Sunday, January 31, 2016

February Targets

Since I saw a higher number of species than I thought I would in January, then it will be lower for February. I'm hoping to get 3-8 species this month. Most species on here are the ones I missed in January, minus the woodcock.

Red-Breasted Merganser (East River or Reservoir)*
Great Blue Heron (Rare winterer/flyover)
Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Uncommon winterer)
Red-Shouldered Hawk (Rare winterer/flyover)
American Woodcock (With the warm winter, could an early migrant show up?)
Merlin (Rare winterer)
Other owls (They can show up mid-winter)
Red-Breasted Nuthatch (Rare winterer)*
Carolina Wren (Uncommon winterer)
Gray Catbird (Uncommon winterer)
Brown Thrasher (Rare winterer)*
American Tree Sparrow (Rare winterer)*
Swamp Sparrow (Uncommon winterer)
Red-Winged Blackbird (Uncommon winterer)
Pine Siskin (Uncommon winterer)

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 Loon (Reservoir)
Turkey Vulture (Lingering flyover?)
Bald Eagle (Flyover)
Iceland Gull (Annual in county)
Common Raven (Sightings increasing year-round)
Winter Wren (Rare winterer)
Chipping Sparrow (Very rare in winter)*
Common Redpoll (Another irruption may happen)

Cackling Goose? (One at Reservoir?)
Canvasback (flock in Hudson River in N. Manhattan)
Greater Scaup (with the Canvasback flock)
Red-Necked Grebe (Hudson River in Midtown)
Lapland Longspur (Randall's Island)

January Overview

The first month of 2016 is finally over. I ended the month exceeding my expectations with 56 species. Top birds were a pair of Snow Geese, a Common Merganser, Ring-Necked Duck, Great Horned Owl, Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Towhee, and Orange-Crowned Warbler. Out of these, the duck and owl were stakeouts, the warbler was refound after not being seen for a while, the geese, blackbird and merganser were reported rarities, and the towhee was self-found. My only 3 misses were Iceland Gull, of which one is almost always hidden in flocks of gulls, Red-Winged Blackbirds, which have been reported at the feeders,  and Pine Siskins, which are hard to find, but regular.

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)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 29 of 2016: A Not-so-Common Merganser

On Thursday, I heard about a Common Merganser found on the Reservoir. It was reported to be along the dike in the center of the Reservoir. So yesterday, I went out to go find it. When I got there, I scanned the entire dike, and found the Common Merganser (Year bird #56) surprisingly quickly. It was really distant, exactly where it had been seen before, but I was able to make out the cinnamon head, white front, and gray back that identified it. Hopefully I can track down the other rare bird at the Reservoir, an Iceland Gull. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Snow is Sprinkled with Year Birds

On day 1 after the blizzard (yesterday), I went birding in the park. Unfourtunately, so many people went to play in the snow that it was hard to find many birds. Still, I added 1 new year bird, a Hairy Woodpecker by the Gill. My friend Ryan reported a Rusty Blackbird at the Gill, an amazing find for this time of year, but I missed it by about a half hour. Today, the park was back to its usual self, and birds were easy to find. I also added some year birds today. My first was a pair of Dark-Eyed Juncos (#52) seen in some trees next to the Reservoir. I later saw another one at the Pinetum. The second was a male Wood Duck (#53) that flew in at the north side of the Reservoir. After a quartet of Song Sparrows there, and a sapsucker and the junco at the Pinetum, I went into the Ramble. Even though it was a long shot, I went to the Gill to try to find Ryan's Rusty Blackbird. I went down the length of it and back looking for the bird. Just as I finished searching, I heard a strange noise that sounded similar to a grackle, but softer. I eventually located the suspect in a tree, a male RUSTY BLACKBIRD (#54)! This was a huge addition for this early in the year, and they are really hard to find, even during migration. After that, I went to go check out the feeders for a bit, which had a Brown-Headed Cowbird, along with the usual birds. I then left, heading down the path towards the boathouse to leave the park. But year birds can strike anywhere, even when you called it a day. Out of the corner of my eye in a bush next to the Boathouse, I spotted a male EASTERN TOWHEE (#55)! This is a rare winterer in the park which occurs every year. I just didn't expect I would find it. Strangely, this is the same spot where another male bird, possibly the same individual, wintered last year. I'm now running out of targets to look for, with the only one I have a good shot at being Red-Winged Blackbird.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Year Bird List up to 50 Species

On Thursday, I added 3 common species, all at the Reservoir, which were Song Sparrow (first of 3 that day), Northern Mockingbird, and Peregrine Falcon. Also that day, the GREAT HORNED OWL returned to the feeders. On Friday, the SNOW GEESE were back at the Reservoir, and at the feeders, there was a partially leucistic grackle with a white head, along with the owl. Also, there is apparently a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET overwintering at the feeders, as I have seen one several times there. I also finally added Fox Sparrow to the year list that day. Good Birding!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 20 of 2016: Let it SNOW GEESE!

