Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 24 - Quick Rarity Chase

As I had this day off from work I had a little time to look for some recent rarities.  First up was a Northern Shrike in the South Branch WMA.  It took me a few minutes to find the exact road and the abandoned house with the two silos.
However once there, and having walked about 100 paces, I was able to spy the Shrike in the distance atop a Cedar tree.  As I continued to walk in hopes of a better view, the bird flew in a bit closer, and then closer still.
It felt like the bird was curious about my presence, and it finally landed atop a small deciduous tree only about 20-25 yards away, which afforded my some very nice views.  Unfortunately the bird turned it's face as my photo was taken, however the image still allows me to share with you the intent of this blog, which is to share what my eyes see...

click to enlarge

Afterward I made a stop nearer to home to try for the Painted Bunting which had been found by David Blinder about one week earlier.   At the stakeout, I ran into friend Mike S. and we spent some time chatting as we waited for the bunting to appear.
After almost 90 minutes it was time to leave for both of us, and as luck would have it the bird finally appeared, however it was the briefest of views as the bird barely came out of the phragmites and only provided partial views of its unmistakable colors.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December 12 - Long rarity Chase

Today my friends and I finally decided to go see the Prospect Park Painted Buning, affectionately known in Star Wars' jargon as '3PB'.  This bird was first report around December 1st, and was faithful to the area above the skating rink known as the LeFrak Center.  Many newspaper articles and television news shows have has reports about this bird during the month of December.
Here's just one of them Why a Painted Bunting landed in Brooklyn

We arrived just after 7:30 am, and within 15 minutes I located the bird for our group of 4.  Soon there were more than 20 birders, and novices, enjoying the spectacular colors of this bird.

Here's just one of the many lovely images of this beauty:

Click to enlarge
credit: Chun Zhou

A youtube video of the bird & some of it's watchers is found here:

A Painted Bunting in Prospect Park, Brooklyn - YouTube

After looking at a few more regular birds within Prospect Park we decided to head north up toward Greenwich, Connecticut for another recently found rarity.  I ahd last tried for this bird in Connecticut back in 2006, but I had missed it then. This target was located in the area of Cos Cob, and we arrived just after 1 pm and were told the bird had just been seen, however it had flown off.  Thankfully the wait was short as the bird returned a few minutes later.  We all got to enjoy nice looks at this western vagrant known as the Townsend's Solitaire.

credit: Frank Mantlik                                                                      click to enlarge

This bird would sing at times, and moved around quite a bit, but all in the same area so it was in view for quite some time.
I had last seen this species back in June 2008 while in Colorado.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15 - Cape May Day Tripping

We took the long ride down to Cape May today so we could see the rare Cave Swallows which have been in the area for a few days.  Before we arrived a text message was sent out that nearby an Ash-Throated Flycatcher was being seen near the Magnesite Plant, so we made that out first stop.   Instantly we saw a Baltimore Oriole and then the rare Flycatcher.

We then stopped at the Rea Farm Beanery where we saw an Orange-Crowned Warbler and also a Western Kingbird that was expertly spied by friend Jennifer.

Later we saw dozens of the Cave Swallows in flight over the hawkwatch and also sitting on the beach.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 18 - Jones Beach & Orchard Beach

This morning at Jones Beach we saw a few woodpecker species in the Downy, Flicker, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Red-Bellied, and Red-Headed Woodpecker.  We had some latish warblers in Palm, Magnolia, and Yellow-Breasted Chat.

Other goodies were Clay-colored Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Lark Sparrow, and Baltimore Oriole.

At Orchard Beach we checked for Sparrows and I was able to add to my list of New York State Birds in the Nelson's Sparrow !!  

Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Other sparrows we saw were Chipping, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Savannah, and Swamp. We saw three warblers of Common Yellowthroat, Blackpoll Warbler, and a latish Black-Throated Green Warbler.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11 - Sandy Hook Sparrows

Today I made a trip to Sandy Hook to see some sparrows.  My primary target was the Nelson's Sparrow, a species that migrates through the coastal marshes in mid-October and through mid-November.
I had not seen this species last fall so a special trip was in order.  I arrived at Sandy Hook at first light and parked in Lot C to make my way toward Plum Island, which is on the Bay Side. The bay eventually forms the Shrewsbury River.  Immediately I saw several of the Nelson's Sparrows, including a bright orange one that is from the Interior Race of this species, and these birds breed in Central Canada.

