Friday, May 08, 2015

Another great birding day

Mourning Warbler
Central Park ace birder DOUG KURZ [via ebirdsNYC] reports on another great day of the Spring Migration of 2015, with an optimistic forecast of what still lies ahead this Spring:

What started out as a cool misty sunrise with very little song in Strawberry Fields this morning turned into a lovely day with plenty of nice birds to see.  Numbers were reduced from the last few days, with departures outweighing new arrivals, but those new arrivals are always exciting to see.
Today's highlights included Mourning Warbler and Gray-cheeked Thrush, good numbers of "color birds" (Buntings, Tanagers, Orioles), and continuing "better" warblers (Cape May, Blackburnian, Worm-eating, Bay-breasted).
The evolution of this year's migration continues, with more Blackpoll Warblers showing up, and our first Mourning Warblers (more on that below).  I did not find Prairie or Blue-wing today, thus bringing to five the number of early-arrival warbler species that were absent.  More females arrived, including increased numbers of Yellowthroat, Parula, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, along with the first few female Redstarts and Blackpolls.
Earlier this morning, Roger Pasquier reported hearing a Mourning Warbler on the east side of the Point.  Roger has the best ears in the Park, and phenomenal knowledge of bird song.  So that had us all on alert, looking for Mourning Warblers.  At about 11:35am I encountered birder Matt White, a visitor from Connecticut, at the west side of the Balcony Bridge.  He told me there had just been a Mourning Warbler working both sides of the Creek below and showing nicely.  This bird proved quite cooperative, remaining there all day with recurrent good views.  By late afternoon, many birders had seen it, and that made our day!
The appearance of a Mourning Warbler, along with the increasing numbers of Blackpolls, has many birders asking, "Is this migration over?"  This morning, veteran birder and professional ornithologist Joe DiCostanza said no.  Joe says we haven't even hit the peak yet, which will probably occur with the next front of southwesterly winds, which will bring in another substantial wave of migrants.  In terms of the list of possible species, it's true that we've seen most of them.  (Still missing:  Pewees, Empidonax and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Tennessee Warbler.)  But in terms of numbers, we are not done.  We've only had a scant few female and young male Redstarts, and many warblers still feel under-represented.  Next week I expect we will be tripping over Redstarts and many more warblers, with more numbers of other families as well.
Thrushes were relatively scant (except for Hermit) until Tuesday and Wednesday.  But yesterday morning they were mostly gone, and even moreso today.  A scant few Veery, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes were joined today by a (presumably) newly arrived Gray-cheeked Thrush, seen in a clearing southeast of the Tupelo tree.  This bird was cooperative, allowing careful study of its field marks.  It had the classic subtle striations in the cheek patch (which even the Bicknell's lacks), and I noted the tail was only slightly more rufous than the back (as vs. the Bick, which is generally quite rufous in the tail, reminiscent of a Hermit).  Add to this a heavily spotted breast, and gray throughout the face and lores, and you have a "textbook" Gray-cheek.  (I don't remember who got me on it, but THANK YOU to everyone who helps out during the day, pointing out birds, getting me on them, reporting sightings, etc.)
Vireos were declining except for Red-eyed, now being heard and seen throughout the Ramble.  I had only a few Blue-headed today, and the resident Warbling Vireos, but no others.  My last Yellow-throated was Wed. afternoon on the Point, and White-eyed yesterday.
The "color birds" were present in decent numbers, which always makes for a nice day.  Scarlet Tanagers were reliably being seen; I must have had 7-8 males and several females.  Indigo Buntings were occurring in small packs of males, with 3 together above the Gill, and as many as four later seen together in and around one flowering bush where the Mourning Warbler was being seen at Balcony Bridge.  Baltimore Orioles continue throughout, with males still outnumbering females, while Orchards seemed to be represented by females only.  The Summer Tanager was not reported today, nor was the Blue Grosbeak.  (I saw a tweet posted today with a photo of the Blue Grosbeak, but I believe the photo was taken yesterday.)
Sparrows are around, but you have to go looking for them.  Birders Matt R. and Chris Cooper reported Savannahs on Cherry Hill, and Adrian B. had them at Falconer's.  A White-crowned Sparrow was seen at the weather station, and I later had it closer to the Humming Tombstone.  Chris Cooper also found one at the path along the north side of the Sheep Meadow.  Yesterday's Lincoln's at Balcony/Triplett's was not relocated today, as far as I know.
Here was my warbler list for today (18 spp. seen plus 1 heard):
Northern Parula*
Yellow Warbler*
(Chestnut-sided Warbler) (heard, never saw one)
Magnolia Warbler*
Cape May Warbler (f at Oven, m by Gill source)
Black-throated Blue Warbler*
Blackburnian Warbler (m at Point and Oven)
Yellow-rumped Warbler*
Black-throated Green Warbler*
Blackpoll Warbler*
Worm-eating Warbler* (m at Tupelo and Azalea)
Black-and-white Warbler*
American Redstart*
Northern Waterthrush*
Mourning Warbler* (m at Balcony Bridge, sang twice too)
Common Yellowthroat*
Wilson's Warbler*
Canada Warbler

Reported by Others:  Possible re-sighting of yesterday's Black-billed Cuckoo, trees on the slope going east of the weather station, by Joe DiCostanza.  Bay-breasted Warblers on Cherry Hill, by Matt Rimkiewicz and Chris Cooper.  Male Orchard Oriole at Strawberry Fields by Adrian B.

Happy Birding !!
Doug Kurz