Saturday, April 28, 2018

April So Far

This month of April has been a bit of a slow one. Most of the expected migrants started coming early on, but once the middle of the month arrived, it was almost like migration stopped. Very few new arrivals showed up, and many species from earlier in the month (Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow) were still around. Around April 20th, many spring overshoots began to show up, starting with a few Summer Tanagers and a Blue Grosbeak that I stumbled upon. This month was also full of rarities, such as Wilson's Snipe, Seaside Sparrow, and Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. My year list (and photo year list) has been slowly increasing up until a few days ago, when many more species started to arrive. Migration is just starting to heat up now, and I'll write more about the last days of April very soon.

Friday, April 6, 2018

March Wrap Up

March was a very interesting month indeed, but was really slow most of the time. Worst of all is that many birders (including myself) failed to find any American Woodcock this year, a very dismal result compared to the bounty last March. In addition, some of the early spring migrants didn't arrive in small numbers until the end of the month. Phoebes, for example, usually arrive around March 15th, but didn't arrive this year until March 30th. In this extension of winter, I spent a week in Palm Beach County, Florida. While I didn't see as many species there as last time, I did add about 6 or 7 species to my state life list. I also got plenty of photos, and as a result, my current NY county year list and photo year list are actually the same right now at 70 species! Of course, with the arrival of many more migrant species later in the month of April, I doubt my photo year list will even come close.

Anyway, I would say March 30th was the only "good" day in March that I was out. I saw my first Palm Warbler, Ospreys, and Chipping Sparrows of the year. In addition, an American Bittern made an appearance in a tree at Tupelo Meadow. It was nice to have such great views of this cryptic species I had seen only once before in Central Park. Now it's April, and a whole host of new migrants will arrive. I'll provide more posts of my April adventures soon, as well as a selection of my photos from Florida.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Search For Iceland Gull

An elusive species for many birders this year was Iceland Gull, an uncommon gull in New York City. Many look for it time and time again without success. I had only seen my first one less than two weeks ago in Montauk. My first attempt this year was going to Roosevelt Island in late January to search for a young bird reported earlier in the day. No luck. On Thursday, I looked for another young bird reported on the Reservoir. No luck. On Monday, an adult was reported on the Reservoir a half hour before I got there. No luck. However, with the frequency of reports, I pledged to check the gull flock on the Reservoir every day until I found one. That brings me to Tuesday. I looked among the gull flock at the north end of the dike, carefully scrutinizing each gull, until one came to my attention. This gull was different. It was sized midway between Herring and Ring-Billed Gulls, nearly all white, with white wingtips and a black bill. An Iceland Gull! Finally after all of this searching I had found one! Unfortunately, the gulls were moving around very frequently, and I quickly lost it in the flurry of birds. This is a great bird for my year list, my first county lifer of 2018! I also added Northern Mockingbird to my list as well. Now to see if I can find any more rare gulls of the Reservoir...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

February so Far: Not Much Going On

Not much has happened this month. I added just two species so far to my year list, which were Horned Grebe (rare) at the Reservoir on the 7th, and driveby Brant on the East River on the 21st. Oddly enough, I also had a driveby Horned Grebe at the same time I saw the Brant! Anyway, on the 18th, I went on a trip with the NYS Young Birders Club to Montauk Point at the very tip of Long Island. We has many great birds, the best being a lingering PINK-FOOTED GOOSE that allowed all to see it. A few birders also had a Little Gull, but I unfortunately wasn't able to get on it. I still added the following lifers to my list:

-Black, White-Winged, and Surf Scoters
-Boneparte's Gull (a lot)
-Iceland Gull

I also added Sanderling to my photographic year list. It was way too windy to photograph much else there.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Wrap Up

I haven't posted in a while, so here's what happened during the rest of January"

Jan 12: I added an American Kestrel flying near my apartment to my year list

Jan 22: I added Brown Creeper (photographed) and Cooper's Hawk to my checklist in Central Park. Golden-Crowned Kinglet was also photographed there. I then went to Roosevelt Island where I unsuccessfully searched for Purple Sandpipers, but added Red-Breasted Merganser (photographed), Double-Crested Cormorant, and Gadwall (photographed).

