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.
American Black Duck
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern [Yellow-shafted] Flicker