The Birdcast Forecast for tonight is the highest we’ve had this fall. The entire northeast is in “orange” which means significant migration. The weather forecast is for East-Northeast winds of 4-6 mph throughout the night and into tomorrow. As I’ve mentioned many times, we don’t usually do well on those winds. Lets hope tonight proves that there are alternate experiences waiting to be had under conditions that haven’t proven themselves in the past. Good luck tomorrow!
I devoted my day to birding the Bashakill today. This morning I birded my way around the entire kill, hitting all major areas except the Nature Trail. It continued to be rather quiet. The best I had were a Black-billed Cuckoo and six species of warblers. The warblers were in a mixed species flock on the Stop Sign Trail just before you reach the wooded area before Moosehead Cove. American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia, Black and White, Pine, and Chestnut-sided Warblers were seen, but just a few. At Moosehead Cove I had part of a flock of waders that I had been told about earlier. Four each of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets were still present of the 7 and 8 of each respectively that had been seen. I left for lunch at 12:30, returning at 3:30 to see if anything picked up. I had much of the same, but hadn’t found any warblers for most of the time. At 5:00 pm I decided to go to the DEC parking area on Haven Road one last time. In recent weeks, this has been a hot spot late in the day. I heard birds before I could get out of the car. A mass flock of mixed species were just arriving at the back of the lot and along the road. I believe there were at least 50 birds in this huge flock, but keeping up with them was no easy feat. They were moving so quickly, many went unidentified as they crossed the road and moved along the tree line along the marsh to the back of the bay area on the right. This is what I was able to tally. Black-throated Green 3, Magnolia 6, Pine 5, Chestnut-sided 1, American Redstart 2, Black and White 2, Common Yellowthroat 2, Red-eyed Vireo 8, Yellow-throated Vireo 1, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Chickadees 4, Tufted Titmice 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 2, Pewee 1, Phoebe 1. Several groups of half a dozen birds just took off from the tree tops without any clue as to what they were. There were several intriguing birds that due to light and vegetation I just couldn’t make out what they were. As I watched these birds right over my head, 15 Common Nighthawks flew over! This was the first real fun I’ve had birding in a while. Hopefully its just the tip of the iceberg!
Another crazy day for me today! It was however highlighted with a quick trip to Wallkill River NWR where I met Kathy Ashman, Mary Buskey and Bruce Nott. They were already viewing a group of shorebirds when I arrived. A Pectoral Sandpiper, a flock of Least Sandpipers, and my target bird, BAIRD’S SANDPIPER! It didn’t last long, within five minutes of arriving, two Northern Harriers flushed the shorebirds. At least I had some nice views and a few shots. I then went over to the Winding Waters area where the group had had an Olive-sided Flycatcher earlier. Unfortunately, I was unable to relocate it. I left happy with my sandpiper! Thanks Kathy for keeping us posted about this bird!
Quick Post: Big thanks to Rob Stone and Linda Scrima for finding and alerting us to a duo of Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Missionlands Road today. I will post more later!
Addendum: I was having little luck in Sullivan County this morning, just about to call it quits when I got a call from Linda Scrima informing me that Rob Stone had found two BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in the Black Dirt Region. I headed right down, finding the birds quite easily, exactly where Linda indicated they would be. I spoke with both Bruce Nott and Karen Miller and they met me at the spot. Great views of these cooperative birds. Tom Burke and Gail Benson eventually came and saw the birds as well. We searched a couple of locations, but the only other birds of note were the ongoing pair of Sandhill Cranes at the Pine Island Turf Nursery. From there we went to Beaver Pond on Pine Hill Road. There were lots of birds there, including some shorebirds. One in particular we just couldn’t seem to identify, but I think it ultimately turned out to be a Lesser Yellowlegs. Hopefully others that arrived will get a confirmation on the ID. It was a fun afternoon, finally some good birds and fun birding with my other birding friends. Hopefully, more to come!
I’ve been birding for 27 years. In 2003 I began manning the Summitville Hawk Watch on Fire Tower Road on the Shawangunk Ridge. It was manning this watch that first got me in to paying close attention to the wind direction. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that for our area, any winds that had an easterly component were not good for the hawk migration on our ridge. Subsequently, I realized there was direct correlation to those winds and the lack of passerine migrants in the area as well. Now, 16 years later, this has consistently held true. Just recently, on August 26th, we had really intense east north east winds overnight. This followed a considerable period of southwest winds. I was surprised on the morning of the 26th to find that we had our first decent fallout of shorebirds of the fall season at Morningside Park. I have long held to the belief that birds that experience unfavorable wind conditions for an area choose alternate routes after enough time passes and they want to move. I think that’s what happened on the 26th. Now here we are nearly two weeks later with unfavorable winds for some time now. Migration has been stalled and little has happened here and in neighboring counties. Tonight, and into tomorrow we are once again going to have these intense northeast winds. I can’t help but wonder if this might not bring birds our way….? If not, it will just prolong this period that I for one have never experienced to this extent in my years of birding. Lets keep our fingers crossed for some good movement in the next couple of days.
The Black-billed Cuckoo above feasts on a large furry green caterpillar!
Maybe my timing was a bit better today, or maybe I just lucked into some birds. Whatever it was, I enjoyed a nice morning of birding. I started out at several locations up county. Most were devoid of birds. At Morningside Park, there were still no shorebirds, but I did enjoy the three common waders and the Merlin there. I finally headed down to the Bashakill. I actually had a migrant this morning, a Red-breasted Nuthatch at the Pine Boat Launch. There was also a Great Egret there, but little else. When I reached the Deli Fields, things began to pick up. I didn’t have any birds I would call migrants, but I did have some mixed species foraging flocks that had some birds I hadn’t seen recently. For me the best birds were along the road through the fields at the boat launch end near the first parking area. Here I had a Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, House Wrens, both Cuckoos, two Redstarts, many Pewees and a Phoebe, Song Sparrows and a Common Yellowthroat. That was it for warblers for me today, I found no more. At the Horseshoe Parking area, I ran into another mixed species flock. Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Carolina Wrens and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (only my second definite migrant) were all seen. It was nice to actually have some birds to sort through for a change. Hopefully more of this is to come!
It is with great pleasure that I bring some good news about a shorebird in a year when they have been so scarce for us here in Sullivan County! I just got the update on the Ruddy Turnstone I found at Morningside Park in 2013. This bird as you may recall was banded with a lime green flag with the number 0AH on it. The bird was determined by the bander to be a full adult male of at least two years of age when banded in May 2011. When I found the bird, the banding institute was very pleased as it was the first re-sighting of the bird since it was banded. Since that time, the bird has been re-sighted in ’14, ’16, ’18 and now again this year 2019! The bird was first spotted this spring once again in Mispillion Harbor, Delaware. Sighted on 5/11/19, it remained in the area, reported on most dates through 5/26. That’s quite a long time in that location, and it has done the same many time before. I would really like to figure out how I could get the information that the bird is present when next sighted. I would like to head down to Mispillion Harbor and see it again! That makes this bird a minimum of ten years old! It is interesting to note that the bird has only been re-sighted on spring migration with the exception of my observation on 7/28/13 on its southward fall migration. As I’ve said before, you never know when you go out birding how you might just become part of something bigger than you think!