Notable Bird Sightings – Jan. – March 2016

The transition from winter to spring (or directly to summer this year) is underway, and it is an exciting time to be birding in the Hudson Valley. Reports are pouring in daily of new arrivals, but the real story is the waterfowl migration this season.

There are only half a dozen species of ducks, geese, and swans that regularly nest in Dutchess County. To date this February and March however, almost two dozen different kinds of waterfowl have been reported in the area, most of them passing through to breeding grounds up north. The deluge began with the report of a snow goose on the Salt Point Turnpike 1/31 seen by Liz Martens, 4 Gadwall at Coleman Station Road by Jane Rossman on 1/31 and also at Sheffield Hill Rd pond along with Pintails by Carena Pooth 2/1 and 2/7, and some high-flying tundra swans noted by Jim Clinton 2/23. The latter have also been present at Round Pond near Millerton, along with American wigeon. The Hudson River has harbored canvasbacks, common goldeneye, and a rare western species, the Barrow’s Goldeneye near Saugerties last seen 3/8.

Click on any photo to see a larger version. You can scroll right or left to view all.

Hunn’s Lake near Stanfordville has hosted some unusual species, including Greater white-fronted goose 2/5, and a Common Loon seen by Matthew Rymkiewicz 2/28. Also noted around the valley were pintail, pied-billed grebe, green-winged and blue-winged teal, buffleheads, wood ducks, ring-necked and black ducks, and lesser scaup . Of interest, Jane also reported a flyby sandhill crane 3/8, and Russ O’Malley saw two cranes overhead in Fishkill 3/12.

Passerines were not to be completely overlooked, with early migrants including white-crowned, savannah, fox sparrows, and a real surprise Lincoln’s sparrow spotted by Carena Pooth and Herb Thompson near Coleman Station Road. Two yellow-rumped warblers found by Maha Katani at Vassar Farm 2/22 were likely winter holdovers vs. migrants. This species is probably our hardiest warbler, and occasionally is logged on our Christmas Bird count. The two red crossbills seen by Jim Clinton in Clinton Corners (no relation) 2/23 did not linger for further enjoyment by others.

True spring harbingers in my mind, American woodcock, eastern phoebe, tree swallow, eastern towhee, and eastern meadowlark have all been reported already.

The bird of the season however is no doubt the Bullock’s oriole that has been wintering at a feeder in Milton. It would be rare enough for a Baltimore oriole to be found this time of year, but this species is not normally found west of the Mississippi.

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

To get real time updates of these findings, join the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club at watermanbirdclub.org. Better yet, you are welcome to join us at any of our Wednesday morning club walks!

4/6 Millbrook School fields. Meet at Trevor Zoo parking lot on Millbrook School Road off Rt. 44 8:30 am.

4/13 Tymor Forest. Meet at the barns off CR-21 Bruzgul Rd at 8:30 am. Bring your own hot dogs for a roast to follow.

4/20 Dutchess Rail Trail. Meet at new parking lot off Rt. 376 in Hopewell Junction at 8:30am.

4/27 Buttercup West. Meet at parking lot off Rt. 82 (Stissing Mountain Lane and right on Stissing Mountain Rd) north of Stanfordville at 8:30 am.

Alan Peterson, RBA coordinator