Hudson-Delaware Region: Fall 2021
Shaibal S. Mitra
Robert O. Paxton
Davis, A., S.S. Mitra, R.O. Paxton, and F. Rohrbacher. 2022. Fall 2021: Hudson-Delaware. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-dDk> North American Birds.
Fall 2021 was among the warmest ever for the Hudson-Delaware region: the third warmest for NJ, fourth warmest for NY, and fifth warmest for DE. NJ and DE experienced drier than usual conditions, while NY was wetter than normal. Tropical Storms Fred and Henri brought a few interesting storm birds to the region’s coastal areas, and a late Oct nor’easter delivered Razorbills to Lakes Ontario and Champlain. Southern waders continued their invasion into the region. Other highlights included NY’s first Snowy Plover, as well as a Common Ringed Plover and a Tropical Kingbird, also in NY.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck has expanded its range dramatically in the ABA Area since the 1950s. Considered accidental in the Hudson-Delaware region as recently as ten years ago, this handsome and highly adaptable duck is now a regular spring−fall visitor and has bred. Several continued into the season from summer, including three at Augustine Wildlife Area’s Ashton Tract, New Castle Co, DE 1 Aug (Chris Machulski). Others lingering into the fall included one or two at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co, NY through 8 Aug (Andrew Gaerte), one at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co, NY through 30 Aug (Andrew Baksh), and two at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit, Atlantic Co, NJ through 29 Sep (Bill Elrick, m. ob.). Subsequent reports from NY included one at Myers Point on Seneca Lake, Tompkins Co 15 Aug (Duane Otto, m. ob.), and one at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Suffolk Co 31 Oct (Patricia Orgera, m. ob.). In Kent Co, DE, a flock of ten flew over a yard near Frederica 10 Aug (Aaron Reb) and one was at Bombay Hook NWR 15 Aug (Tim Carney, Ryan Johnson). Also in Kent Co, DE, a flock of as many as 25 continued at the Amalfi Drive retention pond near Smyrna; eight tarried there through 20 Nov (Kenneth Wat) and seven were found at nearby Wheatley’s Pond 21 Nov (Mark Rangan). At least half a dozen juveniles were among the Smyrna flock, indicating that the species may have successfully bred in DE in 2021, although no downy young were documented there, and the photographed juveniles seemed capable of flight. This flock may have originated in escapees (pers. comm., Frank Rohrbacher). Black-bellied Whistling Ducks bred in the region once before, in Sussex Co, DE, in 2019. The species was recently removed from the DE review list.
There were several Ross’s Geese in NY and NJ this season, and just one in DE. Singles were seen in NY at Malone Memorial Recreation Park, Franklin Co 9–28 Oct (Stacy Robinson) and Twin Cedars Environmental Area, Avon, Livingston Co 22–24 Oct (Mike Wasilco, Michelle Gianvecchio). Two were on the Buffalo waterfront, Erie Co, NY 7–27 Nov (Rebecca Pfloeger, m. ob.). Also in NY, one was at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co 8–20 Nov (Ann McMican, m. ob.) and it or another flew over nearby Montezuma WMA, Cayuga Co, NY 20 Nov (Jay McGowan, Livia Santana). In NJ, one was on the Millstone River impoundment in Middlesex Co 30 Oct (fide eBird, ph.), and a flyby was seen from the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May Co 29 Nov (Jerald Reb). The only DE report of the species this season came from Reynolds Pond, Sussex Co 27 Nov (David Fees). Ross’s Goose is rare in the region but has been increasing here for the last 25 years.
Also scarce but increasing in the Hudson-Delaware region are Greater White-fronted Geese. Most of this season’s reports were from NY, where, as is typical, there were clusters of sightings in the central and western parts of the state: at Montezuma NWR and Lake Cayuga in Seneca Co, Iroquois NWR in Orleans Co, and along the Lake Ontario shore in Monroe Co. Elsewhere in NY, the species turned up in the St. Lawrence River Valley in St. Lawrence and Franklin Cos, as well as in east central NY in Greene and Schenectady Cos, and further south in Westchester and Orange Cos. In NJ, one flew by the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May Co 17 Oct (Nick Giordano), and the only others were in Hunterdon Co―one at Spruce Run Reservoir 14 Oct (Steve and Josette Bonamo) and two in Alexandria Township 28 Nov (Pete Kwiatek).
Once exceptional in the ABA Area, Pink-footed Goose now appears regularly from NL to NJ and has been annual in the Hudson-Delaware region in the fall and winter for the last decade, having undergone a population boom in its breeding ranges in Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard. There were a few sightings this season, all from NY: one was at Wappinger Lake, Dutchess Co 26–27 Nov (Debbie van Zyl, Anne Swaim, m. ob.), and in Suffolk Co, one was in Bridgehampton 28 Nov (Ken Feustel, Suzy Feustel) and at nearby Shorts Pond the following day (Shai Mitra, Patricia Lindsay).
