Sunday, October 25, 2015

Brooklyn Pelagic - 24th Oct

My first autumn pelagic out of New York, his time on a boat from Brooklyn. We steamed out overnight, getting to deep water by about 5:30am. The sea was quite rough, so many birders contributed to the chum slick, myself included. First birds of the morning were Wilson's Storm Petrel, quite a late date for this species. Next up were Black-capped Petrel, a real treat. The winds were high so they shot past quite quickly, but they kept returning and we got excellent views.

After a few hours we changed location and followed some trawlers. This time the main species was Great Shearwater, of which there were many. They were amazingly confiding, some of them coming almost within touching distance of the boat. Several Northern Fulmar made an appearance, as did a Manx Shearwater, and both subspecies of Cory's Shearwater.

The trip back was fairly quiet, but quite a list of birds was racked up, including; Kittiwake, Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger), Pomarine Skua (Pomarine Jaegar), Northern Gannet and Royal Tern.

Fabulous views of Great Shearwater coming into the chum were had for a number of hours.

One or two birds came extremely close to the boat to feed on the fish and suet chunks.

Though the Herring Gulls bullied them mercilessly...

Bird of the day were the dozen or so Black-capped Petrels that were attracted to the chum slick. Sadly they didn't come very close to the boat.
The white rump is very noticeable...

We had several good views of Cory's Shearwater during the day, of both subspecies...
...the first bird was of the nominate race C. d. diomedea, Skopoli's Shearwater. Note the white underwing bleeding into the primaries
There were also several C. d.  borealis, with dark based primaries giving a sharper boundary between the underwing and the primaries.
Quite a few Northern Fulmar throughout the afternoon.

On the way back a couple of Skuas were spotted, including this Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger).
Wilson's Storm-Petrel

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Marsh Wren in Central Park - 22nd Oct

I returned to The Loch to check on the Sora, which was in exactly the same spot as Tuesday. While watching it my attention was drawn by a beautiful Marsh Wren in the low bushes by the stream. A briefly seen warbler with bright yellow underparts and a grey hood was probably a Nashville Warbler.

On the Great Hill several sparrow flocks were interesting, with about 10 Chipping Sparrows, 1 Field Sparrow and 1 White-crowned Sparrow being the most interesting.

My first views of this very smart wren were very good, but fleeting. Over the next 20 minutes or so I managed to get several more, equally brief sightings. The key features of the bird are fairly clear, a strong white supercilium, which is slightly fragmented towards the rear, and a band of black-and-white markings on the mantle.
One slightly odd feature was the clearly barred flanks, which is not a usual feature of this species.

Several sparrow species present, including this White-crowned Sparrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sora in Central Park - 20th Oct

Found on Sunday in the Loch in the northern part of Central Park. This bird has a damaged left wing, probably explaining why it's hanging about. Sadly the injury appears severe enough to guarantee that it won't survive very long, particularly in an area with so many dogs!

Adult Sora, showing very well, and in fact a very confiding bird.
The damaged left wing.

Blue-headed Vireo playing silly buggers...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lark Sparrow at Jones' Beach - 17th Oct

A great morning's birding at Jones Beach. The weather was quite clear with reasonably strong westerlies overnight, and a fairly steep decline in temperature. This all added up to a large movement of birds. I got to Jones' Beach early, and a good thing too. Large movements of all species were observed, including; 250+ Tree Swallow, 350+ Yellow-rumped Warblers and 200+ Northern Flickers. A good selection of sparrows was also visible, including many Song and White-throated, 3 White-crowned, 5 Swamp, 1 Field, 10 Savannah, 6 Chipping, and bird of the day, 1 Lark Sparrow. Another great migrant was a cracking adult Red-headed Woodpecker. Other birds included 4 Palm Warbler, 3 Pine Warbler, many Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets.

A number of raptors followed, including 3 Coopers Hawk, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawk and 4 Merlin.

At the sandbar 3 Royal Terns were perched, along with 100+ American Oystercatcher, as well as flocks of Dunlin and Sanderling.

1st winter Lark Sparrow. Present since about Wednesday. There has been quite an influx over the last couple of weeks with birds seen at several sites on the south shore of Long Island, as well as sites in Brooklyn and New Jersey
What a bird! Adult Red-headed Woodpecker

Royal Terns

Cooper's Hawk
White-crowned Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Monarch Butterflies warming up in the morning sun

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cape May Warbler in Central Park - 15th Oct

A very birdy morning. I started at the Maintenance Meadow in The Ramble, with loads of newly arrived sparrows flitting everywhere. The majority were Song and White-throated Sparrows, but there were a couple of Lincoln's, a White-crowned and a Swamp. Blue-headed Vireos were also very noticeable with at least three present. One Winter Wren also buzzed through.

After a while I moved on to the Pinetum, which was similarly humming with activity. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are still very numerous, with several warbler species coming to thew sapwells, including plenty of Yellow-rumped, 2 Palm and one Cape May. Chipping Sparrows foraged at the base of the pines, and a Brown Creeper completed the picture.

Probably the same Cape May Warbler from Tuesday, but a bit lower in the tree, affording much better views.
Brown Creeper

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Nashville Warbler in Central Park - 13th Oct

A rather quiet day in The Ramble which was rescued by finding a treeful of warblers in the Pinetum. They were all feeding at the sapsucker sapwells. The most numerous species (apart from the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) wereYellow-rumped Warbler, but there was also a Nashville Warbler, a Cape May Warbler, 2 Pine Warblers, several Northern Parula and a few Black-throated Blue Warblers. A few Ruby-crowned Kinglets joined in as I was leaving.

Nashville Warbler feeding from a sapwell.

A very bright Cape May Warbler for the time of year...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Big Sit at Fort Tilden - 10th Oct

Columbus Day weekend is the date for a sedentary bird race known as The Big Sit. The rules are pretty straightforward. Choose a spot, count every bird you can see or hear for a 24 hour period. The winner gets.... a big cake or something, I didn't catch that bit. The Queens Bird Club chooses the viewing platform at Fort Tilden, an excellent spot. This is the second year that QBC has participated.

Best birds for me were Royal Tern fishing offshore, several Blackpoll Warbler passing through and great views of both Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawks. A total of 76 birds were seen, beating last year's score of 74. Today's list in full.

Brant (2500)
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Black Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (1000+)
American Kestrel
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Grey Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (300)
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Dickcissel (Heard only)
Bobolink (Heard only)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Great Blue Heron, with the canyons on lower Manhattan in the background
The rules are simple, for a bird to count it has to be seen by someone on the platform

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vesper Sparrow in Central Park - 8th Oct

Fall migration has changed over the last week or so, with warblers becoming less common, and large numbers of sparrows and other late fall migrants moving through. Best bird this week was a Vesper Sparrow on Thursday, other sparrows included several Field Sparrows, a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, lots of Dark-eyed Juncos, as well as the expected Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows and Eastern Towhees.

Thrushes continue with the arrival of the Hermit Thrushes, mixed in with a few Swainson's Thrushes.

Particularly common right now are Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, both of which seem to be everywhere.

Warblers are not entirely absent of course, this weeks haul has included Nothern Parula, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Blackpoll.

Vesper Sparrow, a very well marked individual. The white eye-ring is particularly striking...

Field Sparrow, very pretty...