This afternoon I made arrangements to see the Dickcissel that has been frequenting a feeding station at a private residence in the Ossining area of Westchester County. The homeowner told me the bird is usually seen early in the afternoon and then between 4:30 and 6:00. I told her I would be there at 4:30 and would text her to let her know I was there.
Ten minutes before I arrived she text me to let me know the bird was there. When I arrived there I found a spot on the side of her house out of the fenced in area to wait for the bird. There were many House Sparrows, Morning Doves and a few Brown-headed Cowbirds present, but no Dickcissel. I introduced myself and after talking for a minute or so she told me “don’t worry the bird will be back”. I watched and waited. While I waited other birds arrived, White-throated Sparrows (2), Dark-eyed Juncos (2), Song Sparrow (1), House Finches (3), American Goldfinch (4) and Carolina Wren (1) among others. But no Dickcissel.
It was now 5:30. One hour and not a hint of the bird. On top of that the wind was gusting to 25-30 MPH at times. The only good sign was that birds continued to move in and out of the feeding area. In the sky a Turkey Vulture flew by, as did a Red-tailed Hawk which flushed some of the birds at the feeders. A Fish Crow calls in the distance…still no Dickcissel. I notice that all this time the homeowner was sitting in her chair on the back porch watching a couple bushes not visible to me in case it showed up there so I wouldn’t miss it. As much as I wanted to see the bird I was to the point I wanted to see it more for her than for me. Then it happened. A lone bird flew in that looked promising. I raised my binoculars to look at the bird in the evergreen behind the feeding station. The Dickcissel had returned, just as promised. I pointed out the bird and I think she was more relieved than I was. Once it arrived it stayed for about the next twenty minutes until I left. A few pictures of the bird are below. Species #179 for my Big Year.
The next bird I travel for will possibly be the Harris’s Sparrow in Albany. It was seen again today so I will probably try for it on Saturday. I don’t expect it to stick around to much longer so its now or never. As always, I’ll keep you posted.
In keeping with my Big Year there are two species I hope I can add to my list in the coming days. After work tomorrow I plan to try for the Dickcissel which has been visiting a feeder at a private residence in Westchester County. I have gotten permission to go to see the bird and with any luck I will. In Albany there is a Harris’s Sparrow present in a park there. It was reported a week or so ago but has been seen the past two days. If it continues to be seen I hope to try for it Saturday morning. This would be a fabulous add to my list. Dickcissel is probably a species I would have other opportunities to find this year, Harris’s Sparrow not so much as it is a very rare visitor to the state. I’ll let you know how I make out.
John Haas text me today to let me know he saw an Osprey near the nesting area in Kiamesha Lake this morning. After work I took a ride to Monticello to see if I could finally find my first Osprey for the year. I stopped first at Kiamesha Lake to see if it was there. It wasn’t, but on the lake itself there were quite a few Common Mergansers, four Ring-necked Ducks and a lone Horned Grebe. I then drove to the nest site down the road but no luck. I was going to drive to the Bashakill WMA but I figured I would pass the nest site at the Apollo Plaza parking lot to check there and sure enough, on top of the nest was the Osprey. Big Year bird #178.
I went to the Bashakill but it was very quiet so I headed home. There is now a Brown Thrasher at the Bashakill (John saw it this morning) and other species shouldn’t be far behind. I’ll keep in touch with John to see what new arrivals show up. There is a Dickcissel coming to a feeder in Westchester at the moment. I believe I will be allowed access, I just have to hope it sticks around long enough for me to see it. I’ll keep you posted of any new sightings. Until then, stay safe, good luck and good birding.
This evening I drove over to Downsville to check the Pepacton Reservoir to see if anything interesting had come in since yesterday. John Haas had told me new arrivals had shown up in Sullivan County today so I was hopeful I could find some new birds as well. While it wasn’t very active, I did still find two new year birds for the county. One was a single Herring Gull among thirty three Ring-billed Gulls. The other species which was new for the year were a couple of Common Loons. One seen from the Pepacton Reservoir dam area and the other about four miles down the reservoir. The one seen away from the dam was the first one I found. While observing this bird it gave it’s “wailing” type call on three different occasions.
To me there is no greater sound in the wild than the call of a Common Loon. On a fishing trip to Maine with my father about 35 years ago I would listen to them calling in the dark night as I lay in bed. It is an eerie, yet beautiful sound, one I will never get tired of hearing. While they don’t breed in our area, every once in a while you will hear one calling. I always find it an unexpected treat when this happens. They are just starting to move through our area on their migration north to their breeding territories in the Adirondacks and points further north. Both of the birds I saw today were in their breeding plumage. If you should be birding near a large body of water in the near future I hope you too are treated to the beautiful calls of the Common Loon.
