Thursday, December 31, 2015

January 2016 Target List

Now that 2016 is just around the corner, I have to start thinking about how I can beat my total of 158 species this year. This crushed my previous list of 135 for 2014. With this list, I am aiming for at least 160 species.

January: 40-50
February: 5-10
March: 10-15
April: 30-35
May: 35-40
June: 0-5
July: 0-3
August: 2-5
September: 5-10
October: 5-10
November: 0-5
December: 0-3

This list below shows what birds may be added during the month of Janaury. It will be edited as I see more birds.

Probable (39 species)
Canada Goose (Guaranteed at any water body)*
Gadwall (Haven't found in a while, but still a good chance in Central Park)*
American Black Duck (will probably see in Central Park)*
Mallard (Guaranteed at any water body)*
Northern Shoveler (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Bufflehead (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Hooded Merganser (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Ruddy Duck (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Double-Crested Cormorant (Uncommon on Reservoir)
Cooper's Hawk (A few winter each year)*
Red-Tailed Hawk (Will get)*
American Kestrel (Will likely see or hear)
American Coot (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Ring-Billed Gull (Will get)*
Herring Gull (Will get)*
Great Black-Backed Gull (Will get)*
Rock Pigeon (Will get)*
Mourning Dove (Will get)*
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Central Park)*
Downy Woodpecker (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
Northern Flicker (Central Park)*
Blue Jay (Will get)* Year bird #1!
American Crow (Will probably see somewhere)*
Black-Capped Chickadee (Will get)*
Tufted Titmouse (Will get)*
White-Breasted Nuthatch (Will get)*
Brown Creeper (Hard to find, but good chance I will see one)
American Robin (Will get)*
European Starling (Will get)*
Fox Sparrow (Probably will get in Central Park)*
Song Sparrow (Probably will get in Central Park)*
White-Throated Sparrow (Will get)*
Dark-Eyed Junco (Probably will get in Central Park)*
Northern Cardinal (Will get)*
Common Grackle (Will get)*
House Finch (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
American Goldfinch (Guaranteed in Central Park)*
House Sparrow (Will get)*

Possible (28 species)
Brant (East River, probably will see this year)
Wood Duck (less this year, but still a good chance in Central Park)*
Ring-Necked Duck (continuing bird at the Reservoir)*
Red-Breasted Merganser (East River or Reservoir)
Pied-Billed Grebe (Reservoir)*
Great Blue Heron (Rare winterer)
Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Uncommon winterer)
Red-Shouldered Hawk (Rare winterer, flyover)
Merlin (Rare winterer)
Peregrine Falcon (Resident, but may not find)*
Great Horned Owl (Continuing bird at feeders, will likely overwinter)
Other owls (They can show up mid-winter)
Hairy Woodpecker (Uncommon winterer)*
Red-Breasted Nuthatch (Rare winterer)*
Carolina Wren (Uncommon winterer)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (I saw quite a few in December, so some may stick around)
Hermit Thrush (Uncommon winterer)
Gray Catbird (Uncommon winterer)
Northern Mockingbird (May see somewhere)
Brown Thrasher (Rare winterer)
Cedar Waxwing (Uncommon winterer)
Eastern Towhee (Uncommon winterer)
American Tree Sparrow (Rare winterer)
Swamp Sparrow (Uncommon winterer)
Red-Winged Blackbird (Uncommon winterer)
Rusty Blackbird (Rare winterer)
Brown-Headed Cowbird (Uncommon winterer)
Pine Siskin (Uncommon winterer)*

Longshots (15+ species)
Mute Swan (Could a wanderer appear?)
American Wigeon (Semi-annual wanderer)
Northern Pintail (Can turn up in winter)
Green-Winged Teal (Occasional winterer)
Greater and Lesser Scaup (Can turn up in winter)
Common Merganser (Not looking like a good year, but still possible)
Common Loon (Reservoir)
Turkey Vulture (Lingering flyover?)
Bald Eagle (Flyover)
'White-Winged' Gull (Annual in county)
Common Raven (Sightings increasing year-round)
Any warblers (With all the warm weather, it's always possible one may stick around)
(UPDATE 1/7: Got Orange-Crowned Warbler)
Winter Wren (Rare winterer)
Chipping Sparrow (Very rare in winter)
Common Redpoll (Another irruption will probably happen this year)*

