Saturday, December 31, 2016

January 2017 Target List

With the new year comes new county year list. Here are the birds I may add on my year list in January. If it goes anything like 2016, I should get between 50 and 60 species in this month.

Brant (waterways)
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Hooded Merganser
Pied-Billed Grebe
Ruddy Duck
Double-Crested Cormorant
Cooper's Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
American Kestrel (city residents)
Peregrine Falcon (city residents)
American Coot
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (least amount in winter)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-Capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Hermit Thrush (several usually overwinter)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird (will probably come across this species, probably north of 86th st)
European Starling
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow (uncommon in winter, but Reservoir is probably a reliable spot)
White-Throated Sparrow
Dark-Eyed Junco

American Wigeon (Female on Reservoir 12/25, male on CBC)
Northern Pintail (Long-staying immature male at Pond)
Green-Winged Teal (Male has been at Pond for about a week)
Red-Breasted Merganser (East River, or wanderer to Reservoir)
Great Blue Heron (Occasional in winter)
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Red-Breasted Nuthatch (With the irruption, there's a decent chance I will come across this species)
Carolina Wren (likely 1 or 2 hanging around in the park that I may run into)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (a few could make it into January) UPDATE: They did.
Eastern Towhee (One or two overwinter)
Swamp Sparrow (One or two overwinter)
Brown-Headed Cowbird

Another rare duck species
Any Owl
Red-Shouldered Hawk: (Rare in winter)
Bald Eagle (Rare in winter)
Iceland Gull: (Annual at this point on Reservoir, also seen on CBC)
Common Raven
Common Yellowthroat (One at Pond on CBC.)
American Tree Sparrow

Common Loon (104th street footbridge)
Great Cormorant (Randall's Island)
Black-Crowned Night Heron (Randall's Island)
Red-Headed Woodpecker (68th Street Gazebo)

Pocket Park birds I could try for

Brown Thrasher: Has stayed in pocket parks in the past (got in Central Park!)
Gray Catbird: Often a few overwinter in pocket parks.
Ovenbird: In some Januarys there have been Ovenbirds in Bryant Park, could linger in a park. One in Inwood on CBC.
Yellow-Breasted Chat: Not sure if City Hall Park bird is still there, but seen on CBC.
Eastern Towhee
Swamp Sparrow: Often a few that overwinter in pocket parks.

2016 highlights

I had a great year, with a record 164 species for me this year in the county. Here are my top 10 birds of 2016.

10. Great Horned Owl: A lingering bird from last year, giving good looks around Evodia Field until early February.
9. Snow Geese: This pair of birds was at the Reservoir in mid January, and offered great looks at this rare species to see not in flight in the county.
8. Yellow-Throated Warbler: A rarity I have never seen in Central Park, I got good looks at this bird on April 14th and 15th near Maintenance Meadow after much waiting
7. Virginia Rail: A very hard to find migrant, I waited at a stakeout at the Swampy Pin Oak for almost an hour before the bird appeared, offering great views.
6. Philadelphia Vireo: This was the last regular Central Park migrant I needed on my life list. I chased quite a few reports in September before I found one in Maintenance Meadow on September 17th.
5. Western Tanager: A rare vagrant from the western United States, I saw this bird on Thanksgiving in City Hall Park, which gave identifiable, but less than ideal views.
4. Yellow-Breasted Chats: A nemesis bird I had missed in 2014 and 2015, I thought I could get one this year, but kept missing them in the spring and fall. On October 30th, I finally got one staked out at Sparrow Rock, but only got a brief look. However, during the next couple of days, I got amazing looks at this hard-to-find warbler. I also had another cooperative chat in City Hall Park while taking breaks from the Western Tanager.
3. Clay-Colored Sparrow: Me, Ryan, and a few others were searching for a Vesper Sparrow on September 25th at the north end of Central Park, when someone yelled "Clay-Colored Sparrow". We rushed up the hill and were treated to great views of this rarity for about 15 minutes before the bird disappeared and wasn't refound. We also did not find the Vesper Sparrow.
2. Swainson's Warbler: Me and Ryan joked about this species being the bird that we would TOTALLY find around every corner. When we heard one was at Strawberry Fields on April 28th, we were dumbfounded when our prediction was correct. Dozens of birders, including us, were treated to looks at it foraging under a bush just a few feet away!
1. Connecticut Warbler: I assumed this bird would be found at some point in September, but not by me. On September 6th, I was scanning a flock of warblers by the Pilgrim Statue near East 72 street, when I flushed this bird, and was surprised to find the park's first of the season of what would turn out to be very productive for this species. I lost the bird after several minutes, but others who heard about it refound the warbler about an hour and a half later. For finding this rare, skulky migrant being cooperative in a place nobody would expect, this takes the title of my best bird of the year!

Also notable was finding 3 Common Nighthawks (in flight) and Mourning Warblers, as well as the insane fallout of May 8th and the fantastic big days then and May 14th, May 15th, and September 25th.

Tomorrow morning, I will continue the tradition of racking up as much of a year (and day) list as you can to start out the year with a bang!

Monday, December 26, 2016

End of Florida Trip

On Christmas Day, my last in Florida, I didn't think I would add any more birds to the trip list. However, I added two new birds. First was a heard-only Red-Bellied Woodpecker in the community. Second was a roadside Loggerhead Shrike on the way to the airport. Overall, this was a very productive trip, with many incredible birds seen. Here are some stats from the trip.

# of species: 65
Non-natives: 7 (Pigeon, Starling, House Sparrow, Muscovy Duck, Egyptian Goose, Gray-Headed Swamphen, Monk Parakeet)
Most Unexpected: Tie between Wilson's Snipe and Caspian Tern (both flyovers). Brown Pelican also deserves a mention because I spotted a pair of birds several miles from the coast.

