Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17 - Long Island rarities

This morning frinds Andy, Jen, Bill & I went out east to Long Island.  First stop was Caumsett State Park to try for the Northern Shrike that was reported by John Gluth earlier this week. We did not see the Shrike but did locate a Lark Sparrow.
click to enlarge

Next we went to Herkscher State Park and enjoyed both Red and White-Winged Crossbills, and many Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

The last stop on our way back west was Jones Beach, which recently re-opened partially after Hurricane Sandy.  Here we had both Red and White-Winged Crossbills, and a pair of Cave Swallows all in the West End Lot 2.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 11 - NY Rarities

Today some friends & I went out to Queens' Alley Pond Park to look for the Virginia's Warbler that had been recently found.  Fortune was with us as just after first light the bird was seen by Corey Finger.  He got us on the bird and we enjoyed fine views of this western species. In fact, this is the first NY-State record of this species !

click to enlarge.

Visit Corey's blog for more info & some more of his fine images of this bird.

John Gluth also posted some of his work from yesterday

Our group then heard about the Northern Lapwings being re-located out on the east end of Long Island near Montauk Point. After a brief bit of anxiety over not seeing the birds right away, we were soon rewarded.  These birds were lifers for me, and come in as my #623 ABA species.

After soaking up the Lapwings for a bit we then stopped at nearby Rita's Stables and were able to get views of the female Brewer's Blackbird there.  I have seen this species before both out west and in New Jersey, but this is my first time seeing this bird in NY State and becomes my 339th bird for this State.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10 - Home Birding

I had a late Baltimore Oriole at my feeder this morning & it returned several times, the last being 4:30

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21 - Wood Sandpiper in Rhode Island

Since this rarity continues to show itself well since October 13th, today I went up to Jamestown, RI and was able to get very nice views of the Wood Sandpiper.  This species breeds in wetlands in the sub-arctic areas from the Scotland and across Europe, and Asia. Their migration typically takes them to Africa and into southern Asia, mostly into India.  Here is their global range map.

They also reach extreme western Alaska.

Somehow this individual got extremely lost and was located on the Atlantic Coast.  It is just the 7th known record for this species within the Lower 48 States !
This bird also becomes my 622nd bird seen in the United States.

Here is one image from friend Andrew Baksh:

To see some wonderful pictures of this Rhode Island bird see:
Garry Kessler's images

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 - NJ's first Crested Caracara ?

I made a big detour on my way to work this morning by going out to the town of West Windsor.   What drew me here was the Crested Caracara that has been first reported on Saturday afternoon.  I could not get free on Sunday, so this morning had to do.   I arrived at 8:00 and saw the bird straight away & then it flew up on top of a pole where it stayed about 15 minutes.  Afterwards it took a long circular flight around the field and then went down below a slope and out of sight for me.  On my way back towards work I enjoyed thinking that this may be the first accepted record of this species in New Jersey.  The prevailing logic at this time is that the bird was chased out of it's normal southern range by last week's Hurricane Issac, which had first hit the New Orleans coast and then as a Tropical Storm had traveled up into the Central US.

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Here's a quick digi-scope I managed.

Here are several folks wonderful shots of this rarity

Saturday, September 08, 2012

September 8 - Elegant Tern at Sandy Hook

At last !  After missing this bird on Wednesday while also getting drenched in a 30-minute downpour I was able to see this bird.  It represents the 1st New Jersey record of this species !

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Copyright: Larry Scacchetti

For some more excellent photos, see Larry Scacchetti's website.

Other birds seen here today were dozens of Black Terns, Common Terns, Caspian Tern, and Black Skimmers.  Shorebirds seen were Piping Plovers, Black-Bellied Plovers, Buff-Breasted Sandpipers, and Baird's Sandpiper, a very rare for this site Whimbrel, Stilt Sandpiper.  And I missed the Sandwich Tern that Larry saw !

Sunday, September 02, 2012

September 2 - Salem County Sod Farms

Today my friend Bill E. and I took a long drive to southwestern NJ to visit the Sod Farms there.  At the East Coast Sod Farm, Bill was able to locate our primary target of Buff-Breasted Sandpiper.  I had not seen this species last year, so it was a treat to view this beauty once again. 

