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