Lifers (16):
Wood Stork, Muscovy Duck, Mottled Duck, Tricolored Heron, Black Vulture, Sandhill Crane, Caspian Tern, Anhinga, Limpkin, Gray-Headed Swamphen, Common Gallinule, Wilson's Snipe, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Purple Gallinule, Egyptian Goose, Loggerhead Shrike.

Likely Species Seen:
Dove sp.: I saw a lot of doves, but they were always driveby birds. Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove are both common here, and I probably saw both. White-Winged Dove is also found here.
Great-Crested Flycatcher and Western Kingbird: I saw a few driveby birds that looked good for Great-Crested Flycatcher, and one that looked good for Western Kingbird, but did not get a firm ID.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Palm Beach Day 6 & 7

Day 6 didn't feature much birding, and no new species were added that day. However, today on Day 7, I went on an airboat ride through Loxahatchee  NWR (basically the Everglades). On the way there, I finally spotted the other one of two introduced waterfowl species to south Florida, which came in the form of three Egyptian Geese on the side of the road. As I progressed closer to the refuge, the typical Florida scenery transformed into forests and wetlands. I saw a few deer run by, and American Kestrels (finally added this) and Red-Shouldered Hawks lined the road. At the refuge entrance, Northern Rough-Winged Swallows lined the wires, and Black Vultures crowded around the radio tower.  I was out on the water for about an hour, and I saw a lot of alligators and plenty of herons and Anhingas. Despite the abundance of wildlife, I only added one species to the trip list, which were many Tree Swallows in the wetlands. Tomorrow is my last day in Florida, and I don't think I will see anything new, but I'll just have to wait and see!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Palm Beach Day 4 & 5

Yesterday, I stuck to birding in the community. Still, I added 3 new species, which were Eastern Phoebe, Black-and-White Warbler, and 2 Brown Pelicans, the latter of which flew over a mall I was getting lunch at (despite being several miles from the coast). Today I went to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. I expected it to be similar to the Green Cay Wetlands, but it was very different. While Green Cay had vast tracts of marsh bordered by groves of trees, the Wakodahatchee Wetlands had areas of marsh grasses, open water, and many tiny islands. The birds were also more active, with the shrieking of the Common Gallinules echoing throughout the marshes. Unlike Green Cay, there was a rookery, and some of the birds were already building nests. One Great Blue Heron nest even had two chicks! I added 3 species to my list, which were Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks, Purple Gallinule (which I missed at Green Cay), and Black-Crownrd Night Heron. With my trip total sitting around 60 species, I don't think I can add more than a few more to the list, but I'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Palm Beach Day 3

Unlike the first two days, I only added one new bird for the trip (Great Blue Heron). There was also a decent sized flock of warblers this morning containing all 5 species I had seen previously. The real show was when I went to the Green Cay Wetlands. In the parking lot alone, I added Pine Warbler, Common Grackle, and Northern Cardinal (heard) to my trip list. At the wetlands, there were many herons, and surprisingly, the predominant species was Tricolored, and one even landed on the boardwalk and let me walk right by it. I saw many marsh species, but perhaps the most interesting were the Gray-Headed Swamphens. These gigantic rails are not native to Florida, and are escapees from collections that have since multiplied and spread around south Florida. I saw 5, and these birds are bad for the ecosystem because they like to eat the marsh grasses, but only the roots, and as a result they can clear a lot of grass in a short amount of time. Fortunately, they don't seem to have made much of an impact yet. Just as I was about to leave, I spotted a bird circling the marsh that looked a bit like a cormorant or Anhinga. When I put my binoculars on it, it was clear that it was a Wilson's Snipe. Why it was circling ID anyone's guess, but it was a great way to end the day.

Other species added:
Blue Jay (3 heard)
Painted Bunting (3 at feeder)
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Common Gallinule (about a dozen)
Green Heron
Red-Winged Blackbird (several)
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow (4)
Blue-Winged Teal (14)
Common Yellowthroat (3)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Palm Beach Day 2

This morning was amazing. After I added Double-Crested Cormorant (probably saw earlier), I added Yellow-Throated Warbler and Tricolored Heron (lifer!). I then noticed 3 large shapes across the water.  They turned out to be a trio of Sanhill Cranrs (lifer!)! Then I spot a strange bird that reminded me of a Black Skimmer, but they don't occur inland. This was actually a Caspian Tern (lifer) a species not on my radar. It made a few passes over the lakes before departing. I then go to lunch, add some Fish Crows, and notice a pond with some fountains in it. At this pond, I added many American Coots, Anhinga (lifer), several Ring-Necked Ducks, a few Pied-Billed Grebes, and some Monk Parakeets. Back at the community that evening, I added a Limpkin and a Prarie Warbler in the flock of Yellow-Rumped and Palm Warblers. My list stands at about 40 species now, and I'm hoping to reach 50 very soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Palm Beach Day 1

