Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pale Male and Lola update

photo courtesy of -- March 11, 2010

Yes, it's that time of year again. As of last Friday or Saturday Pale Male and Lola have begun incubating eggs on the Fifth Avenue nest.  It is the sixth season since the nest was removed. [Who can forget that terrible date -- December 7, 2004?]

I've received a few e-mails from readers asking my opinion about the chances for success at the nest this year. My answer: anything's possible. For just as Pale Male and Lola are doing what comes naturally to their kind as they take turns keeping the eggs warm on the nest,  so we hawkwatchers are doing what comes naturally to our particular species of animal: hoping against hope that this time they'll succeed, even though the odds are slim.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tom wins the Phoebe sweepstakes

Photo by David Speiser -- 2007

I received the following report this morning from Tom Fiore, one of Central Park's notable birders, and perhaps the most doggedly persistent first-Phoebe-hunters of all. The only year I ever managed to find a Phoebe before Tom did was in 1998, the year he was unable to be in the park on the Phoebe's expected arrival date. That year, while on a birdwatching trip to Colombia in March, he and three companions were kidnapped by a band of revolutionaries/terrorist known as FARC. He managed to escape and returned home in early April.

Tom's report

Hi Marie,

I haven't posted a report yet (although I will) - first Eastern Phoebes (2 of them that I am aware of) arrived Wednesday, March 10th - in the north woods. I spent morning hours mostly in the Ramble and points south of the reservoir, where I found no phoebes... then, later in the day, through some of the northern half of the park, and around the Blockhouse, I heard and then saw a phoebe... with a second one less than 100 feet away, while the first could still be heard singing a bit, in the distance. It is not the first time that I have come across the first (reported) phoebe of spring in the north end of the park - although, partly due to more birder-coverage, it is more often a southern-half of the park discovery. There were also a few Golden- crowned Kinglets at the Great Hill and I see that at least one of that species was reported on Tuesday. I also found a few daffodils in bloom today at locations near the East Drive.

I'll be out looking early tomorrow - Thursday... it's hard to be sure but it appears that a very good migration is taking place right now, over NYC. It should be apparent if there is a fresh influx of robins and/or any other early spring migrants. I hope we will have some good showings of woodcock, which so far have been thin and they have been on the move, attested by dozens of reports from places far north of NYC in the last 10 days or so.

Tom [Fiore]

PS. Here's a link to the NY Times story about Tom's escape:

PPS. Here are some other First Phoebe dates from my records:
3/9 in
1992, 2000, 2001, 2004, 3/11 in 1997, 3/12 in 1992, 3/13 in '94 and '95. 3/14 in '96
Also, 3/10 in 1909 [I was a very little girl then.]

PPPS. Below, a radar map Tom sent indicating masses of migrant birds on the way.Tom writes:
The blues and greens over land may be rain or at least high moisture in the atmosphere, but the grays over land are mostly birds...
(Image is from 11:42 p.m.[ 3/10/10] Eastern Standard Time

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our only Central Park reptiles come to life

Photo of Red-eared Slider on log by Bob Levy, 2007

Judi Rabi writes on e-Birds:

Ahh...Another sign of spring: a few turtles basking in the sun on the rocks along the Lake.

PS from Marie
Other signs of incipient spring:
Hellebore orientalis [Lenten Rose] blooming at the Ladies Pavillion
Cornus mas beginning to bud
Birds singing -- housefinches, cardinals, Juncos trilling

Monday, March 08, 2010

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Duck psychology with Murray Head

Murray writes:

As I passed Gapstow Bridge there was a large passel of ducks scrambling for bread being tossed by a benefactress.

A singular duck climbed an overlooking rock to survey the activity...and hatched a plan of action.

She turned to observe the situation on the supply side...then gave the donor a Mona Lisa smile.

It didn't take long from turning on the charm to turn into success.

The take away... Some Ducks are smarter than others...and Success breeds imitation.

Photos by Murray Head