Over the weekend, a pair of Snow Geese were reported on the Reservoir. Flocks of these birds are seen annually passing over Manhattan by a few lucky observers, but sightings of birds on land or water bodies here are almost unheard of. Unfourtunately, I was on a trip upstate, so I couldn't see them. I searched the whole Reservoir on Tuesday with no luck. Today, hopefully it would be different. I made my way towards the north pumphouse of the Reservoir where they frequently hang out. Along the way there, I ran into another birder who pointed out the geese from a distance. They looked like white blobs, but they were definitely the SNOW GEESE (Year Bird #44). I made my way towards the pumphouse, spotting a few Pied-Billed Grebes and Gadwalls along the way. When I got there, there were a few other birders looking at the pair of geese. I was able to see the distinctive pink bill that distingiuishes it from Ross's Goose (Now THAT would be crazy), as well as its pink feet. After that, I went to the MET to see the ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, which showed well. Then, I went to the feeders, when a raptor burst out of nowhere. An American Kestrel (#45)! After checking out the feeder birds, I went to Laupot Bridge. Just before I got there, a birder told me there was a cowbird there with the usual birds. There it was when I arrived, a male Brown-Headed Cowbird (#46). I also heard for some time before today that there was one young Blue Jay that would take food from your hand that hangs out around there. So I prepared and waited. Suddenly, I heard a jay screaming, and the bird came up from behind me and perched on my arm. It then ate a peanut from my hand and flew off. So I added 3 birds to the year list, including the Snow Geese, and hand-fed my first Blue Jay today. Not a bad day, especially now that I have already seen the same amount of bird species as in all of last January.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day 11 of 2016: Ring-Necked Duck is Back!

This evening I started a quick sweep of the south side of the Reservoir starting at the southwest corner. When I got there, I found a big flock of waterfowl of various species. Looking through the diving ducks, I was surprised to find that one of them was the RING-NECKED DUCK that has been visiting the Reservoir since November (#43)! This bird has had next to no sightings this year, so I had mostly given up on trying to find it. Then again, I made sure to be aware of the possibility that it may still be around. I then went to try and find the ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER again, finding it just before I gave up the search. I've also noticed that every odd-numbered day so far this year, I have seen at least 1 new year bird. If this continues, then that means I will see something new on the 13th! Fox Sparrow anyone?

Saturday, January 9, 2016


On Thursday, I went to try and find an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in Central Park by the MET museum. This bird was originally found on the Christmas Bird Count and seen by me on the same day. It stuck around into this year. I tried for it the day before and couldn't find it. When I got there this day, I looked in a large patch of bushes where it had been seen. It took about 10 minutes, but I got a brief look at the bird (#41) in the bushes. I later got a second look, just as quick. By that point it got too dark, so I had to call it a day. Today I looked for it again, getting longer and much better views of this bird with several other people. I also saw a Cooper's Hawk there (#42). I then searched for a Black-and-White Warbler that had been seen in Shakespeare Garden. I couldn't find it, but I did find a late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET as a consolation prize.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 6 of 2016: I Got The Other Goose

When people hear goose, they think of the Canada Goose, which you see all the time if you go to the park frequently or play on a sports field often. There is one other goose besides this one that regularly occurs in Manhattan called Brant. They like to winter in estuaries in the hundreds, but also hang out in small flocks in the East River, often feeding along the banks on water plants. Riding a car by the river yesterday, I scanned for these geese, and it didn't take me long to find a flock of about 30 birds in the middle of the river around 110th street. On the return trip, there were about 50 Brant in the same spot as before. Year bird #40 was in the books. In other news, today I removed Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker from the heard-only list, seeing one near Turtle Pond today.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Day 4 of 2016: A Few More Commoners

I have added 4 new year birds since the last post. Firstly, I had a driveby flock of Common Grackles (#36) saturday evening. Birding in the park yesterday morning yielded 3 new birds which were heard only Northern Flickers (#37), an American Black Duck (#38) on Turtle Pond, and a pair of American Crows (#39) flying by, along with the usual suspects (a few grackles were seen too). Hopefully I can keep up the pace and have at least 45 species by the end of the month.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Day 1: First Birds of 2016!

My first bird of the year came just 8 minutes after midnight on New Years. I was watching the fireworks in Central Park when a Blue Jay flew into view! That morning, I added two more birds to the list, which were Ring-Billed Gulls and Rock Pigeons seen from my bedroom window. Later that day in the afternoon, I went out to Central Park to find as many bird species as possible. I earned House Sparrow along the way, and then entered the park. Almost instantly, I started seeing new bird species everywhere. Mourning doves are roosting in the trees. A Black-Capped Chickadee chatters away in the trees. A White-Throated Sparrow forages in the leaf litter. I then went to Turtle Pond, where I added some Mallards and a pair of Hooded Mergansers to the list. Already up to 12 species, I went up to the Reservoir, where I almost doubled my list, seeing many great birds, including Pied-Billed Grebe, Double-Crested Cormorant, and several species of ducks, as well as Tufted Timice. Then at the Pinetum, I added Red-Tailed Hawk, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and a heard-only Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. I then made my way to the Upper Lobe, adding a few American Robins along the way. All I found there was a heard-only Cedar Waxwing. I then went to Evodia Field, and the first thing I saw was probably the best bird of the day. It was a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET on the feeders! Now I don't have to wait 4 months for a bird that will probably be in almost every tree! Anyway, I added a few finches and a Downy Woodpecker, as well as the continuing GREAT HORNED OWL. I then made my way to Laupot bridge, where I added my last birds of the day, which were a Brown Creeper and a Hermit Thrush. A day with 35 species is a great start to the new year. Then again, I have more work to do, as there are still several more easy species I need to pick up. Not seeing Common Grackle yet shows how much I have yet to find.

Year list: 35