I'm currently in Palm Beach, Florida. I'm hoping to find a lot of new birds for my life list. I will be posting every day to update readers on my progress.I arrived last night, so I didn't see any birds save for a few ducks I think were mallards. We arrived at our lakeside community late at night. The next morning, I headed to one of the lakes to see what was there. I spotted a Little Blue Heron, a Glossy Ibis, and lots of Turkey Vultures. I then went to a restaurant for breakfast, and I the way I added starlings, pigeons, White Ibisies, Boat-Tailed Grackle, and Great Egret. Outside the restaurant, I scanned the skies and found a pair of Black Vultures soaring with the numerous Turkey Vultures, my first lifer of the trip. I  then went food shopping, and added Osprey, Northern Mockingbird, a roadside Belted Kingfisher on the way. When I got there  I saw a large black and white bird soaring overhead. It was a Wood Stork, my second lifer of the trip! I also spotted a Cooper's Hawk too. When I got back to the community, a Cattle Egret greeted me at the entrance, and I also spotted my first Mottled and Muscovy ducks, both lifers, as well as another Wood Stork and some Snowy Egrets. That evening, I spotted a pair of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and a Northern Parula, but that was nothing compared to the flock of Palm and Yellow-Rumped Warblers settling in for the night. I saw 21 species today, and hope to add more in the coming days

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Over the years, I've noticed a pattern. Over recent years, every November or December usually features at least one western vagrant that hasn't been seen in Manhattan for several years, and sometimes never. Among these past rarities are Varied Thrush, Rufous Hummingbird, Pacific-Slope Flycatcher, and Couch's Kingbird. But when I heard about a lone report of a Western Tanager at City Hall Park the day before Thanksgiving, I felt on edge, but kept watching the alerts carefully in case someone else confirmed it. This bird has not been seen in Manhattan since a bird appeared in Central Park in April 2008. Several birders went down to City Hall that afternoon, but nobody saw it. The next morning, a few birders lucked out and refound the tanager. I headed down there that afternoon and came across a group of birders looking at it. The WESTERN TANAGER (#164) was very high up, but it still offered identifiable views. Perhaps the strangest thing about this park was its diversity. For some reason, various species, including some that should be well south of the city, choose to linger for days or weeks in pocket parks like this one. I saw an Ovenbird, 2 Black-Throated Blue Warblers, and a Yellow-Breasted Chat, all of which gave great views and should be over 1000 miles south. Others also saw 2 Common Yellowthroats which I missed despite my best efforts. This park proved to be an amazing little patch of green, and produced almost 20 species. Here is what I saw:

Red-Tailed Hawk
2 Downy Woodpeckers
3 Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers
3 Hermit Thrushes
Fox Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrows
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
House Sparrow

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day of Late and Uncommon Birds

On October 30th, I heard of a Yellow-Breasted Chat reported at Sparrow Rock, along with a few late migrants. I went to the park and headed towards Sparrow Rock, only to find no chat and many people. I then went to the west side of the Great Lawn in search of an Orange-Crowned Warbler and an empid. I found neither, but then ran into another birder. who told me that he saw a Blackpoll Warbler there. I kept looking, only finding a Field Sparrow. Just as I was about to leave the area, I spotted a warbler in the open in one of the trees. The Blackpoll Warbler! This is when my luck started to turn. Continuing my search or stuff in the area as well as Locust Grove, I heard that the Orange-Crowned Warbler was seen briefly at the west side of the Great Lawn. There were a bunch of birders there who arrived too late, but I spotted a rustle in some white flowers that I thought may not be a sparrow. I pished a bit and it revealed itself to be the Orange-Crowned Warbler. It stayed there for a minute before going back into the bushes. I then heard that the chat was being seen again, so I rushed over to Sparrow Rock, where I had a brief, naked eye look of what was certainly the YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (#163), but it immediately took off and was not seen again that day. Fortunately, it remained in the area for several more days, during which I got amazing looks at it, along with a late House Wren I found there. Back to the rest of the day, I went back to the Locust Grove area trying to find late birds, when I flushed a drab, brown bird with some sparrows. An Indigo Bunting! I found this late bird on October 26th, and it's been seen by a few people since then. Overall a very good day for late October, with me seeing 5 warbler species, including the elusive Yellow-Breasted Chat!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Red-Headed Woodpecker 2016

On Tuesday, October 18th, I heard of a report of Red-Headed Woodpecker at Laupot Bridge. After entering Central Park and going through the Pinetum and Shakespeare Garden. I arrived at the woodpecker spot. It was being seen up in a tall locust tree when I got there, and it took me a minute to spot it, but I got great views of the adult RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (#162). The bird stayed in the tree for more than a half hour, and I also had a late Magnolia Warbler in the same location to keep me company while the woodpecker was hiding. It eventually flew off, but others saw it later that afternoon. Ever since then, there have been occasional reports of  Red-Headed Woodpecker in the Ramble, and recently a younger bird has taken up residence at Sheep Meadow. At this stage in year listing, the only regular birds that I have a chance of getting are some of the later migrating raptors and Pine Siskins (if they ever show up). Rarities are what I'm hoping for, and I hope to find one of them no matter what it is. Last fall, other than the "large yellow-bellied" flycatcher in December, I had no rarities, but I did have some late migrants, including Pine Warbler and Black-and-White Warbler in November.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

American Wigeon 2016

On October 6th, an American Wigeon was reported somewhere in Central Park. While the report seemed reliable, nobody knew where it could be. Only at the end of the day did someone spot it (a female) at the Harlem Meer, and by that time many birders have gone home. On the 7th, it was refound and I went up there to search for it in the afternoon. When I got there, I noticed that there were dozens of Gadwalls and Northern Shovelers I had to sort through to find the wigeon. I headed to the south end after failing to spot it in the flock, where I did find a beautiful Black-Throated Green Warbler, but then I had an idea. I should head to the steps on the northeast corner of the Meet because it appeared to be the best vantage point that wasn't facing the sun and there appeared to be a few birders there. When I got there, they told me it was close to the reedy shore within the duck flock and left. It was hard to sort through the sleeping shovelers and similar-looking female Gadwalls, but I was able to pick out the American Wigeon among the flock (#160) after several minutes. This was a repeat of last year, with another bird, a male, present around the same time. Also a repeat, 2 Green-Winged Teal had been reported there instead of just 1, but I decided to skip it as it was getting late (at least one of the teal was on the west side of the Meer). From here on out, other than Pine Siskin and some raptors, I have to rely on fall rarities to increase my year list.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Marsh Wren 2016

