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)
Common Yellowthroat (2)
Canada Warbler (few)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Finding an Early Mourning in the Early Morning

On Thursday morning, I went into the Ramble looking for warblers. It was really hot, and when I first searched it, I found nothing. I then went to Azalea Pond, one of the better spots in August. Just as I was about to leave, I saw a warbler fly past me chasing an insect and land in the shrubs bordering the pond. When I got a look at it, I was about to dismiss it as a Common Yellowthroat, but I noticed that it had a lot more yellow, and a broken eye ring. It then faintly sang and I realized this was a MOURNING WARBLER! They usually show up later in August, and they are really hard to find because they usually don't sing. According to eBird, this is the earliest record of one in fall. Anyway, birds started to show up while I was watching the Mourning Warbler, which were a Black-and-White Warbler, a Northern Waterthrush, and a few American Redstarts. Other than that nice pocket of diversity, I didn't see much other than more redstarts and some Baltimore Orioles. A good early August day, despite the humidity.

26 species seen/heard, including..

MOURNING WARBLER (Immature male at Azalea Pond)
Black-and-White Warbler (Azalea Pond)
American Redstart (Several)
Northern Waterthrush (Azalea Pond)
Eastern Kingbird (Heard at Gill and Turtle Pond, not seen)
Warbling Vireo (Heard)
White-Breasted Nuthatch (Heard)
Baltimore Oriole (4)
American Crow (Flyover of 13)
Red-Tailed Hawk (Near Boathouse)
Great Egret (Turtle Pond)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Targets for the Rest of the Year

I am starting to think about the fall migrant season, and there are several species that are mainly fall migrants, as well as a few I have missed.

Osprey: Possibly seen in March, a common fall migrant. Will probably see if I hawkwatch.

Bald Eagle: Possibly seen in May, a regular fall migrant. Good chance of seeing if I hawkwatch.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk: Very common fall migrants, will probably get.

Other Raptors: Possible with hawkwatching

Merlin: Regular fall migrant, unsure if I will see it.

Killdeer: Possibly seen at Governor's Island, but unsure. This place and Randall's have them, but I need to spot them first!

Solitary Sandpiper: Summer migrant, but a bit hard to find.

Black-Billed Cuckoo: Missed in spring, could get in fall.

Owls: One could show up November/December?

Red-Headed Woodpecker: Rare migrant, but they usually are able to be tracked down.

Empid identities: Hard, but birds may call more in fall, so I have a shot.

Philadelphia Vireo: Near-exclusive fall migrant. Hopefully will see.

Marsh Wren: Rare fall migrant, wanderer could show up.

Connecticut Warbler: Exclusive fall migrant. Hopefully will see.

Yellow-Breasted Chat: Rare, secretive migrant. Hopefully will see.

Rare Sparrows (Grasshopper, Vesper, etc.): One or more species usually appear in fall. Hopefully will see.

Pine Siskin: Hopefully will track a flock of them down!

First Fall Migrants + A Nemisis Bird Surrenders

On the last day of July, I went to the park hoping to find my first warblers of the season. I heard there were several sightings of warblers over the last month, and now they finally start to have regular appearances with the arrival of the first migrants. For a while I did not see anything other than a possible Brown Thrasher. Then, I went to the Humming Tombstone, where I heard the song of a Carolina Wren (Year Bird #147)! They are usually in the park, although for some reason there have been hardly any sightings this year. I also ran into another birder there, who said she saw a few warblers at Turtle Pond and she was looking at some vireos in the trees above us. I saw the vireos, but I also spotted a smaller bird just to the left of them. A Black-and-White Warbler! This is one of the first migrants, still a bit on the early side. The woman also told me that there were a few American Redstarts around, and I found 1 of them. We then went to the Upper Lobe, where we found a Northern Waterthrush. A second pass of it a little bit later revealed a Wood Thrush and Carolina Wren. Actually, there were 2 Carolina Wrens that were calling a lot and giving good views. Hoping that fall brings many more surprises ahead!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Governor's Island 2016

