Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tom Fiore's Report for Sunday & Monday

Mourning Warbler --  photo by DAVID SPEISER [http://www.lilibirds.com]

Sunday & Monday, 24 & 25 May, 2015

Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City -

Winding-down, with peak migration here certainly past, yet still a fair variety; Sunday highlights included at least 4, perhaps more, Mourning Warblers in the park, mainly heard singing, but also a few glimpses at times... 1 was well-ensconsed in the Hallett Sanctuary near the park's SE corner, and at least 1 around the Ramble area, while at least 2 were in widely-separate areas in the n. end. On Monday, there were some more sightings, including at least 1 female of the species - & apparently sightings well away from a large park, as well. Other migrants Sunday were still Olive-sided & some Empidonax [genus] flycatchers, as well as some thrushes, mostly Swainson's but also some Gray-cheeked or its close & similar-looking relative (Bicknell's); a lot of these as well as other migrants seemed to go onwards over Sun. night with the favorable winds & weather. It will be harder & harder to amass a long list of migrants in the park, yet at least for a week or more there is sure to be further influx, & after that, stragglers will continue along with the odd lingering birds that do not nest, but simply stay on & put in a part of the early-summer season in the city... as an example there are regularly a few White-throated Sparrows that stay in some of the city parks for part, or even all, of a summer.

good birding,

Tom Fiore


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tom Fiore's Report for the Week

Swainson's Thrush -Photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK - 10/3/06

Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City  -  Mon. to Sat., 18 to 23 May, 2015

Migration continued at fair pace all through the week, and this Saturday, things picked up just a bit more, particularly noticeable for migrant thrush numbers, as well as a modest increase in a couple of warbler spp. such as Blackpoll.  The week also has featured a few sightings simultaneous with hearing at least calls, and a few times also softly-sung songs, from Bicknell's Thrushes, while of course Gray-cheeked have been moving in greater numbers than the former; by far though the common thrush now being seen & often heard, are Swainson's, with numbers of Veery dropping off a bit, & most Wood & certainly Hermit Thrush also passed thru at this point.  In all, at least 22 warbler spp. were seen thru the period since Mon., and still this Sat. as many as 18 spp. were available.  Also still moving are Empidonax flycatchers, with at least 4 spp. represented this week (Least either all, or mainly, moved thru), & Olive-sided Flycatchers continue to show, with a couple also giving some song, as well as (more usual) calls.  The eve. hours have featured at least a few Common Nighthawks. A Summer Tanager was still around into today, Sat. and there have been a few Lincoln's Sparrows.

Riverside Park, on the upper west side of Manhattan also has had a lot of these same spp., & at times, the "drip" area has been moderately active. Much of the overall activity in that park has been in that vicinity, or more generally north of 110th St.

good last week of May birding,

Tom Fiore


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

All's Well at the 5th Ave. Nest!!

Mom [Octavia] and Kids [Two visible of the three healthy nestlings]
                                                      Photo courtesy of PaleMale.com

                                        Note: Please click on photo to enlarge

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Brush up your bird song

Now's the time to take out your CDs of  Birding by Ear and brush up your bird listening skills. In my opinion being able to identify birds by their songs is the most rewarding part of birdwatching.  Below, Doug Kurz's report of  his sightings [and hearings] this morning  [5/10/15] in Central Park .
[and PS- HAPPY MOTHERS DAY greetings from me too.]
Yellow-throated Warbler--photo by DAVID SPEISER  5/8/14
[PS I know, there was no Yellow-throated Warbler reported today. But what a lovely photo of a singing bird it is!]

Here's Doug's report
Happy Mother's Day!  This morning's highlights were a Black-billed Cuckoo at Maintenance, and a pair of male Cape May Warblers at Tupelo.
After a great week of birding, I took yesterday off.  It looked like things were winding down Friday afternoon, and I saw that a cloud cover was moving in for Saturday morning.  More to the point, after two weeks of getting up at 5am, being in the Park daily at sunrise, and going for hours on end each day, I just couldn't move!!  Well, I apparently didn't miss much, as yesterday turned out to be dead as a doornail.  I birded today from 6:15am to 11:30am in the Ramble.
Today also started out with a cloud cover, but I saw in the weather reports that it would be partially clearing.  So I figured it was worth a try.  I headed to West 77th at about 6:15am (sunrise is irrelevant when there's heavy mist and clouds), and made my way across Triplett's, Balcony, and Oak Bridges, Upper Lobe, Humming Tombstone, Tupelo and over to Maintenance.   

