Saturday, January 13, 2018

First Week of January: Expanding the Photographic Year List

I haven't been birding much, mainly due to the continuing wild weather and a mountain of homework. I only added one new species for my county year list, an American Robin in front of my building on January 3rd. The photographic list, on the other hand, has been increasing more rapidly. On January 6th, I added several new birds to the list, which were White-Throated Sparrow, Ring-Necked Duck, American Black Duck, Herring Gull, and Great Black-Backed Gull. The remaining ice helped a lot with getting these birds up close.
A chilly White-Throated Sparrow at the Reservoir

Ring-Necked Duck male (left) and female (right)
The next day, I was able to add two more species at the Reservoir, which were American Coot and Song Sparrow. 
American Coot

 My list now stands at 22 species photographed, just over half of the species on my county year list. I'm confident I will photograph many more by the month's end.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Day 1 of 2018

One of the pros of New Years Day being in winter is that you get to oversleep because the bird diversity will be the same throughout the day. I didn't look for anything until 1 pm, when I went up to my roof. My first species was not unexpected at all, a Ring-Billed Gull. A nice surprise is what followed, a VERY distant Turkey Vulture, about a mile and a half to the southwest. I will see this species later this year, but it can be a toughie in January. I then headed to the Reservoir in Central Park in search of a Common Loon and a trio of Common Mergansers found today. I also added Rock Pigeon and Herring Gull along the way. When I got to the Reservoir, I found the Common Loon right away, and was able to get a blurry but distinguishable photo, my first species of my photo big year!
Blurry Common Loon, but it'll have to do.
It took a while to spot the Common Mergansers, but I found them along the dike in the middle, and were too distant to photograph. I then began walking around the entire Reservoir, adding species after species to my year list, including a trio of Ring-Necked Ducks.
This young Red-Tailed Hawk was also at the Reservoir
After the numerous good birds at the Reservoir, I decided to go to the Ramble to get some of the more regular passerines and woodpeckers. After finding nearly all of them, I recieved a report of a Rusty Blackbird at Laupot Bridge. I searched all around the Gill, finding no Rusty Blackbird. However, I did spot a Golden-Crowned Kinglet there. These guys have stayed much later than normal this year (with several on the Christmas Bird Count), and I wondered if I would get one of these today. I then started to head past Laupot Bridge, when a bird suddenly flies up from under the bridge onto a log. The Rusty Blackbird! This is a really good bird for January, with only a few showing up in the winter.
Rusty Blackbird at Laupot Bridge
I then headed to the Pond just so I could add the continuing Northern Pintail and Great Blue Herons to my list, which wasn't hard at all.
Northern Pintail and Wood Duck at the Pond
In total, I have spotted 40 species today, a record high for me on New Years Day. I photographed 15 of those species. A lot of common species I neglected to photograph because of the cold, so my photography list will greatly increase this month. Stay tuned for more birding!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Forward to 2018

2018 will be a very unique year for me. For starters, I cannot do a standard year list, as I will only be at home for about 8 months before I have to go off to college. While I will keep a year list, I want to do something different as well. I am going to start a photographic year list using just my iPhone. While it may seem crude (and it is), pictures taken through binoculars with phones can turn out surprisingly well. That is how the Hooded Warbler in the previous post was taken, and below are a few more examples of photos I took this way:
Winter Wren taken in September at Maintainance Meadow
Red-Tailed Hawk taken in November at Mugger's Woods
Song Sparrows taken in August at The Pond
For a bird to be countable it must be photographed with my phone and be identifiable. The exception would be if I could narrow a bird down to species complex. For example, if I took a photo of a bird that deduced it between a Willow and Alder flycatcher, and I identified it by call, I would still count it.I hope to take many more photos like these in 2018. I am aiming for preliminary goal of 100 species, as I have never done this before. I'm hoping to have lots of fun doing this and bringing many more photos to the blog. And if you're wondering, yes, I will be going out into the icebox that is NYC tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Reflections on 2017

This Hooded Warbler is me 70% of the time
(taken in September at Tanners Spring)

I haven't posted here in a while, so here's the rundown on what happened in 2017

1. I saw a total of 171 species in New York County this year (my last was Red-Shouldered Hawk on 12/12).
2. I participated in the Central Park Christmas Bird Count this year, finding American Woodcock for the count. I was also able to add Northern Waterthrush at the pond the next day, a very late count week addition!
3. I went to ABA's Camp Colorado, finding over 130 species, including specialties such as White-Tailed Ptarmigan, American Dipper, Clark's Nutcracker, Chestnut-Collared Longspur, Burrowing Owl, and many more.
4. I led a birdwalk in Central Park for the New York State Young Birders Club on 9/17, finding a amazingly high variety of birds on what was a slow day for many others, including Red-Headed Woodpecker and Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.
5. There was a HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER in Central Park from late November to early December. This is a species normally found in the west, and has only been recorded in New York State twice before. I saw it a total of four times, and additionally was the last person to see it on 12/12.
6. I traveled a lot this summer in the northeast, mostly to look at colleges, so I added species for my Massachusetts (a LOT), Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (a LOT) lists.