A Barnacle Goose at Cobleskill Reservoir, Schoharie Co, NY was early on 6 Oct (David Harrison, Mark Fitzsimmons, m. ob.). One at Sulphur Spring Road and the vicinity 6–8 Nov was only the second ever for Franklin Co, NY (Alan Belford, m. ob.). Elsewhere, singles turned up at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co, NY 19–20 Nov (Jay McGowan, m. ob.), and on the Millstone River Impoundment and Lake Carnegie, Mercer Co, NJ 25–29 Nov (Sarah Rackowski, m. ob.). This species has been increasing in its native range over the last few decades and has been annual in the Hudson-Delaware region for about the last twenty years. Barnacle Geese found here had been considered escaped captives until hunters in Canada reported taking banded geese that originated in Norway and Scotland.
Trumpeter Swans in the region continue to prove the success of captive breeding and reintroduction programs begun in the 1960s, making now-typical appearances in NY around Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River Valley, and Montezuma and Iroquois NWRs. One was further afield at Boland Pond, outside Binghamton, Broome Co, NY 14 Aug−21 Nov (Glenn Wilson, Jim DeVona, m. ob.), and a pair returned to Assunpink WMA, Monmouth Co, NJ 21 Nov+ for the ninth consecutive fall (Bob Dodelson, m. ob.).
An eclipse male Cinnamon Teal was reported from Prime Hook WMA, Sussex Co, DE 8 Sep (Bruce Peterjohn). There are only about a dozen records of this western species from the Hudson-Delaware region.
A “Common” Green-winged Teal was a nice find at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit, Atlantic Co, NJ 31 Oct (Thierry Besancon), and a dozen or more Eurasian Wigeon graced the region’s waterways this fall, as is usual. One of the most noteworthy reports of the latter came from Shark River Inlet, Monmouth Co, NJ, where a drake returned on 30 Nov for the eighth consecutive fall (Benita Fishbein, Sanford Sorkin, Rick Wright).
NJ’s 12th Tufted Duck, an adult hen, turned up at Loantaka Brook Reservation, Morris Co, NJ 22–24 Nov (Chris Neff, m. ob.). Another on Lake Champlain first appeared on the Vermont side but was subsequently found on the NY side at Crown Point State Historic Site and Port Henry, Essex Co 24–30 Nov (Dave Hof, m. ob.). Lake Champlain may be the region’s most frequent host to this attractive Eurasian species.
Some half a dozen King Eiders summered in the region and continued into the fall season. Four were on the Barnegat Inlet, Ocean Co, NJ through 9 Aug, and two remained there through 6 Oct (Steven Weiss). On Staten Island, NY, two lingered at Wolfe’s Pond Park through 23 Aug (Anthony Ciancimino) and another stayed at Midland Beach through 4 Oct (Catherine Barron). The species is casual here in summer−fall and most summertime lingerers are immatures.
Grebes through Rails
Eared Grebe is rare but increasing in the region in fall and winter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most records are from the coast, Great Lakes, and Finger Lakes, although one on the St. Lawrence River was an exception this season. In NY, singles were seen from Ponquogue Bridge, Suffolk Co 13 Oct (Kyle Gage) and on the St. Lawrence River at Richard’s Landing, St. Lawrence Co 24 Oct (Jeff Bolsinger). Also in NY, two reports came from Monroe Co: one flew by Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach SP 30 Oct (Andrew Guthrie, Chris Wood), and one was seen at Irondequoit Bay 10 Nov (Joe Wing, Patricia Martin, m. ob.). In DE, one was at the Cape Henlopen SP Hawk Watch, Sussex Co 11 Nov (Jen Ottinger, Shawn Sullivan, Susan Gruver). Finally, one was on Lake Ontario at Sodus Point, Wayne Co, NY 21 Nov (Jay McGowan).
The region’s only report of Eurasian Collared-Dove this season came from backyard feeders in Wilmington, New Castle Co, DE 15–25 Nov (Doug Fulton). Despite its relatively recent colonization of the southern and western U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, the species only became established in the Hudson-Delaware region in the town of Selbyville, Sussex Co, DE, where it was last reported in fall 2020.
A White-winged Dove turned up in NY at Salt Marsh Nature Center, Marine Park, Kings Co 20 Sep (Heydi Lopes), and in NJ, there were flyovers at Island Beach SP, Ocean Co 31 Oct (Scott Barnes) and Cape May Point SP, Cape May Co 1–2 Nov (Melissa Roach, m. ob.). Reports are rare but increasing as this species undergoes a north- and eastward range expansion in the U.S. and Caribbean.