Things started out very slow.  Song was dominated by Cardinals, Robins, Starlings and House Sparrows.  A singing Northern Waterthrush was my first migratory songbird at Triplett's Bridge, and I heard Blackpoll, Parula and Yellow-rumped Warblers in the distance.  It didn't seem very promising.  As I walked through Tupelo, I though I heard a Cape May way up in the London Plane trees above the paved walkway, but could not locate the bird.  I then made it into Maintenance at about 6:55am.
Within a couple of minutes, a Black-billed Cuckoo flew in, perched out in the open, fluffed up his feathers and began singing and calling.  A couple of other birders were present and also got on the bird.  The views were good enough to see the red orbit around the eye, the decurved black bill, and the underside of the tail feathers.  I also took note of the buffy throat contrasting with the whiter belly, another diagnostic for Black-billled.  As is usual for Cuckoos, within minutes he stealthily moved into the greenery, and was unfortunately never seen again.  As I had tweeted about the Cuckoo, a number of birders went to Maintenance looking for it; I'm sorry  they all didn't get to see the bird!!  Cuckoos are notoriously difficult to chase, as they often either depart silently, or sit motionless for hours undetected.
From there I worked my way through the Ramble, gradually picking up ten species of warblers:
Northern Parula* (still plenty of singing males)
Cape May Warbler* (2m at Tupelo, see report below)
Black-throated Blue Warbler* (several m, 1f)
Yellow-rumped Warbler* (sharply decreased, but still quite a few)
Pine Warbler (a surprisingly late drab female; I stayed on it until I was certain of the ID)
Blackpoll Warbler* (8+ males, 2f)
Black-and-white Warbler* (1m, 4-5 f)
Ovenbird* (saw one, heard a few more)
Northern Waterthrush* (1m Triplett's)
Common Yellowthroat* (2m, 1f, Point, Swampy Pin Oak)

Thrushes were nearly absent; I had one Veery and heard two Wood Thrushes.
Non-resident vireos were nearly absent; I had only (2) Red-eyed in addition to the resident Warbling Vireos.  I have noticed Warbling Vireos in threesomes and foursomes in the last 3-4 days.  Evidently the battle is on for courtship and mating.
"Color birds" (buntings, tanagers, orioles) were down sharply;  I had (2) female Scarlet Tanager and heard the buzzy call note of Indigo Buntings twice.  Baltimore Orioles were still readily seen though.
Sparrows were relatively absent as well; I had only White-throated and Song today.  Chris Cooper heard a White-crowned at Strawberry Fields.  I went looking on Cherry Hill and Falconer's on my way out, but there were probably too many people around.
The first Eastern Wood Pewee seen in the south end of the Park was reported by both Nate O'Reilly and Chris Cooper this morning in Strawberry Fields.  I never made it to SF today, so that box remains unchecked on my year list.  (Deb Allen had one in the North Woods on Friday.)
The well-subscribed and capably run birding walks led by Bob DeCandido  and Joe Giunta converged on a singing male Cape May Warbler high up in the trees near the Tupelo tree.  With some initial difficulty, the bird was nicely seen by many.  As the groups were departing, I caught a glimpse of a second male nearby.  I wondered if I was being slow, and the same bird had perhaps moved quickly?  But ten minutes later, as I watched a male singing above the woodchip area with the wooden bench (on the other side of the paved pathway that runs along the north side of Tupelo), another male dive-bombed him and gave chase.  The two birds squabbled high above and I lost them.  So yes, there were two males.

So where does this leave us?  Is migration over?  No, as discussed Friday, I still think there are quite a few more birds to come.  It looks like there will be a big weather change Tuesday to Wednesday.  From now until Tuesday, we will see higher temperatures and humidity.  We are reaching 80 degrees today and tomorrow, but possibly 90 on Tuesday with winds from the south the whole time.  A tropical depression currently over the Carolinas is creating these conditions. However, by Wednesday the winds will have shifted to the north, and the high temperature is expected to be only 71 degrees.  Somewhere in there, I think we get a lot of birds.  I don't know if it will be Tuesday with the peak temperatures, or Wednesday after the tropical depression has gone away or dissipated.  I hope they come here between now and Tuesday night, and then stay put for the rest of the week ... we shall see.

Reported by Others:  Wilson's Warbler (head of Point and Captain's Bench, by Morgan Tingley); Chestnut-sided Warbler (second-hand report, not sure who had it).

P.S. It was nice to see several birders out with their moms today.  I remember taking my mom out birding on Mother's Day years ago.