At the nearby Featherbed Lane Wildlife Management Area we enjoyed seeing Upland Sandpiper, and several Eastern Meadowlarks

Finally at Johnson Sod Farms we came across a flock of 12 Buffies, and these were at close range offering fantastic views.  Also here were some Pectoral Sandpipers and numerous Black-Bellied Plovers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29 - Rare visitor to Sterling Forest

Birders from the Orange County, NY's  "Mearns Bird Club" spread the word on Saturday that a rare bird was being seen at the Sterling Forest Visitor Center, which is located in Tuxedo Park, NY.   This spot is just over 30 minutes from my house in Northern NJ, so I decided to make a stop here on my way home from work. 
The avian visitors are a pair of Mississippi Kites, a species that can be seen annually in the second half of  May here in the north when their migration overshoots their typical breeding range of the Carolinas. Usually these sightings are in the southern part of New Jersey and last for just a few days.  So to have these birds appear this far north, and as a pair was quite unusual.

Photo/Video Credits: Bill Elrick of  NYNJ Birding Guide

 Here is a short video to help bring this experience to life for you !

Some pics from my friend Stephanie can be seen here
Here is a sample of her work.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24 - NJ Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

I made a quick trip before work today to get a glimpse of the rarity.  This species can appear in NJ in the fall, but a spring record is even more rare.   I was a bit concerned as I drove south through the rain, but luckily for me the skies cleared as I reached the corner of Randolph & Schoolhouse in Franklin Township. 
This is my first sighting of this species in about 4 years and my first-ever in NJ.  The other birders and I were also able to hear it call out quite a few times.

Credit: Unknown

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21 - Garret Mountain & a Big Suprise !

A fine day of birding at Garret Mountain today was topped off when Larry Scacchetti looked up and saw a Swallow-Tailed Kite !   This was just my 3rd ever sighting of this species, so it was exciting to see this rarity well outside of it's normal range.

click to enlarge

Credit: Larry Scacchetti

Saturday, April 07, 2012

April 7 - South Amboy waterfront

Out today with the regulars of Andy, Jen, and Bill.  Our destination was the waterfront in South Amboy for Gulls.  Here we scoured the hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls in search of the reported Little Gull(s).  After high tide passed we finally had fine views of this uncommon Spring migrant.
It had been 5 years since I had seen this species, and my first that was in nearly-full adult plumage.

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Credit: Tommy Boyle

Other gulls seen were Rinug-Billed, Laughing, and of course the Herring and Greater-Blacked Backed.
Several brilliant plumaged Northern Gannets were fishing in the bay, along with a Great Cormorant, Double-Crested Cormorants, Brant, and Osprey.  On the shore were some Boat-Tailed Grackles and a few Killdeer.

Later I stopped on Clinton Road and located a Louisiana Waterthrush on breeding territory & spent a nice calm half-hour watching this bird.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

March 7 - The Mega Rarity

I skipped out on work today and with Bill E. took the almost 4-hour drive up to western New York State's  Lewis County. Our target was the recently discovered rarity known as the Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch.
This montane bird is found in the west/southwest in states like Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The bird we were after is only the 2nd or 3rd-ever record for NY State !

click on the images to enlarge

For great images of the bird, see Corey Finger's shots.

And you can view the local television station's report

Afterwards we headed over to Ferd's Bog but did not come up with any of the boreal specialties of this area. We did see countless Pine Siskins, some Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeprs, and Black-Capped Chickadees.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

March 4 - Orange County birding

Out with Bill E. today to bird the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas.  Our first target was the Barnacle Goose, which is only the second ever time this bird has been seen in Orange County.  Bill found this bird immediately and we enjoyed watching it for a bit.

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We also birded at Oil City Road's viewing platform, and here finally we re-located the Northern Shrike that has been here for a month or more.

At nearby Indian Road, we had a dark morph Rough-Legged Hawk, a pair of Horned Larks, and a Kestrel.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

March 3 - Meadowlands Owl

On this past Thursday evening of March 1, I went to Mahwah's Halifax Park after work to enjoy the American Woodcock courting display flights as they get ready to find mates & nest.

