Friday, October 22, 2010

The Prothonotary saga

It began yesterday at 12:39:22 PM with a terse report on the birders' listserv eBirdsnyc:

Prothonotary Warbler 40th and 5th !!!

After the trimmed lawn & flower area, just inside the area that has the green barricades, closest to 40th Street. Hanging out under the east- and south-most tree with a number of White-throated Sparrows. Almost on the 5th Ave sidewalk!!!!

The reporter was Matthew Rymkiewicz, a young computer specialist who works for the New York Public Library at the main branch. That's the one with the two lions in front -- nicknamed Patience and Fortitude -- at 5th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Street.

I waited until 3:30, when another eBirds report announced that the bird was still there. Then I took two subway lines [the Q and the B] and made my way to Bryant Park and the NY Public Library. I probably would never have found the small warbler if there hadn't been a little crowd of birders leaning over the stone barrier just south of Fortitude [ the lion to the left as you face the library's imposing main entrance [now undergoing restoration and so not as imposing.] And so it came to be that I saw a Prothonotary Warbler bright as day, the closest look I've ever had, eating away at what appeared to be a communion wafer in the flowerbed just south of the library lion nicknamed Fortitude.

I left a little before 5. But the warbler stayed At 6:51 the warbler was still there. And so was Matthew [though he'd been back to work a few times]. He wrote:

The bird moved a bit closer to the library, at times going behind the temporary barrier separating the building from the plaza towards the 40th Street side. Still popping up and giving rapturous looks as the sun went down. Let's hope he fares well whether he stays or gets outta town.

AT 7:53 this morning a birder named Corey Finger checked in on eBirds. He wrote:

Karlo Mirth just called to let me know that the Prothonotary Warbler is still there, at the left lion when you are facing the library (on 5th at 41st, of course). He further reports that after speaking to some of the homeless men there who were feeding it that they say the bird has been present for at least a month.

At 10:30 a.m. this morning [Oct 22] Mathew checked in again. His report:

Posting because everyone else in the crowd of tourists and birders and photographers in front of the library is busy ogling and snapping. Yes, the bird is very much still here. Seems to fancy the area around Fortitude. If you have not seen a Prothonotary Warbler in NYC this year, get down here.

And around noon our loyal photographer and correspondent Murray Head sent in the photo above, the additional ones below, and some concluding comments:

If you go to find the gold...

Look for this gold too.
He is a very pleasant gentleman who also resides near Fortitude.
He has a very warm smile and feeds the birds.
Perhaps you may consider giving something to him.


all photos by MURRAY HEAD -- early afternoon 10/22/10

PS: an up-to the minute update on eBirds, at 2:30 TODAY:

Still there, and has made a foray into the area to the north of Patience (towards 42nd, in other words). Just look for the birders.

--Matthew Rymkiewicz

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A "historic" week?

Purple Finch -- photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK -
Yesterday, 10/20/10, "at least 150, likely many more, Purple Finch moving through in the first 90+ minutes of light..."

Tom Fiore's exciting report for the first three days of this week:

Central Park

Clearly there has been a great flight ongoing so far this week with Sunday, 17 October having many birds on the move, including overnight from Saturday night into Sunday as well as a fairly good diurnal flight that encompassed much of the region, in New York City and Long Island & much of the northeast thru mid-Atlantic. Essentially this was a very broad continental cold front. By Monday night and Tuesday morning, a "blocking" weather system with rain had worked in from the west lying immediately south of Long Island and especially just south of much of New York City, which contributed to a fall-out of some proportion for Tuesday, perhaps not quite "historic" in nature but still very notable in terms of sheer numbers of a wide variety of species including many nocturnal migrants and even some that are also diurnal migrators. The city parks were alive with tens of thousands of birds, many feeding low or on the ground, on Tuesday and that continued well into the day if not through the entire day in a busy, heavily-used, bustling place as Central Park in Manhattan. The spectacle was notable and was noticed to at least a small extent even by non-birders out & about. There was also a significant fall-out in the most urban areas of city streets and avenues, as seen in street trees and small patches of shrubbery around buildings. This could have been the largest such movement this autumn of this kind in the city of New York but only time will tell...

Monday, 18 October 2010 -

At Central Park another good morning movement which included a great flight of Purple Finch, hundreds of which poured through mostly continuing on in the first 90 minutes of daylight.