With the weather still dreary I left my house at 6:45 A.M. and headed toward Hancock. My first stop was the small little nature preserve there. Last year a pair of Virginia Rails raised 2-3 young there. As far as I can tell this was the first confirmed breeding of this species in Delaware County. While there this morning I heard the distinctive “kiddick” call of the male in the small cattail stand there. Apparently he is back to breed again. If you should go to try to hear/see this bird I would ask that you please refrain form trying to call this bird(s) in with playback devices. It is never a good idea, in my opinion, to disturb breeding birds in any way. This is a very rare breeder in the county so please do not disturb them. Most times if you just stand and listen for a while your patience will be rewarded and you will eventually hear them call. A recording I made while this is below.
While at the nature preserve I also saw my first Swamp Sparrow and House Finch of the year for the county. In addition the sight of 46 Turkey Vultures leaving their evening roost was quite a sight!
My stops in Deposit and along the Cannonsville Reservoir were, unfortunately, not productive. I did run into a few Eastern Phoebes in a couple of areas and saw at least five throughout the morning. On Back River Road in Hamden I heard two Eastern Meadowlarks singing in a reliable field, and not to far from there I spotted a hunting male Northern Harrier, always a nice bird to see. In a pond on River Road in Downsville a Snow Goose was a pleasant surprise. It was in the company of six Canada Geese. As with the Cannonsville Reservoir the Pepacton Reservoir was quiet as well.
Any day now I expect the Osprey in Sullivan County to show up at their nests in the Monticello area. Hopefully some other new arrivals show up as well. If I hear of anything I’ll let you know.
I started the day at the Pepacton Reservoir dam overlook area checking the water for ducks and gulls. While I didn’t find any of either, I did hear a Pine Warbler singing from a nearby White Pine. This is my earliest record for the county and is a new year bird for me. Big Year species #176. In addition to the warbler I also saw a Brown Creeper as well as some of the other expected species.
My next stop was the intersection of Route 30 and NYC Road 30A. This is where the DEP facility is. There is a swampy/dry brushy area on both sides of the road here. Many years there is a Brown Thrasher signing on the left hand side of the road once they arrive. I was hoping to hear one but, apparently, they have yet to get here. I walked the road that goes into the DEP area. As far as I can tell walking this road is not an issue until you get to the gated area. This area was very productive this morning as I heard multiple Purple Finches singing from the spruces on the left side of the road. In the fruit trees next to one of the buildings there were a few robins as well as an Eastern Bluebird and my first Eastern Phoebe of the year for Delaware County.
A ride up to the pond on Airport Road in Deposit produced my first Barn Swallow of the year. This was Big Year species #177. As with the Pine Warbler this was my earliest arrival date in the county for this species. There was also two drake Gadwall on the pond and in the field at the end of the road I found my first Fox Sparrow of the year for the county. The last highlight of the morning were the eleven Bonaparte’s Gulls present on the Cannonsville Reservoir. I spotted five, along with two Ring-billed Gulls, near the dam area and a group of six more on the water near the main bridge. All in all it was an enjoyable morning even though the weather was less than ideal.
Tomorrow morning I’ll probably hit the same areas and hope that the overnight weather might put down any birds that try to migrate overnight. It looks like rain again all day tomorrow so we’ll have to wait and see how much I can get out and actively look for birds. One way or another I’ll be out there looking. I’ll let you know how I make out.
With the weekend upon us I’m trying to figure out what to do. This has been a reoccurring theme with me lately. There is nothing extraordinary to run for anywhere and with everything going on these days I’m not really sure I want to travel too far anyway. So once again I think I’ll bird in the Delaware, Sullivan or the Orange County area. There have been a few sightings north of us of Greater Yellowlegs and American Pipits. An early warbler is always a possibility and we are getting closer to the normal arrival dates for species such as Barn Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Vesper Sparrow, Brown Thrasher and Bonaparte’s Gull. Maybe I can run into one of those or an Osprey.
At this time I plan on starting out in either Hancock or Deposit. I’ll just try to see what I can find and enjoy the morning before the rain comes. If I find anything good I’ll post my sightings to the “Real Time Field Notes” portion of this blog. If you get out tomorrow stay safe, and as always, good luck and good birding.