On Tuesday, September 27, I went to try to search for a Marsh Wren spotted near in the Lower Lobe in Central Park (the southwestern corner of the Lake). When I got there, among the House Sparrows, I spotted a small, green warbler foraging in the shrubs right next to the path. What would a warbler be doing there? It was easy to identify it as a Tennessee Warbler! Not new for the year or even the fall, but still a very unique opportunity to observe it up close. After a few minutes of watching it, I searched for the Marsh Wren, but came up empty and gave up. It was seen about 45 minutes after I left. The next day, I tried for it again. First, I and other birders refound the Tennessee Warbler, and discovered that there was a second one with it. We then started to search for the wren, but it was extremely difficult. Not only was there plenty of places for it to hide, but there were also Common Yellowthroats, Song, and Swamp Sparrows, as well as the Tennessee Warblers to confuse it with. After over an hour, we spotted the wren distantly flying across the Lake. I searched on the other side but could not refind it. After about 10 more minutes, we refound the MARSH WREN (#159) and were greatly rewarded for our efforts. The wren came within 2 feet of us at times! It gave great views and was agitated by a pair of raccoons nearby, but somehow successfully scared them off. After about 15 minutes the wren flew deeper into the cattails. With the light fading and many good looks at the wren, I decided to call it a night.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sparrow of Clay on the Unintentional Big Day!

On Sunday morning, I was in Central Park by 7 am, and there was clearly some activity. I saw birds flying left and right as I made my way to Strawberry Field, but only identified a few, including a Winter Wren. The most impressive thing on the way there was the flight of flickers, which contained several dozen Northern Flickers all headed south. I then arrived at Strawberry Fields, where I saw the birds I wasn't looking for, which included Brown Creeper and a pair of Dark-Eyed Juncos, which seemed like omens of a migration day filled with later, less impressive migrants. However, as time went by, it changed for the better and warblers started to appear. In the end, I had about a dozen warbler species in Strawberry Fields alone. I then went through the Ramble for a bit, and then did a raptor watch at Belvedere Castle for a few hours with Ryan. Unfortunately, we failed to spot anything notable. We went back into the Ramble, and it wasn't long before we received word of a Vesper Sparrow near Nutter's Battery at the north end of the park. We decided to head up there, and we arrived in just over a half hour. We looked for the sparrow, along with a few other birders, and we also found several species of warblers there. As we were scanning at the bottom of the hill, we heard someone yell "Clay-Colored Sparrow!". Wait, what? Why would something rare like that show up as we were looking for a Vesper Sparrow? We got to the top of the hill within seconds, and after less than a minute, the bird appeared with a flock of Palm Warblers. It was like a Chipping Sparrow, but had many more shades of brown, beige, and gray than a Chipping Sparrow, as well as black lines all over the face, making this a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW(#158). Over the next 15 minutes, the bird gave great views in the flock, before flying off and disappearing for good. This species is very rare, only appearing once or twice a year in the park, if at all. Being in the right place at the right time was very good for me, giving me a life bird! I did not bird much after the sparrow, and ended the day with a whopping 73 species!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pintail Pond

On Wednesday, I heard that a female Northern Pintail was found on Turtle Pond. That afternoon, I headed over there to try and find it. I walked around the pond and couldn't find it. Then, I read that it was hanging close to shore on the east end of the pond. I got there and found the NORTHERN PINTAIL (#157)! It was got really close, giving amazing views. This bird is a near-annual visitor to the park, and I did not expect to see one this year.  2 more birds to go until I break my record!

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


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)
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

Friday, June 10, 2016

Central Park Bird Report 6/10

Species seen from 5/28-6/10:

Gadwall (few)*
Great Blue Heron*
Great Egret*
Snowy Egret (mostly flyovers)
Black-Crowned Night Heron*
Turkey Vulture (flyovers)*
Black and Yellow-Billed Cuckoos* (few)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (few)
Olive-Sided Flycatcher (few in May)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (several)*
Acadian Flycatcher (few)
Willow/Alder Flycatcher (several)*
Great Crested Flycatcher (few)
Eastern Kingbird (several, nesting)*
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow*
Barn Swallow (nesting)*
House Wren
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (few)*
Swainson's Thrush (several)*
Wood Thrush (few)*
Brown Thrasher (one at Gill Source, 5/31)*
Cedar Waxwing (many)*
Northern Parula (several)*
Yellow Warbler (several)*
Magnolia Warbler (several)*
Black-Throated Green Warbler (few)
Blackpoll Warbler (several)*
Hooded Warbler (one at north end, 6/8)
American Redstart (several)*
Black-and-White Warbler (one seen early June)
Ovenbird (few)
Northern Waterthrush (few)
Mourning Warbler (several)*
Common Yellowthroat (several)*
Canada Warbler (few, one seen on 6/8 at Turtle Pond)*
Eastern Towhee (one at Evodia Field)*
White-Throated Sparrow (few)*

