Hudson-Delaware: Summer 2017
Summer 2017, June 1–July 31
Robert O. Paxton
Paxton, R. O., et al. Summer 2017: Hudson-Delaware. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8WL> North American Birds.
After a rainy spring, summer 2017 remained wet, especially in July. Precipitation varied locally with storms, but Robert P. Yunick reported a 5-6” rain surplus for the season in the southern Adirondack foothills, while July rainfall in Atlantic City, NJ was 6” above normal. High water impeded breeding among Black Terns, Double-crested Cormorants, and beach nesters. Nestling Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows died in soaked boxes (R. P. Y.).
Notable were Delaware’s third Little Egret, a Great Shearwater wreck, DE’s (and the region’s) second Tropical Kingbird, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and a historic Dickcissel incursion.
Observers (sub-regional compilers in boldface)
Deborah Allen (Central Park, NYC), Andrew Baksh, Alan Belford (A. Be.), Chris Bennett (D. N. R. E. C.), Scott Barnes (Voice of NJ Audubon), Michael Bochnik (Lower Hudson Valley: firstname.lastname@example.org), Jeff Bolsinger (J. Bo.) (St. Lawrence, NY: email@example.com), Joseph Brin (J. Br.) (Syracuse, NY, RBA), Michael Britt (MBr), T. W. Burke (NYC RBA), Kathy Clark (N. J. D. F. W.), Marc Chelemer, Anthony Collerton, Joan Collins, Willie D’Anna, Christina Davis (N. J. D. F. W.), Joe DiCostanzo (Great Gull), Andrew P. Ednie (Birdline Delaware), Joe Fell, Ken & Sue Feustel, Brendan Fogarty, Doug Futuyma, Sam Galick (Cape May Bird Observatory), John Gluth, Menachem Goldstein, Anthony Gonzon (D. N. R. E. C.), Sue Gruver, Andy Guthrie, Kevin Jennings (N. Y. D. E. C.), Rob Jett, William Kuk (Susquehanna, NY: firstname.lastname@example.org), David La Puma (Cape May Bird Observatory), Patricia Lindsay, Sharon Lynn, Irene Mazzocchi (N. Y. D. E. C.), Mike McBrien, Jay McGowan (Finger Lakes, NY: email@example.com), Michael Morgante (Niagara, NY: firstname.lastname@example.org), Celeste Morien, Michael O’Brien, Bill Ostrander (Finger Lakes, NY: email@example.com), Andrea Patterson (Braddock Bay Bird Observatory), Matt Perry (Oneida Lake Basin, NY: firstname.lastname@example.org), Scott Peterson, Betsy Potter (B. Po.), Bill Purcell, Don Riepe, Derek Rogers, Joe Rogerson (D. N. R. E. C.), Christopher Rowe, Wade and Melissa Rowley, Linda Scrima, John Shemilt, Robert G. Spahn (Genesee, NY: email@example.com), Taylor Sturm, Mike Tetlow, Lance Verderame (Sullivan, NY), R. T. Waterman Bird Club (Dutchess, NY), David Wheeler (Oneida Lake Basin, NY: firstname.lastname@example.org), Tod Winston (NYC Audubon), Tom Williams (Hudson-Mohawk, NY:email@example.com), Angus Wilson, Robert P. Yunick, John Zarudsky.
Ashton Tract (unit of Augustine W. A., New Castle, DE); Bombay Hook (N. W. R., Kent, DE); Braddock Bay (bird observatory, Monroe, NY); Brig (Brigantine Unit, Edwin B. Forsythe N. W. R., Atlantic, NJ); Cupsogue (county park e. of Moriches Inlet, Suffolk, LI); D. N. R. E. C. (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control); Fort Drum (U. S. Army Military Reservation, Jefferson, NY); Great Gull (island off e. LI); LI (Long Island); Henlopen (Cape Henlopen S. P., Sussex, DE); Jamaica Bay (wildlife refuge, New York City); Little Galloo (island in e. Lake Ontario off Jefferson, NY); Montezuma (N. W. R. and wetlands complex, Seneca/Wayne/Cayuga, NY); Nickerson Beach (county park, Lido Beach, Nassau, NY); N. J. D. F. W. (New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife); N. Y. D. E. C. (New York Department of Environmental Conservation); Pea Patch (island in Delaware River, New Castle, DE); Prime Hook (N. W. R., Sussex, DE); Shawangunk (Shawangunk Grasslands N. W. R., Ulster, NY).
