A Travellerspoint blog

Brooklyn birding & a late-evening chase

New York, NY

all seasons in one day 74 °F


After a rather intense week of birding and concert/jury preparation, I really needed to sleep in, yet I still wanted to make the most of a mid-May day. So, I headed to Prospect Park at around 11am to see how active it was. Turns out, very inactive, disappointingly enough, yet another birder was kind enough to point me in the direction of where she had a Hooded Warbler earlier in the morning. So, I slowly made my way over to Lookout Hill, trying to find any birds I could from the woods along the way. This male CAROLINA WREN was busy piping his repetitive “tea-kettle” song:

A male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER was also singing nearby:

As I made my way deeper into the woods, the birdsong died off almost completely so I picked up the pace, heading over to Lookout Hill to find my favorite Hooded Warbler.

After about five minutes of searching, I heard the resonant, ringing song of the male HOODED WARBLER “wheeta wheeta wheet-ee-oh!” echo through the woods — it must be one of the louder warbler songs as you can hear it from quite a distance away, plus they tend to inhabit very thick habitats.

Soon enough, another birder joined me having heard it herself, and between the two of us we were soon able to get looks at this beautiful male.

He came even closer after about twenty minutes of observing, proving that patience is key with bird photography.

After admiring and photographing the Hooded, I headed down to Prospect Lake to see if anything was on the lake. There wasn’t a whole lot — just a few gulls like this LAUGHING:


Then, I decided to head over to Marine Park Nature Center to see if I could pick up some birds like Forster’s Tern, Clapper Rail, and the like. Upon arriving, I found a rather late RED-THROATED LOON:

And a couple of COMMON TERNS:

Here are some images of a pair of highly-cooperative FORSTER’S TERNS where you can see the difference — no darkness on the outer primaries or the tail feathers:

Another Larid, a HERRING GULL:

And a few shots of a highly-cooperative YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON which was my FOY bird:

And some headshots:



SNOWY EGRET by some snowy garbage:

A distant group of GREATER YELLOWLEGS was my FOY for this species:


I did end up getting some very noisy yet heard-only CLAPPER RAILS as a year bird which wasn’t surprising as they tend to do just that.

Once I was already on the train back to MSM, I received a Manhattan Rare Bird text saying multiple groups of wind-driven Arctic Terns were flying downriver on the Hudson! Of course, I HAD to see this so, as my train was making its way through Brooklyn, I figured out the most downtown stop so I could get off and run to the Hudson ASAP to river watch for these rare terns. If I were to find them, they would be my Northern Hemespheric lifer — I have only seen these on a cruise in the South Pacific Ocean before!

So, I jumped off the train at Wall St and high-tailed it to the waterfront in Battery Park City where I had high hopes on seeing this rare-from-land species. In fact, eBird doesn’t have any previous reports of Arctic Terns from the Hudson River, so everyone’s reports from today would be the first!
This anamoly was caused by rainy, wet weather combined with high winds from the east pushing these birds upriver.

Panting, I arrived at my vantage point with a solid view of the Statue of Liberty, even in this cruddy weather.

Birds were indeed moving up and down the river like this MALLARD:


Unfortunately, despite a half-dozen reports of Arctic Terns flying downstream from further up river, I never laid eyes on them. I spent about 90 minutes scoping wet, mostly birdless views like this:

I held out until 8:15pm, after sunset, despite desperately having to pee. It was incredibly frustrating to miss this species as other folks were reporting flocks as high as 26 birds flying downstream. I will just take a look at the weather and determine if it would be worth trying again tomorrow morning from up by 125th St (where folks were having greater success). We’ll just have to wait and see…

Good birding!
World Life List: 1130 Species

Posted by skwclar 05:32 Archived in USA

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