EXTRALIMITAL: Yellow-Crowned Night Heron nesting on Governor's Island

Friday, June 3, 2016

May in Review and June Targets

May was a great month. I started it off with few additions, but got a lifer, which were 3 SEASIDE SPARROWS by 55th street and the West Side Highway. When fallout hit on the 8th, I got many migrants a bit later than normal, but it also gave me rarities, which were AMERICAN BITTERN (Oven), YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Point), and CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW (Mugger's Woods), along with Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (didn't see last year), which I would see more of that month. The next day, I got good looks at a Hooded Warbler, along with Wilson's and 16 other species of warbler. On what I would call the "big weekend" (May 14-15), I had many additions including 3 Olive-Sided Flycatchers (both days, self-found one), 2 Spotted Sandpipers (Sunday), Mourning Warbler (Sunday, self-found on the 28th), a definite (singing) Gray-Cheeked Thrush (Sunday), and a sleeping Common Nighthawk at the Great Hill (Sunday). In the second half of the month, I had several Bay-Breasted and Blackburnian Warblers. On the 18th, I successfully refound a singing Tennessee Warbler at Belvedere Castle (I don't know how I did it!) and the following day I saw a CERULEAN WARBLER at the Humming Tombstone. My last addition was long overdue, a Turkey Vulture flying high over the Polish Statue on the 29th. Meanwhile, June seems like it has almost no potential. The only place where I might find stuff is Governor's Island (Common Tern, Killder, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, and even there, a few of its targets have already been seen by me (Laughing Gull, Fish Crow). Also, never rule out the potential for a rarity!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Central Park Bird Report

Birds Reported:

EXTRALIMITAL***: 9 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS at Marine Park in Brooklyn today!

Snowy Egret (flyovers)
Spotted Sandpiper
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (few)
Black-Billed Cuckoo (few)
Common Nighthawk (evenings)
Olive-Sided Flycatcher (few)
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (north end Friday)
Warbling Vireo
Red-Eyed Vireo
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Gray-Cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Cedar Waxwing (abundant)
Nashville Warbler (one)
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (few)
Black-Throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler (several)
Bay-Breasted Warbler (one at Belvedere on Wednesday)
Blackpoll Warbler
American Redstart
Black-and-White Warbler
PROTHONTARY WARBLER (reported on Thursday at Azalea Pond)
Mourning Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Wednesday and Thursday at Strawberry Fields)
Eastern Towhee (few)
White-Throated Sparrow (several)
Scarlet Tanager
DICKCISSEL* (Young male at Great Hill on Friday and today)
Common Yellowthroat
Baltimore Oriole

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Central Park Rare Bird Report 5/21/16

Bufflehead* (one lingering on Reservoir)
Snowy Egret (flyovers)
Green Heron
Spotted Sandpiper*
Solitary Sandpiper
Laughing Gull (reported at Reservoir)
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Black-Billed Cuckoo
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Olive-Sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow/Alder Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird*
Blue-Headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo*
Red-Eyed Vireo*
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Bank Swallow (few reports)
Barn Swallow*
House Wren
Gray-Cheeked Thrush*
Swainson's Thrush*
Hermit Thrush (few)
Wood Thrush*
Cedar Waxwing*
Tennessee Warbler*
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula*
Yellow Warbler*
Chestnut-Sided Warbler*
Magnolia Warbler*
Cape May Warbler*
Black-Throated Blue Warbler*
Yellow-Rumped Warbler* (few)
Blackburnian Warbler*
Palm Warbler (late, few)
Bay-Breasted Warbler*
Blackpoll Warbler*
Hooded Warbler (few)
American Redstart*
CERULEAN WARBLER (One or two seen at Gill Source and Humming Tombstone, 5/19)
Black-and-White Warbler*
Northern Waterthrush*
Mourning Warbler (few sightings)
Common Yellowthroat*
KENTUCKY WARBLER (One seen at Tueplo Meadow, 5/19)
Wilson's Warbler*
Canada Warbler*
Eastern Towhee* (few)
White-Throated Sparrow* (few)
SUMMER TANAGER (One or two seen at Captain's Bench and Humming Tombstone, 5/19)
Scarlet Tanager*
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak*
Indigo Bunting*
Orchard Oriole* (less)
Baltimore Oriole*

Cerulean Warbler!

On Thursday, a Cerulean and Kentucky Warbler were both seen in the Ramble, so that evening, I went out to the park, hoping to at least find the Cerulean. I got to the Humming Tombstone, and saw a large crowd of people gathered under the tree. Most were not looking up. But when I approached them, they told me it was in a big tree, but was not seen for a few minutes. Just a few seconds later, I saw movement and it turned out to be the CERULEAN WARBLER (Lifer!)! After that, me and Ryan ran up to the Reservoir, where the warbler show continued, as well as the Bufflehead, and I spotted a Spotted Sandpiper. A good day for all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reservoir Warblers and Tennessee Elsewhere

So on Monday evening, I was birding in the Ramble where it was nearly devoid of birds, when I heard that Ryan had found a Bay-Breasted Warbler at the south side of the Reservoir. I rushed up there to find a large flock of many species of warbler. After a while, I got a brief look at the Bay-Breasted (#142), but the light kept getting worse and I left. The next day, I went there in the afternoon just to see if there was more to this place. Indeed, I saw 13 species of warblers there, including a few more Bay-Breasteds, a Cape May (also seen on Monday), and a Blackburnian. Today, I had similar haul, with about a dozen species seen there, including the previously mentioned three. Aside from that, I went to chase a Tennessee Warbler that was sighted at the Weather Station, Belvedere Castle, and Turtle Pond. I first went to the Turtle Pond dock, where there were a few warblers, but nothing special. Next, I went to Shakespeare Garden, where I heard calls that sounded suspicious, but it turned out they were coming from a cardinal. I then went to the path leading up to the castle, when I spotted a few warblers in the trees. I laid my eyes on a bird that looked a bit like a vireo, but smaller. I could have the bird in my sights! Now I just had to find a defining feature. Then the bird started to sing. It was an unmistakable Tennessee Warbler (#143) song! Somehow, I have managed to relocate this rapidly moving bird after hours of not being seen. And just as quickly as it appeared, it flew towards the Turtle Pond dock and vanished.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Central Park Rare Bird Report 5/16/16

I wasn't able to post this due to the big days, so here is everything that has appeared in the park since 5/7.

