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

Thursday, May 07, 2015

GREAT overview of the Spring Migration

I am reprinting below Doug Kurz's extremely thorough, and indeed exciting overview of the birds he [and others] have seen during the last few days. It is worth reading carefully, and saving for consultation in future years! 
Pine Warbler -- almost gone from Central Park   Photo ID: TK
What a great week it has been for birding in the Park!  Since my last post recounting Monday's bonanza of warblers, every day has brought a little bit of evolution to the overall picture.  I was in the Ramble Tuesday morning 6-10am, Wednesday afternoon 3:30pm to sundown, and today (Thursday) 5:45am until 3:45pm.
Today's highlights were Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Bay-breasted and Cape May Warblers, White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrows.  Also reported by others were Red-headed Woodpecker (briefly at Tupelo) and Black-billed Cuckoo (S. side of Turtle Pond).
Thrushes other than Hermit began to appear this week in ever greater numbers.  By Wednesday afternoon there were Veery, Swainson's and Wood Thrushes readily seen scattered throughout in appropriate areas.  But as of this morning, there were mostly gone, leaving just a few of each.  So there was exit flight last night, and I think we can say there has been gradual turnover all week. 
Among the warblers, the Pines and Palms are all but gone.  My last Pine was Monday, and I had only a few Palm Tuesday and Wednesday.  I saw neither one today.  Louisiana Waterthrush seems to be gone as well, now fully replaced by Northern.  Prairie and Blue-wing were easily found early in the week, but seem to be declining in numbers.  Today I had one each male and female Prairie, and one each male (heard only) and female Blue-winged.  Yellow-rumps are declining in abundance and dominance.  More females and fewer singing males were the case for Black-throated Green today.  Female Yellowthroat, Parula and Black-throated Blue Warblers are now being seen in addition to the still-copious males.  Wilson's and Canada Warblers have arrived.  Blackpolls are on the increase, leaving only Tennessee and Mourning on the list of expected arrivals.  (I think one or two Tennessee have been seen, but I consider them latecomers.)
However, we are not done yet.  The Redstarts are still mostly 2nd year adult males (black and orange).  In a week, there will be ubiquitous "Yellowstarts" comprising the first-year males and the females.  Female Blackpolls have yet to arrive, as well as the bulk of female Magnolia, et al.  We have seen both male and female Chestnut-sided and Cape May, but I think there are more birds to come.  So keep going out there every day, and watch the story continue to play out.

Today's highlight bird was the Blue Grosbeak.  This was a fist-year male, with much blue, but not quite fully molted into adult plumage.  It was spotted several times before settling in at a late-morning termite hatch-out between the Gill and Tupelo.  There I got nice looks as the bird perched about six feet off the ground.

Hatch-outs also attracted other birds, creating pockets of great birding.  At one hatch-out, a White-crowned Sparrow showed up, later seen along the Gill.  At another, a male Cape May joined the fray, along with Red-eyed Vireo, and 5-6 other warblers. 
After lunch I was wandering around the Gill area in the hopes of finding the Summer Tanager, which had been seen earlier in the day (first on Cherry Hill by Chris Cooper, and later near the beginning of the Point).  I was about to despair with Matt "Dendroicist" Rimkiewicz showed up on his lunch break, and immediately found the bird overhead.  Thanks Matt !!!  This was the mostly red male with a pale greenish-yellow patch in the ventral area.  From underneath, it was "red-yellowish-red," similar to the way a Nashville Warbler is "yellow-white-yellow."  The Summer squabbled briefly with a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and then chased a female Scarlet Tanager out of the tree and out of sight.  I guess there weren't any female Summers around, so he was desperate!