There also were ongoing movements of such typical mid-fall movers as Wood Duck, raptors including Sharp-shinned & Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk (2) and a few "extra" Red-tailed hawks (beyond the ones which have likely been around the area thru the months or years), and such land-birds as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, N. [Yellow-shafted] Flicker, Eastern Phoebe (in reduced numbers), Blue Jay (many), Blue-headed Vireo (also reduced), Tree Swallow (high overhead as seems typical viewed from here in fall), Black-capped Chickadee (migrants), Brown Creeper (substantial movement), Ruby-crowned (many) and Golden-crowned (fewer) Kinglets, Winter Wren (many), Hermit Thrush (abundant), Swainson's Thrush (2), Wood Thrush (one seen well, not all that late but uncommon by now), American Robin (many migrants), Eastern Bluebird (several fly-bys at Central Park), Gray Catbird (much reduced), Brown Thrasher (also reduced), American Pipit (small numbers & not easy to spot amongst all the other species except when low & calling typically), Cedar Waxwing (many), and at least these warblers:

Cape May (5, 4 of these in the area of the Pinetum (west & east) with elms and other deciduous trees (and not really visiting the pine trees, as has been the case with previous sightings), Northern Parula, Black-throated Green (3+), Black-thraoted Blue (2 males & 2 or more females), Palm (mainly "Eastern/Yellow") & Pine (few) Warblers, Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler (many, but probably less of a flight than in days before), Common Yellowthroat (2), Nashville Warbler (1 in Central Park's wildflower meadow), Wilson's Warbler (bright individual & perhaps the western-breeding form which is more likely as the season progresses to winter, this one in the area at the perimeter wall of the park between W. 100 & 103 Streets, which is west of The Pool), & Northern Waterthrush (along the small steam sometimes dubbed with the name of a wooden bridge from which the water flows, the "triplets" bridge near & northeast of West 77 Street's park entry ramp, and a fairly good place to check for late-season lingerers at the turn of the seasons, and -

Sparrows of at least 9 species including an (first of season for me) "Eastern" / 'Red' Fox Sparrow (at Riverside Park), & Eastern Towhee, Savannah, Song, Swamp, Chipping, Field, Lincoln's (1), White-throated (thousands throughout the 2 parks & beyond), & White-crowned (several noted) Sparrows, along with Slate-colored Juncos in numbers, Rusty Blackbird (several in the Loch, as well as a few seen foraging for a while in grassy areas, where more often not seen), Indigo Bunting (3),

and as noted at top of this paragraph set, at least 150, likely many more, Purple Finch moving through in the first 90+ minutes of light, along with a great many American Goldfinch & a few (heard ONLY) likely Pine Siskins, in with all those other finches. (speaking of finches some of you are aware that a number of more boreal-associated finch species are being found in areas not all that far north of N.Y. City although we might watch the reports on how extensive, if it is, this potential irruption becomes for us "southerners"). The above is a partial listing.

Tuesday, 19 October -

The birds lingering in Central Park were as numerous and likely more so, with in some areas, actually many areas, a concentration of such species as Kinglets (each of our 2 species) in numbers ranging upwards of two per square meter of ground & over a total viewed (at one time) area of 100 square meters or more. This was seen over & over again and for a variety of passerine species including also Hermit Thrush, White-throated Sparrow & several more - in plainer language, there were many, many thousands of migrants present in the park on this day and the very high level of activity was ongoing thru the day, although most feverish in early morning and until mid-day. The flight was also interesting with a lot of birds moving both south & north in the earlier hours and then seemingly more consistently south-southwest in afternoon hours. I did not see or hear the same high densities of finches as had been 24 hours earlier but there certainly were still some Purple and American Goldfinch moving through. At the feeders in the Ramble it did not seem that all that many birds had yet noticed the "freebies" and in part, that could simply be that a lot of natural food is still easily available. On this day it was as much fun just looking at behaviors and seeing sheer numbers rather than seeking out individual species in all the many parts of the parks. In some neighborhoods there were a lot of passerine migrants out in street trees and plantings again, as the day began...

Wednesday, 20 October -

The overall activity seemed reduced, even greatly reduced and yet there were still many thousands of migrants present throughout, adding emphasis to the extremely high numbers seen earlier in the week. I noted one Rusty Blackbird at the Loch although perhaps others were about, & I did not get into the Ramble area or south this day. I spent some time in the north end's Conservatory Garden where as of Wednesday a good many flowers that could be utilized by any hummingbirds (none seen on this day) were still in good shape... bears watching.

Good birding,

Tom Fiore,

Note from Marie
As for today, 10/21/10, I haven't seen a Central Park report yet, but an eBirdsnyc report from the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Gardens at 10:58 this morning begins: "Fewer birds".

Well, it was great while it lasted. For those who would like to have similar experiences, bear in mind that Tom begins his day in the park well before sunrise. That's when the huge migratory flights generally arrive.