Bufflehead* (one lingering on Reservoir)
Ruddy Duck* (two on Reservoir seen this weekend)
Common Loon (flyovers)
Great Blue Heron* (flyovers)
Snowy Egret (flyovers)
Green Heron*
Turkey Vulture (flyovers)
Osprey (flyovers)
Broad-Winged Hawk (flyovers)
Spotted Sandpiper*
Solitary Sandpiper
Laughing Gull (reported at Reservoir)
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo* (FOS, several)
Black-Billed Cuckoo (FOS, several)
Common Nighthawk* (one seen 5/15 roosting at Great Hill, others flying after dark)
CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW* (Mugger's Woods 5/8)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird*
Olive-Sided Flycatcher* (FOS, several)
Eastern Wood-Pewee*
Willow/Alder Flycatcher (FOS)
Least Flycatcher*
Great Crested Flycatcher*
Eastern Kingbird*
White-Eyed Vireo
Yellow-Throated Vireo*
Blue-Headed Vireo*
Warbling Vireo*
Red-Eyed Vireo*
Purple Martin (one reported)
Tree Swallow*
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow*
Bank Swallow (few reports)
Barn Swallow*
House Wren*
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher* (few)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet* (few)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush*
Swainson's Thrush*
Hermit Thrush* (few)
Wood Thrush*
Cedar Waxwing*
Blue-Winged Warbler* (few)
Tennessee Warbler (FOS, few)
Nashville Warbler*
Northern Parula*
Yellow Warbler*
Chestnut-Sided Warbler*
Magnolia Warbler*
Cape May Warbler*
Black-Throated Blue Warbler*
Yellow-Rumped Warbler* (fewer)
Blackburnian Warbler*
Prairie Warbler* (few)
Palm Warbler (late, few)
Bay-Breasted Warbler* (FOS, few)
Blackpoll* Warbler
Hooded Warbler* (few)
American Redstart*
Black-and-White Warbler*
Worm-Eating Warbler* (fewer)
Northern Waterthrush*
Louisiana Waterthrush* (few)
Mourning Warbler* (FOS, Oak Bridge and North Woods 5/15)
Common Yellowthroat*
Wilson's Warbler* (FOS)
Canada Warbler* (FOS)
Eastern Towhee* (few)
Chipping Sparrow* (few)
Field Sparrow* (few)
Savannah Sparrow (few)
Swamp Sparrow* (few)
White-Throated Sparrow* (fewer)
White-Crowned Sparrow* (small numbers)
Dark-Eyed Junco* (getting late, a few seen)
Summer Tanager (1 or 2 sightings)
Scarlet Tanager*
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak*
Indigo Bunting*
BOBOLINK (5/11-12 Ramble)
Orchard Oriole* (less)
Baltimore Oriole*

Big Weekend 2016

On Saturday I went to do a big day in Central Park. A big day is simply trying to find the most species of birds in a day. I was hoping to beat my previous total of 74 set on the 9th. I ended the day with 68 species, including 17 warbler species. Top birds were 2 Yellow-Billed Cuckoos at Maintenance Meadow and Azalea Pond, 2 Olive-Sided Flycatchers (FOY) at Summit Rock and Azalea Pond (self-found), 3 Cape May Warblers at Summit Rock, and my FOY Eastern Wood-Pewee (heard), Blackpoll Warblers, and Canada Warblers (several of each). The next day, I did another big day with some teen birders of the park, who were Ryan, Adrian, and Isaiah. We had nothing really rare, but we had some good stuff, including a Common Nighthawk (lifer!) at the Great Hill, 2 Spotted Sandpipers (FOY) at the Lake and the Reservoir, and a Mourning Warbler (FOY) that gave great views at Oak Bridge. That day, I had 75 species, and 2 of the teens reported 82 species. A very big weekend indeed!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

18 Warbler Day

On Monday, I started at Summit Rock and Tanner's Spring, where I found 11 species of warbler, including a Hooded Warbler (#132) out in the open. I then went to Turtle Pond where I found 12 species of warbler, including Blackburnian, Wilson's (#133), and 3 Cape Mays! I saw 18 warbler species in total, a new record for me! They were Ovenbird, Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes, Black-and-White, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-Sided, Black-Throated Blue, Yellow-Rumped, Prairie, and Black-Throated Green

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fallout in Central Park: Numbers, Quality, and RARITIES!