Other sparrows seen today were Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-Throated, White-Crowned, and a lone Lincoln's.   Along Raccoon Alley, I had a Philadelphia Vireo and a Blue-Headed Vireo.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September 27 - North Carolina's Outer Banks

Before visiting family in North Carolina I spent a few days in Kitty Hawk, which is located on the Outer Banks.   The first few days had fine weather, but the final 2 days were terribly windy with on-shore winds gusting into the 30-mph range.

On the nice days I was able to do a little bird-watching.  Locally in Kitty Hawk I was able to see a regional specialty in the form of Brown-Headed Nuthatches.   Along the beach were numerous Sandwich Terns, along with other tern species like Royal, and Common.   Surprisingly to me, there were quite a few of the Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the beach.  They were joined by the expected Willets, and Sanderlings.

Click on images to enlarge

My favorite birding on this trip was at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.  This area is located immediately south of the Oregon Inlet.  The birding here was productive.  There were several species of Ducks, and also Shorebirds and Waders.  There were a few dozen of the American Avocet, yet sadly none of the Black-Necked Stilt.  I saw more Tri-colored Herons in this location than I've ever seen before, and the flocks of White Ibis were also in high numbers.   A handful of Marbled Godwits were seen as well.

The  notable shorebird species seen were Piping Plover, Black-Bellied Plover, White-Rumped Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, and Western Sandpiper.   Caspian, Forster's, and Royal Terns were seen here too.

This pic shows one of my favorite moments in life....waiting for the Sunrise !

Here is a shot of Pea Island in the daylight

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15 - Philly Vireo

I made a quick stop at Garret Mountain today and ran into friend Bill E. and the first thing I did was to thank him for telling me about the Connecticut Warbler from yesterday.  A little while later I thanked him again as he spotted a Philly Vireo up near the Tower.
Later at the spot where we had the Chats this past Saturday, I re-found the Philadelphia Vireo and had great long looks at the bird.  Perhaps it was the same one that we saw earlier...

There wasn't much else around so I headed off to work after an hour or so.

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14 - Connecticut Warbler

Earlier today my friend Bill had found a pair of Connecticut Warblers at Garret Mountain in the 'Wet Area' that is at the north end of Barbour's Pond.  
As I've had very good luck in the past with Connecticut's in this spot, specifically after work, I tried for the birds this afternoon.  Almost immediately I was able to get onto one of the birds, and that was a relief since I had missed this species last fall.
A very productive 15-minute stop !!

Credit: Bill Elrick

Click to enlarge

Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 12 - Yellow-Breasted Chats

I had only two hours free today before life's responsibilities had to be taken care of, so I headed over to Garret Mountain in hopes of seasonal target birds like Connecticut Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, or Clay-colored Sparrow.

To my surprise Bill located a Chat, and then we saw a second Chat was there as well.  This is a tough bird to find in Northern NJ, and I had not yet seen this species this year.  The best part was that I had never seen this species at Garret Mountain at all in over 15 years birding here !!

Passaic County Life Bird # 231....

Saturday, September 05, 2015

September 5 - Brigantine specialties

I was happy to have the entire day free today so I made sure that I got to the Wildlife Drive at the Forsythe NWR at first light.

Today's specialties were:
The Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, of which there were 3 seen very well...
The Baird's Sandpiper that we saw at least 2 of...
The American Golden Plover, and two of these were present.

Other species that I enjoyed today were the Saltmarsh Sparrows, as well as the Seaside the end of the day a pair of Marbled Godwits flew in for some good views.
We saw a late-ish Stilt Sandpiper and an early Dunlin, along with numerous White-Rumped Sandpipers, and a few Western Sandpipers.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

August 1 - De Korte Park

This morning I was undecided where to go, and ultimately headed to Richard W De Korte Park in Lyndhurst.  My primary target was Sora, a species that I had not seen well since September 2012.
While at De Korte, I saw the report of an American Avocet being seen at the nearby Saw Mill Creek impoundment and I was able to get very distant views of this bird before returning to my original pursuit.

