Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New York State Year List

For anyone interested I've added an entry in the "Links" section for my 2005 New York State bird list. It will be updated as I add new species.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Seabirds and grasspipers on Long Island

Shane and I took advantage of the strong southeast winds (and a day off) to check the ocean off of Long Island for seabirds. We also made stops at Pikes Beach in search of Royal Terns and the Riverhead sod farms for American Golden-Plover. It ended up as another 200+ mile day with some excellent results.

We left Brooklyn before first light with some concern for the weather. It drizzled a bit on our way to the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station but never rained enough to chase us home. There was nothing unusual to report on the bay near the station so we drove to parking lot #2 to search for some reported Buff-breasted Sandpipers. In the short grass south of the restrooms we counted, then recounted 8 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. I've never seen so many around NY before this year.

Surf at Robert Moses State Park

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The surf was pounding at Robert Moses and hundreds of terns were diving for small fish that were being nearly forced out of the water by hungry, much larger fish. Several Northern Gannet flew passed, practically skimming the surface of the ocean. Early on we spotted a Cory's Shearwater flying west, fairly close to the shore. Shane called out two "Laughing Gull-like" birds flying towards us from the southeast. They headed towards a large flock of terns feeding close to us. They were clearly jaegers, but which one? One of the jaegers flew by approximately 50 yards away, close enough that it filled my scope's field of view. We shouted out size, shape, impressions and field marks to each other. After studying four field guides we're fairly confident that one bird was a Parasitic Jaeger. We spent about 3 hours scanning the ocean at this location and also tallied a pair of Wilson's Storm-Petrels.

Click here to read about the "Winged Pirate"

Next we drove farther east and to Pikes Beach at Westhampton Dunes. The tide was low and there was a lot of exposed mudflat. There was a nice assortment of shorebirds but, more important, a flock of 14 Royal Terns. We left there and drove to Cupsogue Beach to scan the bay and ocean but didn't spend much time at that location. Turning around, we decided to drive north to the sod farms at Riverhead.

There had been recent reports of golden-plover at the sod farms and, since we were relatively close, we gave it a shot. The farms are loosely contained within a triangle of roads. At first all we spotted was a pair of Black-bellied Plovers. It wasn't until we reached the third side of the triangle that we located a small flock of birds that included three American Golden-Plovers and three Black-bellied Plovers.

I think I need a nap.

Click here to see photos of American Golden-Plovers

- - - - -

Jones Beach; Robert Moses SP; Pikes Beach; Cupsogue; Riverhead Sod Farms, 8/30/2005
-
Common Loon (Jones Beach by Coast Guard Station)
Cory's Shearwater (Robert Moses State Park.)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (2, Robert Moses SP.)
Northern Gannet (Several, Robert Moses SP.)
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Clapper Rail (2. Cupsogue Beach, bay side.)
Black-bellied Plover (Abundant.)
American Golden-Plover (3, sod fields off Doctors Path.)
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover (8-10, Pikes Beach.)
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin (Cupsogue Beach, bay side.)
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (8. Jones Beach lot #2 in front of building.)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Parasitic Jaeger (Robert Moses SP.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Royal Tern (14, Pikes Beach. 1, Cupsogue Beach.)
Common Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern (Several, Robert Moses SP.)
Black Skimmer
Barn Swallow
Eastern Towhee (Jones Beach Coast Guard Station.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dawn at Jamaica Bay

I guess I’ve become a bird-chaser this year. Shane, Sean and I contacted each other as soon as we found out about two “good” birds at the refuge. My schedule was flexible for the day but the other two had limited free time to track down two more check marks towards our 300.

I told my wife that I’d be back for breakfast but I suspect that she took my words with a grain of salt. I was sitting in the dark in front of my building listening to katydids and crickets when Shane drove up. The sun was just rising when we pulled in the parking lot at Jamaica Bay and we were surprised to see a large group of photographers pulling on their waders. I knew the two shorebirds we were looking for were interesting but not THAT interesting. Sean (a photographer) thought that they were a photography class not birders on a quest for shorebirds.

