With the snow melting and refreezing, it’s become very treacherous to be a hiker. Even two weeks ago, I nearly took a spill on several occasions carrying my equipment. To me, its not worth potentially breaking my equipment, or myself for that matter. That doesn’t mean I’m done sharing photos though!
After checking out the incredibly cool Sandhill Cranes in Ulster Park, I also stopped at Kingston Point Park. My hope was to find some open water for interesting ducks, but other than a few common mergansers in a small spot, no other ducks were seen.
It wasn’t all a bust though at the park, as we got to watch a merlin outmaneuver several crows. The merlin landed very briefly before getting harassed some more, but I was able to snap a shot before the chase began again.
I also stopped briefly at Norrie Point to see 8 total juvenile bald eagles. The overcast day made it impossible to get good looking shots, but the action alone is worth posting a shot.
It’s been a while since I’ve done housekeeping around the blog. After work today, I thought I would update my ‘life list’ to include not only what I’ve seen around here, but also during our trips to Connecticut, Maine and the Dominican Republic.
Here’s the funny thing, while checking my eBird list and my own on the blog, I left one off my total! Sorry about that, Northern Waterthrush, I saw you back in 2010, but you are now included in my total… 196! Four more to 200!
More page updates to come!
If I didn’t get pictures, I wouldn’t have believed it myself.
While my wife and I were on our way to various locations along the Hudson River, I received an unconfirmed report of Sandhill Cranes in the area. It was one of those rare times that I was within 2 miles of the report. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Another report came in giving a street name, so again, we continued our chase. Sure enough, we found a lone photographer (I’m sorry I didn’t get your name!) along the road near a creek. A pair of Sandhill Cranes could be seen right from the road!
We didn’t stay for very long, but I took a ton of photos. This was one of the better ones since the twigs and branches in from of them wreaked havoc on my camera. With eBird stating that I have seen/photographed 194 birds in my life, let’s add one more to make it 195 now.
Trying to keep track of all my unique bird sightings got quite challenging once we vacationed in the Dominican Republic and started traveling to Connecticut. With so many new species in such a short time, I began entering my sightings on the site eBird.org.
As of last night, I finished entering everything I had from 2009 to present day. The totals were both surprising and interesting. Here are just a few interesting facts about my adventures:
- Total species count is currently 194. This includes trips to Maine, Connecticut & the Dominican Republic. So close to 200!
- 151 of those species have either been seen or photographed in Dutchess County, New York alone. With our recent move to Ulster County, I have already logged 68 species here as well. I intend to increase both these numbers in 2014.
- Vassar Farm was my original stomping grounds. To date, I’ve seen or photographed 111 species alone in just this one location!
- Peach Hill Park became my new favorite location after it’s discovery a year or so into my adventures. I’ve spotted a total of 109 species there. This staggering amount moved Peach Hill Park from relative obscurity on eBird to one of the Top 10 bird watching spots in Dutchess County. (Currently tied for 10th place)
- In terms of individuality, I am currently ranked #13 for most birds seen in Dutchess County. Ulster County is much lower at #67.
This has been one of the toughest winters we have faced. Previously, we lived in an apartment and a condo, both of which were shoveled for us. Now that we have our own house, we have to take care of snow.
We got two feet of snow this week and a foot of snow last week, and I have yet to get a snow blower to deal with our long driveway. So, shoveling is currently my only option. I’ve spent over 12 hours shoveling combined, and boy am I tired.
Hopefully there will be less of this going forward and more wildlife photography on the horizon.
On 2/8/14, we made a second trip to the Shawangunk Grasslands. I was hoping that lightning might strike twice with my luck. I got pretty good looks of Northern Harriers last time from one of the blinds last time, so it could happen, right?
Well, it did… but it wasn’t harriers this time, it was owls. Short-eared owls. 8 of them! We hiked out to a different blind this time (with snowshoes, a first!) and they were extremely active for two hours in the middle of the afternoon. At some points, I was able to get multiple owls per shot, which was a real treat.
I have assembled a gallery of my favorite photos of the short-eared owls. Enjoy!
Last weekend, my wife and I went to the Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary in New Paltz. It has several different habitats and sits along the Wallkill River. As with most of the other days this winter, it was pretty cloudy that day. We ended up getting caught out in the middle of a minor storm of sleet, so we had to cut our day short.
Wildlife wise, we saw lots of sparrows and finches. The highlight of the day was a great blue heron that approached us on the trail before turning around and running back towards the frozen water. Not sure why the heron was so curious of our presence, but I’ll take it!
On a side note, I will be reporting my full sighting lists again with the help of the website, ebird.org. The site allows people to report bird sightings, tracks activity by state, county and even individual locations. You can see everything that I saw at Nyquist Harcourt by viewing my checklist. I have also put together a photo gallery for your viewing pleasure.