Walking the Marsh Discovery Trail with friend Karen F. and acquaintance Jonathan R. we did get to see the Common Gallinule (a/k/a Common Moorhen).  Jonathan then spied a Least Bittern in flight that we all saw briefly.

Next we came across Chris T. who advised that the Sora had just been seen. Returning to the main Shorebird Pool that is opposite the parking lot, I was able to see the Sora, and then Jonathan and Karen were able to see this bird as well.

Later the American Avocet flew into the shorebird pool, and we were all able to get very good views of this bird now that it was much, much closer.  Here is a photo taken by Chris T.

click to enlarge

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26 - Forsythe NWR

My friends and I took the 2-hour drive down to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR today.  This place is known locally as Brigantine, although it is not nearby Brigantine Island.

Our expectations were measured because of the reports that the water-level in the impoundments is quite high, all due to the federal officials testing the strength of the berms that were rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.

The impoundments did not offer any good birds, so the birdwatching was done by looking at the tidal channels which are outside of the Wildlife Drive.  Nevertheless, there were nice looking birds to see...starting with adult Blue Grosbeaks along the road to the Gull Pond Tower.  It was a pleasure to see several Whimbrels, although I prefer calling them by their previous name of Hudsonian Curlew.
We saw several species of terns (Forsters, Caspian, Gull-Billed, Least, and a single Royal).

There were many Short-Billed Dowitchers and Semi-Palmated Sandpipers, with a few Least Sandpipers mixed in. We did not spot a Western Sandpiper today, although some have been recently reported.

We did get good looks at Seaside Sparrows, and a couple of the Saltmarsh Sparrows.  A Little Blue Heron was seen too.

Overall an average day at Brigantine.  The next few weeks should bring in some rarities, and these will be followed by large numbers of the common species.  Until next time !

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19 - Marsh Birds

I woke up without plans and quickly decided to look for some marsh birds.  I headed north to Sussex County and the Vernon Marsh.  Here I took the walk along the railroad tracks for about 1 mile.

 Along the way I saw many species of freshwater marshes like the abundant Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrows Red-Winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great-Blue Herons, Gray Catbirds, and Barn Swallows.

Highlights were the 5-6 Least Bitterns that were moving thought the cat-tails, and I also saw a juvenile.  My target bird was heard-only at first but after walking past the spot where the sound came from I caught a glimpse of the Virginia Rail flying across the railroad tracks.  Patience was needed, but it finally paid off as the rail then came out of the grasses for quite a bit and gave me fantastic views for several minutes.   The last time I had seen this species was back in 2007 !!
Here is where I saw the bird.

Later down the tracks the same situation re-occurred, I heard the bird at first and spent 15 minutes waiting for it, I then started walking away and the bird flew across the tracks.  I was also able to see this one but only it's head.
Here is where I stopped walking

I also had a pair of Purple Martins, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, and some other species.

Later at Liberty Loop I heard another Virginia Rail, and also heard a pair of Sora that were calling frequently. However I waited for an hour but the Sora never came out of the marsh for me to view.

July 18 - Mississippi Kite

Today I had to cancel my plans with Bill because my father-in-law had some complications after his surgery of last week, so I had to go down south to the hospital.
After the issues were cleared up I had some time to go another 30 miles south down to Waretown, NJ.  Here a pair of Mississippi Kites have been reported for several weeks.  Fortunately for me at least one of the kites was perched in the tree when I arrived around 12:30.
There I met another birder named Linda who was taking some photos.  After Linda departed the bird took a short flight to catch an insect, so I got to see more than just a perched bird !

Click to enlarge

credit: Linda Woodfield

Afterward a took a brief trip to the Barnegat Division of the Forsythe NWR
Here I saw a Tricolored Heron.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11 - The Grail Bird

During the afternoon of Friday July 10 there were reports out of Jones Beach that a Red Phalarope was being seen in the ponds near the West End's Teddy Roosevelt Nature Center.  Also this bird was reported to be in breeding plumage !
I had seen hundreds of this species while I was out in California in 2010, with some seen from shore & most others seen while on a pelagic birding boat ride.  However I had never seen the beautiful female in breeding plumage.  I called my friends of Andy and Jennifer to setup a meeting time for the next morning.   We got together at their place around 4:45 am in order to be on the beach just after 6:00.
We had excellent views of this bird for about 90 minutes.

 credit: The Mulberry Wing

credit: Issac Grant

Afterwards we drove to nearby Captree Island and had a brief look at the White-Faced Ibis that had been found by Arie Gilbert earlier this year.