Dawn rainbow over the East Pond

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The first bird that we were looking for was a Red-necked Phalarope. Reports said that it was feeding near bench #7. A 180 degree rainbow framed a coral sky as we walked west along the West Pond trail. The north end of the rainbow seemed to end in the West Pond. We set-up our scopes and began scanning the entire pond. After about 10 minutes of looking I glanced down in time to see the phalarope land in a muddy patch directly in front of us. It began to drizzle so we folded up our tripods and walked back to the car. From there we drove to the parking lot at the base of the Crossbay Bridge and walked back to the East Pond's north access path.

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At 7:00am the tide was falling. Tidal species would be out on the mud-flats in the bay and the East Pond would be fairly quiet. We came looking for Baird's Sandpiper which, according to some material, preferred feeding away from the edge of the water. I hoped that the previously reported birds had read the same material that I did.

I’m a relative novice when it comes to shorebird identification. When I’m with Shane and Sean I’m pretty good at finding birds but they’re excellent at correcting me. I spent hours searching the Internet for photos and information on Baird’s Sandpipers. I stayed up late studying the field guides as I was determined to finally contribute to the group’s quest. On the East Pond I made a few poor ID’s then began concentrating on the grassy areas some distance away from the pond. Then I saw a sandpiper with an overall buffy appearance and a scaly feather pattern on its back. Hey guys...

There were two Baird’s Sandpipers feeding together a short distance south of us. A few minutes later two Buff-breasted Sandpipers strolled passed. What a morning.

It was our most productive day since we began birding together. We all added two new birds for the year and I returned home by breakfast. My wife hadn’t expected me home so soon.

-Click to learn more about shorebird identification-

- - - - -

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 8/28/2005
-
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Gadwall
Green-winged Teal
Osprey
Common Moorhen
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Tern
Black Skimmer
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Willow Flycatcher
Fish Crow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cape May Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Boat-tailed Grackle
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow

Friday, August 26, 2005

Southward Bound Land Birds

White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)

Asters are springing up in the park's woodlands

Shane and I spent a few hours very early today in Prospect Park. We tallied a nice list of land bird migrants including 14 species of wood-warbler. Besides a large number of common species (starlings and robins topping the list) there was a nice variety of birds moving through the area.

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)


It was the first time this “fall” that I’ve observed a significant presence of migrating land birds in Prospect Park. Gray Catbirds and Baltimore Orioles seemed to be just about everywhere. Among the warbler species, American Redstarts were the only individuals seen in abundance. The warbler highlights were a single, male Golden-winged Warbler foraging in a Sweetgum tree at Rick’s Place, two Worm-eating Warblers chasing each other in the underbrush at the same location and a Tennessee Warbler near the stream in the Ravine.

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)


Small flocks of Cedar Waxwings competed with robins for meals in the park’s Black Cherry trees.

As we were walking north through the Midwood forest we heard a familiar, two-note call. It was a high-pitched, rising “tu-wee”. The sound was reminiscent of a shorebird call. Since we were in a wooded habitat it pretty much ruled out any sandpipers or plovers. Shane asked if I knew what it was and I suddenly remembered Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I first heard the call about five years ago. I was in the woods on the Peninsula so I followed the sound until I located the source. I’m not sure what it is about the quality of the sound but, at that time, I thought the caller would be a sandpiper. I was surprised to find a small, olive-backed Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Ever since that day the call of this uncommon empidonax flycatcher sticks in my head.

Chicken mushroom detail (Laetiporus sulphureus )


Empidonax flycatchers are notoriously difficult to separate visually. The most reliable method is to listen to the males calling in the spring. During the fall migration I generally don't even bother trying to identify an empidonax down to species unless he's talking. I have read that some cannot be identified in the hand 100% by experts! Below is the list of our eastern empids with links to more info.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Cicada Killer with prey on my baseball cap


