Friday, October 31, 2014

Central Park - 31st Oct

A day off work due to the students being busy with SSATs, so the obvious choice was a wander around Central Park.

The Reservoir continues to play host to a large flock of Ruddy Duck, with 68 present today, along with 21 Gadwall and 28 Northern Shoveler. A marvelous sight amongst the Ruddies were 6 Bufflehead. Also present were the usual gulls (Ring-billed, Laughing, Herring and Great Black-backed), Double-crested Cormorants and Canada Geese (66).

The Ramble was also very active with migrants including large numbers of both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco and Common Grackle. Two Fox Sparrows were very exciting, but disappeared quickly. A Rusty Blackbird was more confiding, as was a Winter Wren. 2 male Purple Finches were at the feeders with a third by the reservoir, and an Eastern Towhee made a brief appearance.

Resident birds included 3 White-breasted Nuthatch and a Brown Creeper.

Rusty Blackbird 
Winter Wren 
This particular one is of the subspecies Troglodytes h. narcissus I feel sure...
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Dark-eyed Junco 
Hermit Thrush

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Croton Point Park - 26th Oct

A good day at Croton Point, with some great views of various raptors, though only a small number of migrants on show. The day started with brilliant views of Northern Harrier on the landfill. Also quartering the area were a couple of very confiding Red-tailed Hawks. While trying to find the harrier we had several smaller raptors passing through, including a Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Cooper's Hawk, and a male American Kestrel. Overhead were at least 3 Ospreys, 9 Turkey Vultures and a couple of Bald Eagles. Other good birds in the area were a set of 4 Eastern Meadowlarks which gave 2 flybys.

Several groups of passerines flew through, including a flock of about 30 Pine Siskin, and several small groups of American Pipits.

Later in the morning at the model aircraft field we had great views of another Bald Eagle, two more Red-tailed Hawk and a pair of Peregrine. Also in the area were several sparrows, including Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow and 2 White-crowned Sparrow.

 Adult Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Female Northern Harrier

White-crowned Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More garden birds - 25th Oct

Many migrants are passing through now. This week has seen huge numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers everywhere, as well as lots of sparrows, amongst other things. The garden feeders are starting to come into their own, with regular visitors including large numbers of White-throated Sparrows. Today was exceptional however, with large numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds early on, as well as several species of migrant sparrows, including 12+ White-throated Sparrow, 1 Chipping Sparrow and 5 Slate-coloured Junco. 3 Purple Finch were also very nice.

Male Purple Finch
Female Purple Finch
Chipping Sparrow
Slate-coloured Junco
Partially leucistic female House Sparrow.
Blue Jay

Male Northern Cardinal

Sunday, October 19, 2014

More garden birds - 19th Oct

The weather is cooling down quite rapidly, with lots of migrants passing through. White-throated Sparrows still predominate among the sparrows, but a couple of Eastern Towhee have made an appearance recently. A Downy Woodpecker has made the suet feeder its regular haunt, and two White-breasted Nuthatch have done the same with the seed hopper. Northern Cardinals are very regular. Today both Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird came to the seed for the first time.

Female Eastern Towhee
Common Grackle 
Red-winged Blackbird

Fort Tilden - 19th Oct

On the advice of more experienced birders I ditched my plans to go to Croton Point this morning, and headed to the coast. The overnight change in weather had brought northerly winds and a sharp drop in temperatures, ideal conditions for migrant watching on south facing coastlines apparently. I headed to Fort Tilden to meet up with a small group, and it wasn't long before the advice was proved to be very good indeed. Starting at 7:00am, and continuing until at least 11:00am a constant stream of Yellow-rumped Warblers flowed past us. They weren't clumped in flocks like the Red-winged Blackbirds or Tree Swallows that were also passing, it was just a steady stream of individuals, an extraordinary sight. Mixed in were small numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Palm Warbler and Eastern Phoebe and a solitary Eastern Wood Pewee. Following these migrant passerines were the bird hunters, dozens of raptors, mainly Sharp-shinned Hawks (25+), with smaller numbers of American Kestrels (18), Merlins (10), Coopers Hawks (10), and Northern Harrier (2).

From the platform above the Battery we watched flocks of hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds pass by, as well as more Tree Swallows, and many many more Yellow-rumped Warblers. At sea several flocks of Black Scoters passed by, as well as a steady stream of Forster's Tern, and several flocks of Brants and Double-crested Cormorant.

One of the reasons I'd come was the promise of catching up with some of the migrant sparrows in this part of the world, particularly in company with people who could help identify them! The obvious ones were all present, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow were all quite numerous. A couple of Lincoln's Sparrow were an early treat, really standing out amongst the rest. Next up were a couple of Field Sparrow followed by several White-crowned Sparrow scattered about in different spots.