Finally we continued farther east to Connetquot State Park for some fine views of the breeding Yellow-Throated Warblers.  This is a separate subspecies from the Yellow-Throated Warblers that I see in southern NewJersey.

After enduring a 30-minute delay on the George Washington Bridge, we finally made it back to New Jersey where a quick stop at the Richard DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands produced two American White Pelicans, and several Least Terns !

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14 - Cupsogue Beach

Our regular group took the ride out east today to the Suffolk County park of Cupsogue Beach.
Here the targets are Terns, which come to roost on the sandbars of the bay.

Immediately one sees the abundant Common Tern, and with little effort the Black Terns are found.  With some more time we begin to see the less likely tern species of Forster's, along with small numbers of the Least Tern.   However the most exciting species of the day is a toss-up between the Arctic Tern(s) and the Sandwich Tern.   Rounding out the 8 tern species seen today were the Caspian and Roseate species.

Here is an image of Caspian Tern and Sandwich Tern.  click to enlarge:

credit: Bill Hubrick

Other highlights today were Piping Plovers, Whimbrel, and Purple Martin.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

June 6 - High Point State Park

I went for a walk in High Point State Park today, specifically on the Kuser Bog trail.  My goal was the elusive Ruffed Grouse, which remained elusive once again.

I did run into friends of Jason D, Lisa R., and Dave L. so we all did have a nice walk together.

The highlights today were  Pileated Woodpecker, Alder Flycatcher, both Cuckoo species, breeding Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, and the breeding warblers of Cerulean, Redstart, Blackburnian, and Canada.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30 - Franklin's Gull at Brooklyn's Plumb Beach

The regular crew got together today for a chase out to Brooklyn's Plumb Beach.  The target was a Franklin's Gull which has been seen here for almost a full week.  Fortunately for us the bird continues today, and we were able to see it right-away upon arriving at the east end of the beach where it meets Gerretsen Creek

I had seen this species before, back in November 2011 at Texas' South Padre Island, however those birds were in basic (winter) plumage.  So seeing today's bird in alternate (breeding) plumage was nice!

These images show the white-wing tips of the Franklin's against the dark-tip of the Laughing Gull

All images credit Sean Sime.  you can see more of his excellent photos here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27 - Little Gull

After work today I headed over to Mill Creek Point Park in Secaucus to try for the Little Gull which has been found earlier in the day by Chris T.  
My patience was tested as upon arriving the bird was not in sight...then lightning immediately began and the skies darkened.  After an intense downpour for 15 minutes I re-emerged from my car, and within moments the Little Gull returned from across the marsh.  I first spotted the gull over by the radio station, which is located in Bergen County and then the bird came into Mill Creek Point Park which is located in Hudson County.

Here are some poor quality images that I digiscoped using my cellphone.

This image captures the black underwing of this species:
click on images to enlarge

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25 - Least Bittern

With only a few hours free on this Memorial Day Holiday, I went to the Richard W. De Korte park in search of the Wilson's Phalarope which had been reported here the past few days.  Unfortunately that bird was not seen by anyone, yet I was able to get fine views of a Least Bittern.
Other species highlights today were Willow Flycatchers, and Black Skimmers.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23 - Ulster/Sullivan County birding

Our group took it's annual pilgrimage to the Ulster County, New York hotspot of Blue Chip Farms this morning.  The target here is the Upland Sandpiper.  We saw 2 birds from Hoagerburgh Road, and then later saw 3 individuals from Bates Lane within the horse paddock.  

Also seen were Grasshopper Sparrow, and a Bank Swallow seen above the pond which is on Old Fort Road (the location of this past winter's Gyrfalcon).

Afterward we headed over to Bashakill Wetlands in Sullivan County.  The target here was marsh birds and we were able to see the Common Gallinule.  Other goodies were Yellow-Throated Vireo on it's nest, Cerulean Warblers, Bald Eagle, and Least Flycatcher.

