Trip Reports
Shawangunk Grasslands NWR area — February 22, 2015

Note: Many thanks to the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club for sponsoring this trip, and to trip leaders Carena Pooth and Herb Thompson.

Sunset at the Grasslands, photo by Carena Pooth
A beautiful sunset at the Grasslands on a pleasant winter day

Our two target birds for the trip were Gyrfalcon and Short-eared Owl. An ugly weather forecast for the weekend of February 15th caused us to move the date out a week.

Unfortunately, most of us saw neither of the two target species, but we added a new life bird to the club's life list -- Rough-legged Hawk, bringing our total since 2008 to 282! There were a good number of Rough-legs at the Grasslands, and everyone got very good looks at them through spotting scopes.

We tallied a total of 26 species, not counting the Gyrfalcon, since it was sighted by only one young birder and it is such a rare species. As is customary in other birding organizaions, we need to have at least one other person co nfirm a rare bird sighting in order to put it on our list. Luckily, 3 young birders and several adults saw the Short-eared Owls at the end of the day, so we were able to include them on our list for the day.

An excursion to Lippincott Road just outside the village of Wallkill gave us a chance to view a mix of ducks on the Wallkill River, including Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Common Goldeneye. At Blue Chip Farms, we saw at least 40 Wild Turkeys at the compost, and also found a good number of Horned Larks. Another notable species, seen while waiting and waiting and waiting for the Gyrfalcon, was Merlin.

This trip gave us all a very pleasant break in the middle of a harsh winter of snow and ice. We all enjoyed birding together on a gloriously sunny and balmy day!

 — Carena Pooth

View photo gallery

List of Birds Seen on this Trip
   by Adrian Burke

Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
Black Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk - NYSYBC lifer!
Short-eared Owl
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch
House Sparrow

Species Total: 26