Unexpected Rarities
Snow Goose (Pair at Reservoir)
Purple Sandpiper (near Randall's Island)
Nashville Warbler (Inwood Hill Park)
Lapland Longspur (Randall's Island)
Snow Bunting (UTHANT Island)
Baltimore Oriole (Midtown on East Side)

Some 2015 Facts

Best bird by month:
January: Common Redpoll at the Central Park feeders, 1/25 thru early March
February: American Tree Sparrow at the Central Park feeders, 2/1 thru early March
March: Bald Eagle flying over the park, 3/29
April: Chuck-Will's-Widow at Bryant Park, 4/13
May: 2 Bay-Breasted Warblers at Azalea Pond in Central Park, 5/16
June: 2 nesting Yellow-Crowned Night Herons at Governor's Island, 6/19
July: Yellow Warblers at Central Park (there was nothing better to see)
August: Alder Flycatcher at Tupelo Meadow in Central Park, 8/28
September: Connecticut Warbler at Trinity Church, 9/22
October: Sora at the Loch in Central Park, 10/17
November: Pacific-Slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher at Central Park, 11/21
December: Orange-Crowned Warbler near the MET museum in Central Park, 12/20

Best bird of 2015: Pacific-Slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher at Central Park, 11/21
Worst bird of 2015: House Sparrow
Biggest miss of 2015: Prairie Warbler
Best month of 2015: May (40 species added)
Worst month of 2015: July (0 species added)
Most new species in a day: 1/4 (25 species)
Most new species in a day not in January: 5/3 (13 species)
Lifers: 17
County Lifers: 21
Rarities: 15
Warbler Count: 30 (27 in spring, 20 in fall)
Birds added outside of Central Park: 19
Number of self-found species: 130 out of 158 (82.2%)
Number of birds seen in other years, but not in 2015: 18

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 10 Birds of 2015!

Here are my top 10 birds of 2015. This year, there was quite a selection to choose from, with around 25 notable birds, but here are the ones that stood out.

10. Yellow-Crowned Night Herons on Governor's Island, 6/19. Rare visitor in the county. These birds were the first nesting pair in the county, offering me great views as they hung out around their nest. I later found out that they were successful, as well as that a second nesting pair was there too.
9. Great Horned Owl in Central Park's Ramble, 11/8 up to now. Scarce in the county. Just as I was about to give up on seeing an owl this year, this bird showed up and offered great views at times, as well as attracting crowds waiting to see it fly out.
8. Red-Headed Woodpecker in Central Park at the Oven, 10/26 thru November. Rare migrant/winterer for county. This bird which I thought may not show up put on a great show where it took up residence for a month.
7. Vesper Sparrow in Central Park near the Great Lawn, 10/6 and 10/7. Rare migrant for county. After missing this bird a few days prior, it felt great to see it twice while in the company of several other sparrow species.
6. Orange-Crowned Warbler in Central Park near the MET museum, 12/20. Scarce fall migrant for county. The one bird I felt like I should have seen at some point during the season, yet saw it on the last day of fall when one was found on the Christmas Bird Count.
5. Chuck-Will's-Widow in Bryant Park, 4/12. Rare spring overshoot for the county. Seen sleeping in a tree and only getting up once to preen.
4. Connecticut Warbler at Trinity Church, 9/22. Scarce migrant for the county. Seen foraging in the cemetery along with several other warblers.
3. Common Redpoll in Central Park at the feeders, late January-early March. Rare irruptive species for NYC. Seen sporatically at the feeders with other finches and sparrows.
2. Sora in Central Park's Ravine, 10/18. Rare migrant for the park. Injured bird seen well in the open and seemed healthy.
1. Pacific-Slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher in Central Park near Boathouse, 11/21. Rare for eastern North America, only the second record of this species pair for New York. Gave great views, and was seen by a lot of people.

All of these birds were seen by me last year but I missed them all. Excluding rarities, here are the misses:

Least Flycatcher: I probably saw several this year, but couldn't conclusively identify one
Cuckoos: Missed both of them despite being regular migrants. May have seen one, but not sure.
Broad-Winged Hawk: Bad hawk migration year, and not many were seen by others.
Red-Shouldered Hawk: Should've seen one flyover this fall, but missed this one.
Long-Eared Owl: Looked for it on the one day it must've changed a roosting spot in March.
Prairie Warbler: Easily the biggest miss of the year, despite being common. Somehow couldn't find one, and missed several by minutes.

Friday, December 25, 2015

CP Christmas Bird Count 2015!

