Monday, April 07, 2014

Tom's Central Park report, including Loon update

Chimney Swift -- courtesy New Jersey Audubon --

Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

Mon.-Sun.-Sat., April 7, 6, and 5, 2014

Monday, a modest movement, and some birds that almost certainly went thru (onward). A check of the reservoir mid-day turned up the "new" RED-NECKED GREBE that was initially found Sunday; this is not the same bird as had been present for a bit more than 3 weeks thru last Wed.- a close look at photos of this newer arrival & the one that had departed reveals, as did views but confirmed in photo-views, that the other had much more breeding color (advanced into near-breeding plumage) while this new grebe has a lot less, &, unless a grebe expert is prepared to inform that this species is capable of losing color (reversing its molt cycle in 5 days to go back into near-basic plumage) at this time of year, or at all, there have now been 3 of this species consecutively (rather than concurrently, as has been so in Prospect Park) on the CP reservoir, this year, to date. And I don't believe that's been documented previously (in Central)? but I was a much smaller person the last time these red-necked grebes were being seen in Central, & some occurred well before I was here. 

Also still lingering at the reservoir are a pair (female &male, almost always in concert in recent weeks) of Red-breasted Mergansers, an unusually long stay by that species, & into April, at Central. (both appear healthy & certainly both are feeding frequently, incidentally.) N. Shovelers in good numbers, & more modest no's. of Buffleheads, some Gadwall, American Black Duck, Wood Duck, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, and a few American Coot are also lingering at the reservoir &/or elsewhere in Central. Some of the recent herons & egrets may have moved on, but more will be in soon &/or some may come & go from other areas in the city or nearby. There have been up to 30+ Double-crested Cormorants in the park, esp. at the reservoir but a few in many other of the waters, & plenty more flying over.

A fairly extensive walk-thru of most of the park provided looks at a lot of the more expected recent migrants and visitors as well (today) with Am. Woodcock, Yellow-shafted Flicker (40+, some still moving on through in mid-late a.m.), Eastern Phoebe (10+), Winter Wren (3), Brown Creeper (6+), G.-cr. Kinglets (8+), Hermit Thrush (25+, in most sections of the park but rather thin in any one smaller area), Pine Warbler (1 or 2 that I came up with; perhaps most that had been in have moved on, & of course more will be arriving any day), Palm Warbler (1, "yellow" race, obv. more to come), Louisiana Waterthrush (2, Ramble and Loch, as have been a few days now),
Sparrows: Field (2), Chipping (8+), Swamp (4+), Song (very numerous), "red" Fox (fewer than a week ago, still 5+ present, a number of them singing through the day), & White-throated (hundreds all around, as is typical all winter long; the huge spring arrival-passage has yet to be seen here); Rusty Blackbird (1, Loch, & 1, Ramble, each in near-full breeding plumage, & calling &/or singing a bit), Slate-colored Junco (200+, many flocks of 20+ in multiple areas & seemingly hanging around a long time in some places where they'd not wintered); also present, & had overwintered, 2 Baltimore Orioles continuing in the Ramble, and what (I believe may be) seem to be overwintered E. Towhees (4, all I'd recently noted basically within yards of where they seemed to have wintered, i.e. not a big push of new spring arrivals?). and a few Brown Thrashers, also overwintered, as well as at least 1 Gray Catbird, similarly survived a long winter in C.P.
On Sunday, "new" (& fairly early) in Central this spring was: Chimney Swift. And that "new" (different) Red-necked Grebe at the reservoir - in any other year but this one, very remarkable to have had 3 in the park so far. (Prospect Park lake in Brooklyn continued to host 3 of them; and they've been seen in numbers nearly all around the east, and beyond - big numbers, in some places that typically have few, or none...
On Saturday, a fair number of Turkey Vultures came over Manhattan & the park, with at least 45 in total between about 11 a.m. & 4 p.m., & especially before 2 p.m. Also seen were at least 12 Great, & 1 Snowy Egret[s]. Thanks too to Tom Perlman who had noted a previous few flyover egrets, these on the typical east-west flyway that sets up across mainly the n. end of Central Park &vicinity and connects the meadowlands areas in New Jersey with the w. portion of Long Island Sound or beyond. 
Sadly, a common loon did not survive, that was released into 'The ("rowboat lake" - and btw the rowboating-rental season is now open, at the) Lake' on 4/3 in Central (very BAD idea, in Central Park 'the lake' is not the water-body to bring a loon into; the reservoir would be the only 'tolerable' place in Central to 'bring' any loon, which need a whole lot of room for a potential take-off, and ideally, far less chance of stress from human, & domestic-animal = dog activities, as found at all hours, "24/7", in most of Central)  to move on & out as would have been hoped: that released loon died. This release was done by the same org. that released a Virginia Rail the same day in the n. end of Central (that too was less-than-ideal, a better place being at least in some other boro, and much more appropriate habitat, & setting); hopefully the rail got out to live its life in normalcy. (we don't know where the loon & rail had been found originally, or in what conditions; and yes, I am well aware that the job of a wildlife rehab. person is not always an easy one, in many respects. Still, if in doubt of what's best for an individual or a species of bird, get advice - our local and other Audubon chapters, and many many other resources in that vein, are very available. [As for anyone who knowingly-intentionally plays (and plays and plays) amplified recordings stressing out a just-released, just-rehabilitated bird... the law may have something to say on this, as birds do have some legal protections... and then there are the most basic & ought-to-be-obvious ethical prohibitions... just give birds a break, please - most have plenty to deal with as it is, particularly those negotiating a life and/or a migratory experience, through a large urban center - this is just common-sense for anyone caring about wildlife they're observing or studying.]

good responsible birding to all, and thanks to some park regulars who've provided sightings and info. on recent sightings, including but not limited to Karen Fung, Tom Perlman, Nadir Souirgi, & a few more of you.

Tom Fiore