Waterfowl through Grouse
Six Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, annual visitors since 2000, paused at Cape May 20 June (D. La P.) and at Mannington Marsh, Salem, NJ 7 July (Richard Zielinski). For the fifth consecutive summer, eclipse Eurasian Wigeons were detected at Montezuma, two this time, 30+ June (Gary Chapin, M. T., Ken Rosenberg). A Redhead had eight ducklings 23 June at Montezuma (M. T.), though the trend is down. Among a nearly full complement of summering diving ducks, a flightless female/imm. male Harlequin Duck at Montauk 8, 30 July (A. C., A. W.) was notable.
The N. Y. D. E. C. again enlisted spring turkey hunters to count drumming Ruffed Grouse. Grouse trended upwards over eleven years until 2009 and then down, with a minor uptick in 2017. In 2017, 0.76 grouse drummed per hour of observation in the Saint Lawrence River valley, and 0.49 in the Adirondacks-Tug Hill. The state-wide rate was 0.22. Spruce Grouse were found only near Madawaska, Franklin, NY, site of a N. Y. D. E. C. restoration effort, 3 June (A. Be., et al.) and, with chicks, 9 July (J. C., et al.).
Doves through Cranes
Two pairs of Eurasian Collared-Doves nested at the long-running Selbyville, Sussex, DE site (fide F. R.), and one in Hamlin Twp., Monroe, NY 4 July (R. G. S.) was at the region’s only other site. This exotic species has spread almost exclusively westward. Three White-winged Doves continued an upward trend: Jamaica Bay 21 June (Rob Bate, Rich Fried, et al.); Cape May 27 July (M. O’B.), and Portland, Chautauqua, NY 1 July (Carol Hardenburg), only the second record in the Niagara frontier area.
Common Nighthawks still breed in Bayonne, Hudson, NJ (M. Br.), but elsewhere almost none of these once-common urban breeders remain. Two Chuck-will’s-widows sang at the West Mountain ski area near Queensbury, Warren, NY, far north of their usual LI limit, from late May (Mona Bearor, Mark Fitzsimmons, Alison Van Keuren, et al.) to 11 July (W. D’A.), for the second consecutive year. Another was unprecedented at Fort Drum 4–11 July (A. Be., J. Bo., B. P., K. McG.).
The only Black Rail report came from Milford Neck W. A., Kent, DE 3 June (Jochen Baumeister) and 2–5 July (Eric and Georgette Pouchot, C. R.). A Purple Gallinule, less than annual, ventured to the Howard Stainton Wildlife Refuge, Ocean City, Ocean, NJ 17–20 June (Nancy Larrabee, et al.).
The Sandhill Crane pair that pioneered in the Adirondacks last summer hatched two young again at Tupper Lake, Franklin, NY. One colt disappeared, taken, local observers thought, by a coyote (J. C.). A Sandhill Crane nest with two eggs video recorded in Plymouth Twp., Chenango, 6 June (fide W. K.) established a first breeding record for this expanding species in the Susquehanna region of NY. Among numerous wanderers, the maximum was nine imm. at the Ashton Tract 24 July (C. R., Holly Merker). Some now occur every month in Delaware (F. R.).
