Friday, December 05, 2014


PAT POLLOCK calls some Central Park ducks on the Reservoir "old reliables." She should include herself in that category. [Emphasis on the "reliable," not the "old"]  In these wintry times she seems to be the only birdwatcher sending in reports, which come via ebirdsnyc. Many thanks, Pat!

Bufflehead taking off -- photo 2006 by CAL VORNBERGER

Friday, 12/5/14

The old reliables are still there (let's hope til CBC on 12/14/14):  2 Ringed-neck Ducks still in SE corner of Res.'
counted 14 Hooded Mergansers, mostly along eastside, several American Coots, 10 Buffleheads and lots of Ruddies & No. Shovelers
checked Canada Geese for small one - negative; checked for Lesser Scaup of yesterday without success.  The workers are moving further along westside, so even harder to take in ducks congregating @ north end.

Pinetum area:  Red-tailed Hawks, 3 Titmice, No. Flicker

Monday, December 01, 2014

Manhattan Birds of November [a summary]

From TOM FIORE, our most thorough [and Thoreau-like] local observer:

Common Loon on The Lake -- 4-4-14 - - photo by MURRAY HEAD

Manhattan:  November 2014 sightings have included:

Red-throated Loon (N.Y. harbor / lower E. River)
Common Loon (flyovers, & small no's. in lower river /NY harbor areas)
Pied-billed Grebe (ongoing at Central Park res., thru at least late Nov.)
Great Cormorant (East River off E. 100's Sts. sections & points NE, recently)
Double-crested Cormorant (many migrants, still a few lingerers end of Nov.)
Great Blue Heron (multiple sightings, esp. from Manhattan's north end)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (few in past week)
Black Vulture (f. rare flyover, on several days in Nov.)
Turkey Vulture (multiple, in migration in past 3 weeks+)
Snow Goose (mainly smallish no's. noted passing over, a.m. hrs., occ. lower)
Canada Goose (v. common, some migrants, lots of locals)
Brant (modest no's., various sites incl. Hudson & E. rivers)