An early Rufous Hummingbird was in East Quogue, Suffolk Co, NY 5 Aug (fide Eileen Schwinn and Mike Higgiston); like most occurring in the region prior to Nov, it was an adult male. Another adult male Rufous attended feeders near Wilmington, New Castle Co, DE 14–30 Nov (Scott Northey, m. ob.). NJ’s eighth Allen’s Hummingbird, a hatch-year male, was well photographed in Little Egg Harbor, Ocean Co, where it showed up 27–29 Aug in the same yard that hosted the state’s 5th in the fall and winter of 2017–2018 (David Roth, m. ob.). Another Allen’s Hummingbird, this one a hatch-year female, was banded in Newark, New Castle Co, DE, where it was present 11–30 Nov (Diane Freebery, Steve Freebery, m. ob.). DE’s third Calliope Hummingbird was in Wilmington, New Castle Co 23 Oct through the season (Alissa Kegelman, m. ob.). Although overall increasing in the region and throughout the eastern U.S., especially the Southeast, numbers of “western” hummers fluctuate annually depending on weather conditions here and in their usual range. There were fewer Rufous and unidentified Selasphorus hummingbirds this fall than in 2020, and no Black-chinned.
A juvenile Purple Gallinule was at the Meadowlands IBA’s Mill Creek Marsh, Hudson Co, NJ 31 Oct–5 Nov (Michele Louden, m. ob.); this species is a frequent vagrant and about annual in the region, mostly in spring and fall.
The notoriously secretive Yellow Rail is a rare migrant in Hudson-Delaware. This season, one was at Birdsong Meadows Farm, Candor, Tioga Co, NY 8 Oct (Adam Troyer, m. ob.); it or another turned up at nearby Brookside Farm 12 Oct (Micah Kaufman, m. ob.), and in NJ, one was found dead after striking a window in Newark, Essex Co 11 Oct (Calista McRae).
American Avocet is rare but annual in the region outside DE, and one was out of range on the Hudson River at Beacon Waterfront Park in Dutchess Co, NY 11 Aug (Kyle Bardwell, m. ob.). In Cape May Co, NJ, one turned up at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor 19 Oct (Heather McSharry, Mark Abdy), and there were several reports of one elsewhere in the county from Nummy Island south to Cape May Harbor, all on 23 Oct (m. ob.). As many as four continued in Atlantic Co, NJ, at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit, where at least one was present through 22 Oct and there were one to two 2–4 Nov (m. ob.).
NY’s third Common Ringed Plover was photographed and recorded calling at Carl Island Shoal, Sandy Pond Outlet, Oswego Co, NY 13 Sep (Jay McGowan, Drew Weber, Larry Chen). NY’s previous records are from Queens Co (2005) and Suffolk Co (2014); there are none from NJ or DE. Common Ringed Plover is a mostly Eurasian species whose breeding range extends from far eastern Russia to Europe and Greenland, and into the ABA Area in NU and, casually, on AK’s St. Lawrence Island. It has been about annual in NL for the last 15 years. It may be overlooked as a vagrant due to its similarity in appearance to Semipalmated Plover.
A Snowy Plover at Sandy Pond Outlet, Sandy Island Beach SP on Lake Ontario in Oswego Co was a first for NY and the region 13–16 Sep (Sarah Forestiere, Kennedy Sullivan, Matthew Brown, m. ob.). Although the species had not previously appeared in Hudson-Delaware, it had been recorded nearby at Presqu’ile Provincial Park and Amherst Island on the Canada side of Lake Ontario, as well as at Sandy Point, New Haven Co, CT. Snowy Plover is uncommon and declining, especially in the Pacific coast portion of its range, and its western population has been listed as threatened by USFWS.
Several Old World shorebirds turned up in the region this fall. Ruff is annual in Hudson-Delaware spring−fall, and this season’s reports were both from NJ: one was at Reed Recreation Area, Monmouth Co 5–6 Sep (Bob Horton, m. ob.), and another was a flyby at the Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch, Cape May Co 23 Sep (Tom Reed, m. ob.). Both were juveniles. A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was well-described at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE 16 Oct (Bernie Foy, Jim Lenhard); there are three accepted DE records of this Asian vagrant, and only half a dozen from the rest of the region. Finally, a Curlew Sandpiper was at Bombay Hook NWR 5–10 Aug (Bruce Peterjohn, m. ob.); this Siberian Arctic breeder is nearly annual in Hudson-Delaware.
Wilson’s Phalarope is a scarce fall migrant in the region. Multiple reports of one to three individuals took place over the course of the season at the region’s major shorebird waypoints, including Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE; Cape May Co, NJ, from Stone Harbor Point to Cape May Point; Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit, Atlantic Co, NJ; Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens Co, NY; Montezuma NWR, Seneca and Wayne Cos, NY; and Braddock Bay SP, Monroe Co, NY. Others occurred singly in Onondaga Co, NY; Chautauqua Co, NY; Burlington Co, NJ; Suffolk Co, NY; Bergen Co, NJ; and Monroe Co, NY.
Red-necked and Red phalaropes are commonly seen offshore in migration but rare on land in Hudson-Delaware. One to three Red-necked Phalaropes were seen at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Area, Queens Co, NY throughout the season, and a string of sightings occurred along Lake Ontario, in the Finger Lakes region, and on Lake Champlain. Elsewhere, Red-necked Phalaropes turned up onshore in Bergen Co, NJ; Suffolk Co, NY; Warren Co, NY; Atlantic Co, NJ; Middlesex Co, NJ; and Kings Co, NY. Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ hosted two Red Phalaropes this season, one on 25 Sep (Jeff Ellerbusch and Maria Loukeris) and another 28 Sep (Matt Sabatine). Another Red Phalarope was seen on the shore of Lake Ontario in Monroe Co, NY 17 Oct (Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Katelyn Barry).
