 Turkey Vulture
77 Golden-crowned Kinglet
78 Double-crested Cormorant
79 Brown Creeper
80 White-winged Crossbill – Parksville Road
81 Evening Grosbeak – Woodard Road
82 Red-shouldered Hawk
83 Northern Goshawk – Claryville
84 Purple Finch
85 Long-tailed Duck
86 Field Sparrow
87 White-crowned Sparrow
88 Ring-necked Pheasant
89 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
90 Common Raven
91 Yellow-rumped Warbler
92 Fox Sparrow
93 Harlequin Duck – Point Lookout
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
95 Eastern Towhee
96 Redhead

97 American Coot
98 Swamp Sparrow
99 Brown-headed Cowbird
100 Merlin
101 *# Hoary Redpoll – Hildreth residence, Waterville
102 Barred Owl
February – 35
103 Dunlin
104 Wilson’s Snipe
105 Surf Scoter
106 Green-winged Teal
107 Black Scoter
108 Common Eider
109 Greater Scaup
110 Northern Pintail
111 Red-winged Blackbird
112 Black-bellied Plover
113 Razorbill
114 Red Knot
115 Horned Grebe
116 Common Loon
117 Barrow’s Goldeneye
118 Northern Shrike – Cape Pond
119 Wood Duck
120 Red-necked Grebe – Floyd Bennett Field
121 Monk Parakeet – 2/13 Brooklyn Avenue J
122 King Eider – 2/13 Jamaica Bay
123 Snow Goose
124 Northern Shoveler
125 Great Horned Owl
126 Eastern Screech-Owl
127 Northern Saw-whet Owl – 2/14 Swan Lake
128 Bohemian Waxwing – 2/15 Grahamsville
129 # Long-eared Owl – 2/16 Croton Point
130 Eurasian Wigeon – Near Robert Moses Causeway 2/22
131 Lesser Black-backed Gull – 2/22 Shinnecock
132 Barnacle Goose – 2/22 Grumman Pond, Swan Road, Claverton
133 American Kestrel
134 Greater White-fronted Goose – 2/23 Clove Road, Staten Island
135 # Red Crossbill – 2/28 Bowman Lake Park
136 Ruffed Grouse
March – 23
137 Common Grackle – 3/1
138 Killdeer
139 Tufted Duck – 3/7 Fairhaven State Park
140 Eared Grebe- Wells College, Cayuga Lake
141 Pied-billed Grebe
142 American Oystercatcher – Jones Beach
143 Western Grebe – Wolf Pond State Park, Staten Island 3/9
144 Eastern Phoebe – 3/12
145 Eastern Meadowlark – 3/13
146 Northern Gannet – 3/14
147 Boat-tailed Grackle
148 American Woodcock – 3/14
149 Little Gull – Point Lookout, 2 adults
150 Tree Swallow
151 Rusty Blackbird
152 Osprey
153 Black-crowned Night-Heron
154 Pine Warbler
155 Winter Wren
156 Virginia Rail
157 American Pipit
158 Greater Yellowlegs
159 Blue-winged Teal
April – 25
160 Great Egret
161 Snowy Egret
162 Little Blue Heron
163 Glossy Ibis
164 Chipping Sparrow
165 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
166 American Bittern
167 Palm Warbler
168 Black-and-white Warbler
169 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
170 Warbling Vireo
171 Blue-headed Vireo
172 Eastern Kingbird
173 Sora
174 Barn Swallow
175 Whip-poor-will
176 Chimney Swift
177 Baltimore Oriole
178 Gray Catbird
179 Common Yellowthroat
180 Scarlet Tanager
181 House Wren
182 Yellow Warbler
183 Brown Thrasher
184 Solitary Sandpiper
May – 81
185 Ovenbird
186 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
187 Black-throated Green Warbler
188 American Redstart
189 Northern Parula
190 Blue-winged Warbler
191 Green Heron
192 Blackburnian Warbler
193 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
194 Louisiana Waterthrush
195 Wood thrush
196 Red-eyed Vireo
197 Northern Waterthrush
198 Cerulean Warbler
199 Hooded Warbler
200 Black-throated blue Warbler
201 Magnolia Warbler
202 Yellow-throated Vireo
203 Bank Swallow
204 Bobolink
205 Least Flycatcher
206 Orchard Oriole
207 Great-crested Flycatcher
208 Chestnut-sided Warbler
209 Indigo Bunting
210 Cliff Swallow
211 Nashville Warbler
212 Broad-winged Hawk
213 Wilson’s Warbler
214 Spotted Sandpiper
215 Common Moorhen
216 Veery
217 Willow Flycatcher
218 Purple Martin
219 Upland Sandpiper
220 Worm-eating Warbler
221 Common Nighthawk
222 *# Kentucky Warbler
223 Swainson’s Thrush
224 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
225 Eastern Wood-Pewee
226 Blackpoll Warbler
227 Canada Warbler
228 Prairie Warbler
229 Semipalmated Sandpiper
230 Semipalmated Plover
231 Black-billed Cuckoo
232 Olive-sided Flycatcher
233 Sedge Wren
234 White-eyed Vireo
235 Lesser Yellowlegs
236 Golden-winged Warbler
237 Acadian Flycatcher
238 Wilson’s Storm Petrel
239 # Northern Fulmar
240 *# Pomarine Jaeger
241 # Sooty Shearwater
242 Greater Shearwater
243 Cory’s Shearwater
244 # Manx Shearwater
245 # Leach’s Storm Petrel
246 Common Tern
247 *# Bar-tailed Godwit
248 White-rumped Sandpiper
249 Piping Plover
250 Least Sandpiper
251 Short-billed Dowitcher
252 Forster’s Tern
253 Least Tern
254 Willet
255 Ruddy Turnstone
256 Black Skimmer
257 Laughing Gull
258 Bicknell’s Thrush
259 Alder Flycatcher
260 Clapper Rail
261 Tri-Colored Heron
262 Marsh Wren
263 Least Bittern
264 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
265 # Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow
June – 16
266 Grasshopper Sparrow
267 Roseate Tern
268 # Mourning Warbler
269 Dickcissel
270 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
271 Boreal Chickadee
272 Lincoln’s Sparrow
273 # Black-backed Woodpecker
274 Gray Jay
275 Prothonotary Warbler
276 Caspian Tern
277 Sandhill Crane
278 Black Tern
279 Clay-colored Sparrow
280 Northern Bobwhite
281 Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
July – 6
282 Stilt Sandpiper
283 Pectoral Sandpiper
284 Wilson’s Phalarope
285 # Western Sandpiper
286 American Avocet
287 American White Pelican
August – 10
288 Hudsonian Godwit
289 Gull-billed Tern
290 Royal Tern
291 Marbled Godwit
292 Whimbrel
293 American Golden Plover
294 # Baird’s Sandpiper
295 Buff-breasted Sandpiper
296 Seaside Sparrow
297 Long-billed Dowitcher
September – 6
298 Philadelphia Vireo
299 # Ruff
300 Bay-breasted Warbler Yes!
301 Western Kingbird
302 Red-necked Phalarope
303 *# Cackling Goose
October – 5
304 Purple Gallinule
305 Yellow-throated Warbler
306 Vesper Sparrow
307 Golden Eagle
308 Ross’s Goose
November – 6
309 # Mountain Bluebird
310 Snowy Owl
311 Lapland Longspur
312 Rufous Hummingbird
December – 6
313 California Gull
314 # Ash-throated Flycatcher
315 # Lark Sparrow
316 *# Boreal Owl
317 # Orange-crowned Warbler
318 # Townsend’s Solitaire

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