On Thursday, me and Ryan went to Governors Island to look for its specialties. I needed Common Tern for the list, and he needed Fish Crow. Both are pretty easy to get on the island, as many of both species nest there. My first bird on the island was a Laughing Gull, not the most common bird, but still regular here. We then headed over to see the pair of Yellow-Crowned Night Herons that was nesting. We had a general direction, but we didn't know exactly where to find one (one is seen on most occasions). But I spotted the first one as is flew briefly (and subsequently was mobbed by a kestrel), and Ryan spotted the second one on the nest. By this point, we had already seen several Fish Crows, including a fledgling on the ground. We headed to the gull nesting field to look for Killdeer. There were strangely few gulls there (including a trio of Laughing Gulls in the water), but what was stranger is that light refracted of a Herring Gull in the field in such a way, that it made it appear sky blue! Only when it flew away did we realize it wasn't covered in anything, as another gull elsewhere was reported to have fell into curry and turned orange a few weeks before. We saw no Killdeer, but we did see my first Common Terns (#146) of the year, many in fact, going to and from the colony fishing. At Hammock Grove, we saw many Red-Winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows, along with some Barn and one or two Tree Swallows. We then went to the tern colony at Yankee Pier, where we saw the terns feeding their young. An OK day with 23 species seen.

Double-Crested Cormorant
Laughing Gull
Ring-Billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-Backed Gull (just 1)
Common Tern (many)
Rock Pigeon
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker (heard-only)
Eastern Kingbird (near nesting field)
Fish Crow (many)
Tree Swallow (1)
Barn Swallow (many, including 5 fledglings)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird (mimicking several species)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (at least 3)
Song Sparrow
Red-Winged Blackbird
Common Grackle (just 1)
House Sparrow

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Throwback to the Big Weekend

This post is a throwback to my "Big Weekend" that I did exactly 1 month ago. During May 14th-15th, I saw 81 species, including Common Nighthawk, 3 Olive-Sided Flycatchers, 2 Yellow-Billed Cuckoos, and more! The full list is down below. Species highlighted in red were only seen on the 14th, and those highlighted in blue were only seen on the 15th. Those not highlighted were seen on both days.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck (1 at Pool)
Bufflehead (late bird on Reservoir)
Ruddy Duck (2 late birds on Reservoir both days)
Double-Crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Green Heron (flyover at Blockhouse)
Black-Crowned Night Heron (At Upper Lobe)
Red-Tailed Hawk (3)
Spotted Sandpiper (Wagner Cove and Reservoir)
Ring-Billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-Backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (1 at Maintenance Meadow, 1 at Azalea Pond)
Common Nighthawk (Roosting at Great)
Chimney Swift
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-Sided Flycatcher (Summit Rock and Azalea Pond on Sat., North Woods on Sun.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (heard Sat., seen Sun.)
Least Flycatcher (Bow Bridge and Turtle Pond)
Eastern Kingbrrd
Warbling Vireo
Red-Eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow (Many at Reservoir)
Tree Swallow (At Reservoir)
Barn Swallow
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
House Wren (2 on Sun.)
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Uncommon, but seen at Summit Rock Sun.)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (Singing at Blockhouse Sun.)
Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush (late, but birds seen both days)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird (Sat.)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-White Warbler
Mourning Warbler (Male at Oak Bridge)
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler (toughie, but a few seen both days)
Northern Paula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Uncommon, but a few seen both days)
Black-Throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Chipping Sparrow (2 near Sparrow Rock)
Field Sparrow (not very common, bird at Summit Rock Sat. and Turtle Pond Sun.)
White-Throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (Tupelo Meadow, barely missed on Sun.)
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Tanner’s Spring and Oak Bridge)
Eastern Towhee
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Azalea Pond)
Indigo Bunting
Red-Winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-Headed Cowbird (2)
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
House Sparrow