On Saturday the 3rd, I made a brief stop in the area of the Meadowlands Richard DeKorte Park for the Long-eared Owl that has been seen there over the past month or more.  After a brief search I was able to find the owl perched in a tree. It was nice to see this bird again, after having seen it in Texas last November.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26 - Rarities in Connecticut

I was out today with Andy & Jennifer as we ventured back to the Nutmeg State for some rarities.  First up was the Pink-Footed Goose.  Although we did not see the bird at the recent spots, we did come across in at nearby Greenpackers Pond and had nice views of the bird from across this small pond.

Afterwards we headed south toward te coast, first stopping at Konold's Pond.  Here we located the reported Trumpeter Swans, and had some other good birds in Ravens, Ring-Necked Ducks, Bald Eagles.

We continued to the coast stopping in Southport, where we quickly found the Eurasian Wigeon.  The journey continued with a very brief stop at Sherwood Isle Park for the reported Snow Goose, which too was found quickly.

Our last stop was at Stanmford's Cove Island Park (home of November's 2010 Fork-Tailed Flycatcher) and were able to locate the Dickcissel that had been seen there.

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 18-20 - Cape Ann/Gloucester

For President's Weekend my wife & I went up to northeastern Massachusetts for a visit to Cape Ann. This island is composed of the towns of Gloucester & Rockport.  Unfortunately the prevailing winds were from the West & North, which are the wrong directions to bring in seabirds close to shore.  Nevertheless there were good birds to be seen, and in greater numbers than I would see closer to home.

The rarest bird I saw has to be the Spotted Towhee that has been reported for some time now in Rockport.
Other good birds seen were a couple dozen Red-Necked Grebes, a pair of male King Eiders, a male Barrow's Goldeneye, several Black Guillemots & a handful of Iceland Gulls.

I also enjoyed seeing over 100 of the beautiful Harlequin Ducks, Common Eider of which there were too many to count, a few Razorbills, Purple Sandpipers, and some Great Cormorants.

Here's one Common Eider showing off his green neck patch

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 11 - Harris's Sparrow again

I went out to Cabela's in Hamburg, PA with my wife today and was able to squeeze in a quick side-trip to see the Harris's Sparrow again.  Once again luck was good, as we saw the bird within about 10 minutes of arriving.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14 - Pennsylvania rarities

This morning Andy, Jennifer, Bill and I went a couple of hours west into PA looking for the Harris' Sparrow near Kempton.  Good luck was with us as first we found the remote spot this bird has been seen at & then the luck continued when we saw the bird just a few minutes after arriving.  It's always a great day when you get your target immediately, and being able to see it from across the road while sitting in your car is that much better.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

January 8 - Ocean/Monmouth County birding

Out with Bill E. today and we made our first stop at Barnegat Lighthouse.  Here we quickly found a Razorbill in the channel.  Later we saw the expected Harlequin Ducks along with Purple Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, and Dunlin.  We also got quick views of a female King Eider amongst all of the Common Eiders here

Thursday, January 05, 2012

January 5 - Not-so-Common Chaffinch

This morning before work I took the one-hour drive to see the (possibly) mega-vagrant Common Chaffinch that has been reported from a homeowner in Western New Jersey.  Fortunately for me the bird showed & quite well at that, just 5 minutes after I had arrived.

Monday, January 02, 2012

January 2 - Rarities chase to start the year

Well after not getting out over the Christmas weekend, I joined some friends today in search of the recent home-state rarities. First up was a stop at Duke Island Park and after a short wait we were able to spot the Greater White-Fronted Goose and several Cackling Geese.
Next we went for the Somerset Sandhill Cranes, but they did not show for us this morning. So the next stop was in Monmouth County's Thompson Park where after an hour's search we got to enjoy the Ash-Throated Flycather with nice close views.
Afterwards we stopped in at Sandy Hook and picked up a few birds typical of the season, such as both Loons, Long-Tailed Ducks, and White-Winged and Surf Scoters.
The next stop was in Hartshorne Woods where we quickly caught up with the Western Kingbird there and ran into some more friends in Hank B. and Chris T.
Finally we returned to the Somerset spot and met more friends, an dit was Jimmy L. that took us over to Colonial Park for views of an immature Red-Headed Woodpecker.  Returning to Somerset for the third time finally got us looks at the Sandhill Cranes !
Overall a nice start to my 2012 birding & a good day seeing quite a few friends!