Jaegers through Terns
Single Pomarine Jaegers were noteworthy when reported from shore at Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, Sussex Co, DE 24 Sep and 22 Oct (both Jen Ottinger, Bruce Peterjohn, m. ob.). One flew past the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May Co, NJ 21 Oct (Nick Giordano). A Long-tailed Jaeger was seen from shore at Jacob Riis Park, Queens Co, NY 23 Aug (Doug Gochfeld) during Tropical Storm Henri. The only species of jaeger commonly seen from shore in the region is Parasitic.
Razorbills were widespread on Lakes Ontario and Champlain following a late Oct nor’easter. The species was reported from the NY shore of Lake Ontario at Fort Niagara SP, Niagara Co 30 Oct (Greg Lawrence, Josh Ketry) and 28–29 Nov (Joel Strong, m. ob.); Krull County Park, Niagara Co 30 Oct (Joel Strong, Willie D’Anna); Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe Co 30–31 Oct (Chris Wood, m. ob.) and 3 Nov (Andrew Guthrie); Braddock Bay East Spit, Monroe Co 30 Oct (Chris Wood); Putneyville Harbor, Wayne Co 31 Oct (Michelle Gianvecchio); Sodus Point, Sodus Bay, Wayne Co 30 Oct (Jay McGowan, m. ob.); Wolcott, Wayne Co 30 Oct (Wade Rowley, Melissa Rowley); and Derby Hill Hawk Watch, Oswego Co 30 Oct (Drew Weber, m. ob.). On Lake Champlain in NY waters, reports came from Port Henry, Essex Co 9 Nov (Michael Blust, Stacy Robinson) and 15 Nov (Ron Bussian), as well as from Washington Co at Bob and Betty Cummings Memorial Park (Don Pierce) and Clemons Marsh (Stacy Robinson), both 18 Nov. There are few records in the region away from the Atlantic coast.
A juvenile Sabine’s Gull flew by the Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch 9 Oct (Tom Reed); there are about 20 previous records for NJ. In NY, an adult Sabine’s Gull was on the Niagara River at Great Lakes Center Field Station, Buffalo, Erie Co 24 Sep (Alec Humann, m. ob.); a juvenile was in the Geneva area on Seneca Lake, Seneca Co 24–28 Sep (Tim Lenz, m. ob.); and five juveniles were on Onondaga Lake, Onondaga Co 15 Sep (Drew Weber, m. ob.). Most of the region’s records of this rare migrant come from the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, and Lake Champlain.
A Black-headed Gull continued around Manasquan Inlet in Ocean and Monmouth Cos, NJ through 15 Nov (Johnny Votta, m. ob.). Also in NJ, one was at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, Cape May Co 1 Oct (Stephen Kerr). In NY, a flyby was at Fort Tilden, Queens Co 19 Nov (Doug Gochfeld), and another was at Plumb Beach, Kings Co 24 Nov (Dennis Hrehowsik, Roberta Manian). This primarily European species established a breeding colony in the ABA Area in NL in 1977 and is a rare migrant and winterer in the Hudson-Delaware region.
A handful of Laughing Gulls were found well away from the Atlantic coast in central NY this season, several of them appearing after Tropical Storm Fred. Two juveniles were at Upper Lisle County Park and Dorchester Park, Broome Co, NY 19 Aug–15 Sep (David Nicosia, m. ob.) and another two were at Myers Point, Cayuga Lake, Tompkins Co, NY 19–21 Aug. Also in Tompkins Co, NY, one flew over Monkey Run 23 Aug (Chris Wood, Jessie Barry) and one appeared further south on the shore of Cayuga Lake at Allan H. Treman Marine SP and Stewart Park 26 Aug (John Garrett, m. ob.). One was at Onondaga Lake, Onondaga Co, NY 15 Sep–15 Oct (Drew Weber, m. ob.).
Single Franklin’s Gulls occurred in north NJ at Spruce Run Reservoir, Hunterdon Co 28 Aug (Jeff Ellerbusch) and at Richard W. DeKorte Park, Bergen Co 21 Sep (Milton Collins). Others turned up at two of the region’s hawk watches: at Derby Hill, Oswego Co, NY 17 Oct (David Wheeler, m. ob.) and at Cape May Point SP, Cape May Co, NJ 20 Nov (Jesse Amesbury). Not a “sea gull,” Franklin’s Gull usually inhabits the prairie West and is a very rare migrant on both the East and West coasts.
Single Bridled Terns were reported far offshore in NY and NJ waters: in Suffolk Co, NY waters 7 Aug (Angus Wilson); in Atlantic Co, NJ waters 14 Aug (Tom Johnson); and in Suffolk Co, NY waters 27 Aug (Amy Davis, Chris Thomas, Andrew Marden, Mike Turso, Steven Weiss, Bill Scullion). Once thought very rare in the region, it is now expected in warm water far offshore in migration.