Shorebirds through Jaegers
The last northbound shorebirds nearly met the first southbound returnees. On 14 June, four White-rumped Sandpipers, frequently the latest northbound shorebirds, were at Cupsogue, and three at Jones Beach West End, Suffolk, NY (A. B.). The first southbound Short-billed Dowitcher appeared 29 June at Cupsogue, and the first Greater Yellowlegs at Onondaga Lake, Syracuse, NY 2 July (fide M. P., D. W.). Notable among inter-season lingerers were single Marbled Godwits at Sodus Pt., Wayne, NY 21 June (Joe Wing) and Bellport, Suffolk, NY 23 June (Claire Helmke, Austin Zeller, Shawn Sullivan); three Marbled Godwits at Bombay Hook 15–16 July (Elton Morel) were probably early migrants.
Black-necked Stilts extended their breeding range northward into New Castle, DE, at the Ashton Tract (Ken Wat, et al.), and wandered widely elsewhere. The northernmost approached the Canadian border at Westville, Franklin, NY 7–13 June (Sye and Sharalin Prim, ph. J. Bo.), while another lingered at the Iroquois N. W. R., Genesee-Orleans, NY early May–21 June (C. M., W. D’A., B. Po.), a first Niagara frontier record. Others were coastal except for one at the Lincoln Park gravel pits, Morris, NJ 28 July (M. C.). Fourteen American Avocets at Bennett Beach, s. Erie, NY 13 July (J. F.) constituted an unusual number passing northward en route from western breeding grounds to their DE fall assemblage.
Despite good productivity, (1.26 fledges per pair, following 1.35 last year) Piping Plovers declined in NJ from 115 to 105 pairs, as human beach-goers and human-tolerant predators increased their pressure (C. D.). NY had more pairs than last year (431) that produced an above-average 523 fledges (K. J.). The only trace of those that nested on L. Ontario in 2015-2016 was two at Sandy Island Beach S. P., Oswego, NY 14 June (Alison Kocek). DE’s Piping Plovers have returned from the brink of extinction to 13 pairs that fledged 14 young, mostly around Henlopen, but also at a beach replenishment site at Fowler Beach, Sussex (J. R.).
Delaware’s 9-10 pairs of American Oystercatchers fledged only one young (J. R.). Twenty Upland Sandpipers persisted at their southern limit at Lakehurst Maxfield Field, Ocean, NJ 20 June (M. C.), and others at Shawangunk, but they were thinly distributed in n. NY. Ruffs visited all three states: Montezuma 8–24 July (Dave Nutter, et al.), Brig 3 July (ph. Adrian Binns, Debbie Beer), and Bombay Hook, where a fading black male 29 June–5 July (Peter Gibb, et al.) overlapped with a rufous 4–21 July (Ann Reeves, et al.)
Wilson’s Phalaropes were scarce. A late spring bird remained at Wilson, Niagara, NY 31 May–2 June (W. D’A.), and interseason lingerers, with no sign of breeding, were at Brig 14–19 June (S. G., et al.) and Bombay Hook 20 June (ph. Herb Elliott).
Single South Polar Skuas were found four times in July off Montauk (A. C., Nick Bonomo, J. S., A. W., D. R.). Pomarine Jaegers occurred only far offshore, as usual, while Parasitic Jaegers peaked onshore at seven off Tiana Beach, Suffolk, NY 19 June (Seth Ausubel), perhaps accompanying the massive shearwater movement described below.
Gulls through Skimmer
More Laughing Gulls than usual explored to L. Ontario: two at Point Breeze, Orleans, NY 8 June (Joel Strong, Mike Gullo, Richard Guthrie, W. D’A., B. Po., Gerry Teal), and singles at Sodus Pt., Wayne, NY 3 June (M. T.), Hamlin Beach, 9 June (A. G.), and Braddock Bay 10–11 June (A. G.), both Monroe, NY. Duplication is possible. An above-average four Franklin’s Gulls reached NY: Oneida L., West Monroe, Oswego 6–7 June (S. P., Kevin McGann, B. P.); Hamlin Beach, Monroe 8 June (A. G.), both in near-adult plumage; Myer’s Point, Cayuga Lake, 1 June (fide B. O.); and a full adult on Long Island Sound at Crab Meadow Beach, Northport, Suffolk 18–23 June (ph. T. S., Dave Klauber).