Happy Birding !!
Doug Kurz

Friday, May 08, 2015

Another great birding day

Mourning Warbler
Central Park ace birder DOUG KURZ [via ebirdsNYC] reports on another great day of the Spring Migration of 2015, with an optimistic forecast of what still lies ahead this Spring:

What started out as a cool misty sunrise with very little song in Strawberry Fields this morning turned into a lovely day with plenty of nice birds to see.  Numbers were reduced from the last few days, with departures outweighing new arrivals, but those new arrivals are always exciting to see.
Today's highlights included Mourning Warbler and Gray-cheeked Thrush, good numbers of "color birds" (Buntings, Tanagers, Orioles), and continuing "better" warblers (Cape May, Blackburnian, Worm-eating, Bay-breasted).
The evolution of this year's migration continues, with more Blackpoll Warblers showing up, and our first Mourning Warblers (more on that below).  I did not find Prairie or Blue-wing today, thus bringing to five the number of early-arrival warbler species that were absent.  More females arrived, including increased numbers of Yellowthroat, Parula, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, along with the first few female Redstarts and Blackpolls.
Earlier this morning, Roger Pasquier reported hearing a Mourning Warbler on the east side of the Point.  Roger has the best ears in the Park, and phenomenal knowledge of bird song.  So that had us all on alert, looking for Mourning Warblers.  At about 11:35am I encountered birder Matt White, a visitor from Connecticut, at the west side of the Balcony Bridge.  He told me there had just been a Mourning Warbler working both sides of the Creek below and showing nicely.  This bird proved quite cooperative, remaining there all day with recurrent good views.  By late afternoon, many birders had seen it, and that made our day!
The appearance of a Mourning Warbler, along with the increasing numbers of Blackpolls, has many birders asking, "Is this migration over?"  This morning, veteran birder and professional ornithologist Joe DiCostanza said no.  Joe says we haven't even hit the peak yet, which will probably occur with the next front of southwesterly winds, which will bring in another substantial wave of migrants.  In terms of the list of possible species, it's true that we've seen most of them.  (Still missing:  Pewees, Empidonax and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Tennessee Warbler.)  But in terms of numbers, we are not done.  We've only had a scant few female and young male Redstarts, and many warblers still feel under-represented.  Next week I expect we will be tripping over Redstarts and many more warblers, with more numbers of other families as well.
Thrushes were relatively scant (except for Hermit) until Tuesday and Wednesday.  But yesterday morning they were mostly gone, and even moreso today.  A scant few Veery, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes were joined today by a (presumably) newly arrived Gray-cheeked Thrush, seen in a clearing southeast of the Tupelo tree.  This bird was cooperative, allowing careful study of its field marks.  It had the classic subtle striations in the cheek patch (which even the Bicknell's lacks), and I noted the tail was only slightly more rufous than the back (as vs. the Bick, which is generally quite rufous in the tail, reminiscent of a Hermit).  Add to this a heavily spotted breast, and gray throughout the face and lores, and you have a "textbook" Gray-cheek.  (I don't remember who got me on it, but THANK YOU to everyone who helps out during the day, pointing out birds, getting me on them, reporting sightings, etc.)
Vireos were declining except for Red-eyed, now being heard and seen throughout the Ramble.  I had only a few Blue-headed today, and the resident Warbling Vireos, but no others.  My last Yellow-throated was Wed. afternoon on the Point, and White-eyed yesterday.
The "color birds" were present in decent numbers, which always makes for a nice day.  Scarlet Tanagers were reliably being seen; I must have had 7-8 males and several females.  Indigo Buntings were occurring in small packs of males, with 3 together above the Gill, and as many as four later seen together in and around one flowering bush where the Mourning Warbler was being seen at Balcony Bridge.  Baltimore Orioles continue throughout, with males still outnumbering females, while Orchards seemed to be represented by females only.  The Summer Tanager was not reported today, nor was the Blue Grosbeak.  (I saw a tweet posted today with a photo of the Blue Grosbeak, but I believe the photo was taken yesterday.)
Sparrows are around, but you have to go looking for them.  Birders Matt R. and Chris Cooper reported Savannahs on Cherry Hill, and Adrian B. had them at Falconer's.  A White-crowned Sparrow was seen at the weather station, and I later had it closer to the Humming Tombstone.  Chris Cooper also found one at the path along the north side of the Sheep Meadow.  Yesterday's Lincoln's at Balcony/Triplett's was not relocated today, as far as I know.
Here was my warbler list for today (18 spp. seen plus 1 heard):
Northern Parula*
Yellow Warbler*
(Chestnut-sided Warbler) (heard, never saw one)
Magnolia Warbler*
Cape May Warbler (f at Oven, m by Gill source)
Black-throated Blue Warbler*
Blackburnian Warbler (m at Point and Oven)
Yellow-rumped Warbler*
Black-throated Green Warbler*
Blackpoll Warbler*
Worm-eating Warbler* (m at Tupelo and Azalea)
Black-and-white Warbler*
American Redstart*
Northern Waterthrush*
Mourning Warbler* (m at Balcony Bridge, sang twice too)
Common Yellowthroat*
Wilson's Warbler*
Canada Warbler

Reported by Others:  Possible re-sighting of yesterday's Black-billed Cuckoo, trees on the slope going east of the weather station, by Joe DiCostanza.  Bay-breasted Warblers on Cherry Hill, by Matt Rimkiewicz and Chris Cooper.  Male Orchard Oriole at Strawberry Fields by Adrian B.

Happy Birding !!
Doug Kurz