- - - - -

Prospect Park, 8/26/2005
-
Pied-billed Grebe (Upper Pool.)
Double-crested Cormorant (Prospect Lake.)
Green Heron (Upper Pool.)
Wood Duck (4, The Pools.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Ravine.)
American Kestrel (Near Vanderbilt entrance.)
Ring-billed Gull
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Several, including 3 juveniles.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Ravine.)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Calling and sallying in Midwood.)
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher (1, North zoo; 2, Nethermead Arches.)
Eastern Kingbird (Nethermead Arches.)
empidonax sp. (2.)
Warbling Vireo (2.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Several.)
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren (Terrace Bridge.)
Veery (2 or 3.)
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush (Vale of Cashmere.)
Wood Thrush (2 or 3.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing (Several small flocks.)
Blue-winged Warbler (Peninsula.)
Golden-winged Warbler (In Sycamore tree at Rick's Place.)
Tennessee Warbler (Ravine.)
Yellow Warbler (Several.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (3 or 4.)
Magnolia Warbler (Payne Hill.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (A few.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2.)
American Redstart (Abundant.)
Worm-eating Warbler (2, Rick's Place.)
Ovenbird (2, Ravine & near Midwood.)
Northern Waterthrush (3.)
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
Canada Warbler (Several.)
Scarlet Tanager (Terrace Bridge.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Terrace Bridge.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (Common.)
American Goldfinch (Small flock on Butterfly Meadow.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Tree devouring "No Dumping" sign

This tree is in the south end of the Midwood

Some current fruiting plants in Prospect Park

Common Elder berries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Rose hips (unknown species)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Linden fruits

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Highbush-cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

North end of East Pond

(Photo credit - Rob J)

There suddenly seems to be an unusual number of Buff-breasted Sandpiper sightings around New York and Long Island. Shane located one at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge while I was out of town. They are categorized within the shorebirds grouping but are sometimes referred to as “grasspipers” due to their preference for grassy habitats. The one at Jamaica Bay is hanging around the edges of the East Pond. The low water level has allowed the Salt-marsh Fleabane to thrive and create a green and pink carpet around the pond. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper has been foraging within this substitute grassland.

Shane was kind enough to drive out with me so that I could catch up with his and Sean's year list. Just as the last two times we visited the East Pond most of the shorebirds were at the north end. We quickly located the relatively tame long-distance traveler. Occasionally he would disappear into the fleabane but was staying mainly to the northeast section of the pond. For whatever reason he seemed to remain in the company of a single Killdeer.

Salt-marsh Fleabane (Pluchea purpurascens)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Salt-marsh Fleabane-

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Buff-breasted Sandpipers-

- - - - -

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 8/23/2005
-
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Gadwall
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Osprey
Common Moorhen (West Pond.)
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (North east corner of East Pond.)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Boat-tailed Grackle

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

The Catskills and Rhode Island

Spider web with dew

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I just returned from a trip outside of the city. My wife and I spent the week visiting family members first near Windham mountain, in the northern Catskills, then in Barrington on Rhode Island.

Shed snake skin

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I didn’t spend much time birding but it’s almost impossible for me to ignore my natural surroundings. In Windham it seemed as if the land bird migration hadn’t even started. The Tree Swallows that nest around my mother’s property had departed a week earlier but many other locally nesting species were still present. My mother’s two families of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were regularly chasing each other away from each other’s feeders. Flocks of Cedar Waxwings fed on juicy Black Cherries and a few phoebes hawked for dragonflies over the backyard pond. Across the road, in the grassland surrounding the Batavia Kill Reservoir, my wife and I flushed about fifty Bobolinks.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I was also surprised by the number of juvenile birds still present. They were likely second brood birds but we regularly saw young White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, goldfinches, Purple Finches and waxwings being fed by adults.

Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The biggest surprise of our visit upstate was seeing a mink bounding across the backyard. It disappeared into the blackberry brambles that border a small stream.

On Rhode Island we stayed a few days in Barrington but also took a drive south to Tiverton Four Corners to visit some friends on the Skakonnet River. At low tide we walked the beach to Fogland Point. We spotted a small number of migrating shorebirds along the rocky point. Observed species included Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover and Ruddy Turnstone. At the edge of a saltmarsh just east of the point there was a huge gathering of Tree Swallows. The vast majority of the swallows were brown juveniles with only a small percentage of the glossy blue adults present. They reminded me of a school of herrings as the close knit flock alternately soared above then perched within a tangle of beach rose shrubs and pokeweed plants. When they weren’t exercising their wings they perched wing-to-wing on a short stretch of telephone line.