First-summer Little Gulls, surely hatched in North America, dispersed to Fort Niagara S. P. (14 on 8 July, A. G.), Nickerson Beach 7–11 June (Robert Proniewych, ph. Pat Palladino), Bombay Hook 18 May–30 July (Mike Parr), and Mispillion Inlet, Sussex, DE 31 July–1 Aug. (George Armistead, et al.). An adult was at Sylvan Beach, Oneida, NY 25+ July (D. W., et al.).
Ring-billed Gull nests reached a record 2,671 on Murphy I., in the Saint Lawrence R., while Herring Gulls declined 40% on Little Galloo to 579 (I. M.). Two Iceland Gulls summered on LI: Smith’s Pt., Suffolk, 8+ June (M. McB., et al., ph. Aidan Perkins), and Bellport, Suffolk, 25, 28 June (K. & S. F.) A sub-ad. Lesser Black-backed Gull at Westville, Franklin, NY 13 June (J. Bo.) was the first Adirondack record away from L. Champlain. Coastally, the maximum was 17 (northbound?) at Nickerson Beach 7 June (A. B.).
Least Terns had a “mediocre year” in NJ, facing “no end of predator issues and human disturbance” (C. D.). Censusing these volatile birds is a challenge, but 1,275 adults were tallied during the peak window of 16–30 June; they fledged 242 chicks (C. D.). DE’s 43 pairs managed only 7 fledges (J. R.). LI’s 3,454 pairs (K. J.) represented the highest number tallied since 2008. Only two pairs of Gull-billed Terns nested at their current northern limit in Hempstead, Nassau, NY (J. Z.), but two at Cupsogue 14 June (A. B.) and one there 2 July (J. G.) suggested expansion eastwards.
N. Y. D. E. C.’s triennial Black Tern census found only 140 pairs at 12 sites, compared to 192 in 2014. This summer’s shortfall was attributed to high water (I. M.), but the long-term trend is down (27 sites in 1989, 284 pairs in 1991).
Almost all the region’s Roseate Terns nest on Great Gull (2,000 pairs, 1,600 chicks banded [J. DiC.]), although small colonies evidently persist elsewhere on LI (e.g. 9 Nickerson Beach 7 June [A. B.], 10 at Crab Meadow Beach, Northport, Suffolk 23 June [K. F., T. S.]). None now breed south of LI. The 9,000+ pairs of Common Terns on Great Gull constitute more than half the Common Terns on LI; 9,200 chicks were banded (J. DiC.). Arctic Terns have been detected ashore in summer at Cupsogue since 1999; this summer, six immatures and two adults appeared 2 June–4 July (A. B., A. C., Tim Healy, S. S. M., M. G., Pete Morris, T. S.), plus an adult at Nickerson Beach 7 June (ph. A. B.) and a first-summer there 15, 19 June (S. S. M., M. G.). A healthy 392 Forster’s Terns occupied the northernmost breeding area in Hempstead, Nassau, NY (J. Z.), but none were observed breeding further east. Unusual upstate observations (2 at Montezuma 16 June [J. McG.] and 2 at Myers Point, Cayuga Lake, Tompkins, NY 19 June [J. McG.]) could have spilled over from ON. One at Walkill N. W. R. 2 July (L. S.) was the first Orange, NY record.
A few more Sandwich Terns than usual reached LI: 2 at Nickerson Beach 6 June (Rob Langiaru), and singles at Cupsogue 29 June–1 July (S. S. M., A. C.) and Mecox Inlet, Suffolk, 5 July (Donna Schulman, Frank Durso). Numerous DE reports were concentrated at three localities: Henlopen, Little Assawoman Bay, and Indian R. Inlet (fide F. R.). The northern breeding limit is still MD.
