Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Clarence Fahnestock SP - 30 June

A very nice morning's hike on a small part of the Appalachian Trail at Clarence Fahnestock SP. First up was a marvelously confiding Worm-eating Warbler just off the trail. Birds were a little hard to spot early on, so I tried randomly pishing to see what would happen. The answer was 'a lot'! Birds appeared out of nowhere, I don't know why pishing is so effective here but it is, much more so than anywhere else I've been. The most reactive species seem to be; Grey Catbird, (which comes immediately if it's within earshot), Eastern Towhee (seem to materialise out of thin air. Came every time), Veery (9), Wood Thrush (1) and warblers in general. Warblers seen included Chestnut-sided (6), Black-throated Blue (4), Ovenbird (7), Prairie (2), American Redstart (5), Black-and-white (8), Common Yellowthroat (1) and Worm-eating (2).

My main target had been flycatchers, but I only found 2 Eastern Pewee. Next time.

Cracking male Chestnut-sided Warbler, my first sighting this year.
Female Chestnut-sided Warbler, with a smaller black moustache, and less chestnut on the flanks
Worm-eating Warbler, reminds me of Aquatic Warbler with that stripey head

Male American Redstart
Red-eyed Vireo...
...showing the red eye.

Male Eastern Towhee...

...and a female

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tricolored Heron at Captree Island - 29th June

Another twitch, this time to Captree Island looking for a White-faced Ibis. No luck, though there were plenty of Glossy Ibis. Several other heron species in the saltmarsh, including Great White Egret Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, a flyover Black-crowned Night Heron and best of all a single Tricolored Heron. It came into the saltmarsh from the east, flying short distances, feeding for a while, then moving on. It is not common at all in New York with only a few records scattered along the southern coast of Long Island this year.

Other birds included several Willets, Greater Yellowlegs, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern and Common Tern.

Tricolored Heron.
Little Blue Heron. At least 6 birds

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blue Grosbeak at Wallkill NWR - 27th June

A quick visit to a new site for me on the New York/ New Jersey border. Bird of the day was undoubtedly a juvenile Blue Grosbeak. Also present were a nice selection of marshland birds including a lovely Green Heron, lots of Indigo Buntings, Common Yellowthroats etc. An Empidonax flycatcher actually sat still long enough for me to get decent pictures, and to experiment with calls it might react too. After some internal debate I've decided it must be Willow Flycatcher.

Green Heron
Lack of eye-ring and moderate primary projection lead me to suspect this is Willow Flycatcher. I tried to identify the bird by seeing if it got excited by a specific call. It responded immediately to calls of Acadian, Willow and Alder Flycatchers. Not helpful, though I suppose it cuts out Least (which has strongest eye-ring, and short primary projection anyway).
The habitat (marsh with scattered low bushes) seemed a little wrong for Acadian (mature lowland forests...larger trees...forest canopy...). That leaves Willow or Alder.

Alder is said to average more olive than Willow...

...and the near total lack of an eye-ring is striking.

Common Yellowthroat

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marshlands Conservancy - 26th June

A nice morning spent trying to catch a glimpse of some of the more skulking birds in my closest birding spot. A Marsh Wren was singing it's head off, but wouldn't budge so I had to give it up after about half an hour. Next time. In the woods lots of all sorts of breeding species abounded including family parties of Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Wood Thrush and Tufted Titmouse.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Wood Thrush
Green Frog

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shawangunk Grasslands - 23rd June

A long-overdue visit to Shawangunk grasslands today. First up were the two local specials, Bobolink and Grasshopper Sparrow. Both were very easy and showed well. The walk around the grassland took about 2 hours, and produced over 100 Bobolink, 5 Grasshopper Sparrows, a dozen or so Eastern Meadowlarks, 2 American Kestrels and many other good birds.

Male Bobolink
Female Bobolink
One of five different Grasshopper Sparrows seen...
...this one showing the white crown stripe.
Lots of Eastern Meadowlarks

Though not so many Savannah Sparrows
Red-winged Blackbird, possibly the most numerous grassland bird today


A few White-tailed Deer in the damper spots.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Red-headed Woodpecker, Muscoot Farm - 22nd Juna

A quick twitch up the road to a spot called Muscoot Farm where a Red-headed Woodpecker has set himself up with a territory. He was dead easy to find, and showed well for the hour or so I was on site. Other birds included Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Eastern Bluebird.

Male Red-headed Woodpecker

Friday, June 12, 2015

Piping Plover at Nickerson Beach - 12th June

My first trip to the famed Nickerson Beach tern colony. Mostly Common Terns and Black Skimmers, a few Piping Plovers also hang on here, and they were very obliging. A few of the scarcer terns have been seen recently, but I only had a single Least Tern and nothing else. This was a flying visit however, and I'll certainly be back soon.

Adult Piping Plover
At least 5 birds at this spot...
The vast majority of the terns on show were Common Terns, nesting in the grassy part of the dunes.
One Least Tern flew over while we were at the plover nests.
Hundreds of Black Skimmers also nesting on the beach

One flyover Common Loon
And to stick to the black-and-white theme, several pairs of American Oystercatcher.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Golden-winged Warbler in Sterling Forest - 7th June

I recently heard of Sterling Forest as a good spot to find Golden-winged Warblers breeding, the closest such area to New York. Good info as the first bird I saw after arriving at the car park was a fabulous male, seemingly tending a nest. Several other warblers were also around, including my FOY Prairie Warbler, as well as Cerulean, Blue-winged, Yellow, Black-and-white and American Redstart. Not as many flycatchers as I had hoped though, only Eastern Kingbird and Great-crested Flycatcher, with Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos as supporting cast. Indigo Buntings were plentiful and obvious, as were singing Field Sparrows. Baltimore Oriole and Scarlet Tanager added a splash of colour

Male Golden-winged Warbler. This bird kept on returning to this bush with a beakful of caterpillars, presumably the nest was hidden inside...

Female Prairie Warbler. I missed these this spring so was pleased to catch up with them today.
Yellow-throated Vireo. Recently unblocked, now easily found. Funny that.
Lots of Indigo Buntings today.