Mute Swan ( a few sightings, but any lingering?)
Wood Duck (max. 12 in Central Park, fewer in last 10 days but still at least 4)
Gadwall (increase continues, many locations)
American Wigeon (few, in E. river sites on few Nov. days)
American Black Duck (not rare but also not extr.common)
Mallard (hyper-abundant, common resident; incl.beggars)
Northern Shoveler (max. count 240+ in Central Park [C.P.], so far, in Nov.)
Northern Pintail (male in C.P. Meer 3 weeks ago, fem. at res. more recently
Green-winged Teal (several in C.P. this month, also in a few E. river sites)
Canvasback (a few reports, H. & E. river, but unseen by me)
Ring-necked Duck (max. 6 in C.P. & at least 2 lingering some while recently)
Greater Scaup (few, H. & E. rivers, also distantly from s. end of Manhattan)
Bufflehead (many locations)
Common Goldeneye (2 off G.W. bridge / Manhattan H. river, Nov. 19)
Hooded Merganser (Nov. max. 20, Central Park, up to 8-10 in recent days)
Common Merganser (1 drake, Central Park reservoir, Nov. 23-27)
Red-breasted Merganser (E. river, & at least 2 in H. river Nov. 19)
Ruddy Duck (multiple in several sites, mainly Central Park res.)
Bald Eagle (several migrants in last week alone & more earlier)
Northern Harrier (few/migrants)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (very few lately, f. common in early Nov.)
Cooper's Hawk (reg. in several Manhattan locations all month)
Red-shouldered Hawk (migrants, earlier in month)
Red-tailed Hawk (f. common resident, plus some passage migrants)
American Kestrel (multiple wintering residents...)
Merlin (occ. thru month, more common earlier on)
Peregrine Falcon (quite regular in some locations)
American Coot (almost all at Central Park res. so far, max. 6?)
Killdeer (several sightings in n. Manhattan)
Wilson's Snipe (early Nov., Inwood Hill Pk.)
American Woodcock (several sightings, var. locations)
Laughing Gull (last seen off lower Manhattan, Nov. 5)
Ring-billed Gull (abundant)
Herring Gull (v. common to abundant)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult & 2nd-yr., C.P. res., v.occ., mid-Nov.)
Great Black-backed Gull (fairly common in select locations)
Rock Pigeon (abundant)
Mourning Dove (many still around thru Nov.)
Monk Parakeet (in a few select Manhattan locations, Nov.)
Belted Kingfisher (occ. thru the month in multiple locations)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (common, many in all the larger parks)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (rather low no's. - still more to come south???)
Downy Woodpecker (many, incl. some in active migration on some days)
Hairy Woodpecker (multiple, incl. a few passage migrants in active flights)
Yellow-shafted Flicker (common enough but diminished by end of month)
Eastern Phoebe (more than a few thru at least mid-Nov.)
Blue-headed Vireo (v. few lingering past early Nov.)
Red-eyed Vireo (few lingering to at least early Nov.)
Blue Jay (v. good no's. all fall, still moving thru Nov.)
Common Raven (a few sightings at n. Manhattan; +reports on southward)
American Crow (ongoing)
Fish Crow (occ. at a few locations)
Black-capped Chickadee (big influx, & ongoing)
Tufted Titmouse (massive influx all this season)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (only modest no's.. now diminished)
White-breasted Nuthatch (fairly high no's.)
Brown Creeper (multiple)
Carolina Wren (f. common & often wintering)
Winter Wren (v. few lingering after good no's. to early Nov.)
Marsh Wren (early Nov., all moved on by later in month)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (some lingering thru Nov.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (modest no's. still around to end of month)
Eastern Bluebird (multiple passage migrants, a few stop-ins, incl. 1: Nov. 28 in C.P. (A. Deutsch)
Hermit Thrush (many ongoing, with a late push evident thru end of the month)
Wood Thrush (1, cor. 49 Street, 1 lingering ind., not unprecedented, but quite notably late)
American Robin (up to 5,000 in a morning, SW movement overhead still going as of end of Nov.)
Gray Catbird (multiple, esp. in smaller parks where they "stick out" a lot more)
Northern Mockingbird (multiple lingering/wintering)
Brown Thrasher (several incl. in usual areas on winter territories in larger parks)
European Starling (still f. common)
Cedar Waxwing (good to v. good no's. on SW migration, some also stopping in)
Orange-crowned Warbler (several locations; to at least Nov. 19, and likely later)
Nashville Warbler (1 thru Nov. 28 at Central Park; poss. continuing?)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (several, 1 to at least Nov. 10, in n. Manhattan)
[Myrtle] Yellow-rumped Warbler (multiple but diminishing rapidly by end of month)
Black-throated Green Warbler (thru at least Nov.15 in northern Manhattan)
Pine Warbler (several in early Nov. and a few thru at least mid-Nov.)
Palm Warbler (western & eastern forms; 1 thru Nov. at Central Park)
Ovenbird (multiple, in several parks and smaller urban greenspaces)
Yellow-breasted Chat (Central Park, to early Nov., & poss. lingering in Manhattan)
Eastern Towhee (some lingering after good no's. into early Nov.)
American Tree Sparrow (few, most seeming to be only passing?)
Chipping Sparrow (later lingering, 1 at Swindler Cove Park Nov. 22, & also in C.P.)
Field Sparrow (a few thru Nov. in some areas, most moved on by earlier in month)
Savannah Sparrow  (few thru Nov. in some areas, most moved on earlier in month)
["red"] Fox Sparrow (not rare, by mid-Nov. & with fresh influx around end of month)
Song Sparrow (f. common migrant, & some winter-attempting lingerers)
Swamp Sparrow (still a few in some large & small parks thru end of Nov.)
White-throated Sparrow (common to abundant in larger & smaller parks)
White-crowned Sparrow (few lingering to/nearly to end of month, C.P. & elsewhere)
Dark-eyed Junco (slate-colored form; many lingering & also fresh influxes all month)
Northern Cardinal (many)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1 lingering to at least Nov. 8, in Central Park's far s. end)
Indigo Bunting (a few still around to early Nov. then gone?)
Red-winged Blackbird (thousands in active migration on many days; some lingering)
Eastern Meadowlark (very few, early Nov. - with a few reports to at least mid-Nov.)
Rusty Blackbird (multiple; max. at least 10 in mid-Nov.; still up to 4 or 5 end of month)
Common Grackle (vast numbers in active migration on many days; many still around)
Brown-headed Cowbird (regular in active migration; few lingering)
Baltimore Oriole (at least 1 thru end of month south end of Central Park; more earlier)
Purple Finch (multiple in migration w. poss. max of 150+ in 1 day; and some lingering)
House Finch (multiple, mostly in select locations & in modest flocks in those locations)
Pine Siskin (near-uncountable in active migration in early Nov., less so later; some lingering)
American Goldfinch (many in active migration & still fresh influxes thru month...
House Sparrow (common to superabundant; do take some back to UK & Europe, please!)