Sunday was the 116th Central Park Christmas Bird Count. I was in the Ramble group just like the year before. Just before we left, I found the Reservoir's only RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET of the day. Then we were off, and headed to Triplet's Bridge to see if we could find a Black-and-White Warbler that was seen there. The place was barren, so we headed to Strawberry Fields, where we had a GRAY CATBIRD, as well as a few Hermit Thrushes (missed) and a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. In the Ramble, we were only finding the common species. Many expected species were missed, including Dark-Eyed Junco, Northern Flicker, Herring Gull, and Fox Sparrow. The GREAT HORNED OWL was in its usual spot at the feeders, making it only the second time one has been seen on the count. Near the end of the count, we decided to make a detour to try to find an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER found by another group just south of the MET Museum. We unfortunately couldn't find it. We then went to the Arsenal near the zoo where we tallied up all the birds seen. The biggest surprise was finding out that besides the Orange-Crowned, two other warbler species were seen, which were a BLACK-AND-WHITE (first ever for the count!) just south of Strawberry Fields, and a WILSON'S in the North Woods. Other than Orange-Crowned, warblers are extremely rare on the count, meaning two species was a big surprise, probably because its been so warm. After the tally, me and Ryan went to try to look for the Black-and-White Warbler, which we missed. We then headed to look for the Orange-Crowned Warbler a second time, seeing a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet along the way at Belvedere Castle. When we got there, we found people looking at the bird! Year bird #158! This was likely the last year bird I'll see this year, since hardly anything rare shows up in the county now. The warbler was a miss in fall, but rarely appears in early winter. It was feeding out in the open with another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and gave great views before disappearing high up in a tree. Heading south to see the owl again, I saw the crowd watching the owl. I was then surprised to see another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet taking food from the feeders, something I have never seen one do. Anyway, the count still recorded a fair amount of species, with over 50 seen throughout the park. Here are some of the highlights

3 Brown Thrashers (North part of park)
2 Gray Catbirds
About a dozen Hermit Thrushes
Several Cedar Waxwings
4 Ruby-Crowned Kinglets (a few more likely in the park)
3 Fox Sparrows (Seen by separate observer in the Ramble)
11 Song Sparrows
BELTED KINGFISHER (Surprise! Presumably seen near Turtle Pond)
1 Hairy Woodpecker (North End)
1 GREAT HORNED OWL (Second time on the count)
1 Pied-Billed Grebe (Reservoir)
1 RING-NECKED DUCK (Third year in a row with this rarity on the count)

Additionally, someone reported a Common Yellowthroat the day before the count.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Painted Bunting in Prospect Park

Last Saturday, I went to Prospect Park in Brooklyn to search for the male PAINTED BUNTING that had taken up residence at the LeFrak Center. I spotted the crowd of people and headed over there, where I got great views of the bird. However, this is not a lifer, as I saw a female in November 2012 in Alley Pond Park in Queens. I then walked around Prospect Lake looking for a BLACK-HEADED GULL that had been seen there. Along the way, I got horrible views of an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER that had been around. I couldn't pick out the gull, but I found an AMERICAN WIGEON as a consolation prize. A lifer, a rarity, and a surprise definitely make this a good day

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Find a Fall Rarity!

Just as I was about to enter the park at 79th street and 5th avenue on Friday, I spotted a weird looking bird silhouette fly across the street into a tree. When I put my binoculars on it, I was shocked. It was a big flycatcher with yellow on its belly, something that should be hundreds of miles away! I only had the bird in my sights for a few minutes, so I didn't see enough details to identify it. Plumages can also vary, leading to misidentifications. I think this bird was most likely a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, with some chance of it also being a WESTERN KINGBIRD as well as the minute chance of it being other 'western' kingbirds or Ash-Throated Flycatcher. I later learned that someone else had seen it around the same time and also thought it looked like a Great Crested Flycatcher. Since I can't identify it, I'll put it in the possible section of my year list. Anyway, after that, I went to search for a late AMERICAN REDSTART that had been reported. It was almost too easy. As soon as I arrived near Evodia Field, I started hearing chipping which definitely came from the bird. A bit of direction from some of the 'Great Horned Owl' watchers (yes, that's a thing now) led me straight to the bird, which was flycatching right at eye level. As I watched the redstart, a GRAY CATBIRD came into view in the stream, a great surprise. Then I joined the owl watchers and waited for the owl to fly out, which it did around 5 pm.