Thank You!

Maryallison Farley and I at the Eagles Nest Awards Ceremoney. Photo by Karen Miller.

Today I attended a Luncheon at the Eagles Nest in Bloomingburg. It was given by the Mamakating Democratic Committee. I had the distinct honor of being awarded their “Bald Eagle Environmental Award” for my efforts and achievements at the Bashakill. I was nominated by the Basha Kill Area Association for my ongoing support and efforts to enhance the experience of birders visiting the Bashakill wetlands. Maryallison Farley gave an introductory speech on my behalf. It was humbling to have my friends and fellow BKAA members and the committee honor me in this manner. My heart felt thanks to all of you, John

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Gray-cheeked Thrush in my side yard. This is only the second time I’ve had this species here.

I have no real time to bird today, so I was pleased when I awoke to some signs of migration in my yard. Among the usual resident birds were a few migrants. First I heard Blackpoll Warblers singing, and some Red-eyed Vireos. The Great Crested Flycatcher chimed in and it just was too tempting. I started walking around my yard and property when I spotted a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH in my driveway. I followed it around a bit, getting a few poor shots. My drive way has hemlocks lining it, so it is rather dark. As I followed it around, a second Gray-cheeked Thrush flew in from nowhere and landed by the first. Together, they flew up into my apple tree in my side yard. They only sat a minute, when they began fighting. After quite a tussle ending up back down in the yard, one of them flew off. Since they were identical, I’m not sure which one remained, but I continued to take photos. By the time I went in, the bird had been present of well over an hour, and still there. I see that besides the reports I’ve submitted over the last week, many more came in yesterday, so it is a good year for Gray-cheeks!

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Orange County Break 100 Day!

The “Bird of the Count” a third year basic plumaged LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Newburgh Waterfront!

Karen Miller, Matt Zeitler, Jeff Goulding and I participated in Orange County’s “Break 100 Day” from 4pm Friday to 4 p, Saturday 5/20/17. We had a really great time and ended our day with 106 species! There were some really amazing highlights that kept us happy through the day. All members of our team made some great spots and it was a fun time for all. Our best birds of the day were as follows, listed by the first seen to the last. Sora (heard only Six and a Half Station Road), Bay-breasted Warbler (pair Pochuck State Forest), Golden-winged Warbler and KENTUCKY WARBLER (Sterling Forest), LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Newburg Waterfront) and WHITE-EYED VIREO (Hamptonburgh Park). It was really a great day and the Gull Spectacle at the Newburgh Waterfront was the highlight. We had exactly 100 Ring-billed Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls, which we don’t normally get, and an absolutely amazing LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL that I am sure will be a first ever for the count! Thank you Karen, Matt and Jeff for helping to make this a day I will long remember!

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Major flight of Common Nighthawks!

This evening at 6:40 pm I got a call from Lance Verderame. He was at Linear Park listening to the Prothonotary Warbler when a flight of Common Nighthawks began. I headed right down to the Bashakill to see if I could get them there, our best location for viewing this species. By the time Lance had arrived, I had already counted 124 nighthawks! Together we continued the count until 8:30 pm when we reached our total for the evening of 402 Common Nighthawks!! This was a new record for both of us, and a new record for the county! The winds are supposed to continue out of the southwest overnight so the migration results should be good in the morning!

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Another Amazing Day!

Male Orchard Oriole on McDonald Road.

This morning I was up early and at the Bashakill by 5:45 am. I was expecting another big movement of birds and that was what I found, most of yesterdays good birds had moved out! The only new add there this morning was an Alder Flycatcher along the Stop Sign Trail. After two hours of nothing new, I decided to head to McDonald Road to try for some targets there. I it worked out perfectly. Some birds I had missed due to their late arrival had come in. First I found a singing male ORCHARD ORIOLE near the warehouse. They breed at this location each year and the male at least is back. Further down the road, I found my FOS YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO! I was expecting Black-billed which is more common there, but Yellow-billed was just fine. I had spoken to Tom Burke earlier in the morning and he informed me that he and Gail were on their way to Sullivan and we’d keep each other posted of anything good. I ran into them on McDonald Road, and they also saw the Orchard Oriole. I called Scott Baldinger and Karen Miller to let them know and they came over. Ultimately we all got both birds. As we were watching the cuckoo, Tom called to let me know he had a singing PROTHONOTARY WARBLER on the Linear Park trail at the end of the road. We zoomed over and joined them. The bird sang and sang, but did not reveal itself. We waited it out an hour without a glimpse. Maybe it will continue at this spot and we’ll get to see it yet. From there, Karen and I headed to Apollo Plaza to try for shorebirds. 1 Solitary, 2 Killdeer, 14 Least Sandpipers and our FOS LESSER YELLOWLEGS were all seen. The pair of Osprey were at the nest too. Great morning! Thanks Tom and Gail for sharing the Prothonotary with all of us!

One of the Lesser Yellowlegs at the Apollo Plaza.

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Bashakill – The Flycatchers and Thrush are in!

My FOS Gray-cheeked Thrush at Thrush Point on the Nature Trail this morning.

The Bashakill was alive with birds this morning, though the warbler show was still sub par. The big news was that with last nights favorable wind conditions, flycatchers and thrush came in in numbers. I had my FOS EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE in my yard first thing this morning, there would be many more at the Bashakill. Along with the Pewee, WILLOW FLYCATCHERS arrived overnight. Many birders got to see two of them sing along the Stop Sign Trail this morning while more pewees sang uphill from there. Great-crested Flycatchers were in their highest numbers yet. Later, Tom Crepet and Jane Vechione informed me there was an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER at the Hornseshoe Parking Area. I went right over and it was easily seen and heard. Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and Eastern Phoebe all remain numerous. At the Nature Trail, I immediately ran into a group of four Swainson’s Thrush. This was my high count so far this season, but more would follow. I went out to “Thrush Point” and found three more (possibly four) and my FOS GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH! This is always one of my favorites! Wood Thrush and Veery were abundant everywhere this morning as well! I only managed 15 species of warbler this morning with most being the common kinds. Three Blackpoll and five Canada Warbler were the highlights. Other birders reported Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Orchard Oriole and Tennessee Warbler, but I didn’t personally find them. With tonight’s forecast for southwest winds continuing, tomorrow should be another great day!

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Sullivan County Big Day number two!

Male Scarlet Tanager on the Nature Trail

I had no plans for anything special today. I’ve been birding non-stop and decided to sleep in this morning, not getting up until 7 am. I made my way to the Bashakill, not arriving until 9 am. I had already had a good showing of birds in my yard, so I thought it might be a good day. While initially it didn’t seem particularly birdy, things started to fall into place. I almost immediately had a Virginia Rail, a bird we missed over the weekend. Then Swainson’s Thrush, Pied-billed Grebe, and the Eastern Screech-owl showed themselves! We missed all of those over the weekend. As the numbers built up, I was quite pleased with my results. When I stopped for lunch, I had seen 76 species! I decided that I would give a shot at 100 in the afternoon. I completed a circuit tour of the north eastern part of the county, taking the route I thought would be the most productive. As sometimes happens, I missed some birds I thought were sure things, and got some birds I didn’t expect. Highlights of the day for me were two FOS BLACKPOLL WARBLERS, Pine Siskins and a total of four BLACK VULTURES which I don’t often get to see. It was a great day, finally ending this evening with my last bird, American Woodcock, #102! They say we are going to have some major migratory movement over the next two days, lets hope!

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