A Sandwich Tern at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co 23 Aug (Tom Boyle) was the northernmost to appear in the Hudson-Delaware region this season. A smattering of reports also came from Cape May Co, NJ and Sussex Co, DE. Sandwich Tern is annual and increasing in the region, where it can be found late spring through early fall.
Tropicbirds through Pelicans
A White-tailed Tropicbird was photographed from a NOAA research vessel well offshore in Suffolk Co, NY waters 17 Aug (Felipe Triana, Tom Johnson). There are about ten previous records from NY, three from NJ, and one from DE; most pertain to storm waifs. White-tailed Tropicbird has a pantropical range and is regularly seen as close to our area as the waters off Cape Hatteras, NC.
Some ten reports of single flyby Pacific Loons came from Cape May Co, NJ in Oct–Nov, from Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May Point, and the Avalon Seawatch. Also in NJ, one was at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co 24–25 Oct (Jeff Ellerbusch, Bob Auster, m. ob.). In NY, single flybys were reported on Lake Ontario at Hamlin Beach SP, Monroe Co (Chris Wood, Michelle Gianvecchio, Andrew Guthrie) and at Sodus Point, Wayne Co (Jay McGowan, Livia Santana, Tim Lenz), both post nor’easter on 30 Oct. One on Manasquan Inlet, Monmouth/Ocean Cos, NJ 7 Nov (Simon Lane, Priscilla Petitti, Chelsea Hockenbury, Doug Hockenbury, m. ob.) was a little more accommodating than all the flybys, as was one on Cayuga Lake, Seneca Co, NY 25 Nov (Tim Lenz, m. ob.). Records of Pacific Loon have been increasing, possibly in part due to birders’ increased ability to detect it. It is about annual in fall and winter, most often occurring on the coast from NJ’s Manasquan Inlet north, as well as on the Great Lakes and Cayuga Lake. There are only two accepted records from DE.
Offshore Suffolk, Co NY waters hosted the region’s only White-faced Storm-Petrels this season, and all were reported by researchers aboard a NOAA ship: one on 17 Aug (Felipe Triana, Tom Johnson) and two on 20 Aug (Tom Johnson); another on 16 Oct was late (Tom Johnson). The species is rare offshore in fall.
A Northern Fulmar was a remarkable sight from shore at Robert Moses SP, Suffolk Co, NY 29 Oct (Shaibal Mitra) following a powerful nor’easter. This pelagic species occurs offshore in fall−winter in Hudson-Delaware.
Wood Storks staged a northward invasion this summer which persisted into the fall season. One stayed at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co, NY through 17 Aug (Dominic Sherony, Michael Tetlow), and another lingered on Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY through 9 Aug when it was found dead―a necropsy revealed it had choked on a large piece of garbage (José Ramírez-Garofalo). Also in NY, one turned up in Ghent, Columbia Co 4–7 Aug (Laura Sager, m. ob.). One was seen mostly in flight at several locations south of the canal in Cape May Co, NJ 19–20 Sep (Mike Turso, m. ob.). Another was at Bald Eagle Creek Marina, Orleans Co, NY 11 Oct (Jacob Bensley, m. ob.). This species is casual in the summer and fall.
A Magnificent Frigatebird was a surprise at Muskrat Bay, Oneida Lake, Onondaga Co, NY 27 Sep (Mark Fitzsimmons, Paul Novak); the species is rare but increasing in the region late spring−fall.
Reports of Brown Booby have surged in the Hudson-Delaware region over the last decade. One photographed at Esopus Meadows Lighthouse Park on the Hudson River in Ulster Co, NY 11 Aug (Jim Yates) represented an unusual inland occurrence. More typical sightings were documented by NOAA researchers offshore in Suffolk Co, NY 6 and 8 Aug (Allison Black, Doug Gochfeld); in Ocean Co, NJ 16 Aug (Tom Johnson); and 15 miles offshore in Atlantic Co, NJ 5 Oct (Michelle Klein fide Tom Johnson). Another was reported from Jacob Riis Park, Queens Co, NY 23 Aug (Doug Gochfeld) after the passage of Tropical Storm Henri. An incredible three were discovered on the Newark Bay in Union Co, NJ 24 Aug (David Bernstein, Chris Takacs), and were later seen in Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Cos. Another turned up on the Arthur Kill in both NY and NJ waters, and was observed from the Charleston waterfront on Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY, as well as from Alvin P. Williams Park, Middlesex Co, NJ 11–19 Sep (Dana Barbato, m. ob.). Sea watchers tallied one at the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May Co, NJ on 4 Oct (Jerald Reb) and 6 and 21 Oct (both Nick Giordano). Finally, some half a dozen sightings were reported from Suffolk Co, NY this season, both from shore and just offshore. This species may be expanding its range northward as waters gradually warm.
An Anhinga was seen over Cape Island, Cape May Co, NJ, soaring around West Cape May and Cape May Point 21–23 Oct (George Eschenbach, m. ob.). NJ boasts about two dozen accepted records of Anhinga, while there are four from NY and only one from DE.