NY’s two Black Skimmer colonies persisted: 460 individuals at Nickerson Beach (J. Z.), and 320 at Edgemere Beach, Queens, 30 June (Jason Smith, N. Y. D. E. C.). In NJ, only two of nine colonies fledged young, because of flooding and predation. The state’s 2,546 adults (censused 1–15 July with difficulty, as the birds move around) fledged 457 chicks, the vast majority concentrated at Seaview Harbor Marina, Longport, Atlantic, and a few at newly restored habitat on Ring I., near Stone Harbor. Other NJ skimmer colonies, notably Stone Harbor Pt., Cape May, and Belmar, Monmouth, failed completely (C. D.). Skimmers did not nest in DE (J. R.), although 80 lingered at Prime Hook 2 June (Gina Sheridan) and smaller numbers at Bombay Hook, Milford Neck, Kent, and Augustine W. M. A., New Castle.
Loons through Pelicans
An ad. Pacific Loon in alternate plumage 18 June off Cupsogue was a first-rate find (D. F., M. McB.).
Pelagic trips were well rewarded. A Northern Fulmar near Block I. Canyon 4 June (J. S., D. R., A. W.) was notable, since factory fishing ships no longer work offshore. Increasing Black-capped Petrel reports continued, with one on a trip to Block I. Canyon 20 July (J. S., D. R., A. W.). One Audubon’s Shearwater was at sea off Montauk 22 July (J. S., D. R., A. W.).
A Wood Stork, far less than annual, was in s. Erie, NY 11–12 June (Mary-Ann Ingrao, via J. F.). The recent Brown Booby string continued, with a gimpy-eyed female grounded in the Nickerson Beach tern/skimmer colony 17 June (Joshua Malbin); it died the next day (Sean Sime). One off NH may have been the same bird.
The giant Double-crested Cormorant colony on Little Galloo dropped another 8% to 1,999 nests, even though a court order has stopped the N. Y. D. E. C.’s culling program. Numbers did not increase on other islands in e. L. Ontario and the Saint-Lawrence R. because the water was three feet above normal. Cormorant productivity remained formidable where conditions permitted. On Gull I. in e. L. Ontario, nests increased by 64% to 508, causing Black-crowned Night-Herons to abandon a traditional colony (I. M.).
Only single American White Pelicans, annual since the 1990s, visited NY: one flew down the Saint Lawrence R. at Grenell I., Jefferson 3 June (Haynes Miller), and another stopped at Montezuma 6–9 and 21–27 July (J. McG., L. S., S. P., W. & M. R.). In NJ, one visited De Korte Park, in the Meadowlands, on 26 July (Daniel Desjardins) and probably earlier. Further south, in DE, five appeared at the Ashton Tract from 15 June to at least 2 July for two of them (S. G.). One flew past Indian Beach s. of Rehoboth, DE 9 July (Diane Kane).
Post-breeding Brown Pelicans formed a notable (though not record-breaking) concentration around the Sedge Islands, at the s. end of Island Beach S. P., Ocean, NJ, peaking at 92 on 28 July (Tyler Stein, by kayak). Few reached LI. Seven westbound off Robert Moses S. P. 29 July (J. G., P. L., Pete Morris), visible later that day from Staten Island (José Ramirez-Garafolo, Isaac Grant) were the maximum. One at Buffalo 28 May–6 June (W. D’A., et al.) was only the fifth in 45 years.
Herons through Spoonbill
New York City Audubon’s 33rd harbor herons survey was not full-scale (these are now triennial); 1,444 nests of seven species (T. W.) matched recent levels. At the region’s other major herony, Pea Patch, five of the seven breeding heron species increased, Little Blue Herons and Cattle Egrets markedly so, while Snowy Egrets and Yellow-crowned Night-herons declined (C. B.).