Finally on the way home I saw a posting of a Red-Necked Phalarope being seen on Orange Lake, which is near Stewart Airport.  We made the slight detour into Orange County and after a short wait I was able to briefly see the Phalarope once it lifted up from the water and took a short flight.
You can read more about this bird and view a distant photograph on John Hass's Blog

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17 - Local Breeders

As I have seen most of the migrating Wood-Warblers at the hot spot of Garret Mountain my attention now turns to finding the species I have not seen.  Fortunately several of these species are still 'local' because they can be found within a one-hour drive to some spots in New York's counties of Rockland & Orange.

First up today was Rockland's "Doodletown" which is located just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge.
Here we saw the glorious Cerulean Warbler in very good numbers, which means we see several of them and that includes both sexes.  Another specialty of this place is the Kentucky Warbler, which has been seen here annually since 2009.  Before then I had to go at least 2 hours south into New Jersey to see this species.  Also seen here today was Olive-Sided Flycatcher, another migrant.  The breeders seem were Louisiana Waterthrush, Worm-Eating Warbler, Blue-Winged Warbler, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

Next was a visit to Orange County's Sterling Forest, specifically the Ironwood Road section.  Here the target is the ever declining Golden-Winged Warbler and we were able to see one of the males today.

Finally back in New Jersey we stopped in Bergen County at the Mahwah park known as 'Mary Patrick'.  This Water Company property is open to the public and here we were able to see the Mourning Warbler, thanks to help from Doug M. who kindly showed us the spot where he had seen it earlier afte rit was reported by Rich K.

So today has a good quantity of birds and species, along with the bonus of seeing some of the rarer migrants.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14 - Twenty Warbler day + other goodies

Today was another banner day for migrants up on Garret Mountain.  I tallied 20 wood-warblers, including fantastic and long views of the much sought-after boreal species.
It's pure eye-candy to simultaneously see both the male Cape May Warbler & the male Bay-Breasted Warbler in one binocular view !
I dislike to express such bravado, however I enjoyed the Cape Mays for so long that I finally had to put the bins down as my arms were getting tired.  Enough of the bragging, here is the highlights from today, May 14:
Spotted Sandpiper
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15 - Chuck-will's-Widow in NYC

It was not a taxing day for me today as I finally was able to view the difficult to see species of nightjar known as the Chuck-Will's-widow !
This species gets it's name from the song which it sings at dusk.  Over the past decade I have heard this species a half-dozen times but have never been able to actually see one, until today.
This is New York State Bird # 353 for me.

credit: Jennifer Bishop

Here is another image by Matthew Wills that shows the rufous spots on the end of the wings

click on the image to enlarge.

To see more images, visit Matthew's website at the link below:
credit: Matthew Wills

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12 - Return of Spring & Rarity Chase

Ahhhh, today was the first day that felt like a true 'Spring' day.  There were clear blue skies and temperatures into the mid-60s by afternoon.
I began the morning at the local NJ hotspot of Garret Mountain in Woodland Park (nee West Paterson).  I saw several 'first' birds of the year in Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, and a kettle of 8 Broad-Winged Hawks  Several other good birds were still around such as Fox Sparrows, Rusty Blackbirds, Brown Creepers, both of the Kinglets were seen, as well as, many Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers.  It was a nice morning of bird and good friends in Bill, Carol, and Hank.

Later, I drove up to Montgomery, NY to try my luck at seeing the Crested Caracara which has been seen at Scotty's Golf Course over the past few days.  As luck would have it, this was a drive-up bird.  I saw the bird in flight immediately as I arrived at the parking area and I enjoyed long flight looks at this species.

