A Travellerspoint blog

Prospect Park!

Brooklyn, NYC

semi-overcast 68 °F

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24:

Today I had a 10-1 rehearsal in Brooklyn so I took advantage of the early morning to bird Prospect Park. There turned to be a lot of migrants around and I did the best I could despite the limited time and tricky lighting of the early morning. MAGNOLIA WARBLERS were everywhere:
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This cooperative SCARLET TANAGER was nice:
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Caught a bee!
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Love a good double — here it is with another Magnolia:
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As it started to warm up just a bit, I had six BROAD-WINGED HAWKS lift up from the trees where they were presumably roosting for the night, and they continued the next leg of their southbound migration. Unfortunately the camera was not being cooperative.
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My favorite sighting this far came of this handsome male HOODED WARBLER which, as you should know by now, is my favorite warbler! It is just so striking, and uncommon enough to only be seen a couple times each season.
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Another uncommon warbler immediately following the Hooded sighting was this CANADA WARBLER, a nice male. Both of these birds triggered the rare bird alert due to slight tardiness.
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BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
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After rehearsal, I was back to Prospect Park because someone had reported a very uncommon sighting, a Grasshopper Sparrow, which would be a NY lifer for me! Along the way I stopped at a pond with a resident WOOD DUCK:
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And this weird female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. I suspect this bird might have a pigment abnormality as it has an excessively stark amount of white on the chin relative to typical individuals.
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NORTHERN PARULA:
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Unfortunately, despite my best searching efforts right at the correct spot alongside Prospect Lake, I missed the Grasshopper Sparrow. A raft of NORTHERN SHOVELERS will just have to do:
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Bird-of-the-day to the Hooded with runner-up to the Canada Warbler. A decent morning of fall migration!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 18:55 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A few Central Park forays

New York, NY

all seasons in one day 81 °F

The school year is catching up with me now so that means I am once again falling a bit behind in posting…

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18:

After studio class, I knew it was time to finally visit Central Park for the first time this fall as I was already down on just 104th St. It was a quick scooter ride over to the Pool where I was searching for a Sora that had recently shown up in the southwest corner. While searching, I immediately spotted this NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
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And I spotted the SORA, though it stayed tucked back in the reeds and never allowed for photography.

So, I continued onto the Loch where I had a few more common warbler species such as AMERICAN REDSTART:
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And COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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BLACK-AND-WHITE:
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WOOD THRUSH was nice to see:
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RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER:
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And my bird-of-the-day came in the form of this YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER as it is getting a bit late for this species to still be hanging around.
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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21:

I had a lovely time birding Central Park this morning with Margot M — we started off with a few GADWALL at “The Pool”
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CAROLINA WREN:
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ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:
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CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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Male SCARLET TANAGER (yellow nonbreeding plumage):
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Bird-of-the-day for wednesday goes to the Scarlet Tanager. Unfortunately, it’s rarer cousin the Summer Tanager didn’t feel like cooperating today.

Stay tuned for more! We’re getting close to peak migration here in NYC though I have limited time to get out and enjoy it.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 01:22 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Saturday series part 2: Breezy Point…Vismig?

Queens, NYC

semi-overcast 79 °F

For the second installment of this school year’s “saturday series,” I headed to the beach once again. My hope was to catch “vismig” (visible migration) of passerines at Breezy Point in Queens since multiple birders had reported large migratory events in the early morning the last few days.