Good December birding,

Tom Fiore,

Happy to be back!

Computer problems have brought about a long hiatus. Hope you all had a GREAT THANKSGIVING. I, for one, am thankful to be back at my website. Here's the Saturday report from a Regular Central Park birder, PAT POLLOCK:

11/29/14, Saturday

Pinetum about noon hour, maybe later? Cooper's Hawk hopping about on lowest branch of evergreen tree had just eaten a squirrel whose remains were laying on ground west side of circle - wonderful head on looks practically eye-to-eye.
At Reservoir earlier 2 Ringed-neck Ducks in NW corner, fleeting glimpse of Pied-billed Grebe up north side near Pumphouse, 4 or more Am. Coots, 10 Hooded Mergansers scattered from No. to Eastside and South, Am. Black Duck,  Bufffleheads

Pat Pollock

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Fine Young Hawk and PS

MURRAY HEAD,  faithful chronicler of Central Park's wildlife  [avian & mammalian alike]  just sent in some photos of a handsome new hawk who was checking out the park and its wonders. Murray writes:


Hi Marie,
In the last few weeks I have not seen too much wildlife in my walks in The Park.  So when I encountered a fine young hawk on this crisp fall afternoon, it made the day.
He is as wild as it gets.



Monday, November 03, 2014

Pat Pollock's autumnal report

11/3/14, Monday

Location: The Pinetum

Red-breasted Nuthatch -- photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK - Central Park -- 2005

Red-breasted Nuthatch in small pine trees NW fenced-in lawn area
Palm Warblers, several, nearby  
Chipping Sparrows (Sp. Rk.),  along the route south to W. 81st St. 
White-breasted Nuthatch
Winter Wren
Hermit Thrushes
Song Sparrows

Friday, October 03, 2014

About Those Ducks, Holden

"About those Ducks, Holden,"  was originally published in 1998 as a part of my book Red-tails in Love. It ends that book's  first chapter, the one called "Feeding the Birds.  That little piece  has been republished quite a number of times over the years. Most recently it was included in a collection of writings about the park called,Central Park: an Anthology.  Compiled by Andrew Blauner, it was originally available as a paperback. Now it has just come out as an audio book, with the various authors reading their own pieces.  Here is a link to this latest version, [on which "About those Ducks, Holden" is read by myself] followed by the publisher's customary sales pitch. 

The link:

The sales pitch:

Central Park is perhaps the most well-trod and familiar green space in the country. It is both a refuge from the city and Manhattan's very heart; a respite from the urban grind and a hive of activity all its own. Eight hundred forty-three carefully planned acres allow some 37 million visitors each year to come and get lost in a sense of nature. Unsurprisingly, the park also inspires a wealth of great writing, and here Andrew Blauner collects some of the finest fiction and nonfiction - 20 pieces in all, with classics sprinkled among 13 new ones commissioned from great New York writers.

Bill Buford spends a wild night in the park; Jonathan Safran Foer envisions it as a tiny, transplanted piece of a mythical Sixth Borough; and Marie Winn answers definitively Holden Caulfield's question of where the ducks go when the park's ponds freeze over. There are bird sightings and fish sightings; Jackie Kennedy and James Brown sightings; and pieces by Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, and Francine Prose. This vibrant collection presents Central Park in all its many-faceted glory, a 51-block swath of special magic.

PS  I believe the price of the audio book is $2.99. If you click on the link you'll find instructions for registering and then ordering the book.The process was too complicated for me,  alas, and so I don't have a copy of this audio book yet.