I'll follow up on this shortly with a 2018 post.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

May Highlights

Highlights from May

May 16th: The winds overnight were forecast to bring very little migration, but during that morning, the trees were dripping with warblers. During the time I birded in the morning and the afternoon, I saw 23 warbler species, a new record!

I saw a Mourning Warbler feeding on late termite hatchout in a tree on May 28th with others. Also added Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher that day

Very cooperative Kentucky Warbler at Washington Square Park

Very cooperative Blue Grosbeak at Battery Park

2 Summer Tanagers in Central Park

Managed to get Purple Finch singing in the spring on the first of May.

Not highlights

Missed Spotted Sandpiper quite a few times, even one by seconds! Also do not have Willow Flycatcher.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

First Few Weeks of May Highlights

Here is my list of highlights from last last few weeks in taxonomic order:

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will: Seen on 5/7 at the Hallet Sanctuary. Lifer!

Common Nighthawk: Seen on 5/8 at Summit Rock and 5/9 in the Ramble. Both sleeping.

Least Sandpiper: A flock of them were seen on Governors Islamd on 5/7

Red-Headed Woodpecker: One at feeders in beginning of May

White-Eyed Vireo: Heard-only at Belvedere Castle

Yellow-Throated Vireo: One during the month

Worm-Eating Warbler: About 4 seen

Louisiana Waterthrush: 1 on 5/16 at Laupot Bridge

Tennessee Warbler: 1 seen at Turtle Pond early in the month

KENTUCKY WARBLER: Washington Sqaure Park on 5/12. Lifer!

Hooded Warbler: few

Bay-Breasted Warbler: Several

Blackburnian Warbler: Several

White-Crowned Sparrow: Maintenance Meadow beginning of May.

SUMMER TANAGER: female on Sunday at Maintenance Meadows, excellent views of male at Azalea Pond today (5/17)

BLUE GROSBEAK: Battery Park 5/9. Lifer!

Orchard Oriole: 2

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Transitioning to May

On Thursday, April 27th, a new wave of migrants finally started to arrive. In Mugger's Woods I added House Wren and Black-Throated Blue and Green Warblers. At Tupelo Meadow, I added Veery, and at Evodia Field, I added a beautiful Scarlet Tanager. The next day, I added a pair of Solitary Sandpipers hanging around several large puddles at the Compost Heap (this is at the north end), several newly-arrived Grey Catbirds, and a Great Crested Flycatcher and Baltimore Oriole at Evodia Field. On April 29th, I added a whopping 15 species to the year list. These included 9 warbler species, including Hooded Warbler (FOY for park) at Strawberry Fields and Evodia Field, Tennessee Warbler at the Upper Lobe (and likely Bethesda Terrace), a few Blackpoll Warblers (early but here for some reason), and a Cape May and YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER around Tanner's Spring. Other nice species were Yellow-Throated Vireo at Humming Tombstone and White-Crowned Sparrow at Tanner's Spring. The next day, an extremely rare LEAST BITTERN appeared high up in a tree above the Gill, and I got manageable views of this elusive heron.

May Arrives!

On May 1 (Monday), I headed to the Pool for a Lincoln's Sparrow. It took a minute to find it, but it provided great views. As I was walking to the Ravine entrance, I heard a weird song that sounded like a mix between a Warbling Vireo and a House Finch. I was able to locate the singer, which was a Purple Finch, a new year bird for me! In the North Woods, I was able to locate a reported Hooded Warbler, and FINALLY added Winter Wren (a little late) in the Loch. I then went to the Ramble, where I found a beautiful Orchard Oriole at Evodia Field. On Tuesday, I was able to add Tree Swallow at the Reservoir and two male Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks at the feeders. On Wednesday, I added Northern Rough-Winged Swallow at the Reservoir, a few Magnolia Warblers, and a Red-Eyed Vireo at Maintenance Meadow. Now at 135 species for the year, I'm looking forward to Sunday, which seems like it will be an amazing day. Coincidentally, the first day of the second week of May last year was also great, producing one of the most amazing birding days in Central Park that anyone can remember. Will lightning strike twice?