I arrived in the park at 7:30. but rain kept me stuck under the boathouse awning for more than half an hours. Many other birders joined me. When it opened, we had some quick refreshments and then got out. Within 5 minutes of going into the Ramble, it became clear that this was no ordinary good migration day. Flocks of warblers were singing from almost every tree. This was fallout. Fallout is what happens when a storm or pressure system forces flocks of birds to "fall" from the sky into an area. The result is some of the best birding days in the park. I started seeing many species everywhere, including Scarlet Tanager (#122) and Magnolia Warbler (#123), both of which I would see quite a few more. At Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond, there was a lot of variety, including multiple Blackburnians (#124), a Cape May, and American Redstart (#125). Many more warblers were seen, and around 10:25 I received a text of an AMERICAN BITTERN at the Oven! I rushed over there and got great views of this lifer (#126), If that wasn't good enough, there was also a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (#127) nearby! More warblers, Swainson's Thrush (#128) in Maintenance Meadow, Red-Eyed Vireo (#129) in Tupelo Meadow. Then I received a text of a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo at the Swampy Pin Oak. One of my nemesis birds from last year. I rushed over there and spent a lot of time looking for it (some say there were two). Just as I was about to give up, a large brown bird flew into a bush out in the open at eye level. The cuckoo (#130)! It then flew, and as the birders said earlier, it moved very quickly, but I caught up with it a minute later. Not long after, I received a text of a CHUCK-WILL'S WIDOW in Mugger's Woods. The chase was on! Birders were running throughout the Ramble. In less than ten minutes, more than 50 birders have swarmed to get a look at this pigeon-sized bird (#131) sleeping on a log. A great year addition, but not a lifer, as I had one last year in April in Bryant Park. I saw or heard 74 species today, a personal record, and had 16 warbler species. It was an amazing day!

Seaside Sparrows and Other Year Birds

On Monday I added a White-Crowned Sparrow at Locust Grove (seen again there Wednesday) and a Least Flycatcher at the Point to my year list (also had 2 Worm-Eating Warblers). On Thursday, I added Great Crested Flycatcher at the Humming Tombstone and a Lincoln's Sparrow at the Upper Lobe. That night that there were 3 SEASIDE SPARROWS at 12th avenue and 55th street. So on Friday afternoon, I went there and sure enough, there were three Seaside Sparrows there giving great views. Hopefully migration improves on the second week of May!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Central Park Weekly Bird Report 5/6/16

Bufflehead (getting late, but a few remain on the Reservoir)
HORNED GREBE (Reservoir all week in breeding plumage)
Great Egret
Snowy Egret (flyovers)
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Green Heron
Osprey (flyovers)
Spotted Sandpiper (several a day at water bodies)
Chimney Swift (many)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (a few)
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (getting late, but several seen throughout the park)
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe (one or two sightings)
Great Crested Flycatcher (several seen in past few days)
Eastern Kingbird (several)
White-Eyed Vireo (a few)
Blue-Headed Vireo (lower numbers)
Warbling Vireo
Red-Eyed Vireo (several)
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Bank Swallow (few)
Barn Swallow (many)
House Wren
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (several)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (less)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (FOS, few)
Swainson's Thrush (FOS, few)
Hermit Thrush (less)
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird (many more)
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush (few)
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler (few)
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler (less)
Black-and-White Warbler
Northern Parula
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Black-Thriated Green Warbler
HERMIT WARBLER (5/1 at Triplets Bridge, second state record)
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler (several)
Nashville Warbler
Blue-Winged Warbler
Northern Parula
American Redstart (few)
Cape May Warbler (continues at Oven)
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler (FOS, 2 at north end)
Worm-Eating Warbler (many sightings)
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow (few)
Chipping Sparrow (several)
Swamp Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (FOS, a few)
White-Crowned Sparrow (FOS, several)
White-Throated Sparrow (less, but still a lot)
Dark-Eyed Junco (very few)
Scarlet Tanager (few)
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Baltmore Oriole
Orchard Oriole

EXTRALIMITAL: 3 Seaside Sparrows along the bike path of the West Side Highway around 55th street since 5/5.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

White-Crowned at Least

On Monday in Central Park, I entered at the Reservoir and walked through Locust Grove when a White-Crowned Sparrow (Year Bird #117) flew right in front of me, and gave me great views of it. In the Ramble, I found decent numbers of warblers around, including two WORM-EATING WARBLERS, which were at the Humming Tombstone and Evodia Field. Then. someone spotted a Least Flycatcher in a tree near Evodia Field and we got decent looks at this bird (#118). Two new year birds and two Worm-Eating Warblers made this day!

Monday, May 2, 2016

May Targets

These are my target birds for May. Because the last two weeks of April were so successful (around 30 new species), my expectations for this month are a bit lower than before, but I still hope to find 20-35 new year birds this month.

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Migrants)
Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher (Migrants)
Willow/Alder Flycatcher (Migrants)
Least Flycatcher (Migrants)
Great-Crested Flycatcher (Migrants)
Red-Eyed Vireo (Common migrants/Nesters)
Carolina Wren (Somehow haven't gotten)
Swainson's Thrush (Common migrants)
Magnolia Warbler (Common migrants)
Blackburnian Warbler (Migrants)
Blackpoll Warbler (Common migrants)
American Redstart (Common migrants)
Canada Warbler (Common migrants)
Wilson's Warbler (migrants)

Spotted Sandpiper (Lake/Reservoir)
Solitairy Sandpiper (Lake/Reservoir)
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Migrants)
Black-Billed Cuckoo (Migrants)
Olive-Sided Flycatcher (Migrants)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (Migrants)
Tennessee Warbler (Migrants)
Bay-Breasted Warbler (Migrants)
Hooded Warbler (Migrants)
Mourning Warbler (Migrants)
Lincoln's Sparrow (Migrants)
White-Crowned Sparrow (Migrants)

Common Nighthawk (Migrants)
Red-Headed Woodpecker (Sometimes one will show up)
Other Swallow Species (Scarce)
Marsh Wren (Scarce migrants)
Prothonotary Warbler (Spring overshoot)
Cerulean Warbler (Scarce migrants)
Yellow-Breasted Chat (Scarce migrants)
Summer Tanager (Spring overshoot)

Hermit Warbler? (Triplets Bridge 5/1)
Seaside Sparrows (Hudson River Greenway, 5/5)
American Bittern (The Oven, 5/8)
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (The Point, 5/8)
Chuck-Will's-Widow (Mugger's Woods, 5/8)
Philadelphia Vireo (Belvedere Castle and Great Hill, 5/16)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

New Year Birds 4/29-4/30

On Friday. I went on a school field trip to the Statue of Liberty, where I added two new year birds, which were Fish Crow and Laughing Gull. Both birds are often found in the harbor, but are hard to find in Central Park. Later in Central Park, I added an Indigo Bunting at Tupelo Meadow to my year list.

