Catching up on misses. Reading another's post that they had also tried for the Golden Eagle last week made me consider an additional try. Garous, Capt'n Bob and I made the attempt back up to Storm King, though did not do quite as well as last week. It was a bright and sunny day, cold but not too much wind, but the birds were more scarce. We didn't have Peregrines, nor sadly, the Golden Eagles; the reason for the trip.
On a brighter note we had a Flicker and 3 Bluebirds came in to feed on the Sumac right in front of us, as Robins had done last week. Garous and I got our cameras to get a shot and wouldn't you know it, some folks showed up and naturally, had to explore right where we were, spooking the Bluebirds in the process. A whole rest stop, and all who stop felt like joining us despite all the open space.
Satisfied our luck would not improve, we continued on to our next location: Ulster Park. Sandhill Cranes have been frequenting a creek here, and with multiple reports I felt we had a good chance. This was also a bird I missed despite many attempts last year. As we approached the location, we were delighted to see a birder with a large lens photographing something in the creek. Stopping adjacent to him on the narrow road, we got our quarry! YB1.
The road here was very narrow. Too narrow to linger long, thought quite a few others stopped for a look. Beautiful birds, and probably the closest looks I have had of them.
Back on the road, we made our way down some picturesque country roads on the way to Shawangunk NWR. Here and there were flocks of Juncos, and down a road to a horse farm we found another group of Bluebirds.
Approaching the perimeter of the refuge, Garouse spied some raptors, and we got our first of many Rough-legged Hawks. We had nice close looks at dark and light morphs interacting. The Galeville park was closed so we continued on to the refuge entrance and it was cleared all the way.
In every direction, it was hard to look without finding perched or flying Rough-legged. And out in the fields Capt'n Bob spotted a Coyote hunting rodents under the snow. But probably due to the bright sunshine, Short-eared Owls remained hidden.
None of us felt like sticking around for sunset, so we got on the road after we had our fill. This gave me time to reflect and if I had to specify a recurring theme for this years birding so far, it would have to be that some easy birds of last year are being difficult to find this year, and vice versa.