Jan 30: I successfully chased a Great Cormorant at the Reservoir. It was originally distant on the central dike, but flew towards me and turned about 10 yards away, offering amazing views. I also added Peregrine Falcon to my year list (photographed). Bufflehead and European Starling were also photographed.

Well, my county year list total is 49, less than the previous two years, but this is in part to my rigorous education schedule, and it should hopefully clear up soon. Most winter species can afford to be missed for some time, with notable misses including Brown-Headed Cowbird and Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, which are guaranteed to be seen many times. As for my photographic year list, I have photographed 31 species, 29 of which were in New York county. I'm quite surprised by this total, which includes some species I didn't expect to photograph, such as Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Common Loon, and Peregrine Falcon. February should bring some more year birds to the table, but I'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

First Week of January: Expanding the Photographic Year List

I haven't been birding much, mainly due to the continuing wild weather and a mountain of homework. I only added one new species for my county year list, an American Robin in front of my building on January 3rd. The photographic list, on the other hand, has been increasing more rapidly. On January 6th, I added several new birds to the list, which were White-Throated Sparrow, Ring-Necked Duck, American Black Duck, Herring Gull, and Great Black-Backed Gull. The remaining ice helped a lot with getting these birds up close.
A chilly White-Throated Sparrow at the Reservoir

Ring-Necked Duck male (left) and female (right)
The next day, I was able to add two more species at the Reservoir, which were American Coot and Song Sparrow. 
American Coot

 My list now stands at 22 species photographed, just over half of the species on my county year list. I'm confident I will photograph many more by the month's end.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Day 1 of 2018

One of the pros of New Years Day being in winter is that you get to oversleep because the bird diversity will be the same throughout the day. I didn't look for anything until 1 pm, when I went up to my roof. My first species was not unexpected at all, a Ring-Billed Gull. A nice surprise is what followed, a VERY distant Turkey Vulture, about a mile and a half to the southwest. I will see this species later this year, but it can be a toughie in January. I then headed to the Reservoir in Central Park in search of a Common Loon and a trio of Common Mergansers found today. I also added Rock Pigeon and Herring Gull along the way. When I got to the Reservoir, I found the Common Loon right away, and was able to get a blurry but distinguishable photo, my first species of my photo big year!
Blurry Common Loon, but it'll have to do.
It took a while to spot the Common Mergansers, but I found them along the dike in the middle, and were too distant to photograph. I then began walking around the entire Reservoir, adding species after species to my year list, including a trio of Ring-Necked Ducks.
This young Red-Tailed Hawk was also at the Reservoir
After the numerous good birds at the Reservoir, I decided to go to the Ramble to get some of the more regular passerines and woodpeckers. After finding nearly all of them, I recieved a report of a Rusty Blackbird at Laupot Bridge. I searched all around the Gill, finding no Rusty Blackbird. However, I did spot a Golden-Crowned Kinglet there. These guys have stayed much later than normal this year (with several on the Christmas Bird Count), and I wondered if I would get one of these today. I then started to head past Laupot Bridge, when a bird suddenly flies up from under the bridge onto a log. The Rusty Blackbird! This is a really good bird for January, with only a few showing up in the winter.
Rusty Blackbird at Laupot Bridge
I then headed to the Pond just so I could add the continuing Northern Pintail and Great Blue Herons to my list, which wasn't hard at all.
Northern Pintail and Wood Duck at the Pond
In total, I have spotted 40 species today, a record high for me on New Years Day. I photographed 15 of those species. A lot of common species I neglected to photograph because of the cold, so my photography list will greatly increase this month. Stay tuned for more birding!