Juvenile Tree Swallows


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Our friend’s house is adjacent to a farmer’s hay field. Late in the afternoon we were relaxing on their deck watching a flock of cowbirds feeding at the edge of the field. Suddenly a Sharp-shinned Hawk appeared out of nowhere and struck at the center of the flock. The birds all scattered and he sat in the grass for a moment before flying off, empty taloned.

- - - - -

Windham, NY & Barrington, RI, 8/15 to 8/21
-
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Bobolink
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow

Black-and-yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Friday, August 12, 2005

250 Miles and Thousands of Shorebirds

Sunrise at Jones Beach Coast Guard station

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The three sleepless birders took another weekday day-trip in search of birds. Our object today was to find some "new" shorebird species. It was a great day with thousands of shorebirds seen.

Somewhere between the Townsend’s Solitaire seen in January and the Swainson’s Warbler in April (both unlikely to be seen in New York) Sean, Shane and I decided that we might be able to observe 300 species of birds in New York State in one year. We probably haven’t been as obsessive and methodical as some birders but it has involved a lot of very early mornings and long days. With the peak of fall shorebird migration closing in we took a road trip to a few great habitats on Long Island and NYC.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We left while it was still dark so that we could arrive at the Jone’s Beach Coast Guard Station at sunrise. There had been a report of a Marbled Godwit at that location. From there we planned to drive east to Shinnecock then turn around and head west to Lido Beach and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The godwit wasn’t present but we did observe a number of Black Terns in the area. As luck would have it, we decided to stop at the coast guard station again on our way home. This time the Marbled Godwit was present on a small island a short distance from the shore. It was feeding in shallow water very close to a family playing on the beach.

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The mussel shoals near the Ponquogue Bridge were loaded with feeding Willets and a few Whimbrels. A quick stop at the recently christened Lido Beach Passive Nature Area didn’t reveal any new birds but it does look very promising. The protected wetland and tidal pools will attract a nice variety of birds. Today we only observed a few mixed flocks of Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and dowitchers.

Cicada a.k.a. Dogday Harvestfly (Tibicen canicularis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info about Cicadas-

Our final stop was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The low water on the East Pond this season seems to have attracted more numbers of shorebirds than I remember from previous years. Last week Shane and I observed a Wilson’s Phalarope here and Sean was hoping he’d be able to relocate it. It took about an hour of looking but, after a passing Peregrine Falcon “reshuffled” the flocks, Sean found it. We had great, long looks of the pale shorebird as it fed in the mud at the edge of the pond. It has an unusual posture when feeding. It cocks it tail and body at a steep angle while keeping its chin close to the ground and bill pointing almost straight forward. It’s almost as if he is stalking the insects on the surface of the mud.

East Pond's sun baked mud

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Mixed shorebirds at JBWR

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Dowitchers and a yellowlegs

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shorebirds panicked by a Peregrine Falcon

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I added two more species towards our goal and ended the day at 259.

Jones Beach, Shinnecock, Lido Beach, JBWR, 8/11/2005
-
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Brant
Red-breasted Merganser
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Phalarope
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern
Black Skimmer
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
empidonax sp.
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Shorebirds at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus palustris)

(Photo credit - Rob J)


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shane and I went to Jamaica Bay early this morning optimistic that last night's front carried with it some shorebird flocks. Tom Burke pulled into the parking lot moments after us and we birded with him for the next 4 hours.

The West Pond seemed a little disappointing as there wasn't much new bird activity. The highlight there was watching a noisy adult and juvenile Gull-billed Tern circling the area.

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Juvenile Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Hudsonian Godwits-

-Click to learn more about Gull-billed Terns-

Across the street, at the south flats of the East Pond, we weren't immediately impressed with the shorebird activity. It seemed pretty slow. John Fritz was with a group at the north end and called Tom to tell him about a Hudsonian Godwit in the area. By the time we reached the Raunt (what is a "Raunt" anyway) the godwit had cooperatively moved to the pilings close to us.

