Saturday, May 28, 2016

Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Marine Park - 28th May

An extraordinary 9 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were found this morning at the Marine Park in Brooklyn. Despite the heavy holiday traffic they were still present at 2:45pm when I got there. Also in the marsh was a wonderful Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Not sure when the last New York record was, but I think this has to be the highest number.
Great looking duck!
Yellow-crowned Night Heron feeding actively at 3:00pm.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Late spring warbler-fest - Central Park 25th May

Prompted by reports of a Yellow-breasted Chat I headed over to Strawberry Fields early on. No luck with the chat, but there was a nice selection of warblers as compensation, including a male Blackburnian, Canada, Magnolia, Northern Parula and American Redstart. After an hour or so I started heading back to work via the Ramble. I stopped at Belvedere Castle where a group of birders had congregated under a Honey Locust tree. There must have been some sort of hatch occurring as I had 10 species of warbler in 15 minutes including: Chestnut-sided (2+ females), Blackburnian (1m, 2f), Bay-breasted (1m), Blackpoll (1m, 2+f), Magnolia (1m), Yellow (1+f), Black-throated Green (2f), Black-throated Blue (1+f), American Redstart (1f) and Northern Parula (1f).

Male Bay-breasted Warbler. This fellow spent at least half an hour feeding on the lowest branches of the tree giving most birders present their best-ever views.
At times it seemed like he was deliberately posing, showing off plumage features we might not have noticed...

Female Black-throated Green Warbler, also showing very well.

Female Blackburnian Warbler giving just a hint of yellowy gorgeousness...
...but nothing beats the male!
Blackpoll Warbler trying to muscle in on the Blackburnian's feast.
Male Blackpoll Warbler, quite a cracker really!
Female Chestnut-sided Warbler looking quite boring compared to the rest

And if you got bored of warblers there was always a Red-eyed Vireo to look at.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Doodletown Road - 21st May

Another trip to Doodletown Road. Quite a birdy day with good looks at the Kentucky Warbler, a couple of Cerulean Warblers, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, several Orchard Orioles, 4 Blue-winged Warblers, a couple of flyover Pileated Woodpeckers and lots of Indigo Buntings.

First summer male Orchard Oriole
Lots of Hooded Warblers all over
Male American Redstart
Another low-level Bluegrey Gnatcatcher
Pileated Woodpecker

Friday, May 20, 2016

Migration on the wane... 19th & 20th May

Thursday was a very birdy day with all sorts of goodies reported in The Ramble. The highlight for me was a very obliging Yellow-billed Cuckoo which sat in a tree for half an hour or so. Views were not perfect, but at least it didn't scarper as soon as it saw us. Lots of warblers still about, including the first female Blackpoll Warblers of spring, signifying the beginning of the end of migration season.

Friday was much quieter, with smaller numbers of all species. Quite a few Canada Warblers were at eye level on The Point, as was a single Wilson's Warbler. Top encounter of the human kind was with Peter Ericsson from Thailand! Nice to chat to someone about SE Asian birds again.

Thursday's highlight was this Yellow-billed Cuckoo which hung around in a tree long enough for everyone to get a look.
Several very confiding Canada Warblers today
Yet another Wilson's Warbler
Cracking Blackburnian Warbler

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

More warblers in The Ramble - 17th May

A 16 warbler day in The Ramble; Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Cape May (2), Chestnut-sided, Black-and-white, Canada, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Wilson's, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart and Northern Parula. Other birds of note included my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the year, Eastern Pewee, and lots of Baltimore Orioles.

A female Chestnut-sided Warbler. The first females of a number of species were present today, including Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers.

Displaying Red-winged Blackbird

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Least Flycatcher at Jones' Beach - 15th May

I decided to try Jones Beach today for a change. Not bad diversity, though numbers overall were a bit low. The first of two highlights was an interesting Empidonax Flycatcher which I think was Least Flycatcher. Best bird though was a male Chuck-Will's Widow that I disturbed while walking through the pines on the median strip.

Other birds included Magnolia, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-White Warblers, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Brown Thrasher and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

At the Coast Guard Station a flock of waders included 38 Grey Plovers and 52 Red Knot.

What I strongly suspect is my first Least Flycatcher. While it didn't call, there are a couple of pointers. The clearest indicator is the strong pale eye-ring visible here.

It also has a fairly short primary projection...
...and a "round body with thin tail" to quote Sibley. Quite an apt description I think.

Blue-headed Vireo

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Kentucky Warbler at Doodletown Road - 14th May

A nice couple of hours on Doodletown Road. Quite a few migrants about, including a very co-operative Kentucky Warbler, as well as Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Indigo Bunting as well as plenty of commoner species. A Pileated Woodpecker flypast was very nice at the end of the walk.

This amazing Kentucky Warbler put on quite a show, coming to within a few feet of me, apparently totally unconcerned.
Yellow Warbler on a nest
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. I usually see these silhouetted against the sky, high up in the trees so this low level bird was quite a surprise.
The second of two Rat Snakes found today. This was about 15 - 18 inches long.
This first one was much longer however, at least 3 feet. My attention was drawn to it by a female Cerulean Warbler which was giving lots of alarm calls and generally behaving in a very agitated manner.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Wilson's Warbler and other migrants - 13th -14th May

Migrants are popping out of every bush at the moment, and good birds can be found almost everywhere. Central Park is good of course, with Wilson's, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian and Blackpoll Warblers among the most interesting migrants. Others included Yellow-throated Vireo, Eastern Kingbird, Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee. 

I've also been birding at Edith Read and Randall's Island with similar results.

Wilson's Warbler in Central Park
Common Yellowthroat are everywhere at the moment
A few Black-throated Green Warblers are scattered at every site
Yellow Warbler, ubiquitous in the right habitat

Quite a few Scarlet tanagers have arrived, mostly males
Eastern Kingbird with a bumble-bee. Seen at several sites this week.
Warbling Vireo on Randall's Island
Northern Rough-wing Swallow at Edith Read

Lots of birds are nesting at the moment...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

More migrants in Central Park - 5th May

The last few days have been pretty damp which has kept me indoors. Today was forecast to be dry but overcast, so I got back into the Ramble. Quite a few FOY birds including Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Ovenbird and 3 Indigo Bunting. Other migrants included Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Eastern Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Veery and Blue-headed Vireo.

Walking back to work I found a White-crowned Sparrow on the west side of the Great Lawn. On the reservoir the breeding plumaged Slavonian Grebe was still in the southwest corner, as well as newly arrived Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-wing Swallow and 2 Chimney Swifts all hawking insects on the north side of the reservoir.

Cracking White-crowned Sparrow by the Great Lawn
Slavonian (Horned) Grebe in breeding plumage, unusual in Central Park