Trip Reports
Wallkill River NWR (Orange County) — August 26, 2012

Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Bob Slechta, who led the trip and helped us find some great birds, including two NYSYBC lifers! For more information on the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club visit the EAMBC website.

Skinners Lane, photo by Herb Thompson
Skinners Lane, photo by Herb Thompson

As cars began gathering in the parking lot of the abandoned Jolly Onion in Pine Island, the residents must have wondered what was going on. But we young birders were here to see what Pine Island's farmland had to offer us. At 7:45 AM, the young birders and their enduring parents and leaders got out to introduce themselves. As the trip leader, Bob Slechta, arrived to let us know that we would be heading down the road to the unusually named Oil City Road for some golden-plovers. The bin-wielding birders departed as a long caravan. As the cars reached the destination on Skinners Lane, birds began to pop up out of the neighboring fields of mud and sod. Mourning Doves were an unusual sighting due to the fact that there were over 100 of them in a single field. Killdeer were a common bird as many called at the cars as they parked along the dirt road that was in the midst of the fields. It didn't take long to find the three American Golden-Plovers that were there. Pectoral Sandpipers, Savannah Sparrows, and a Northern Harrier also appeared on the scene. After a few tries at approaching the plovers, we left for the famous Liberty Loop trail at Liberty Marsh in Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge.

The first stop was the elevated wooden platform in front of the parking lot to view the vast marshes. Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bobolinks, and a few Mallards were seen swimming, sitting, or flying in or near the marsh. A Great Blue Heron caught a large Bullhead Catfish and left it lying on the shoreline; the catfish was still alive and slipped back into the water after the heron left. We then began a move around the trail to the right. As we passed a small marsh, we noticed a few Solitary Sandpipers and a Great Egret. We then continued down into a bit of forest that was around the trail. We found a good group of American Redstarts, Red-eyed Vireos, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, and an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Later, we found a Philadelphia Vireo as well. We emerged onto the open path on the other side of the forest to see a group of Wilson's Snipe and a Short-billed Dowitcher feeding in the mud of the marshes. We then turned around and reached the parking lot to drive down to another parking lot along the Liberty Loop trail to look for a Black-crowned Night-Heron roost. The herons weren't easy to find but we eventually located three that were roosting in some deciduous trees near the trail. And then we left for lunch at a nearby restaurant, dining on some of the same veggies that were grown at the farms that gave us the good birding that morning.

Nathaniel Hernandez, age 17

                         View photo gallery

List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Michael McBrien & Max Pine

Canada Goose
Mallard
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Golden-Plover *
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper *
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

56 Species Total                           * first sighting of this species on a NYSYBC trip