Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mourning Warbler in Central Park - 28th May

Another visit to Central Park, and a bit more successful than Tuesday. Three late warblers seen including Northern Waterthrush, female Blackpoll Warbler, and best of all a stonking Mourning Warbler. Other nice birds were Swainson's Thrush, 2 Eastern Kingbirds, nesting Cedar Waxwing and a juvenile Orchard Oriole. Not a bad couple of hours!

Male Mourning Warbler, responded very quickly to a recording, and showed very well for about 5 minutes or so.

A more typical view of this lovely skulker...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Central Park - 26th May

Back in New York after an exciting week away, and where are all the birds? It seems I picked a terrible week to go away as I seem to have missed a host of good birds,well it was worth it to see Ecuador I suppose! Migrant numbers were low generally, and hard to see anyway because of the foliage which appears to grow as you look at it.

Best birds for me were Grey-cheeked Thrush and Olive-sided Flycatcher, both of them new for me

Grey-cheeked Thrush. Greyish cheeks, no eye-ring and greyish flanks separate this from the very similar Swainson's also around at the moment.

Olive-sided Flycatcher. High in a tree above the Azalia pond in The Ramble.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ecuador - Intag - May 2015

The highlight of the school trip was undoubtedly the visit to the cloud forest at Intag on the western slope of the Andes north of Otavalo. The camp is called La Florida, and it's main claim to birding fame is the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek about 20 minutes walk from camp. The 30 minutes I spent there on the Friday morning, in company with 3 of the boys and our guide, were quite simply magical.

The camp itself was an excellent birding spot, with many fruiting trees and flowering shrubs attracting hordes of tanagers, hummingbirds and other goodies. Best of the birds included Common Potoo, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Toucan Barbet, Red-billed Parrot, 9 species of tanager, including Blue-Grey, Golden, White-winged, Saffron-crowned, Black-capped, Golden-naped, Lemon-rumped, Blue-winged Mountain and Metallic Green, 3 species of hummingbird, Booted Racquet-tail, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and Western Emerald.

Others included Strong-billed and Montane Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Pale-legged Hornero, Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-winged Saltator, 3 woodpeckers including Crimson-mantled, Golden-olive and Smoky-brown, Masked Trogon, Orange-bellied and Thick-billed Euphonia.....

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. A quite astonishing bird, and an iconic species. Possibly the first bird I became aware of as a child. This is quite definitely one of the birding highlights of my life!

Common Potoo. Roosting in a dead tree behind the dining area at Intag.
Saffron-crowned Tanager. Only seen on the first day.
Blue-grey Tanager. One of the few Ecuadorian birds that I'd seen before, in Brazil
Golden Tanager. the most numerous tanager in camp
Blue-winged Mountain Tanager. Wow!
Lemon-rumped Tanager. Small numbers daily.
Female White-winged Tanager. Seen every day, the male only appeared once.
Male Masked Trogon.

Red-faced Spinetail.

Strong-billed Woodcreeper.

Montane Woodcreeper.

Booted Racquet-tail.
White-winged Becard.
Band-tailed Pigeon.
Golden-crowned Flycatcher.
Streaked Xenops.
Crimson-rumped Toucanet.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nest-site battle - 21st May

While birding on the edge of the clearing at La Florida, looking down the slope I noticed a kerfuffle occurring on a nearby tree. A large woodcreeper appeared to be being attacked by a smaller species. Upon examination it looks like it is a battle for a nesting site between two species with similar habitat requirements.

The larger bird is a Strong-billed Woodcreeper. It has discovered a nice-sized hole in a tree, and is investigating, presumably prospecting for a nest-site. While doing so a smaller bird starts to bombard it, flying by extremely closely in a very aggressive display.

Eventually the larger woodcreeper gets tired of constantly defending itself and moves off, leaving the field in the hands of the aggressor. It turned out to be a Lineated Foliage-gleaner...
...which was soon joined by a mate. The battle continued for some time that day, and both species were still in the area the next morning, still arguing over real estate!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ecuador - Fuya Fuya & Cuicocha - May 2015

A great couple of days hiking in the mountains around Otavalo. On the Tuesday we did Cuicocha, and on Wednesday Fuya Fuya, both of which are extinct volcanos. The habitat is paramo, which is high Andean grassland. The birds were relatively thin, but what was visible was very good. Best bird by far were the 2 Andean Condors at Fuya Fuya. Other raptors their included several Variable Hawks and 2 Carunculated Caracara. There was also a White-tailed Kite seen from the bus on the way back to the Hacienda. This appears to be quite rare here, though numbers are said to be increasing. No doubt about the ID, though I saw it from a bus so no chance of a photo.