A northerly Snowy Egret at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, Delmar, Albany, NY 5 June (T. O’Toole, Drew Hopkins, Peter Feinberg, Ian Henry) was the first there in thirty years. A Little Blue Heron reached Montezuma 9–13 June (J. McG., Livia Santana, W. & M. R.) and a Cattle Egret was there 4 June (Donna Carter). Another Cattle Egret at Blue Chip Farm, 4 June (Clay Spencer, et al.) was the first in Ulster, NY for over twenty years. Although Cattle Egrets thrive at Pea Patch (over 300, C. B.), none have bred in New York harbor since 2010 (T. W.), and none on L. Champlain for even longer. White Ibises echoed last summer’s massive incursion. Fewer were involved, but they went farther. Northernmost were five immatures at Wickham L., Warwick, Orange, NY 15–17 July (Rob Stone, L. S.). NJ had about a dozen at the peak period 27–28 July, distributed among Cape May (7, Claudia Burns), Mannington Marsh, Salem (3, Richard Zielinski) and Brig (3, Janice Beauvais and Marian Jordan). White Ibises were all over coastal DE, reaching 105 at Lewes, Sussex 18 July (S. G.). Observers often failed to specify age, but the only certain full adult reported was at Prime Hook 11 June (S. G.).
A Plegadis ibis video recorded at Montezuma 22 July (Ferris Akel), and a Glossy Ibis at Tonawanda W. M. A., Niagara, NY 21 June (Greg Lawrence, Bill Wolanski) were both well north of known breeding areas. A White-faced Ibis at Bombay Hook 10–17 June (John Hubbell) was the only definite report, but others likely went undetected.
A Roseate Spoonbill at Island Beach S. P., Ocean, NJ 22 July (Bill Scullion, ph. Alyssa Della Fave), refound next day at nearby Tuckerton Creek 23 July (Sandra Keller), appears to be the fourth state record, and the first in the region since the “invasion” year of 2009.
Ospreys through Falcons
NJ had only 50 Osprey nests 40 years ago; this summer, 668 Osprey pairs raised a record 892 young there. A pair of Mississippi Kites bred in Waretown, Ocean, NJ for the second consecutive year, and one ventured to Bedford, Westchester, NY 12 June (Tait Johansson). The only Swallow-tailed Kite was over Kingston, Ulster, NY 9 June (Jim Clinton, Jr.). Bald Eagles expanded in s. e. NY. Two young fledged on Staten I. (Seth Wollney), a first for New York City. On LI, where Bald Eagles did not breed between 1930 and about 2008, three nests produced five young (Scott Crocoll, D. E. C.). DE’s Bald Eagle population increased to 85 active pairs that produced 92 chicks (Kate Fleming, D. N. R. E. C.). The previous maximum was 85 young in 2015.
The spread of nesting Merlins southward in NY since 1999 is a mainly urban affair. They bred this season in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Geneseo, the Ithaca area (5 of 7 nests successful [John Confer]), Marathon (Cortland), Schenectady, Tonawanda, and probably elsewhere.
Flycatchers through Vireos
A singing Acadian Flycatcher at Lakeview W. M. A., Jefferson, NY 16–19 July (J. McG., J. Bo.) was well north of known breeding limits.
An overshooting Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was fairly routine at Cape May Pt. S. P., NJ, 25 June (fide S. G.), but one inland in Readington, Hunterdon, NJ 22–23 June (Adrian Smith, David Bernstein, Debbie Beer) was a first county record. Another near Harbeson, Sussex, DE 6–7 July (Bob Edelson, Dave Fees, Gina and Dennis Sheridan) occupied the precise spot of an earlier observation on 27 June 2015. The much rarer Fork-tailed Flycatcher at Cape May 17–18 June (Brian Hayes, M. O’B., D. La P., et al.) was the first June record in NJ since Audubon’s in 1832. Most occurrences have been in the fall, with only several in spring.
A Philadelphia Vireo at Fort Drum 26 June–9 July (J. Bo.) was very rare outside the Adirondacks at that date.
Jays through Thrushes
A pair of adult Gray Jays 29 July at the Silver Lake Bog Preserve (Andrew Spencer, Taylor Brooks) established their presence in Clinton, NY, a county from which they have been curiously unreported. Six Common Ravens 27 June at the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit (Kim Sucy), along with their routine presence throughout New York City and in New Castle, DE (fide F. R.) signal their continuing coastal expansion.
