Thursday, March 31, 2016

March In Review

March is really not a fun month to go birding. Many winterers are gone, so birding is a bit more difficult. Migrants do show up, but there aren't a lot of them. Anyway, I added 9 species to my year list this month. My first addition (#61) was a wandering Horned Grebe at the Reservoir on the 7th. I then took advantage of an early invasion of Eastern Phoebes (#62) on the 11th and found 3 of them. They are now uncommon to fairly common in the park. On the 13th, I saw two overwintering birds, which were a Gray Catbird (#63) at the feeders, and a Great Blue Heron (#64) at the Pond. On the 17th, I saw two transitioning Horned Grebes on the Lake. Not year birds, but still fun to watch. On the 18th I found a Tree Swallow (#65) at Turtle Pond and a Winter Wren (#66) at the Gill. On the 19th, I found a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (#67) at the Point. On the 24th after some searching, I found two Pine Warblers (#68) at the Pinetum. On the 25th, I saw 3 Black-Crowned Night Herons (#69) at the Pond. I can't wait for migration to ramp up in April!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lull in March Migrants

Bird numbers had declined, but I still saw some birds in Central Park on Sunday. At the Gill, I had a Golden-Crowned Kinglet at the Gill and a Pine Warbler high up in a tree at the Pinetum. I also saw 4 Eastern Phoebes that day. Strangely, the Song Sparrows, which were common throughout the month, seemed to have dissipated, with me seeing only a few birds a day recently. A tailless bird ignored the "flyout" and has stayed at Laupot Bridge for the last week and a half and seems to be doing well. I'm just waiting for the day more migrants come.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 87: Nothing but Night Herons

On Friday, I saw very little in Central Park, but I did add one year bird at the Pond. They were 3 Black-Crowned Night Herons sitting in a tree. Other than that, the light was so bad, that I couln't identify much in the trees, and couldn't identify the raptor in the sky that was probably an Osprey, which would be new. Hopefully I'll see some this fall. Let's hope conditions improve throughout this week.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

First Migrant Warblers of 2016

On Friday evening, I went into Central Park trying to find a Pine Warbler. Despite looking and chasing a report on Thursday, I couldn't find one. I then looked at the reports and realized there was one good place that hasn't had any sightings, which was the Pinetum. It was great for them in the fall, so I went to look for them there. When I arrived, I started hearing a strange high-pitched chipping noise. Juncos started to fly in, potentially causing me to confuse them with Pine Warblers. I then saw a small bird in one of the budless trees, and saw that it was a bright male PINE WARBLER (Year bird #68). It became apparent that the chipping did not come from this bird. I found out a few moments later that it came from another male Pine Warbler. I watched the birds forage for several minutes before leaving. Hopefully other early warblers are not far behind!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 81 of 2016: Both Kinglets in a Day

On Saturday, I found my first Golden-Crowned Kinglet of the year at the Point (Year Bird #67), as well as a likely overwintering Ruby-Crowned Kinglet near Azalea Pond. I also saw the Winter Wren again at the Gill. Other than that, I saw the usual birds. It seems like I may reach 70 before the end of the month!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wren the First Swallow Arrives

Yesterday, I entered Central Park at Turtle Pond, when I saw a bird flying towards me. But when it turned, I was shocked to realize it was a TREE SWALLOW (Year Bird #65)! One of the early March migrants, they have shown up along the coast, so it was only a matter of time before one showed up here. After that, I went down to the Gill to see if I could find species that like that environment, such as Winter Wren and Rusty Blackbird. I was about to tell some birders about the swallow when a small, brown bird flew into view. A Winter Wren (#66)! At this rate, it seems like other migrants, such as kinglets, sparrows, and Pine Warblers are just around the corner.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Easy Year Birds and More Grebes

Sorry for the break in posts. Anyway, on Sunday I added two birds to the year list that were pretty easy to get. The first was a Gray Catbird seen at the feeders. This was a bird that had wintered in the Ramble. I then went to the Pond to chase a Great Blue Heron, and it was easy to spot what was essentially a big blue beacon. Then on Thursday, someone told me that they had seen two Horned Grebes in the Lake. It seemed very unusual, but it wasn't really out of my way, so I went there. To my amazement, there were actually two Horned Grebes molting in to breeding plumage! I watched the grebes and a few times they tried to walk on shore, but were unable to. Not a year bird, as I had seen one over a week earlier at the Reservoir, but still a very interesting sighting.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Phirst Phoebes of 2016

