Friday, January 07, 2011

Where to find the stars this weekend

Varied Thrush -- November 29, 2010

Undaunted by our second big snowfall, Central Park's two ornithological stars made themselves known to faithful birdwatcher Tom Fiore:

Tom's report:
Friday, 7 January 2011 - Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

The VARIED THRUSH continues, seen at 7:30 - 7:45 a.m. this morning and also very briefly in mid-afternoon as the snow seemed to be ending. The location in both cases was the "usual" area, that is just east of the men's bathroom & maintenance building, located immediately on the south side of the E. 79 Street crosstown Transverse Road that bisects the park ... and in the morning the thrush was very near the transverse road's upper lip or edge, that is to say it was visible from the park path without having to close in and "push" the thrush as occasionally has happened with eager 'seekers'... Two male Eastern Towhees also were nearby & there were a lot of White-throated, & at least one "red" Fox Sparrow[s] nearby also. Various other typical winter birds were found in multiple areas.

The RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (first-winter, with little or no red on it's head yet) is continuing in the area of the south side path along Sheep Meadow which also is immediately north of and parallel with the 66 Street Transverse Road of the park. I have seen it range up to several hundred yards (up to 1/4-mile, give or take a few yards) from its favored area, but it does seem loyal to the trees & suuroundings of that path. The area is not quite as far east as the southeast "corner" of Sheep Meadow, & can be in trees near a low area of the path or also farther east, or occasionally farther off. A reasonably patient look will reward, probably more regularly than the more sometimes-elusive varied thrush. The woodpecker is occasionally harassed by European Starlings which is a common situation for various birds, particularly in Central Park. It often 'gives as good as it gets', and that is against more than a few starlings.

Good birding,

Tom Fiore,

Sunday, January 02, 2011

1/1/11 in the Park with Tom

Chipping Sparrow 4/8/09

TOM FIORE reports to NYS birds [and to us] on New Year's Day birding in Central Park:

Saturday, 1st of January, 2011 - Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

VARIED THRUSH, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, CHIPPING SPARROW were among the species I found on this first day of the new calendar year, in birding Central Park from the south end thru to the north, in the hours between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. - the thrush seen only after extensive searches, and on the east side of the park drive (East Drive) at "Cedar Hill" which is a steeply sloping lawn area interspersed by a variety of conifers, including a few cedars, on the south side of the E. 79 Street transverse road that bisects the park (under the grade level of the park.) The Varied Thrush was in company of a mixed flock, feeding under cover of some of the conifers mid-slope, with other species including Golden -crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, E. Towhee, N. Mockingbird, White-throated Sparrows and a few Blue Jays & American Robins at times, and all seen at about 10:30 a.m. I went over to the Ramble to see if any other birders were about, to give them a heads-up on the thrush yet I saw no one else. (I had seen only 2 other birders briefly, near the reservoir at least an hour earlier). I also noticed that a Cooper's Hawk was regularly making passes in the areas where the thrush had most often been reported in the past weeks - this is likely the same Cooper's that's also been around the ramble's feeders quite regularly this season. As a young bird it is still polishing its' hunting skills but it certainly can scare out & quiet a section of the park for some time after its passes.
I believe the Varied Thrush may well have been exploring more territory for some time but remained habitual to its one "original" staked area for a good while, and perhaps will be found there again, but equally possibly will start to range farther, depending more than anything else on good feeding. If the associated flocks are in any particular area, I think it's at least a hint that the thrush could be as well. Two male towhees and a modest tally of White-throated Sparrows are among these, or so it seems the thrush is often associating loosely with, or nearby.

The (non-red-headed) Red-headed Woodpecker was again along the s. side path between Sheep Meadow & the 66 Street transverse road, seen easily again and at one point a bit farther west, to where some leaf-composting piles were located on the s. side of the path. A surprise later on at the Conservatory Garden was a brightly-plumaged adult Chipping Sparrow, rather rare this well into the season (and not, to my knowledge, found at all in the Manhattan portions of the CBC 2 weeks prior) - seen well to positively eliminate any other member of the genus Spizella (such as American Tree, which is a more likely sparrow at this time of year & which is actually very uncommon in Central Park, generally, relative to other areas in NYC & vicinity).

The reservoir had at one point over 1,500 gulls on the thin ice & in the open water areas, which I scanned & had no luck finding any unexpected species. 2 drake Wood Ducks were seen on the Pond near Central Park South and Fifth Ave., as they have been for a while recently. An American Woodcock was in the Loch, adding to 2 or more seen in recent days, presumably birds that were working south, or at least coastal from colder, more recently-frozen locations. 5 Atlantic Brant were fly-overs only, as they did go over the reservoir and even circled around as if considering landing, but went on a bit west, perhaps to the Hudson river off Manhattan's upper west side. (Brant are relatively rare as drop-ins to Central, although regular fly-overs in their typical fall migration period.) Additional species picked up in various areas of the park included a male Belted Kingfisher working the north end (and seemingly finding very little to sit & stay long there), Brown Thrasher, 2 Brown Creepers, 2 Winter Wrens (the Ramble & the Loch), a couple of Hermit Thrush, Swamp Sparrow (Lake below "Hernshead") and at least 6 "red" Fox Sparrows, in 4 different areas, plus a goodly number of Dark-eyed Juncos, many seen along the Mall very early in the a.m. - and the one female Brown-headed Cowbird was around the zoo grounds. The mostly-frozen Meer still contained a single Ruddy Duck near the Dana Center building.

Pied-billed Grebe
Canada Goose
Atlantic Brant
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
American Woodcock
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern [Yellow-shafted] Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Tom Fiore,