Incredible numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers today. At times there seemed to be a river of birds flowing around us. For something like 4 hours (7:00am to 11:00am) I estimate between 10 and 40 birds/ minute flew past us. That would make something like 2,400 to 9,600 birds during the morning.
I'm pretty sure this is a Cooper's Hawk, the leading edge of the wing is a little straighter than I'd expect from Sharp-shinned. Many individuals of both species flew past during the morning.
Eastern Wood Pewee, looking very smart
A few Monarchs still hanging about. This one was so exhausted it was rolling along the beach until we rescued it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Central Park - 13th Oct

Columbus Day is a holiday I've not met before, but any day off during migration season gets my wholehearted approval. I'd intended to spend a solitary morning, starting at Strawberry Fields and working my way to The Ramble. I found that an organised birding group had exactly the same agenda, so I joined them, and had a very pleasant morning. Bird of the day was definitely Eastern Towhee, if I saw one I must have seen 15. There were also inordinate numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets everywhere. Apart from that highlights included a couple of male Black-throated Blue Warblers, 2 Blue-headed Vireo, a Wood Thrush, half a dozen Hermit Thrush and two Purple Finches at the bird feeders.

The reservoir still had a flock of Ruddy Ducks, 35 there today.

Eastern Towhee.
Male Black-throated Blue Warbler.
Red-bellied Woodpecker.
Purple Finch.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Basha Kill - 12th Oct

I decided to spend my birding time this weekend visiting a site someway east in New York State, called Basha Kill. It's an area of wetland in the woods which is well known as a migrant hotspot, and is well-watched by a number of birders. There are a number of access points to the wetland. I started at a boat-launch site just off the south road, then moved on to a road that crossed he centre of the swamp (Haven Rd), and met up with some birders doing a Big Sit. I finished by visiting some fields in the Deli Fields area.

Overall the birding was great. The waterbirds are somewhat disturbed at this time of year due to the number of hunters in the area, but there was plenty else to look at. Possibly the commonest bird was Yellow-rumped Warbler of which there were dozens. Typical swamp bird included 8 Wood Duck, 6 Green-winged Teal and 3 Great Blue Heron. There were plenty of raptors too, Peregrine (1), Merlin (1), Copper's Hawk (6), Sharp-shinned Hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (5), Turkey Vulture (4) and Northern Harrier (3) were all seen well. On the edge of the woodlands several flocks of passerines contained plenty of Ruby-crowned Kinglets plus Tufted Titmouse, Blue-headed Vireo (2), Hermit Thrush (5), Eastern Towhee (1) and Hairy Woodpecker (1). A Pileated Woodpecker flying over the swamp was a marvelous sighting.

The fields near the old deli were great for sparrows, with Swamp, Song, Savannah and Chipping Sparrows all present as well as several Eastern Bluebirds and a Palm Warbler.

throughout the morning several flocks of migrating Canada Geese flew over, averaging about 50 birds per flock.

Swamp Sparrow starting to pass through this week.
Savannah Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow are everywhere at the moment
Hairy Woodpecker 
Yellow-rumped Warbler, probably the commonest bird today.
Common Yellowthroat 
Female Northern Harrier. One of three birds seen today, including a fantastic looking male at long distance
Hermit Thrush 
Black-capped Chickadee 
Cooper's Hawk 
Eastern Phoebe 
Eastern Bluebird 
House Finch 
Migrating Canada Geese

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Nature Study Woods, New Rochelle - 7th Oct.

A quick after-work walk in the closest patch of woods to my house. Quite a nice hour with 2 Common Yellowthroats, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, 2 Carolina Wrens, 3 Tufted Titmouse, a Red-eyed Vireo and best of all a female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler. Quite an odd looking bird. It kept very low in dense vegetation for most of the time it was with me, but did venture into the lower canopy a couple of times. Couldn't seem to make up its mind...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Marine Park - 5th Oct

After an enjoyable morning spent at Prospect Park I decided to try the salt-marshes at Marine Park, to look for Saltmarsh Sparrow and Marsh Wren. No luck was had with either species, though I did encounter a flock of 10 Palm Warblers on a baseball outfield adjacent to the park. I also had a small number of raptors passing through, including 2 Merlins, a Sharp-shinned Hawk and an American Kestrel. Other birds included more Yellow-rumped Warblers, 3 Greater Yellowlegs and another pair of Pied-billed Grebes.

I finished my days birding at Plumb Beach with a fine pair of Black Scoters.

Male American Kestrel.
Greater Yellowlegs.
Northern Mockingbird