Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Harlem Meer Teal 2016

On Monday, I heard that a Green-Winged Teal was being seen at the Harlem Meer. Last year, I had seen one there (with an American Wigeon!) in early October, and a second one at the Lake a week later. The chase was on! Unfortunately, it was raining when I was able to go out, and I had to hope it stayed. Around midday Tuesday, I was relieved to find out the teal was still there. I went up to the Meer that afternoon and saw that it was filled with dozens of Mallards, Gadwalls, and Northern Shovelers. After much scanning through them, I was about to give up, when I spotted a small, suspicous duck through my binoculars. It then took flight revealing the large green patches on its wings that would make it a GREEN-WINGED TEAL (#156)! Just 3 birds to go to surpass last year's total of 158!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Philadelphia Vireo Surrenders!

On Saturday morning, I went into the park nearly hopeless in my search for a Philadelphia Vireo. But I still didn't let a slight chance slip by me. I went to Maintenance Meadow, which seemed to be the most reliable spot for them. I spot a vireo, and it's a Red-Eyed. Good start for a comparison. Then, I spot another vireo that was smaller, grayer and yellower. A look at the yellow underside confirmed my suspicions of it being a PHILADELPHIA VIREO (#155)! This bird was probably the same one that was seen over the previous few days. Other than this, it was pretty quiet that day. With my last regular migrant out of the way, it's all up to rare migrants, wandering birds, and vagrants to push my year list past 158 species.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Failadelphia Vireo

On Thursday, several Philadelphia Vireos were found around Central Park. This would be a lifer for me, one of my two major fall targets for the year (the other was the Connecticut Warbler I found on the 6th). I went into the park that afternoon, and heard two had been seen at the Point. I ran into Ryan along the way and we agreed to split up, with him taking Maintenance Meadow for one seen earlier in the day. At the Point, I got the call that the bird at Maintenance Meadow was being seen again as I was looking at a suspicious bird. It turned out to be a Cape May Warbler. Good, but I had seen several this season. I went to Maintenance Meadow and found out I had missed the bird by a few minutes. I stayed for an hour, looking through suspicious shapes in the trees, but failed to turn up a Philadelphia Vireo. However, I did see many other nice birds that day, including a flock of several Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks in some shrubs at Azalea Pond. On Friday, the vireo at Maintenance Meadow was seen again. I looked for a long time, but still didn't see it, although there was a Common Yellowthroat without a tail there for some reason. That day there were much less birds. More attempts will be made for Philadelphia Vireo over the next couple of days.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I Find a CONNECTICUT WARBLER!!!

On Tuesday morning, I went to Central Park hoping for some warblers, since I had nothing to do that day. Before I even got into the Ramble, I spotted a small flock of warblers at the Pilgrim Statue (near the East 72nd Street entrance). As I positioned myself around the flock to pick out the birds (which were mostly redstarts and one parula.), I flushed a warbler from the huge patch of short shrubs below the grove of trees. At first I thought it was a Common Yellowthroat. After all, this seemed like habitat one would like. But then I glanced over where the bird landed and I saw it walking on the ground! This suggested it might be a rare Connecticut Warbler. I knew I must get better looks at it! However, this bird was very skulky, as Connecticuts typically are. After a few minutes of strategic flushing and brief looks, I saw all the field marks of this grey and yellow bird, I was finally able to deduce that I had found Central Park's first CONNECTICUT WARBLER (#153) of the season in a place no one would expect! I soon lost the bird and after a few minutes trying to refind it, I decided to head into the park looking for more warblers and alerting people of the Connecticut. The Ramble did not have a lot of birds (but did have a continuing Hooded Warbler at the Swampy Pin Oak), so I headed to the Pinetum, where I had warblers earlier, particularly on the eastern side (nobody goes there). I started on the western side, which had barely anything, save for an early BROWN CREEPER found by 2 other birders. I then went to the eastern side, where the optimal scenario played out. I found several species of warbler, including Cape Mays and Blackpoll, and also found other passerines such as empids and Scarlet Tanager. Back to the Connecticut, about an hour and a half after I lost the bird, birders who got word of my sighting refound the Connecticut Warbler in the same patch of shrubs where I saw it. On the way out of the park, I decided to visit the site one more time to try and get better views of the bird. Fortunately, the warbler gave great views, at times being in the open. A great day today, with multiple rarities for this time of year, and a good amount of birds.