So, I was up before 5am and made it to Breezy around 7am, the perfect time to watch a morning flight. It seemed pretty birdy right off the bat, with a tree full of NORTHERN FLICKERS:
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And on OSPREY:
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But the songbird department really quieted down once I got closer to the shoreline. At least there was an EASTERN PHOEBE:
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COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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And I very quickly picked up a few more marine species like this flock of BLACK SKIMMERS which are great to see this late in November!
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One, an immature, even landed on the shore:
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The two SEMIPALMATED shorebirds were hanging out together — with many PLOVERS:
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And a SANDPIPER mixed in:
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Next, I watched a CASPIAN TERN hunting just offshore:
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A few LAUGHING GULLS flew by but their numbers were noticeably way down from last week — I had only 5 today while I had probably nearly five hundred in similar habitat last week.
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I wasn’t sure if I actually made the wrong decision in going to the shoreline instead of just staying in the dunes since I wasn’t having any flyover songbirds so I decided to retrace my steps all the way back to the parking lot and hope for more luck in that department. Well, other than an unphotographed CAPE MAY and this YELLOW WARBER, it honestly turned out to be extremely slow back in the dunes. Gah.
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So, I decided to head to the beach once again to at least try for more aquatic species and I ended up walking all the way around Breezy Point Tip which was quite a hike. One nice bird I picked up right off the bat was this ROYAL TERN:
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An AMERICAN KESTREL migrated over at one point:
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And I had a lovely time photographing this pair of AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS:
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And a flock of BLACK SKIMMERS in front of the hills of New Jersey — it was super clear visibility today which allowed for amazing clarity though these birds were absolute miles away.
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LEAST SANDPIPER:
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I had a nice conglomeration of shorebirds near the jetty — the smallish white ones are SANDERLINGS, the slightly larger, grayer bird is a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, the long-billed shorebird on the left is a WILLET, and the brightly-colored AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER is center.
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Close-up on the Black-bellied:
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And the Willet:
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Down further along the beach (where there were naked sunbathers!), I had two RUDDY TURNSTONE:
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A pleasant, though somewhat slow, morning.

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Royal Tern which always a nice find out here and runner-up to the Black Skimmers. It was nice to be by the sea even if it wasn’t the killer day for passerine migration. I think the others had luck earlier in the week because there had been a cold front that had just pushed through along with northwesterly winds during the night, and though the radar showed high migration last night too, the winds were northeasterly meaning the birds were probably pushed further inland. So I’ve learned my lesson that it needs to be the perfect storm (literally) in order to observe a vismig event at Breezy Point. Northwesterly winds + recent cold front, which weren’t really the conditions I had.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 02:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

First of this year’s “saturday series!”

Queens, NYC

semi-overcast 85 °F

This first installment of my “weekly saturday adventures” for this 2022-23 school year includes a half-day birding Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Jacob Riis Park Beach — both in Queens, NY. Target birds for the day were all uncommon birds to “regular rarities,” including at Jamaica Bay: Black-headed Gull, Hudsonian Godwit, Stilt & Baird’s Sandpiper, and Sora (believe it or not yes, Sora is a local rarity), and at Jacob Riis I was simply hoping to catch whatever may be flying by at the moment such as terns and waterfowl, but maybe jaegers or shearwaters if the conditions would be perfect!

The A train was delayed along the way but I was able to spot a decent bird from the train: an adult YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
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On the walk to Jamaica Bay I did a bit of scoping off of Cross Bay Blvd and found FORSTER’S TERN:
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GREAT BLUE HERON:
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And here is the YC Night-Heron pictures this time with two SNOWY EGRETS — note their yellow feet:
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AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER:
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LAUGHING GULLS with a RING-BILLED:
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At about 1pm, I arrived the south lookout of Jamaica Bay’s East Pond to search for a Sora that had recently been hanging out with a group of Short-billed Dowitchers. I did immediately spy a nearby flock of shorebirds including this SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER:
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And the many SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, granting me my best-ever looks at this wonderful migrant species!
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BLUE-WINGED TEAL among others showing off its namesake blue scapulars — I also got a high count of these today:
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SNOWY EGRET with RING-BILLED & LAUGHING GULLS and a CANADA GOOSE:
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And more close-ups of this beautiful Egret. Will be tough to see them leave for the winter once again — they are one of my favorite breeding birds here and I only get a few weeks of each season to see the summer species of NY.
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This NORTHERN HARRIER flew by:
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LESSER YELLOWLEGS with Dowitchers in the background:
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To my absolute delight, this flock of 10+ WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS (along with a pair of smaller Semipalmated, see if you can distinguish them) flew in, allowing for brief but close looks. Super cool! A pretty uncommon bird for the area and certainly a NY lifer as I don’t even get to see this bird every year overall. Note their overall frosty bluish-gray appearance that is always their most noticeable fieldmark to me.
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Along with a cute SEMIPALMATED PLOVER:
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Then, another birder motioned me back over to my original spot and I got my NY lifer SORA! Awesome! They are a bunch more rare here than back home or in Idaho. It gave brief views preening then ducked back into the shade:
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I was very grateful to have a friendly birder named Jason give me a lift up to the North end of the pond which greatly streamlined my birding time. Then, we birded the pond a bit together — great to meet you Jason!