A flock of 16 American White Pelicans kettled over Prime Hook NWR’s Broadkill Marsh, Kent Co, DE 30 Oct (David Fees). Singles were found at Richard W. DeKorte Park, Bergen Co, NJ 11–12 Sep (John Coyle, m. ob.) and near the Mohawk River in Amsterdam and Canajoharie, Montgomery Co, NY 28–30 Aug (Paul Rodewald, Ken Rosenberg, m. ob.). Sightings have been increasing as the species undergoes range expansion.
Egrets through Hawks
A Little Egret continued at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE through 28 Sep (Ryan Douglas); the state boasts half a dozen records of this formerly Old World species, all since 1999. NJ and NY have one record each, from 2017 and 2015 respectively. Little Egret now inhabits the Caribbean, where it has bred on Barbados since 1994 and on Antigua since 2008; more records in the Hudson-Delaware region are to be expected.
There was an influx of Cattle Egrets into the region late this fall. Widespread reports in Nov often pertained to small flocks and included a couple from as far north as the Fort Drum and Plattsburgh areas of NY. Since colonizing the Hudson-Delaware region, along with the southern U.S. in the 1950s, the species has waxed and waned in numbers here and mostly disappeared as a breeder north of DE, although it is still common further south. This influx follows that of several other southern waders in 2021.
Rare just a decade ago, White Ibis has increased dramatically in the region and was first discovered breeding here in 2020, in Cape May Co, NJ. This season’s northernmost records included one at Camel Farm, Orange Co, NY 18 Oct (Jeanne Cimorelli, m. ob.) and another at Commerce Road wetlands, Essex Co, NJ 20 Oct (Roger Johnson). Noteworthy high counts in Sussex Co, DE, were 165 at Oyster Rocks Rd. on 2 Aug (Susan Gruver) and 269 at Cape Henlopen SP’s Gordon Pond 5 Oct (Margaret and Roger Higbee); and in Cape May Co, NJ, the Ocean City Welcome Center hosted 138 on 20 Aug (Steve Sobocinski). White Ibis was confirmed breeding at the latter location in 2021 for the second consecutive year.
A White-faced Ibis was at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE 5 and 17 Aug (Aidan Griffiths, Carole Griffiths, Jack Bruce); another was continuing at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit, Atlantic Co, NJ on 14 Aug (Angus Wilson) and 4–17 Oct (Johnny Votta, m. ob.). Reports of this species have been increasing since it was first documented in the region in 1977 in NJ. It is now a regular spring−fall visitor and has been observed attempting to nest at the Ocean City Welcome Center rookery, Cape May Co, NJ in 2018 and 2020.
The Roseate Spoonbill invasion of summer 2021 continued into the fall season. At least three or four different individuals were found in NJ: one with a distinctive bill injury, nicknamed “Chip,” appeared at the “Bridge to Nowhere” (Edwin B. Forsythe NWR/Manahawkin WMA), Ocean Co 2 Aug (Amy Davis, m. ob.). It was then found at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit in Atlantic Co 3 Aug−11 Sep (m. ob.). At least one other individual, sans chipped bill, was reported from various locales around the Barnegat Bay in Ocean Co, NJ: at the Lighthouse Center in Waretown, NJ 9 Aug (Josh Gant) and Clam Island and the nearby Sedge Islands of Island Beach SP 31 Aug–7 Sep (fide Brian Sullivan, Steven Weiss, m. ob.); this individual or another turned up at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR’s Brigantine Unit in Atlantic Co 30 Sep–6 Oct (m. ob.). In NY, single individuals turned up at Goetchius Wetland Preserve, Tompkins Co 26 Aug (Chris Wood) and Beaver Lake, Nassau Co 4–18 Sep (Dave McGovern, Andrew Farren, m. ob.); others persisted in Suffolk Co and Seneca Co. A flock of four lingered at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE through 10 Oct, and two were present there through 16 Oct (Richard Veit). Two were seen from the Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch and elsewhere in Cape May Co, NJ 18 Oct (Jesse Amesbury, m. ob.). Much smaller-scale invasions into the region occurred in 2009 and 2018.
All this season’s reports of Swallow-tailed Kite came from western-central NY: Rush, Monroe Co 16 Aug (Clayton Kusse); Yatesville, Yates Co 16 Aug–14 Sep (Mahlon Hurst, Tim Lenz, m. ob.); Otisco Lake Park, Onondaga Co 21 Aug (Tobias Beach); and Marathon, Cortland Co 12 Sep (Holly Grant). The species is rarer in the fall than in spring.
A few Mississippi Kites were spotted in the region this fall. An adult was reported from Black Creek Marsh, Albany Co, NY 1 Sep (Frank Mitchell), and single juveniles were at Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch, Cape May Co, NJ 2−3 Sep (Tom Reed, Jesse Amesbury, m. ob.) and Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, Sussex Co, DE 15 Sep (Jen Ottinger). After declining in the mid-1900s, Mississippi Kites may be recovering their historical range in some areas and expanding beyond it. A nest site in Waretown, Ocean Co, NJ was occupied 2015−2020.