A Brown-headed Nuthatch crossed the Delaware Bay from Henlopen (its normal northern limit) to Cape May Pt. 9 and 18 June (Dustin Welch, Michael Lanzone) for the fourth time in the past five years, though the species is declining in DE. A Marsh Wren singing, with nesting material, at Shaw Pond, Hamilton, NY was a rare Adirondacks breeding confirmation (fide J. C.).
Eastern Bluebirds suffered mortality in rain in n. Saratoga (R. P. Y.) and Westchester, NY, where 18 dead adults were found in 300 boxes 22 June (Sandy Morrissey). Joan Collins found 16 Bicknell’s Thrushes and only 9 Swainson’s Thrushes on Whiteface Mt., Essex, NY 27 June, though she observed many interspecific fights (J. C.).
Finches through Grackles
Yunick banded only 83 Purple Finches, including 24 immatures, at Jenny L. in n. Saratoga, NY, illustrating this species’ long decline since the 1970s–1980s when he banded 500-800 annually (R. P. Y.).
Red Crossbills of song-types 1, 3, and 10 (fide Matt Young), supported by a heavy cone crop, became the commonest passerine locally in boreal habitat in the central Adirondacks (w. Essex, Hamilton, NY). Fledglings appeared after the period’s end (J. C.). White-winged Crossbills turned up 9 July at Bloomingdale, Essex, NY and in mid-July at two Franklin, NY sites, Oregon Plains and Blue Mountain Road (Arie Gilbert, Betsy Miner, Stacy Robinson), with more to come in August.
Clay-colored Sparrows increased across their recently-established breeding areas in n. c. NY, while a southern outlier sang at Six Mile Run, Somerset, NJ 4 June (Susan Treesh) to 5 July (Lisa Carol Wolf). A Henslow’s Sparrow sang late May–26 June at Shawangunk, a traditional but long vacant downstate NY site (T. W. B., R. J., Peter Feinberg, M. Br., et al.). In Fort Drum, this vanishing species’ regional stronghold, Henslow’s Sparrows built up typically late, with seven singing males in July and 13 in August (J. Bo.).
Two male Yellow-headed Blackbirds surprised in mid-summer: near Verona S. P., Oneida, NY 14 June (Kathy Smith), and Smith’s Point County Park, Suffolk, LI 28 June (Robin Martinez, Jack Corcoran, Robert Taylor). Boat-tailed Grackles, having colonized LI only since 1980, inch northward: a singing male at Marshland Conservancy, Westchester, NY 8 June was the first there in 54 summer counts (Gail Benson, et al.).
WARBLERS THROUGH DICKCISSELS
In Fort Drum, where Golden-winged Warblers slightly outnumbered Blue-winged Warblers as late as 2010, Blue-winged Warblers are now discouragingly nearly twice as common (J. Bo.). An estimated 25 pairs remain in NJ, limited to powerline cuts in the northwest of the state. A male Lawrence’s Warbler fed young at Medina, Orleans, 28 June (C. M.), and another was at Selkirk Shores S. P., Oswego, 19 July (Wayne Fidler), both NY.
A Swainson’s Warbler banded at Sandy Hook, Monmouth, NJ 3 June (Tom Brown) was a solitary overshoot. Yellow-throated Warblers fed a fledgling at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Suffolk, NY 22 July (Ben Koblmiller), reaffirming their colonization of the coastal plain. Outliers visited Hines Road, Tompkins, 6 July (Joel, Andy and Matthew Eckerson) for a first July county record, and the Irwin W. M. A., Steuben, 14 June (Adam West), both NY, but they do not seem to have been reported at their recent northern outpost at Allegany S. P., Cattaraugus, NY this year.
A Summer Tanager in female plumage was far north at Fort Drum 26 May – 30 June (JBo).
