Wednesday, May 04, 2011

120+ species of birds in Central Park yesterday! and a PS from Tom

Blue-winged Warbler in Central Park
Photo by Cal Vornberger

Tom Fiore's e-mail report of yesterday's [May 3] birding in Central Park had the words A GREAT DAY in the subject line, and he is not one to overstate things. I was only in the park for a few hours yesterday morning, [with Steve Quinn's group from the American Museum of Natural History] but when we had racked up more than 15 species of warbler in our first hour in the park, I too knew it would be a great day. Here is Tom's report:

Subject: Central Park, May 3rd, 2011 - a great day...

A very good day for migrant drop-ins, probably all around the city! Central Park had at least 29 warbler species - with one of the many highlights being a Kentucky Warbler on the slope just north of The Pool, near (east of) the West 103 Street park entrance. That bird was seen by at least a dozen observers thru the afternoon, after being first mentioned by Jacob Drucker, and then re-found by other north-enders on the scene not long afterwards. A Yellow-throated Warbler was present again north of Bow Bridge & around the "Summer House (largest wooden rustic shelter in the Ramble - and a 2nd Yellow-throated Warbler reported from the Loch, later in the day!), & multiples of Tennessee, Cape May, Bay-breasted, Worm-eating, Blackburnian, Hooded, and a wide variety of many other migrant warblers, including an Orange-crowned in the Ramble, and still a few Pine, as well as Louisiana (& many Northern) Waterthrush[es], and virtually all of the other expected species of warbler (almost the only annually-occurring one not yet reported being a Mourning), as well as many other species found in Central from the south perimeter wall at Central Park South, with the Pond & Hallett Sanctuary alone having at least 18 warbler species (& other migrants), thru the Ramble & vicinity, the reservoir paths & vicinity, up thru the north woods, Meer, & all other sections of the park, to at least some degree. A number of observers reported finding well over 20 species of warblers this day. Some reports came in of multiple warbler and other migrant species from various smaller parks and green-spaces all around the island of Manhattan this day.

The actual number of all species for 5/3 might not be knowable, but the park certainly had somewhere in the 120+ species range, with some ducks, raptors and all the many land-bird migrants, just a few of the additional highlights including such species as: Common Loon (fly-overs), Snowy Egret (fly-overs), Wood Duck, Bufflehead, the following fly-overs: Bald Eagle, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned & Cooper's Hawks, all 3 "regular" falcon species, at least 5 shorebird species: Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted, Solitary, & Least Sandpipers, 4 gull species: Laughing Gull & the 3 "regular" spp., the long-lingering now brightly-plumaged first-spring RED-HEADED WOODPECKER still around the path south of the southeast part of Sheep Meadow (looking west a bit), Olive-sided Flycatcher (multiple observers and the bird also giving characteristic "pip-pip-pip" calls), Empidonax flycatchers including Least & reports of calling Acadian, plus Empidonax left unidentified, Eastern Wood-Pewees, many Eastern Kingbirds and multiple Great Crested Flycatchers, five Vireo species (White-eyed, Red-eyed, Blue-headed, Warbling, & Red-eyed Vireos), all 5 northeastern-breeding swallows: Cliff, Bank, Tree, Barn, & Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Red-breasted Nuthatches, 4 Wren species: Marsh, Winter, House, & Carolina Wrens, at least these thrush species: Wood, Swainson's, Hermit Thrush[es] and Veery, SUMMER (several) & Scarlet (many dozens in the park) Tanagers, at least 8 Sparrow species including Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrow[s], Bobolink (fly-bys), Baltimore (scores & scores) and Orchard (fewer) Orioles, Purple Finches, and many, many, many more migrants. I would not be at all surprised to learn of any number of additional species that were seen by others in the park on a day such as this.

It was easily the strongest migration of the year so far for both diversity and overall numbers of individual birds... and there also were a whole lot of birders! And yet, the preceding so noted, this still did not equal some of the strongest spring migration days this park has seen in the last decade or more - and it remains to be seen if "bigger" days here await, this spring. It will stand out in any case as an early migration, in terms not just of birds having moved en masse into and thru the city parks around here, but also of so many species having already reached or nearing their ultimate summer destinations, their respective breeding areas. A huge number of species and individual birds have done just that, which is quite a bit earlier than the norm, in terms of more than a few "early" arrivers in some more northerly destinations. This will play out for weeks longer yet is already a notable event. A lot of the species seen in NYC are also already turning up at, north of, or near the Canadian border (of those that nest that far north) or into some of the more northeasterly ranges that they respectively occupy. It looks as though a lot more could be on the move in the coastal plain from the southeast thru New England, ahead of a wet weather system pressing northeast overnight this Tuesday eve.

Good birding,

Tom Fiore,
Tom adds:

Pleased note that many people contributed the sightings that led to the number 120+ Also, and quite notably even for a well-covered-by-birders place as Central Park is in the month of May - every one, ALL 29 species of warblers reported were seen by multiple observers and a majority, indeed a very high percentage, were seen by many observers, in various areas and at various times of day on May 3. I just want it to be clear that it was hardly just me, but literally 100+ (probably even several hundred) observers who were a part of all the great sightings of the day.