Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April Migrants + RARITIES!!!

Since my last post a week ago, birding has felt really strange. The park has been less active, with less migrants being added than this time last year, but rarities make up most of that. My first year addition from this new wave of migrants was on Thursday, April 20th, when I went to the Point hoping for a Yellow Warbler that had been seen that morning. I heard the bird (#90) sing, but it took me a while to actually find it. The next day, it became pretty quiet like the rest of time through today. I did however, spot a previously reported Belted Kingfisher (#91) at the Point.

Now to get to the first rarity: Wild Turkey. On Thursday evening, a turkey was spotted in the Loch by one person and wasn't refound. Then on Friday evening, it was spotted roosting in the Ramble. Then on Saturday it was seen near the Boathouse and later near Falconer's Hill. That's when I decided to look for it. Since it seemed to be moving south, I searched the entire southern third of the park to no avail...until I went back to Falconer's Hill. The Wild Turkey (#92) was right there in the open! It's times like this that birding makes you go in circles, but this time it paid off. Also, I went to the Upper Lobe and saw a previously reported Northern Parula (#93) in a mixed flock.

On Sunday, I added a Green Heron (#94) in the Oven after missing it the past few days, and then searched for an Orange-Crowned Warbler that has been sighted all around the western half of the Ramble. Right when I was about to give up, it was reported near Bow Bridge. When I got there, it (#95) was surprisingly up in a tree, not the typical understory habitat you expect to find one in!

On Monday, a fellow birder named Kai told me about a few birds he saw, including a singing Warbling Vireo by the MET museum. I went over there, saw nothing, and was about to give up when I heard a familiar sound. I followed it and located the vireo (#97) in a cherry tree. Then, I went to Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island to search for a pair of recently reported Purple Sandpipers, a very rare species in the county. During my first scan on the rocks they were typically on, I did not see any sandpipers. After a bit of scanning the river, I decided to do a second "mercy" scan, and surpisingly, I picked up two shorebirds feeding on the rocks. Purple Sandpipers (#98)!

On Tuesday, I went for a brief chase for a White-Eyed Vireo and Blue-Winged Warbler at Sparrow Rock. There was almost nothing in the park, so I tried for these two uncommon, but expected species. I went there, but only found the Blue-Winged Warbler, which offered great looks just above my head. The next day, I decided to go Sparrow Rock for the vireo, as well as the Rustic Shelter for a BARRED OWL (last one was in 2013) that was reported. I ran into Kai just after I entered the park who said he just had a Laughing Gull on the Reservoir, which wasn't that hard to pick out (#99). I then went to Sparrow Rock, I found Kai looking at a pair of male Indigo Buntings (#100)! Unfourtunately, there appeared to be no vireo, and I went down to the Ramble for the owl. The Barred Owl (#101) was awake and provided great views. I had only seen this species in the park in 2013, where one hung out at the Pinetum for months.

I have finally breached the 100 species mark! I am not far off from last year, being only a day late. Despite the seemingly silent period of what was a time of plenty last year, I am still confident that I can make up lost migration with the coming month.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cleaning Up the Missed Migrants

I have continued to pick up more migrants since Thursday. The first new birds were on Saturday. I heard of a report of a Field Sparrow in a meadow near the upper lobe. Even though this report was hours old, I was still able to find the bird (#82). I soon received a report of a mixed flock in the Swampy Pin Oak that included a Blue-Headed Vireo. I found this bird (#83) without too much effort. On Sunday, I went up to the Loch to try to find a Northern Waterthrush. It took a while, but eventually, I located this slightly early migrant (#84). To top it off, I had a heard-only Hairy Woodpecker (#85) there as well. On Monday, I thought I would end up with no new birds, but at the Pinetum, I had a surprise flyover of an Osprey (#86). On Tuesday, I had a new sense of determination. Despite no reports that day, I decided to go to the Loch in search of Louisiana Waterthrush, which I saw (#87). I then went to the Grassy Knoll for Savannah Sparrows, where I had found just 1 Chipping Sparrow a few days before. Instead, I found a few Chipping Sparrows and 4 Savannah Sparrows (#88)! Just when I thought I was done, a Barn Swallow flew over at the Reservoir to raise my year list to 89 species. With virtually all bases covered, all I have to do is wait for the next wave of migrants to show up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