MUTE SWAN:
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The air force taking off from JFK nearby:
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GREAT BLACK-BACKED & RING-BILLED GULLS with GADWALL and MALLARDS in the background:
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Then, I spotted the BLACK-HEADED GULL with its pure-white appearance and classic reddish bill — extremely cool!! I believe this is my Queens lifer and only the second or third I’ve seen, ever. This is one I would definitely describe as a “regular rarity” as they are a traditionally European species that does tend to wander over here with isolated sightings here and there.
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Look at that pure white back!
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Then, Jason spotted probably my main target for Jamaica Bay which was HUDSONIAN GODWIT! Amazing New York lifer and another one that I have maybe only seen once or twice before.
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OSPREY:
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CASPIAN TERN:
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More Semipalmated Plovers:
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This MERLIN was hauling absolute ass overhead:
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LESSER YELLOWLEGS:
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This is one of those “you gotta trust me” moments: this BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, another wonderful New York bird, streamed overhead and this is the best shot I could manage — though you can still get that “perfectly toasted marshmallow” vibe from the underside of this bird, as was taught to me by Will S. It was also calling “Kreep!” which helped greatly in the ID.
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A couple GREAT presiding over a number of SNOWY EGRETS.
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NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH abounded at the edges of the phragmites:
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LEAST SANDPIPER:
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Begging immature with adult CASPIAN TERNS:
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And a PALM WARBLER on the walk back to the bus stop.
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Next stop: Jacob Riis Park at Beach 169th St for seawatching! I made this decision due to the forecast of southerly winds — southerly or southeasterly winds are the only conditions one should seawatch on Long Island so that the birds are forced closer to shore in general. It was a gorgeous evening at the beach, and I even saw a few (unphotographed) dolphins too!
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A bit out of focus, but you get the idea — GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS streaming overhead to roost at Breezy Point:
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A couple distant ROYAL TERNS made appearances throughout my watch — always a good bird with which to trip the rare bird alert:
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4 distant AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and a gull:
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The Carnival Magic was leaving NYC this evening.
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And I ended my seawatch after watching the last of a few waves of COMMON TERNS flyby. I made sure to check for Blacks and Roseates, but that was to no avail.
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What a great day to start the school year! Bird-of-the-day goes to the Hudsonian Godwits with runners-up to the Black-headed Gull, Sora, Baird’s Sandpiper, and Royal Terns. Stay tuned: more migration birding is to come (despite an incredibly busy school year already), including the Queens County BIG SIT on October 8 for which I am out of my mind excited!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 03:37 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Starting off September right!

Thatcher Woods, IL

sunny 80 °F

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1:

Starting off September well, I led my last bird walk of the fall season at Thatcher Woods for a lively group of seven birders. We immediately started finding birds from the parking lot including a lovely RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, a good bird for the Oak Park area!!
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MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
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BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER:
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Immature EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
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AMERICAN REDSTART:
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CHIPPING SPARROW:
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BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, basically only separated from a Blackpoll in the fall because its legs aren’t pink.
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Interesting bird. This is a bird I called a Golden-winged Warbler in the field but closer inspection of the photo shows a slightly yellowish wash to the back which suggests it may be a backcross with a Blue-winged Warbler hybrid. Consulting the experts on this.
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AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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Female YELLOW WARBLER:
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SAVANNAH SPARROW:
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WILLOW FLYCATCHER — it vocalized saying “whit” (the identical Alder Fly would say “pit!”):
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First PALM WARBLER of the season:
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I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted a cooperative cuckoo foraging low to the ground:
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With minimal enticing, this bird foraged right out in the open for us, givin multiple walkers their life bird BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO in the form of a juvenile!!! Wowza! What a special bird. This bird is not an adult because an adult’s eyering would be red as opposed to yellow.
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YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER:
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GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH. Here you can see the rufous brown tail this bird can have to varying degrees which was so pronounced on this individual I waffled between Hermit and Gray-cheeked on this bird for a bit.
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The gray cheek is a dead giveaway on the ID though.
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TENNESSEE WARBLER.
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It was a fantastic walk and a wonderful way to end a week of walks before I head back to NYC (I’m there now as of posting this!). On my way home I had a CAPE MAY WARBLER:
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Bird-of-the-day goes to the Black-billed Cuckoo with runners-up to the Red-headed Woodpecker, Golden-wing type warbler, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. A wonderful day of migration!! Stay tuned for adventures from Central Park, Jamaica Bay, and beyond — and even a brief trip to Houston, TX this coming week to visit Tian! (birding TBD)

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 03:40 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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