On Thursday, Eastern Phoebes began to be reported in Central Park, unusually early for this migrant. This movement must've been brought on by the May-like weather at the time, which was in the upper 70s. I wasn't able to go out that day, so on Friday evening, I set out to find a phoebe in Central Park. Migration was clearly in the air, I when I first entered the park at the Reservoir, you could see a sign of it, which was a flock of 40 Double-Crested Cormorants there. Then, I made my way through the Pinetum, where a large flock of Song Sparrows carpeted the ground. I then searched Turtle Pond, where I've had days with several phoebes there at once, but it was birdless. Next, I went into the Ramble to try to find a phoebe. I only got to the Humming Tombstone when I saw a sparrow sized bird sitting on a branch. A look through my binoculars confirmed my suspicion. It was my first EASTERN PHOEBE (Year bird #62) of the year! After that. I went to Tupelo Field, where there was a huge flock of about 20 Fox Sparrows. These, along with Song Sparrows are also early migrants. I then made my way to the feeders, stopping to watch some Song Sparrows bathe in the Gill's source. That's when out of nowhere, another phoebe appeared out of a bush! But then, it kept disappearing and reappearing in different parts of the bush. When it chased another bird, it became clear that these were both Eastern Phoebes, bringing my day count up to 3. Hopefully kinglets and warblers are just around the corner!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 67: Horned Grebe!

On Sunday, a Horned Grebe was spotted on the Reservoir, which I missed that day. Horned Grebes are normally found along the coast and only a handful have been seen here. On Monday evening, I circled the whole reservoir looking for the grebe, but couldn't find it. Then, I ran into another birder who showed me a photo of a bird she couldn't identify. The Horned Grebe. She directed me to where the bird was and soon I was looking at the black and white grebe (Year Bird #61), diving among our familiar waterfowl. The next day, I spotted it again, but didn't have as great views as I did the day before. A great addition to the year list! On a side note, the first Eastern Phoebes of the year have been seen in Central Park, so I better get out as soon as I can!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March Targets

Here is what I may see in March. It is expected to be an average to above average season, so early migrating species seem likely. I've already seen a woodcock and Red-Winged Blackbirds a few weeks earlier than last year. I expect to add 5-10 species if not more this month.

Green means seen
Orange means seen later
Asterisk (*) means seen by the end of this month last year

Pine Warbler (migrants arrive)
Winter Wren (migrants start to arrive)
Golden-Crowned Kinglet (migrants start to arrive)
Eastern Phoebe (migrants start to arrive)*
Swamp Sparrow (migrants start to arrive)

Common Loon (annual)
Great Egret (migrants start to arrive)*
Great Blue Heron (occasional winterer, one at pond)
Black-Crowned Night Heron (migrants start to arrive)*
Osprey (migrants start to arrive)
Sharp-Shinned Hawk (some winter)
Any kind of owl besides Great Horned (annual)
Gray Catbird (scarce winterer, may start to migrate)
Brown Thrasher (scarce winterer, may start to migrate)*
Tree Swallow (migrants start to arrive)
Louisiana Waterthrush (early migrants arrive)
Palm Warbler (early migrants arrive)
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (early migrants)
Field Sparrow (early migrants)
Purple Finch (migrants?)*

Northern Pintail (annual)
Bald Eagle (occasional flyovers)*
Red-Shouldered Hawk (a few winter around the city, early migrants)
Merlin (sometimes wanders into the park)
Iceland Gull (wintered at the park for the past few years. Will it show again?)
Red-Headed Woodpecker (Can appear in winter and spring)
Eastern Bluebird (one could turn up)
Prairie Warbler (early migrants?)
White-Crowned Sparrow (sometimes seen in winter)

Horned Grebe (One seen at Reservoir 3/6-9)
Glaucous Gull (One briefly seen at Reservoir 3/6)
Lesser Black-Backed Gull (One reported at Reservoir 3/5)
Belted Kingfisher (One seen at the Pond 3/25)
Eastern Bluebird (One seen at the north end of Central Park 3/25)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Overview

In February, I had less species than initially forecast, with just 4 species seen, but then again, January had many more than expected, so it's not a surprise. The mystery goose's identity may never be known for sure, but I still definitely saw an early AMERICAN WOODCOCK, a wandering Red-Breasted Merganser (another seen one day too), Red-Winged Blackbirds as a harbinger of spring, and an unexpected COMMON RAVEN near my apartment. These four nice additions to the year list increase the total to 60 species, a total I did not reach until early April last year. So far so good on the road to beating last year's total!