The immense Caspian Tern colony on Little Galloo grew 7% to a record 2,511 nests 8 June (I. M.). A second colony, hitherto unreported in this column, formed around 2005 on the Four Brothers Islands, in L. Champlain, off Willsboro, Essex, NY; it contained 145 nests in 2017 (A. Be., Matthew Medler). Caspian Terns also bred for the first time in Buffalo Harbor, with 130 adults and 37 young on 5 June (Connie Adams, Jacqueline Walters).
A major tubenose flight off LI 18 June centered on Robert Moses S. P., where 669 Great Shearwaters, 48 Cory’s, nine Sooty, 8 Manx and six Wilson’s Storm Petrels were counted (S. S. M., P. L., et al.). It turned sinister when hundreds of Great Shearwaters died in the surf, apparently starving. No exact count is possible, but probably reached hundreds; 15 were found dead on 1.5 mi of beach between Essex Ave. and Ditch Plain, Suffolk, LI on 22 June (Luke Ormand). All 15 specimens necropsied were immatures. At the period’s end, 29 July, “thousands” of shearwaters, mostly Cory’s, but including a few Great and Sooty and one or two Manx, exited Long Island Sound into Block Island Sound on the north side of Montauk Point on east winds (A. W.).
A Little Egret remained 15 May–3 June at the Ashton Tract (Gina Sheridan, Dennis Murphy), and then moved 9 June to Bombay Hook (Bert Filemyr, ph. Jerry Am Ende, C. R., et al.) until at least mid-July, when it lost its head plume and resembled the ubiquitous Snowy Egrets. DE has three previous records, while NJ and NY have one apiece (April–May 2017 and May 2015). More have visited New England and the Canadian Maritimes, and still more are likely. This expanding old-world species began breeding on Barbados in 1994 and now breeds in the Bahamas.
DE’s and the region’s second Tropical Kingbird was a one-day wonder 10 June at the Ashton Tract, impeccably distinguished from Couch’s Kingbird by the primary wing formula photographed in flight (ph. Kelley Nunn, Hannah Greenberg, Colin Campbell). The region’s only previous record was at Prime Hook in October 2009, and there are only about a dozen other eastern records (though many more undifferentiated Tropical/Couch’s have been reported).
Dickcissels staged an historic incursion. In DE, where they have recently summered annually, they occupied some familiar sites (Middletown, New Castle [S. L., S. G., et al.], and Prime Hook [Dick Plambeck]), and pioneered new ones near Townsend, w. New Castle, and near Reliance and Bridgeville, both w. Suffolk (S. L., S. G.). In NJ, where Dickcissels occur less than annually in the summer, males (often in multiples) sang in eight places: Bayonne Ocean Terminal, Hudson (M. Br., et al.); De Korte Park, Meadowlands, Bergen (Chris Takacs, et al.); Overpeck County Park, Bergen (Jim Macaluso); Dorbrook Recreation Area, Monmouth (Colette Buchanan, m. obs.); Arney’s Mount/Juliustown Roads, Burlington (Steve Sobocinski, et al.); Mercer Sod Farm, Burlington (Dana Eglinton), Featherbed Lane W. M. A., Salem (Elle McGee, m. obs.), and Buckshutem W. M. A., Cumberland (Brian and Karen Johnson). In NY, Dickcissels went off the charts. Multiple males sang in twelve counties from LI to the Great Lakes. They concentrated in the west-central NY lowlands and L. Ontario plain, extending east to Fort Drum (J. Bo.) and south to Shawangunk (R. J., P. F., et mult. al.) and Caumsett S. P., Suffolk (S. F.). Many arrived late, perhaps fleeing Middle-western drought. Breeding was confirmed at Dorbrook, NJ, by a female carrying food 18 July (Rob Fanning) and at Benton, Yates, NY by a nest-building female (A. G.).
Report processed by Amy Davis, 7 Oct. 2020.
Photos–Hudson-Delaware: Summer 2017
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.