Single Swainson’s Hawks made appearances at Chestnut Ridge Hawk Watch, Westchester Co, NY 4 Sep (Richard Aracil); Wolfe’s Pond Park, Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY 24 Sep (Anthony Ciancimino); and Ashland Hawk Watch, New Castle Co, DE 29 Sep (David Brown). A juvenile was on private property in Sweden, Monroe Co, NY 9–15 Oct before being found dead 16 Oct (fide Greg Lawrence). In Cape May Co, NJ, a dark morph was at South Cape May Meadows 24 Oct (fide Devin Griffiths), and possibly the same individual was seen from the Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch 1–2 Nov (Jesse Amesbury, m. ob.). This species is a rare migrant in the region where it is mostly seen in fall.
Ash-throated Flycatchers were at Jones Beach SP, Nassau Co, NY 3–5 Nov (Barbara Garriel, m. ob.); Gordon’s Pond, Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE 11 Nov (Ellen and Jake Jacobson); and Lincoln Park West, Hudson Co, NJ 20–21 Nov (Rosetta Arrigo, m. ob.). In Cape May Co, NJ, there was one at the Beanery 20 Nov (Tom Johnson, m. ob.) and Cox Hall Creek WMA 20–30 Nov (Greg Prelich, m. ob.). This number of sightings has been typical for fall for the last twenty-five years, although it is fewer than were seen in 2019 and 2020.
A Tropical Kingbird was a one-day wonder at Mount Loretto Unique Area, Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY 26 Sep (Dick Veit, Anthony Ciancimino, m. ob.). It was heard calling and well photographed. It represents the second state record for NY following a 2020 record from Westchester Co. The region’s other three records come from DE, where the species has been carefully documented in Sussex Co (2009 and 2019) and New Castle Co (2017).
A Western Kingbird in Lisle, Broome Co, NY 21 Oct (Glenn Wilson) was well inland. Others appeared at the more usual coastal migrant traps in higher-than-usual numbers. In Cape May Co, NJ, singles were seen at Higbee Beach WMA 10 Sep (Roger L. Horn, Michael Turso, m. ob.); Cape May County Park 29 Sep (Tom Johnson, m. ob.); South Cape May Meadows 12 Oct (Alex Lamoreaux, Lauren diBiccari); Corson’s Inlet SP 14 Oct (Jeff Pace); and The Beanery 25–30 Nov (Jim Schill, m. ob.). At Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ, one turned up 27 Sep (Ernie Hahn, Carole Hughes); two were there 29–30 Sep (Tom Boyle, Jeff Ellerbusch, m. ob.); and there was another 14 Oct (Rob Fanning). Also in NJ, in Ocean Co, one was at Island Beach SP on 8 Oct and another was in South Toms River 10 Nov (both Joan Fazio-Cohen). Further reports from Ocean Co, NJ included one at Barnegat Light SP 18 Nov (Jason Fehon, Daniel Slipp) and another in Tuckerton, Ocean Co, NJ 21–30 Nov (Amy Davis, m. ob.); the latter bird was joined there by a second individual 26–30 Nov. In NY, one was at Mt. Loretto Unique Area, Staten Island, Richmond Co, NY 19 Oct (Anthony Ciancimino), and there were several records from Suffolk Co: Cedar Beach 21 Oct (Michael McBrien); Caumsett SP 3–9 Nov (Ken Feustel, Suzy Feustel, m. ob.); Heckscher SP 4 Nov (Patricia Lindsay); and Elizabeth A. Morton NWR 6 Nov (Emmett Daly). Finally, one was at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE 20–24 Nov (Zach Weinstein, Andrew Ednie, m. ob.).
A Gray Kingbird was at Robert Moses SP, Suffolk Co, NY 13 Oct (Eileen Schwinn, Eastern Long Island Audubon Society); there are ten previous records for the state, all but one from fall.
Single Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were at Dunkirk Airport, Chautauqua Co, NY 19–22 Oct (Gale VerHague, m. ob.) and Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ 18–19 Nov (Chris Paci, Sandy Podulka, Lisa Podulka, Matthew Sabatine, m. ob.). The species is about annual, and most records are from spring.
Say’s Phoebes were at Cupsogue Beach County Park, Suffolk Co, NY 11 Sep (Lukas Musher, Jay Rand, Benjamin Bolduc, m. ob.) and South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Co, NJ 24 Sep (Trish Miller, Michael Lanzone, m. ob.). Another at Caumsett SP, Suffolk Co, NY was particularly accommodating 14 Oct–9 Nov (Ken Feustel, Suzy Feustel, m. ob.). Say’s Phoebe is casual and most records are from fall.
A Vermilion Flycatcher at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May Co 23 Oct (Ryan Mandelbaum, m. ob.) was NJ’s sixth; NY and DE have one record each.