Here is a picture of the bird taken by friend John Haas:

credit: Bashakill Birder Blog

This species is very rare outside of the southern US, so this was a first New York State Record for me !
New York bird # 352.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

March 7 - Common Redpoll

At last I have a Common Redpoll visiting my home feeders this morning !  For the past few weeks I have been enjoying up to 24 Pine Siskins eating up pounds of nyger seed while I continually looked for one of them to be Red.  The last time I had Redpolls at my home was back in February 2013.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

March 1 - Jones Beach

Our group of 4 took a trip out to Jones Beach this morning in hopes of seeing Common Redpolls, and maybe the over-wintering Northern Goshawk.  We saw neither of these birds, but did see a Northern Saw-Whet Owl.

credit: Bill Elrick

Sunday, February 08, 2015

February 8 -Gyrfalcon

After not having the time to chase this bird yesterday afternoon it was great to learn the falcon was seen today, and much earlier in the day too !    So I made the dash up to Blue Chip Farm, known as being the most reliable spot for Upland Sandpiper in lower NY State, and along the way today I had to pass trough a snow squall.  I kept my spirits up and carried on.
My friends had seen the bird earlier today, and it was nice of them to wait for me to show up on-site before they headed home.  They shared with me where it was seen and told me it had been absent for about 40 minutes.
Fortunately about 10 minutes after they left the remaining birders saw the falcon cruise in for an attempt at the group of ducks that were gathered inside a small open area in the larger, snow-covered paddock area.  If you're a duck it must be pretty scary to have that 3-pounds of raptor chasing after you.
After some fantastic flights the bird perched in a leafless tree about 100-125 yards away.  Fine views were had for 45 minutes until the snow started falling again.  Satisfied I headed home.

Here is one of the spectacular images captured by Karen, the original finder of the bird.

Credit: Karen Maloy Brady

Here is another fine image:

Saturday, February 07, 2015

February 7 - Painted Bunting chase & Black Dirt region

While today wasn't much of a chase since we only had to walk 10 minutes from the parking spot, we did get to see fantastic views of the Painted Bunting which has been visiting a feeder in Andover, New Jersey.  It had been 10 long years since I had last seen this species (that too was in NJ, but near Cape May) so it was really enjoyable to see this splendidly plumaged bird.

Credit: Alyssa Della Fave

After spending an hour or so with the target bird, we headed to the nearby Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority --- a euphemism for the County Landfill.   We went to this sensory-overload location to look for rare winter gulls.  Despite the views & odors we were able to find out targets.   Andy located an Iceland Gull & then another, while Jennifer's sharp eyes spotted a beautiful Glaucous Gull.  An adult Bald Eagle was also seen.

Finally we decided to visit the Black Dirt region of the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge that is situated along the NJ/NY border.
We hoped to see Lapland Longspurs but did not come across any today.  However we enjoyed thoroughly the many individuals of Rough-Legged Hawk that were seen. We saw probably 6-8 of the Light-Morph version of the hawk, and several of the Dark-Morph too.  It's not possible to say which one is more beautiful.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

February 1 - Super Day of Birding

Before today's big football game I decided to head west and look for some winter birds.  My first stop at Alpha's Grasslands only yielded a half-dozen Horned Larks, and none of my other targets of American Pipit and Lapland Longspur.
Realizing I was in the area of another great bird, I went a few more miles west over to Easton, Pennsylvania to visit the home of Arlene Koch.  Here a long-staying Harris' Sparrow has been spending the winter.  I last visited the Koch's around Thanksgiving Day to see the sparrow, which took a few hours to be found.  Today I saw the bird immediately and multiple times with very close views.  
Also seen were a Gambel's subspecies of the White-Crowned Sparrow, along with the regular sparrows of American Tree, Song, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Field, House, and Savannah.
A Ring-Necked Pheasant was seen briefly in the distance after hearing it's call, and a Purple Finch made a visit to the feeders as well.

After this visit I went along the Delaware River just a few miles north of Easton and here I ran into some local PA birders who showed me the female Barrow's Goldeneye that had been found recently.

Returning to NJ, I visited Merrill Creek Reservoir for some wintering ducks and geese.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

January 1 - New Year Birding of Last Year's birds

Today we went out to Long Island, starting at Lido Beach where we saw a couple of hundred Common Eider, along with 5 Harlequin Ducks as the notable species.

We next visited Jones Beach West End but found that to be quiet except for the waterfowl

We then went to see the rarities of Cassin's Kingbird at Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn, and made a stop for the Couch's Kingbird in Manhattan's West Village.

Finally back in New Jersey, we saw a Cackling Goose at the Ramsey Golf Course