I headed out this morning with high hopes that the intense northwest winds would bring in some sea ducks and winter finches. None of that happened! What did happen was a very interesting morning of SHOREBIRDS! My first stop was Apollo Plaza. Just on a whim since I haven’t had anything there in quite some time. Today, a beautiful immature PECTORAL SANDPIPER was present, the first there this year! After taking some photos of the bird, I headed to other hot spots…Nothing! I finally arrived at Morningside Park, and it was the stop of the day! I immediately heard some GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and quickly got on them. There were eight immature birds, my highest count this year. As I watched them, some other shorebirds began flying around. I got on them in flight and once they landed, it was an easy ID, DUNLIN! My FOS and year bird for the county. Another shorebird suddenly zoomed through and I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Small, nearly white and very long sharp wings. Once it finally settled, I realized it was a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER! I will have to check, but I think this is the latest date ever in the county. Shortly I spotted another shorebird, aptly enough, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER! Again, this seems like a late date to me. Wow, my second stop and I’m up to five species of shorebirds! I headed right over to the college where I was pretty sure I could add KILLDEER, and I had six of them. Not the morning I was expecting, but a great one non the less! From there I hit many up county areas where I found no one has feeders out yet. I didn’t find anything of note until I was on Claryville Road I spotted a white hawk! I think its a Red-tailed, but can’t be certain.
The northwest winds overnight really did their job! In fact, the movement continued throughout the day today. I started at McDonald Road where the highlight was two PINE SISKINS, my first of the fall. Many Yellow-rumped, Palm and a single Blackpoll Warbler were seen as well as many White-throated, White-crowned, Chipping and Song Sparrows. Also present were a few Purple Finches. From there I went to the Bashakill and it was really jumping. Haven Road was extremely busy! I could see waves of birds coming into the road from out in the marsh, most being Yellow-rumped Warblers. Among them were many Palm Warblers and single Blackpoll and CAPE MAY WARBLERS!(above) The later my latest ever in the county. A Marsh Wren was present with many sparrows including White-throated, White-crowned, Song, Field and a single Savannah Sparrow. On the Birch Trail west of the Main Boat Launch, I had three HERMIT THRUSH (below) and a single GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH! A single Pine Siskin flew over the Main Boat Launch. The Deli Fields were also active with many of the same species, including a single Black-throated Green Warbler. Waterfowl wise, I had my first group of American Wigeon (4) at the Bashakill this fall out from the Duck Blind. It was one of the busiest days I’ve had in a long time and I enjoyed every minute of it! In other news, Ken McDermott had a single EVENING GROSBEAK at his feeders this afternoon just a short time of putting them up for the season! I checked ebird and there was a movement of the species into the state today, them showing up in at least four counties! I’m checking up county tomorrow!
Just like last week, this mornings low ceiling and heavy drizzle made for excellent conditions for goose migration through the valley. I started at McDonald Road where I had lots of birds, mostly sparrows and warblers. I was only there about 15 minutes when a flock of 32 BRANT flew past me! (above) These were my first of the year for the county. A Merlin kept things moving a bit, but I didn’t see it get anything this morning. From there I went to the Bashakill. I spent most of my time at Haven Road and the Birch Trail west of the Main Boat Launch. I stopped at the Deli Fields, but it was quiet there. I was only at Haven Road a short time when a flock of 21 Brant flew by me, heading east (as were the ones on McRd.). There were many Song, Swamp and a few White-throated Sparrows this morning. I had at least 35 Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a few Golden-crowned Kinglets between all my stops. A Marsh Wren on Haven Road on the east side almost to the Orchard was, I believe a new bird. Waterfowl was definitely the show of the day. A second flock of 45 Brant flew over Haven Road at 12:45 pm as Maryallison and I were talking. Also seen were 150 Canada Geese, 13 Mallard, 12 Wood Duck, 1 Blue-winged Teal and 1 Black Duck. About 30 Yellow-rumped Warbler were my only warblers there today, though I did have two Blue-headed Vireos. Great Morning!
Well my prediction wasn’t too bad. Between our three neighboring counties (Orange, Sullivan and Delaware) there was a modest influx of birds on the northwest winds. Delaware County had its FOS Surf Scoter and Vesper Sparrows to name a few, Sullivan County had its FOS Vesper Sparrow and Black Scoters, and Orange County had its FOS Brant as well as some shorebirds. Warblers continue to come through, though really starting to get late for them. For me the best birds were the Black Scoters on Kiamesha Lake today. Though the full sun and cold air made for intense heat waves, between Patrick Dechon and myself we conclusively ID’d them as Blacks. The Deli Fields was the best location for me today with many species seen including three species of warbler and four species of sparrows. Yellow-rumped, Palm and Black-throated Green Warblers (above)were present as well as Field, Song, Swamp, and White-crowned Sparrows (below). Patrick also found the county FOS Pine Siskins on McDonald Road. It was a beautiful day to be out in spite of the chilly start.
The intense northwest winds seemed to initially have little effect last night. Down county was quite quiet. The farther north I went, the more activity I saw. It ended up being a decent morning and hopefully the continuation of these winds overnight will have a lot more birds moving. The highlights of the my day were as follows. On Resnick Road the birds were about the same as yesterday. The flock of AMERICAN PIPITS has now grown to 30, though in those downpours yesterday, there may have been more than I could see. In the Beechwoods area of Delaware Township, I had my FOS VESPER SPARROW (above) on Gabel Road. This bird is usually more common at this time of year and I have usually had several by now. As I was headed out Kaiser Road, I found my first mixed species flock of warblers. There actually only two species, Yellow-rumped (20) and BLACKPOLL WARBLERS (below) (5). Also among them were several Ruby-crowned Kinglets and some nuthatches and titmice. Other than that, the rest of the birds this morning were typical for this time of year. Maybe tomorrow will be more productive.
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!
I returned to the Bashakill this afternoon still hoping to find one of my target birds. I birded Haven Road looking for some more sparrows. I was seeing quite a few Song and Swamp Sparrows and lots of Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. The Marsh Wren was singing and some Great Blue Herons were around. Karen Miller arrived about an hour later and we were walking along Haven when I mentioned the wren singing. She hadn’t seen it today so we went down to have a look. We immediately found it. As we were looking at the bird, Karen spotted a rail type bird. We watched as it moved between the reeds and when we got a good enough look it turned out to be a SORA! This bird is always tough to see at the Bashakill and is heard more often than seen. We had some pretty decent looks, but getting photos was tough. We did manage to get a few identifiable ones though. We put the word out and Scott Baldinger was able to come see the bird as well. You never know what’s waiting around the next corner!