Spooked by a Peregrine Falcon

(Photo credit - Rob J)

When a Peregrine Falcon circled the north end virtual clouds of panicked shorebirds lifted off and scattered in different directions. At that point it became clear that a fairly high number of birds had moved in on last night's weather front.

A bit later John Fritz called with a tip on a Wilson's Phalarope on the opposite side of the pond from us. It obligingly waited for us to trudge to the other side, affording us very good looks.

-Click to learn more about Wilson's Phalarope-

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shane and I left Tom still scanning the birds on the East Pond as we made our way south along the west side of the pond. The water level is unusually low but I still wouldn't recommend walking all the way back to the blind...it gets a bit mucky.

Other noteworthy shorebirds on the East Pond were Solitary Sandpiper, Red Knot, Western Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper.

Thanks Tom for your expertise and John Fritz for the heads up on two very good birds.

Dandelion

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

Thanks, Ron, for the identification
(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 8/6/2005
-
Pied-billed Grebe (2, East Pond.)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Osprey
Peregrine Falcon (Flying over East Pond.)
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper (1, west corner of South Flats.)
Spotted Sandpiper
Hudsonian Godwit (1, Raunt.)
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot (North end of East Pond.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Abundant.)
Western Sandpiper (3 or 4, North end of East Pond.)
Least Sandpiper (Abundant.)
White-rumped Sandpiper (Several, East Pond.)
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher (Abundant.)
Wilson's Phalarope (1, North end of East Pond.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern (1 adult, 1 juvenile.)
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Skimmer
empidonax sp. (West Pond, likely Willow.)
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Northern Waterthrush (2 or 3, around East Pond.)
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, American Crow, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, House Sparrow

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Breakfast Guest

We sat down to eat breakfast this morning and spotted this cute little fellah. He's about 3/4" long. He had built his web a few inches in front of the kitchen window. I couldn't resist the photo op.

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Birding in Upstate New York

The Haze burning off at Bashakill

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We did some birding around upstate New York yesterday. Most of our time was spent at Bashakill WMA in Sullivan County but we also made a quick stop at Blue Chip Farm. On our way home we also stopped at Harriman State Park and hiked the trails around Doodletown.

Bashakill

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Bashakill-

The highlight of the trip was finding a pair of young Barred Owls at Bashakill. We were driving very slowly with the windows opened, listening for birds. Shane stopped when we heard an unfamiliar, high-pitched hissing sound. The two owls were perched in trees right at the edge of the road. We quietly watched them for a moment or two until a noisy, passing pick-up truck flushed them. In addition we tallied eight species of warbler. Warbler watching in early August may seem a little out of sync with the birder’s calendar but, hey, they were there...

Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon ) at Bashakill

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Unidentified Puffballs at Bashakill

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about mushroom basics-

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos ) at Doodletown

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about North American butterflies-

A field of Queen Ann's Lace at Doodletown

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wild Raspberries at Doodletown

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Bashakill (Sullivan county); Blue Chip Farm (Ulster county); Doodletown (Rockland/Orange county), 8/2/2005
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Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Killdeer
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Doodletown.)
Barred Owl (2 juveniles, Bashakill WMA.)
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker (Bashakill WMA.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher (Bashakill WMA.)
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo (Bashakill WMA.)
Red-eyed Vireo
Common Raven (Doodletown.)
Tree Swallow (Bashakill WMA.)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Bashakill WMA.)
Cliff Swallow (Bashakill WMA.)
Barn Swallow (Bashakill WMA.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Bashakill WMA.)
Eastern Bluebird (Blue Chip Farm.)
Veery
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler (Doodletown.)
Yellow Warbler (Bashakill WMA.)
American Redstart (Bashakill WMA, Doodletown.)
Worm-eating Warbler (Doodletown.)
Ovenbird (Bashakill WMA.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (Doodletown.)
Common Yellowthroat (Bashakill WMA.)
Hooded Warbler (Doodletown.)
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting (Bashakill WMA.)
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (Doodletown.)
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope