FIRST PHOEBE reported in Central Park
For many years now I've been captivated by the idea of finding the first Central Park Phoebe of the spring . Here's a report of the first phoebe sighted in 2015. Tom Fiore, of course, was the sharp-eyed finder. Also included, two even older reports by Tom.
Eastern Phoebe -- photo by David Speiser- Central Park 2005
Tuesday, 17 March, 2015
Central Park (Manhattan, N.Y. City)
Nice batches of just-before-spring arrivals, and reinforcements of a few wintering species; with a bit of diurnal movement too.
An Eastern PHOEBE showed up in Central Park's north end, 1st found by Tom Perlman & present at the "ridge', an elevated area w. of the Meer. (Despite all the chill & wind, a flycatcher's preferred food - insect life - is in fact available as a modest number of hatches began in the past week or so, with the days when it reached the upper 50's.)
The morning was mild & slightly drizzled, the afternoon brought on the wind & a little fresh chill, but that mid-March type, where (we hope) it just won't last, not too long, anyhow. Quite a lot of birds were singing in early morning - among them: Brown Thrasher (which overwintered), N. Mockingbird, Carolina Wrens (in several locations), American Robins, Song Sparrows (with a fresh strong influx: 150+ new arrivals in the park overall), "red" Fox Sparrows (also an influx, incl. 10+ in the n. end & thanks to Tom P.), & many other more-common &/or resident species... even a male Rusty Blackbird (singing the rusty-gate song, not just calling), amongst some Euro. Starlings at a lawn n. of the reservoir, where I also found my first Yellow-shafted Flicker of the year (in the park). Red-winged Blackbirds have been in song from most areas in the park, esp. if one is out & about early and listening.
At least 4 Purple Finches were feeding on crabapples next to the Alexander Hamilton statue, e. of the Great Lawn, in the a.m.; American Woodcock sightings were in the Ramble, & also at the wildflower meadow area; there were discrete flocks of freshly-arrived Dark-eyed Juncos & (esp.) Song Sparrows, plus some other sparrows adding to the overall feel - including at least one Field, & one Swamp, and a reinforcement to White-throated Sparrows. One small lawn alone held more than 50 Song Sparrows in less than 500 square feet, & another similarly-sized lawn held more than 75 juncos, at times in the a.m., with many others in a variety of locations. Also still present are an overwintering Chipping Sparrow, often by the Ramble feeders, & some American Tree Sparrows, which could soon be headed north.
A 90-minute watch of the sky at mid-day provided not that much, but at least 2 Tree Swallows went by headed north, & several Turkey Vultures, migrant Red-tailed Hawks (along with the multiples of the latter that were wintering or are resident), and a modestly-surprising Common Raven (& in pursuit of one of said Red-tails) as well as some other seasonal migrants, all seen from the n. end of the park. And the surprise of a raven in Manhattan now being only "modest" simply due to the rather recent change in status of the species in the urban environment!
As the reservoir's ice slowly opens & some fresh migration occurs, up to 8 spp. of ducks have been present, with a drake Green-winged Teal showing up Monday, and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers still lingering as well, plus Wood Ducks, Gadwall, Buffleheads, American Black Duck, N. Shovelers, 2 Hooded Mergansers (& some Common Mergansers as flyovers), & also a few flyover Double-crested Cormorants, & multiple Great Blue Herons (those seen apparently moving on rather than dropping in, perhaps due to the still-extensiive ice cover on all waterbodies - the reservoir is still 80%+ iced-over, with cracks & leads opening all around, but it will take some more warm-enough days.) At the southern-most waterbody, the "Pond", a lot of ice could persist a very long time, due to the shadows cast by so many buildings nearby, all times of year. A drake wood duck & 1 coot continue on there, among the motley Mallards. All the waterbodies now are starting to receive some ducks, as they begin to thaw out, even if just Mallards.
Wed., 11 March, 2015 (& prev. 2 days)
Central & Riverside Parks, Manhattan, N.Y. City
An influx of blackbirds, esp. Red-winged Blackbirds & Common Grackles, plus some American Robins, made this day really feel a bit more like the near-60 degree temperatures suggested, a bit of spring. Also noted were some Cowbirds - all Brown-headed, as far as I could tell! - and a very modest further movement of Turkey Vultures, along with Red-tailed Hawks - the latter a still-increasing sight as residents in the city, but at least some just now also moving thru. Some of this detected from along the Hudson, 60th to 125th Sts. & also from Central Park, where:
sightings in the Ramble, esp. at & near the feeders, have included the long-lingering (sporadic, yet seen daily) male Common Redpoll, a Chipping Sparrow which also overwintered, American Tree Sparrows, & a few Purple Finch plus Pine Siskin as well as a very modest number of Red-winged Blackbirds, & some other recent arrivals, such as Buffleheads returning to the reservoir, where the area of open water is expanding. Monday brought Am. Woodcock to the north end of Central, with 1 found at the Great Hill by Ken Chaya, & others farther south in the park. Some other birds also have been showing up as an indication of seasonal movements. Ice will be lingering on the waterbodies in Central a while yet, although the ice is of course showing signs of receding. A lot of snow is melting away, and streams, rivulets, and vast puddles are forming. In field-meadow areas, open ground is appearing, and those open areas are worth a look for possible migrants to appear, including some that are not commonly seen any more in Central or Riverside parks. A quick scan today did not reveal much, but worth trying as the ice & snow diminish, and then disappear. It will be a while before all ice is out on the reservoir & other waterbodies in Central, even as the Hudson is virtually ice-free again, in the area near Manhattan's west side.
A mid-day visit to Croton Point & Croton Gorge parks Tues. (10 March) with Ken Chaya provided great looks at 20+ Bald Eagles (a dozen+ on & near the Hudson river, others moving up & near the Croton river gorge and above the dam to the east), a great many ducks including loads of Common Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, and others, plus some Killdeer (on spit east of the RR station parking lot), Great Blue Heron, and Belted Kingfisher. There were 2 Black & at least 4 Turkey Vultures not far from these areas. We did not scan or walk extensively, & there were likely a good many more birds about the area, with fresh arrivals & some departures also likely now.