I am so sad to report here that the Corn Crake was found dead this morning on Long Island. There is no immediate report as to what happened. I will update once I hear more. This is devastating news for the bird and for the hundreds of people still traveling to see it.
Addendum: a necropsy on the Crake revealed it had been most likely hit by a car. Both its legs and pelvis had been broken. It will have a permanent place in the Museum of Natural History. An extremely sad ending to a history making visit.
Last night I decided that if the Corncrake was still being seen on Long Island this morning I would head down to Cedar Beach to try for the bird. I spoke with Curt McDermott who was going down earlier than I and he agreed to update me as to the birds status once he knew it was present. I was nearing the area when Curt called to say it was indeed still present. Thanks Curt! I arrived shortly thereafter and had great views of this very cooperative bird. It was initially 200 feet down the road, but within fifteen minutes worked its way right up to us. Great photo ops! This Mega Rarity hails from Europe, mostly eastern now, as its population in Western Europe has declined drastically. It is a long distance migrant, wintering in Africa. This is the first actually chase able one in my 25 years of birding! There were many birders there enjoying this unprecedented event in New York State. Hopefully the bird will remain for some time as birders will be flocking from all around the nation to see this wonderful bird!
Birders lined up along Ocean Parkway for a glimpse of the Corncrake!
It was a great morning for birding, but not for photos. I birded several locations around the county, some more productive than others. At Morningside Park I was certain the shorebirds had to be gone after a night of intense northwest winds. Not so. In fact this morning there were three Dunlin and two Pectoral Sandpipers, up from the four birds that have been present. The Rondout Reservoir was the hot spot of the morning! I checked the viewing spot from Rt. 55, one mile east of the turn off to the power house. I checked there because the last several trips it was more productive than the power house end of the reservoir. I immediately found many Common Loons, which eventually totaled ten. As I was watching, a grebe surface and then dove again. I was sure it was a Red-necked simply due to its size in comparison with a Common Loon. It was too big to be a Horned, and it definitely wasn’t a Pied-billed. It took some time to relocate, but it was in deed a RED-NECKED GREBE, my first of the fall season. The bird was hard to keep track of due to its constant diving, and I never was able to get a photo. As I watched the loons a while longer, I noticed a loon surface in the distance that I was sure was a RED-THROATED LOON. Almost immediately the bird jumped in the air as a Common Loon attacked it from beneath the water surface. The first loon took off and then landed and dove. I couldn’t relocate it initially. After some time I scanned back into the inlet heading to the power house, and there was the Red-throated Loon again. I followed it all the way to the power house where it dove just below the outflow many times. The sky was a mix of dark and bright with total cloud cover. All this reflected brightly off the water and made photos extremely difficult. Though I managed over two dozen shots of the loon, none were very good at all. I’ve attached a distant, cropped photo for ID purposes. I eventually moved back down along rt. 55 to the county line pull off. Here I noted six WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and a flock of 26 Bufflehead. Once done there, I headed to Swan Lake. Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Common (73) and Hooded (5) Mergansers, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck and the common ducks were all present. Great morning!
The last two days I have traveled the county looking for new arrivals. I hit all the major water bodies and some of the Grassland areas, as well as the Bashakill today. All the water has waterfowl of one type or another. While there were no exceptional birds, there was a nice assortment. Common Loon, American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed Grebe and of course Mallards, Black and Wood Ducks were all seen. The grasslands near Villa Roma had the usual suspects with some Horned Lark and American Pipits the highlight. Back at the Bashakill, I had my FOS Fox Sparrows and American Tree Sparrow. Though hunting has driven out most of the waterfowl, 44 AMERICAN COOT continue off the Birch Trail. Both Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Palm Warbler (Scott Baldinger) continue there as well. The Deli Fields were jumping today with an abundance of Song and Chipping Sparrows, the later now getting late. American Goldfinches and many Eastern Bluebirds continue as well. A dozen Rusty Blackbirds were among the many Red-winged Blackbirds too. A pair of Winter Wrens are quite entertaining. Scott, Karen Miller and I enjoyed a nice morning along the Birch Trail!
For the third straight day, I had some really good birds and a really active morning. I started out again at Morningside Park. This morning there were 6 DUNLIN and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS among the more commonly expected species. From there I went to the Bashakill. It was extremely birdy there and it was immediately clear there had been considerable movement overnight. I had my FOS HORNED LARKS, 7 of them. I also had 3 American Pipits (35 yesterday). Blackbirds have really moved in. While I estimated an approximate 300 Red-winged Blackbirds, I only had about a dozen RUSTY BLACKBIRDS and 4 Common Grackle. A smattering of ducks off the Birch Trail included single Bufflehead and Ring-necked Ducks as well as 5 Green-winged Teal. The highlight of the morning for me was 43 AMERICAN COOT off the Birch Trail! That’s a good number for the Bashakill! Additional passerines that came in included American Robins, Song and White-throated Sparrows and Bluebirds. Three Eastern Phoebes continue as do the two Winter Wrens on the Birch Trail. With northwest winds predicted throughout the night, tomorrow should be a good day. That said, Duck Season starts at the Bashakill again tomorrow at dawn, so take that into consideration when making your plans.
Many of the 43 American Coot just off the Birch Trail at the Bashakill this morning.
For the second day in a row, there has been some decent movement in the county and some nice birds were to be seen. I started at Wanaksink Lake, where I had 41 Ruddy Duck, and one each Common and Hooded Merganser and a Bufflehead. From there I went to Kiamesha Lake, but little was to be seen. I then headed to Morningside Park, where I felt I hit pay dirt with shorebirds! Five DUNLIN, four PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and a single GREATER YELLOWLEGS are all great birds for November for Sullivan County. There were also some Ring-billed Gulls and more common species. From there, I headed to Neversink Reservoir. I immediately spotted a raft of Bufflehead, ten ducks. As I looked to my left out from the dam I spotted two small gulls. Getting the scope on them confirmed they were BONAPARTE’S GULLS! You know how you say to yourself ” I wish they would come closer” they almost immediately did that, flying right over to just below the dam! I spent some time just enjoying there foraging behavior and trying to get some decent shots. I pulled myself away and headed to the Rondout Reservoir. There I had all the commonly expected waterfowl and gulls. I then headed across county to Swan Lake. Here I had Common and Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks and Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe (8) Mallards, Blacks and Wood Ducks. I was pretty pleased with the morning and headed down county. As I traveled east on Rt. 17, a flock of about 150 BRANT flew over the highway in front of me! I was moving and thought they might possibly go to Kiamesha Lake, not far away. I headed over and spotted them overhead. Unfortunately, they never put down. While back at Kiamesha, I added another Pied-billed Grebe and two more Bufflehead for the day! Great birding!
Though a terrible shot, all five Dunlin can be seen here.
The juvenile Bonaparte’s is on the left, adult on the right.
Following several days that included heavy rain at times and high winds, it was a beautiful morning at the Bashakill. One side effect of the storm is the extremely high water. It has displaced the dabbling ducks and few were seen. The bird of the morning was a flock of 30 Brant that flew over Haven Road shortly after 10 am. For a change, there was actually some decent passerine movement after nearly a week of little activity. Highlights of the morning included 6 Rusty Blackbirds, 11 Yellow-rumped Warblers, many Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Robins, Hermit Thrush, 1 Eastern Towhee, five species of sparrows and many Dark-eyed Junco. Two Eastern Phoebes continue as well. I had a total of 33 species, my highest is some time!