CATTLE EGRET + Mid-April Migrants

On Friday, I went looking for new migrants. I had no luck, until I stumbled across a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (#76) at The Point. I will certainly see hundreds of these birds this year. Just as I was about to exit the park, I thought I heard something that sounded like a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher by the Pilgrim Statue, and I found one (#77) hanging around the cherry trees there. This was about a week later than my first one last year, but this is the typical arrival time of these tiny insectivores. On Tuesday, a CATTLE EGRET was found on a residental lawn in Chelsea, which is the last place you would expect this first county record on land to be. Nevertheless, I took the C train over there and got great looks at this bird (#78) foraging on the lawn. Today I went looking for migrants after the good winds the night before. My first new migrant was a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (#79) at The Point, surprisingly a female. I saw several more today, all of which were males. After finding many of the usual migrants, I went up to The Loch to search for a reported Prairie Warbler, which is a bit early. When I arrived there, there were several birders looking at a large warbler flock featuring several Pine, Palm, and Yellow-Rumped Warblers. It took a while, but eventually I got great looks at the Prairie Warbler (#80). I still have not seen Louisiana Waterthrush, but likely will soon. My next year additions will likely be Savannah Sparrow, Black-and-White Warbler, and Blue-Headed Vireo, since reports of them are starting to come in.

Friday, April 7, 2017

First April Year Additions

On Saturday, I went out birding in the park. While migrants were basically the same as the week prior, I did add a Hermit Thrush (#72) to my year list at Tupelo Meadow, my first April addition, and one that I somehow missed in winter despite finding it multiple times in that season last year. Meanwhile, reports of Chipping Sparrows and Palm Warblers began to trickle in, and I was determined to find them for myself. On Monday I did just that, and found a pair of Chipping Sparrows (#73) with a junco flock at the Pinetum (along with a third at the Pinetum), and a Palm Warbler (#74) at Tupelo Meadow. On Wednesday, nothing really changed in terms of migrants, other than a few isolated reports of Louisiana Waterthrush and Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (I will likely get both in the next week or so), but a Great Egret (#75) had finally made claim to Turtle Pond, and greeted a visiting pair of Ring-Necked Ducks. The egret typically arrives here at the end of March or the first few days of April, while the ducks are rare, but I saw a pair in February on the Reservoir and a male there in March.

The migrants I have been seeing include many phoebes and Golden-Crowned Kinglets, along with smaller numbers of Pine and Palm Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

April Targets

Here are my April targets. I expect to add around 40 species to my year list if not more, due to the rapid shift in migrants, especially near the end of the month. What's even stranger is that a few birds I got in March last year aren't on my year list yet, such as Winter Wren. However, I'm at a good pace with 71 species by the end of March. Migration has been a trickle, however, it will hopefully kick off again with the next good winds

Chimney Swift (later)
Great Egret (Turtle Pond)
White-Eyed Vireo (mid to late)
Blue-Headed Vireo (mid to late)
Warbling Vireo (late)
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Winter Wren
House Wren
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Hermit Thrush
Veery (later)
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird (later)
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush (later)
Blue-Winged Warbler (later)
Black-and-White Warbler (mid to late)
Nashville Warbler (later)
Northern Parula (later)
Yellow Warbler (later)
Chestnut-Sided Warbler (later)
Black-Throated Blue Warbler (later)
Palm Warbler
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler (later)
Black-Throated Green Warbler (later)
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (later)
Indigo Bunting (later)
Baltimore Oriole (later)

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (later)
Laughing Gull
Green Heron (later)
Osprey (flyover)
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Belted Kingfisher (lake or ponds)
Hairy Woodpecker
Least Flycatcher (later)
Great Crested Flycatcher (later)
Eastern Kingbird (later)
Yellow-Throated Vireo (later)
Fish Crow (calling)
Bank Swallow
Carolina Wren
Purple Finch
Worm-Eating Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (later)
Hooded Warbler (later)
American Redstart (later)
Blackburnian Warbler (later)
Yellow-Throated Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Orchard Oriole (later)

Horned Grebe (had last year)
Snowy Egret (flyover)
Black Vulture (flyover)
Bald Eagle (flyover)
Marsh Wren
Prothonotary Warbler

Finally!!! March Migrants!

On Saturday, March 25th, I went out looking for early migrants. There had been good winds the night before, and there had recently been a slight uptick in phoebes, along with the appearance of a few other migrants. My first migrant of the day was at Locust Grove, which came in the form of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (#69). I passed through Shakespeare Garden, where I found another one, and then went to Belvedere Castle, where I scanned Turtle Pond for Eastern Phoebes, finding two (#70). I then headed to the Polish Statue where a Pine Warbler was reported, which I found (#71), along with around 8 Golden-Crowned Kinglets. In the Ramble, I saw more migrants, including several phoebes and another Pine Warbler. This was a great start to spring, and I can't wait for what April may bring!