Friday, March 05, 2010

Coyote update

Coyote in the Cop Cot area--March 2, 2010 --Photo by Bruce Yolton

Since there was a widely-reported  encounter between a coyote and the NYC Police force in the Chelsea neighborhood two days ago [in which the wily critter eluded a large number of men armed with tranquilizing guns] ,  and since two coyote-trackers [myself and Melissa Cooper] failed to find the beast in Central Park on Wednesday evening , there were questions about whether the animal was still taking refuge in the park Not to worry: Bruce Yolton easily found the coyote at its usual location last night.

Bruce missed the coyote's actual exit at dusk from the Hallett Wildlife Sanctuary, a fenced-in preserve at the Southeast corner of the park where the nocturnal canid seems to spend its daytime hours. But he saw the coyote shortly thereafter, walking north on the path to the west of the sanctuary. Bruce was able to follow it up to the Chess and Checkers pavillion before losing track of it. This time, he writes on his latest blog entry, the coyote moved so quickly that there wasn't a moment
for photography. The shot above was taken on Tuesday. Bruce raises some fascinating questions on his blog today. Check it out:

Also from Bruce's blog, here's a map showing the area where the photo above was taken, with the animal's route both last Tuesday, and last night.

Last week New York magazine had a short feature about the Central Park coyote, including a quick chat with Bruce. Here's a link to the story:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Two weeks to Phoebe Day!

Eastern Phoebe -- one of the earliest spring migrants
Photo by David Speiser --

March 17 is the day Jack Meyer has chosen for his arrival countdown. But the Phoebe might show up earlier [or, for that matter, later].

Not a bad idea to start keeping an eye out for this lovely little tail-flicking flycatcher a week or so earlier. Recommended spots to check out:
the Lower Lobe, the Tupelo meadow, the Azalea Pond.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A new snow creature and a Magpie progress report

photo by Barrie Raik - 2/28/10

Azure-winged Magpie progress report [see posting of 3/1/10]:

I finally talked to someone at the Zoo [It's devilishly hard to get to a live person at the Zoo, but easy to find a mechanical voice giving directions of how to get there]. I managed to get a number from someone at the Conservancy, and reached someone named Rosie Venes. She told me that the recent snowstorm had damaged the netting in their outdoor Aviary where they have a number of Azure-winged Magpies.Three or four of them took the opportunity to wander out into the world. There seems to be no way they can recapture the birds without damaging them. That's the bad news, according to Rosie Venes. The good news: some of the magpies come back for mealtimes. But they don't know which ones. I guess they don't want to repair the net and prevent any of the wanderers from coming back. Or something. Rosie was not a curator and didn't have answers for many of my question; for instance, she didn't know what the birds were fed. And she declined to give me the name and phone number of any curator at the Zoo. So that's as far as I could get in penetrating the inner sanctum of the CP Zoo!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Polar Bear on the loose! Last seen on the east slope of the Great Hill

Photo sent in yesterday by notable birder and bird feeder* Rebekah Creshkoff

*During the winter and early spring, Rebekah feeds birds in the north part of the park every morning on her way to work. The other day--a bitterly cold one -- Rebekah left her house later than usual. As she biked along her usual route, from West End Avenue to the park entrance on Central Park West, she was accosted by a female Cardinal on Columbus Avenue, one block from the park. The bird scolded her noisily for being late and escorted her back into the park, demanding, [and getting] her allotment of organic peanuts.

P.S. In regard to our other zoo escapee, the Azure-winged Magpie:
I sent yesterday's post to Bruce Kerr, the correspondent who first brought the bird to Jack Meyer's and then to my attention. A few hours later he sent an e-mail back with some more info about the bird:

Thanks for that Marie. I suspected as much of a non-migratory bird from Spain, Portugal or South-east Asia. Living in Scotland, I have seen them when on holiday, but you have to go looking for them as they are quite localised in habitat in Europe.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Azure-winged Magpie--part 2

Murray Head proposes an answer to the mystery posed in an earlier post today: What is the exotic bird seen and photographed recently [and maybe still there] at the Model Boat Pond, and where did it come from:

2 photos by MURRAY HEAD

Murray writes:

I would agree with Mr. Kerr [see previous post - MW]. Further I suggest the bird is an escapee from the Children's Zoo where I took these pictures in Dec. of 2008.


Exotic bird at Model-boat Pond

Jack Meyer sent along the following e-mail letter, and a link to the website that includes the photo above: []. I'll post more about this anon.

Hi,Jack I'm a british birder who reads ebirds NYC regularly.
I also look at pale male website.
There is a photo taken on 28th february of an unidentified bird at the model sailboat pond that I am totally convinced is an Azure-winged Magpie. hope you find this of interest,

Bruce Kerr

Sunday, February 28, 2010

First woodcock of 2010

American Woodcock 3/18/07
photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

The American Woodcock, one of the earliest harbingers of spring, shows up in Central Park when winter appears to be at its height. The chubby long-billed shorebird is often sighted when the park is covered with snow, as indeed was the case with the first Woodcock of 2010 that was reported yesterday in eBirds. It may be, of course, that the bird was present in the park for some time before the snowstorm, hidden from sight by its cryptically pattered plumage. But a snow cover will always give it away.
Woodcocks will appear in Central Park with greater frequency throughout March. By the beginning of April they will head for their breeding grounds . Unfortunately [for us] none breed in Central Park, but they may be found performing their dramatic courtship rituals in various areas not far from the city. It's a sight not to be missed.

The eBirds report read:

A very cooperative woodcock was in the stream in front of Warbler Rock in the Oven at 3pm, Feb 27.

Today many Central Park birdwatchers will be Woodcock hunting, myself included.