Sunday, April 30, 2017

Least Bittern in Central Park - 30 April

After a not-particularly birdy day at Doodletown on the 29th I decided that the best way to hit my target birds for this spring (Tennessee Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Philadelphia Vireo, Least Bittern, Virginia Rail) would be to hang around with other birders, so I headed in to Central Park.

My plan bore fruit almost immediately when a twitter alert went out that a Least Bittern was perched in a tree above The Gill. And lo, it was true! What a great bird, and one of my main targets for spring down, quite unexpectedly.

Other new birds for the season included lots of Ovenbirds, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Blackpoll Warbler. There were lots of Thrushes all over the place, including Veery, Wood Thrush, Swainson's Thrush and Hermit Thrush. The Red-headed Woodpecker put in a show at the feeders, all-in-all an excellent day.

Female Least Bittern. No-one present could recall a previous Central Park record, and ebird only has 2 for the whole of Manhattan (both by Andrew Farnsworth).
Male Scarlet Tanager
Red-headed Woodpecker

Friday, April 28, 2017

Yellow-throated Warbler in Central Park - 28th April

The past week has been pretty wet, and few migrants have managed to make it this far north. Friday was set to be dry, so I got into Central Park by about 6:00am, and started at Strawberry Fields. Immediately it was clear that there had been a major fall. Every treetop was alive with warblers. The predominate species was Yellow-rumped Warbler, but soon enough we started picking up other species. A couple of Palm Warblers were the first non-yellow-rumps, followed by a Northern Parula, and American Redstart and then a Blue-winged Warbler. A White-eyed Vireo circled the area a couple of times, and a Blue-headed Vireo also showed up. A gorgeous Baltimore Oriole was next, followed by the first of many Black-and-white Warblers, and a lovely Yellow Warbler.

Next stop was the swampy Pin-oak which had a host of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and singles of Common Yellowthroat, Nashville Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush. More Yellow Warblers here, as well as a Green Heron and a Hermit Thrush.

The last stop of the morning was The Point where a single tree produced a second Nashville Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler (ssp. albiloris), as well as another American Redstart. Nearby in the willows by The Oven was a Louisiana Waterthrush, a magnificent male Purple Finch and brief views of a Prairie Warbler.

The lores of this Yellow-throated Warbler are white, suggesting it is of the central race, Dendroica dominica albiloris. Compare this with the D. d. dominica that I saw at Valley Stream in April 2015.

This was first pointed out to me as a Northern Waterthush, but it is quite clearly a Louisiana Waterthush. (unstreaked throat, bubble-gum pink legs).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prothonotary Warbler - Marine Park - 15th April

A Prothonotary Warbler was found in the week at Marine Park in Brooklyn. It hung around for a few days, so I decided to make it my first stop on Saturday morning. It performed amazingly well, regularly forcing me to take a step or two back to keep it in focus!

After that good start to the day I had a quick walk around the ponds at Jamaica Bay. The water level in the East Pond was very high so there was very little to see apart from Barn and Tree Swallows hawking over the water, a pair of Peregrine screeching at each other and a flyby Little Blue Heron.

The West Pond path has been rebuilt at last, but is not open yet. There weren't many birds here either, a single calling Eastern Towhee was the highlight.

Prothonotary Warbler has to be one of the best looking warblers. The word means " a chief clerk of any of various courts of law" (Merriam-Webster). It is attached to this bird "with reference to the saffron colour of the robes worn by clerks to the Pope" (Oxford).

It spent the entire time gleaning tiny insects from the leaves of the plants growing around the rocks near the Nature Centre.