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.