Cuicocha had a crater lake (with Andean Coots), and more scrubby vegetation, so more birds. Best there was a brief glimpse of a Rufous-naped Brush-Finch.

It's far away and it's probably out-of-focus because I was shaking when I took the shot, but it's an Andean Condor! One of a pair soaring off into the clouds on our way up Fuya Fuya.
There were several of these Variable Hawks on the mountain.

Andean Coot on the lake at Cuicocha.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ecuador - Hacienda Cusin - May 2015

One of the many benefits of workingat a private boys' school is the opportunity to go on field trips. In this case a week in Ecuador escorting the grade 8 students up and down mountains, around volcanic craters and into cloud forests. What a hard life I have.

Our base was at a very nice spot called Hacienda Cusin in Otavalo, about 90 minutes north of Quito. The hotel has extensive gardens, with a few birds, so that was where I started.

Most obvious were the Sparkling Violetear, chipping from almost every bush. Other common birds included Southern Yellow Grosbeak, Great Thrush, Cinerous Conebill, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager, Blue-Grey Tanager, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Black-and-white Seedeater, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Eared Dove, Blue-and-white Swallow and Brown-bellied Swallow. An unexpected treat was a pair of Red-masked Parakeet that appeared every day. Normally occurring in the coastal zone, they must be escaped cage birds. Good luck to them.

Sparkling Violetear. Very common in the gardens around Otavalo. The only other hummingbirds in the area were Black-tailed Trainbearer and Tawny-bellied Hermit.
Great Thush. Common throughout.
Brown-bellied Swallow. Small numbers in several places, including two pairs nesting at the Hacienda.
Blue-and-White Swallow. Throughout.
Eared Dove. Common in the gardens around Otavalo.
Smoke-coloured Pewee. In the garden of the Hacienda, also seen at Intag.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Doodletown Road - 16th May

A damp morning spent walking the trails at Doodletown. Cerulean Warblers were the most obvious bird early on, singing from nearly every tree, but very hard to see. I eventually got on to one pair, right little beauties. Bird of the day were the three separate Kentucky Warblers, much more visible than I'd been expecting. Other good warblers included a single singing Hooded Warbler, many American Redstarts, 2 Blackpoll Warblers, and singles of Worm-eating, Blue-winged, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green and Canada Warblers.

Four Yellow-throated Vireos were a welcome sight, I've missed them several times in Central park. A fabulous Yellow-billed Cuckoo showed very well. Other migrants included a Wood Thrush, two Rose-breasted Grosbeak, several Indigo Buntings, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Orioles and a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Male Cerulean Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Kentucky Warbler

Yellow-throated Vireo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Central Park - 8th May

Another beautiful day in Central Park. I had my first Red-eyed Vireo and Swainson's Thrush of spring, but not much else in the way of new birds compared to earlier in the week. The Worm-eating Warbler was vocal and active, and there were at least 3 Blackburnian Warblers, one of which showed very well. Blackpoll Warbler numbers have increased and their insect-like call can be heard in several places. 2 Indigo Buntings were near the Azalea Pond.

Warblers today:

Ovenbird (2)
Worm-eating Warbler (1)
Black-and-white Warbler (many)
Common Yellowthroat (3)
American Redstart (1)
Northern Parula (many)
Magnolia Warbler (1)
Blackburnian Warbler (3)
Yellow Warbler (1)
Blackpoll Warbler (2) 
Black-throated Blue Warbler (3)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (many)
Black-throated Green Warbler (1)

Blackburnian Warbler. At least 3 birds today in various spots in The Ramble. Probably my favourite wood warbler...

Worm-eating Warbler. This bird has been hanging around the Tupelo tree for a few days, and has started singing.

Male Black-and-white Warbler. Brilliant looking birds!
Magnolia Warbler

Swainson's Thrush