Here's my complete day list for today, May 7:
     (78 species, 21 warblers)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Canada Goose
Red-tailed Hawk
Herring Gull (flyover)
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2f)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (1m+1f)
Least Flycatcher (Point)
Great Crested Flycatcher (2-3)
Eastern Kingbird (Turtle Pond, Rustic Shelter hatch-out)
Red-eyed Vireo (quite a few now)
Warbling Vireo
White-eyed Vireo (one well-marked adult)
Blue-headed Vireo (still scattered about)
Blue Jay
Barn Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren (only one, not singing)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Wood Thrush (one seen, another heard)
Veery (2)
Swainson's Thrush (2)
Hermit Thrush (2)
Gray Catbird (plenty)
Northern Mockingbird (one near Swampy Pin Oak)
European Starling
Northern Parula* (plenty m+f)
Blue-winged Warbler* (1m+1f)
Nashville Warbler* (2-3)
Yellow Warbler* (2m)
Chestnut-sided Warbler* (5-6 m+f)
Magnolia Warbler* (8+ m)
Cape May Warbler* (2-3 m)
Black-throated Blue Warbler* (12m + 2f)
Yellow-rumped Warbler* (many m+f but fewer than recently)
Black-throated Green Warbler* (abt 4m+2f)
Prairie Warbler* (1m+1f, Oven/Point)
Bay-breasted Warbler* (1m showing off at Tupelo)
Blackpoll Warbler* (2-3 m)
Worm-eating Warbler* (2m squabbling early at Tupelo)
Black-and-white Warbler* (many m+f)
American Redstart* (5-6 2nd yr males)
Ovenbird* (6-8)
Northern Waterthrush (3)
Common Yellowthroat* (abt 10m + 2f)
Wilson's Warbler* (2m+1f)
Canada Warbler* (5-6 m)
Summer Tanager (1m)
Scarlet Tanager* (abt 6m + 3f)
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2m+1f)
Blue Grosbeak (1m)
Indigo Bunting (3-4 m)
Eastern Towhee (1f)
Chipping Sparrow (2-3)
White-throated Sparrow (still plenty)
White-crowned Sparrow (1)
(Song Sparrow) (one heard only)
Lincoln's Sparrow (one right below west side of Balcony Bridge)
Swamp Sparrow (one at Azalea Pond)
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (m+f scattered around)
Orchard Oriole (1f at Tupelo)
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

NOTES:  Notably missing from today's list were Northern Flicker and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, seen Mon-Tues-Wed.  Also Blackburnian Warbler and Hooded Warbler, which I had Mon-Tues-Wed.  I did not see any Tree or Northern Rough-winged Swallows today.  Not sure where the Rough-wings were hiding!  I'm not seeing any more Juncos, Field or Savannah Sparrows either, though I did not check all the sparrow areas.

Happy Birding !!!
Doug Kurz

Monday, May 04, 2015

Message from Murray

Inspired by Jordan Spindel's recent report of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the Azalea Pond, our friend the photographer MURRAY HEAD sent a timely message:

Hi Marie.

When you fly in to NYC from South or Central America... a refreshing bath is what is what you do.

We deserved it!

Bay-Breasted Warbler - 
photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK -5-21--2007

Dominic Garcia-Hall writes [via ebirdsNYC]:

We waited a long time for migration to start this year but I think 30 mins in Strawberry Fields on the way to work have never been so productive for me - highlights being Bay Breasted, YT vireo, Blackburnian, Veery, Blue-Winged plus 9 other warbler species. 
May arrived! 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

First Big Wave of Migrants - 58 species TODAY!

Black-throated Blue Warbler - photo by David Speiser - 9-27-2007

First big wave of migrants:
Reported by JORDAN SPINDEL via eBirdsNYC

Birds seen today at Central Park from 8 am-2:30 pm - 5-3-15
 (I took a break from 12:15-1:30). 58 species total. The first big waves of migrants are coming through!

black throated blue
black throated green
blue winged (tupelo, rustic shelter)
magnolia (rustic shelter, azalea pond)
yellow rumped
black and white
nashville (forgot where it was seen)
northern waterthrush
blackburnian (tupelo, willow rock)
blackpoll (willow rock)

hermit thrush
chimney swift
ruby throated hummingbird (rustic shelter)
house wren (swampy pin oak)
warbling vireo
yellow throated vireo (3-5 at various locations)
blue headed vireo (many)
white eyed vireo (upper lobe)
barn,rough winged, tree swallow
rose breasted grosbeak (azalea)
baltimore oriole (point)
ruby crowned kinglet
chipping sparrow (feeders
purple finch (maintenance meadow)