The southernmost Northern Shrikes in the region were found on the north shore of Long Island and in central NJ: at Caumsett SP, Suffolk Co, NY 23 Oct (Patrick Shure); Pryibil Beach, Nassau Co, NY 28 Oct (Barbara Garriel, Jennifer Wilson-Pines, Michele Ventresca); Skillman Park, Montgomery Twp., Somerset Co, NJ 30 Oct–2 Nov (Manish Sharma, m. ob.); and North Fork Preserve, Suffolk Co, NY 24 Nov (K. J. Klein). Another at Franklin Parker Preserve, Burlington Co, NJ 4–29 Nov may have been the same individual that spent the previous winter there (Matt Ratcliffe, m. ob.).
There were about a dozen reports of Cave Swallow from Cape Island, Cape May Co, NJ in Nov, with a high count of 27 at the Cape May Point SP Hawk Watch 19 Nov (Jesse Amesbury). The species has been annual there in late fall for the last couple decades.
NY hosted two Northern Wheatears this fall: One was at Miller Field, Staten Island, Richmond Co 29 Sep (Anthony Ciancimino, m. ob.), and another with a bill deformity was at Sandy Island Beach SP, Oswego Co 6–7 Oct (Matt Brown, m. ob.). This handsome Old World flycatcher is a rare fall visitor to the region, with twenty-odd records for both NY and NJ, and two for DE.
Bicknell’s Thrushes are rarely detected away from their breeding grounds, due to both to their scarcity as well as the difficulty of separating them from the near-identical (when silent) Gray-cheeked Thrush. This season, several were captured at the region’s banding stations: one at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, Monroe Co, NY 28 Sep (Braddock Bay Bird Observatory Data); one at Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co, NJ 28 Sep (Lindsay McNamara, Terry Carruthers); and one at South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Co, NJ 1 Oct (Chelsea Beck, Lauren diBiccari, Alex Lamoreaux). Nocturnal flight calls were heard and/or recorded in Cape May Co, NJ in West Cape May 30 Sep (Michael O’Brien) and 6 Oct (David La Puma, Michael Lanzone), and in Cape May Point 12 Oct (Michael O’Brien). Another individual was well-documented with photos and recordings at Fork Landing Rd., Kent Co, DE 3–4 Oct (Aaron Reb). See Lane and Jaramillo (2000) for more information on field identification of Bicknell’s and Gray-cheeked thrushes.
A Varied Thrush was a good find at Sands Point Preserve, Nassau Co, NY 5 Oct (North Shore Audubon Society). There are 15 previous accepted records for NY.
A LeConte’s Sparrow was singing at Freshkills Park, Richmond Co, NY 24 Aug (José Ramírez-Garofalo, Shannon Curley) and another on private property at Duke Farms IBA was only the second for Somerset Co, NJ on 1 Nov (Jeff Ellerbusch). One at Croton Point 6–11 Nov (Mark Adam, m. ob.) was a second county record as well, for Westchester Co, NY. LeConte’s Sparrow is rare in the region, and most records are from fall and winter.
A Yellow-headed Blackbird was at Braddock Bay, Monroe Co, NY 15–29 Aug (Chris Wood, m. ob.). Several others appeared in Cape May Co, NJ: one in Cape May Court House 16 Aug (Tom Reed), one in West Cape May 18 Oct (Michael O’Brien), and one at South Cape May Meadows (Bill Roache), also on 18 Oct. Another was at Nickerson Beach SP and the surrounding area, Nassau Co, NY 25 Aug–25 Oct (Ken Feustel, m. ob.), and one was at Edwin B. Forsythe Brigantine Unit, Atlantic Co, NJ 28 Aug–3 Oct (George Roussey, m. ob.). The species is regular in fall−winter in coastal and agricultural areas.
DE’s third Brewer’s Blackbird turned up in typical habitat at Edgewater Farm Lane, Dover, Kent Co 18 Nov (Andrew Ednie, Michael Moore). Reports of this species increased in the 1990s and have declined since. It remains rare in the Hudson-Delaware region.
Townsend’s Warbler is very rare in the region, but reports have been increasing in the last decade. This season, singles were found at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings Co, NY 9–10 Sep (George Armistead, Doug Gochfeld, Chris Bell, m. ob.); Tifft Nature Preserve, Buffalo, Erie Co, NY 13 Sep (Ken Czworka); and Cape May Point, Cape May Co, NJ 1 Oct (David Wilcove, m. ob.).
Single Western Tanagers were photographed at Coney Island Creek Park, Kings Co, NY 26 Sep (fide eBird) and at Cedar Bridge Tavern, Ocean Co, NJ 17 Oct (Vicky McErlean). Another at Carl Schurz Park, New York Co, NY 25–30 Nov (m. ob.) may have been the same individual that spent the winter there last year. The species is a rare mostly fall-winter visitor to the region.
Single Painted Buntings turned up in NJ at Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, Cape May Co 25 Sep (Tom Baxter) and at a private residence in Long Branch, Monmouth Co 15–17 Nov (fide Linda Mack). Painted Buntings have been increasing in the region, especially within the last decade; most of the region’s reports come from NJ, where the species has been almost annual since the 1990s.
Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 10 Jul 2022.