On a side note, I added Osprey (#152) to my year list on Monday, with a bird seen flying northbound low over the Reservoir for a few minutes.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Late August Big Day

On Saturday, I participated in the NYS Young Birders Club Big Day. Instead of one team, we all do our separate big days and combine the results into one big total. I birded in (where else?) Central Park for the day. At first, things seemed quiet, but gradually, things started to improve, starting with a Mourning Warbler at Azalea Pond. I then went to Laupot Bridge, when I started hearing a call of a nuthatch that sounded like a Red-Breasted. Suddenly, a small bird flew onto a log over the Gill. It was obviously a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Year Bird #149)! Ever since that bird (which the call was not coming from), I've seen several Red-Breasted Nuthatches in the park. It looks like it is going to be a big year for them. Anyway, I birded some more, and heard a report of a Solitary Sandpiper at the Upper Lobe. With a bit of searching and some help, I was able to locate the bird (Year Bird #150), which gave great views. Another year bird was seen 2 hours later in Tupelo Meadow. This was a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher (#151). The best spot that day was the Pinetum. Despite many people there, I was still able to find many redstarts and empids, a Black-and-White Warbler, 2 Black-Throated Green Warblers (FOS), 2 Great Crested Flycatchers, a few pewees, and another Red-Breasted Nuthatch. On a side note, I also found a few Laughing Gulls (can be tricky) on the Reservoir. I got 49 species in total that day, and 4 were unique to me (Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, Solitary Sandpiper, Mourning Warbler, and Black-Throated Green Warbler). In total, the NYSYBC spotted 137 species. A very big August day indeed!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jamaica Bay Shorebird Trip 2016

On Saturday, I went to Jamaica Bay with the New York State Young Birders Club. We started out on the north side of the East Pond, which was not as muddy as it usually is. Immediately, we found 3 Stilt Sandpipers at close range. We also saw common summer residents such as Glossy Ibis and a large flock of Great and Snowy Egrets (more of the later). There was also a young Little Blue Heron in the egret flock. We then saw a mass of shorebirds fly from the southeast end of the pond to a sandy area almost opposite to us. We went to a nearby sandy spit which was directly opposite to the flock (as well as having some close birds on it). The flock was mostly made out of Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plovers, and Short-Billed Dowitchers, with some yellowlegs (both species) Least Sandpipers, a few Willet mixed in. Good birds within the flock were Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knot. There were some more birds further south, but the only ones I could identify were a large flock of Black-Bellied Plovers. After looking at shorebirds for a while, we decided to make our way out to Big John's Pond to try and see what could be there. But before we could make it to the exit, we found a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, a rare nester in the refuge. Anyway, we arrived at the pond and found several Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers as well as a Solitary Sandpiper. We then received word of a White-Rumped Sandpiper at the East Pond overlook a few minutes away. We went over there, and only some of us (including me) were able to find the bird, only told apart from the semis by being slightly larger. A great day with around a dozen species of shorebird seen and over 50 species seen in total!

Monday, August 22, 2016

First Migrant Wave of Fall

On Thursday, I went out into the park hoping for a little more migrants than had come the previous few weeks. However, it turned out that there were many more warblers than I thought there would be. I heard about a flock of several warbler species near Belvedere Castle (actually by the Weather Station. When I got to the Ramble that morning, I saw almost nothing (aside from an Ovenbird). When I got to the Weather Station, it took a bit of searching before I finally found the flock, which included multiple Blue-Winged, a Canada, and a Chestnut-Sided Warbler (FOS). I also found my FOS Common Yellowthroat there. Another spot that was active that morning (and afternoon) was Maintenance Meadow, which had a lot of the same warblers, including my FOS Northern Parula. I also had a few empidonax flycatchers there. I heard one call, sounding a bit like Least. When I was at Laupot Bridge, I found another one, and this time the call was recognizable. It was a Willow Flycatcher (Year Bird #148). In the afternoon, I found most of the same birds as before. Maintenance Meadow was still very active, as it had quite a few warblers and flycatchers, including a young Eastern Phoebe (my first in August). I was also able to find an early MAGNOLIA WARBLER there, which many people got looks at. A great day with 12 species of warblers in the park!

The 12 species were:
Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes (1 of each)
Ovenbird (few)
American Redstart (many)
Black-and-White Warbler (many)
Yellow Warbler (1)
Chestnut-Sided Warbler (few)
Blue-Winged Warbler (several)
Northern Parula (few)
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (1)
Common Yellowthroat (2)
Canada Warbler (few)