On Saturday, I went to Central Park, and was about to give up on finding a year bird, when an Eastern Kingbird flew overhead, giving me year bird #116.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April in Review

April can be a month of extremes. In some years, it takes right up until the last few days for the first wave of the "May" migrants to show up (Yellow Warbler, Indigo Bunting, etc). In others, like this one, they start around Earth Day. The southwest winds around that time helped push many birds in, and when the wind shifted mainly to the south, many birds stayed in the park for days. Anyway, I added an amazing 47 species to my year list this month. My first additions were on the 1st, which were Great Egret, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (maybe a bit early), Swamp Sparrow, and Field Sparrow. On the 2nd, I added two birds missed the previous day, which were Chipping Sparrow and Palm Warbler. No new birds until the 10th, where I successfully chased the first Louisiana Waterthrush of the season and added Brown Thrashers and a Northern Rough-Winged Swallow to the list. The next day, I added an early Black-and-White Warbler as well as a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. On the 14th, Maintenance Meadow was the place to be, where me and many other birders added a White-Eyed Vireo and YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER to their year lists. On the 19th, I added Purple Finch (bad year for them), and Savannah Sparrow (brief park irruption). On the 21st, I added Chimney Swift, Northern Waterthrush, and Blue-Headed Vireo. By this point, I had 87 species on the year list. Earth Day is where things really started to pick up. It started with a House Wren, and I heard Prairie Warblers singing. Then I went to the Point, where I added a Yellow and Worm-Eating Warbler. The 23rd was even better, when I added an early Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Common Yellowthroat (heard), Northern Parula, Black-Throated Green Warbler (heard), Green Heron, and Barn Swallow. On the 25th, I added Belted Kingfisher (Turtle Pond), Blue-Winged Warbler (#100!), an early Veery, a Black-Throated Blue Warbler, and an early Cape May Warbler. On the 26th, I added Ovenbird and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (at the feeders!) before being interrupted by a passing storm. Once it was over, I added Wood Thrush, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and Warbling Vireo. On the 27th I added a Nashville Warbler and Orchard Oriole. On the 28th, the rarest bird so far this year showed up. A SWAINSON'S WARBLER was at Strawberry Fields, and I was able to add it to my year/life list along with many others. On the 29th, I went on a school field trip to Liberty Island, and was able to add Fish Crow and Laughing Gull to the list, while in Central Park, I added a young Indigo Bunting. And on the 30th, I added my final bird of the month, which was a flyover Eastern Kingbird.


On Thursday morning, I recieved a tweet that there was a Swainson's Warbler at Strawberry Fields. This is a southern warbler thst only nests as far north as Virginia. and are found in New YorkSo that afternoon. I got to Strawberry Fields as soon as I could, and saw a bunch of people laying on the West Drive with their binoculars pointed into a bush. I knew I had to join them. I now had the SWAINSON'S WARBLER in my sights. It was foraging in the leaf litter and finding a lot of worms there, so I could see why it didn't move much. This bird was a state lifer for just about everyone, including myself, and is easily the rarest bird I have seen so far this year. Let's just hope something rarer will show this year!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Central Park Rare Bird Report 4-29

Green Heron* (a few scattered)
Belted Kingfisher* (female at Turtle Pond through Thursday)
Veery* (FOS, Maintenance Meadow)
Hermit Thrush*
Wood Thrush* (a few)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet*
Blue-Winged Warbler* (FOS, scattered)
Northern Parula*
Yellow Warbler*
CAPE MAY WARBLER* (FOS, Oven Sunday through today)
Black-Throated Blue Warbler* (FOS, scattered)
Blackburnian Warbler (scattered)
Yellow-Rumped Warbler*
Black-Throated Green Warbler*
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Tupelo Meadow Saturday and Monday)
SWAINSON'S WARBLER** (Strawberry Fields on Thursday, first since 2000)
Pine Warbler*
Prairie Warbler*
Palm Warbler*
Black-and-White Warbler*
Worm-Eating Warbler* (Several scattered)
Louisiana Waterthrush*
Northern Waterthrush*
Common Yellowthroat* (FOS, scattered)
American Redstart* (FOS, a few)
Chipping Sparrow* (fewer)
Field Sparrow* (several)
White-Crowned Sparrow (few)
Swamp Sparrow*
Dark-Eyed Junco* (few)
Eastern Towhee*
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak*
Baltimore Oriole*
Orchard Oriole*

Nashville in the Orchard

Wednesday was a good day, with two more additions to my year list. The first was a Nashville Warbler seen in the same tree as a Blue-Winged in the Upper Lobe. The second came a bit later. All day, Orchard and Baltimore Oriole, the latter of which I had seen, had been reported, and Maintenance was said to be the best spot for them. So I went there and it didn't take long to find a male Orchard Oriole (my second addition) high in a tree. On the other hand, I missed a Blackburnian Warbler at Evodia Field by just a few minutes. Anyway, also seen was a brief Yellow-Throated Vireo at the Upper Lobe, good views of a Worm-Eating Warbler near Bow Bridge, a Green Heron at the Oven, a Field Sparrow at Tupelo Meadow, and the continuing Belted Kingfisher at Turtle Pond. 11 warbler species and lots of other stuff made this day a success!