Friday, March 01, 2013

Remembering Starr

David Barrett, a friend of Starr Saphir's,  sends the following invitation:

The Linnaean Society of New York, of which Starr was a longtime member, will publish an issue of its News-Letter containing long or short notes from those who knew Starr well and  who would like to contribute their memories of her to this publication.
These notes will also appear on Starr's website,, so that all can view them. 
Please send your submissions by March 12th. You can describe something that happened on one of Starr’s walks, an interaction with Starr, or something you remember about her. 

Email to to Helen Hays,

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tom & Pat's Gullage and Duckage

Common Loon [breeding plumage] - wikipedia 

Tom Fiore sends in another thorough report of Central Park's pre-spring arrivals and Pat Pollock updates it

Thursday, 28 February, 2013 - Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

A first-winter Black-headed Gull was again seen at the reservoir in Central Park, around 12:30 p.m., near the north end of the divider-dike that runs roughly from the southeast corner to the north/northwest side of the reservoir. I saw it on the dike and then flying up, along with many (100's of) other gulls of the usual 3 wintering spp., and then did not re-find the Black-headed as of about 1 pm; I was unable to see if it possibly settled again at or nearer the s. end of the dike, and I did not go back around then to check.

Duckage at the reservoir was a little more diverse than has been (although some, possibly all? of the ducks noted today may have been around the park in recent days/weeks [see below note]), but uncommon at any time in Central were 4 Green-winged Teal (2 hens and 2 drakes), seen at noon near the center; also present nearer the southeast section at the same hour were a hen Red-breasted Merganser, and a drake Ring-necked Duck.  Additionally, in ducks were at least 16 Wood Duck in the park, with 7 at the reservoir, 3 at the Meer, 5 on the Lake and 1 at the Pond, most of these drakes & several hens.  As have been present all winter, good numbers of N. Shovelers were distributed at the Lake & reservoir (mainly), Hooded Mergansers on at least 4 waterbodies as well as Buffleheads, Ruddy Duck on at least 3, Gadwalls at 4 locations, American Black Ducks and Mallards, along with a few hybrid combos of the latter 2 spp.  Of some other water birds continuing, Pied-billed Grebes (res.), American Coots (Meer & res. & Lake), & a few Double-crested Cormorants. I've not been able to spy the common loon that some others (aged "8 to 80") have reported recently at the reservoir; it having been noted as appearing with some or much breeding plumage coming along.

Elsewhere & earlier, a moderate flight of Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and (very modest) movement of American Robins, some of these seen to head north onward out of Central, & some perhaps just wandering in the area. I thought I heard (only) an E. Bluebird, calls, and saw very briefly what may have been that bird, near the E. Drive & about 104 St., where there were a good concentration of fruit-eating (mainly robins) and seed-eating (juncos, sparrows) birds on the west side & grassy-rocky-mulchy-muddy spots at the south end of the extensive park composting / woodchip pile areas, nearby.

I looked only briefly in a few places where woodcock or potentially other birds of similar habit & habitat could be, finding none - this is very much the season they will be moving on. No check of the feeders, which presumably are being observed daily, and reported on when some bird[s] of note are about.  The number of birds vocalizing has been on the increase in the past 2 weeks or so & with some warmer sun this a.m. in the park, all the more - also a very modest number of floral harbingers of coming spring have been in bloom, such as witch-hazel, crocus, & a few others in various areas in Central.

[note: any, all, or none of above birds may or may not have been previously-recently reported by various means to listing services, internet groups, blogs, &/or multitudinous other electronically stored or served means, some with publicly accessible archives, partial or not, some available only to members (private) and also via smoke signal, telepathy, cross-species communications, and of course by word of mouth.]

Good birding,

Tom Fiore,

Pat's update:

Thursday, 2/28/13
Pat Pollock

Common Loon is present today on Reservoir east of dyke but under most of time - I saw it several times
Green-winged Teals 4, 2 M's, 2 F's - I was trying to report but Yahoo wldn't send it until Tom Fiore's report jumped in!
Ring-necked Duck (M) beautiful - Teals & Ring-neck near south pumphouse
Further out west side of dyke Red-breasted Merganser about midway
As for Black-headed Gull, I got to North end pumphouse area about 11:15 or so, stayed a long time, searched with others who came along:  Nadir & later Brian Padden,
never saw it, searched both sides of dyke and both ends of dyke without success.
Other waterfowl:
Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, pair of Gadwalls, 1 Ruddy Duck, American Coots, numerous Northern Shovelers, dc Cormorants

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Harbinger

Spring is coming! The Witch Hazel is in bloom!!

Photos by Stanley Froud -- Central Park --  2/24/13