A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Manhattan: From Woodcock to Geese

New York, New York

semi-overcast 43 °F

Now that I have been back at school for a week, I finally had the chance to get out birding today. My target birds were migrating American Woodcock of which several have shown up recently at Bryant Park, and a Snow Goose which has been hanging out in the northeast corner of Central Park.

After a surprisingly quick trip on the 1, 2, and 7 subway lines, I was in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, scouring Bryant Park for the AMERICAN WOODCOCK. Soon enough, I found a huddle of people who weren’t even birders but who had discovered this dorky, tail-cocked, dancing bird in the plantings just north of Joe’s Coffee stand. The woodcock allowed for the most amazing views I have ever seen of this bird.
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I hope this cute little guy makes it through the maze of Manhattan — the unfortunate fact that they have eyes on the sides of their head as opposed to frontward-facing, coupled with their long beaks, make them prone to painful deaths upon hitting windows in flight.
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Look at that beautiful patterning on its back!
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Here are less-zoomed views of the woodcock in the bigger picture of Bryant Park with the buildings in the background. Too cool!
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After showing several more people this gorgeous little creature, I took the 7 and the 3 trains to the northeast corner of Central Park where there is a lake called the Harlem Meer, at which the Snow Goose has been seen yesterday and today. I immediately found this drake RUDDY DUCK:
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Then lo and behold, a beautiful all-white SNOW GOOSE appeared on the opposite side of the Meer from where I was standing. Nice!
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Two for two today! Bird-of-the-day to the American Woodcock with runner-up to the Snow Goose. Stay tuned, migration is just going to get better and better from here, and I am in New York until May 10, which means I will get to experience the heart of spring migration in Central Park!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 09:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Calumet Area with Jonathan

Chicago, IL

sunny 47 °F

Today my friend Jonathan and his mom Margie birded with me around the southeast side of Chicago!

We checked Harborside Int’l Golf Course, and seeing as it was closed, birded a sliver of Lake Calumet from Doty Ave. These are COMMON MERGANSERS, a pleasant sight for me since they are scarce in NYC:
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MUTE SWANS on the far shore:
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Then, we drove to Turning Basin #3 of the Calumet River where some more uncommon gull species have been seen recently. Here is a RED-BREASTED flying with several COMMON MERGANSERS:
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This GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, an uncommon find for the area, was probably our rarest gull today:
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RED-BREASTED MERGANSER:
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Our next stop was Calumet Park which was the most productive stop for waterfowl today. Here are some uncommon WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS:
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LESSER SCAUP:
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HOODED MERGANSER:
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COMMON GOLDENEYE:
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LESSER SCAUP, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, & WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS:
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Our last stop, Steelworkers Park, was slow so we went out for Mexican for lunch. Thanks for a fun day of birding you guys!

Bird-of-the-day to the Great Black-backed Gulls (4 we saw in total!) and runner-up to the White-winged Scoters — a solid day!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 11:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back to the Arctic

Chicago, IL

semi-overcast 32 °F

Today was my first day back home in Chicago for a while, and despite being pretty dang cold, I got out and birded the Chicago Riverwalk because I had heard reports of White-winged Scoters being seen on the Main Branch of the river.

RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were present in good numbers:
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Some COMMON MERGANSERS with the RED-BREASTED:
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It was great to be back home!
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Some common birds of the river — CANADA GOOSE:
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HERRING GULL:
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Male MALLARD:
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And of course, the eight WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS I found on the river were the highlight of my walk and my bird-of-the-day!
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Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 14:25 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 3: Picayune Strand SF & Pelican Bay

Collier County, FL

semi-overcast 81 °F

Today, my dad and I birded Picayune Strand State Forest southeast of Naples in search of two prospective life birds: Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Short-tailed Hawk. The hawk was a long shot and we basically would have to get lucky to see it, and the woodpecker is a pine forest specialist and we had a few specific locations to try for it.

As soon as we arrived to the general area where the woodpeckers are known to be, I knew it looked good because we were surrounded by (mostly burnt) pine flatwoods. We immediately found this beautiful RED-HEADED WOODPECKER:
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Immature BALD EAGLE:
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Every time we found a woodpecker my heart started to race — alas, this guy was just a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER:
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DOWNY WOODPECKER, a close relative of the hoped-for Red-cockaded:
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Then, I heard some drumming on a tree behind us and lo and behold a beautiful female RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER was picking at the bark of a pine tree. Too cool — life bird!!!!!
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We then headed back to the car and on the way back I found this little toad which promptly jumped out of my hand:
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The next stop was Sabal Palm Road on the other side of the state forest where we would cruise along the road and hope to get lucky with our Short-tailed Hawk. We did find this COOPER’S HAWK:
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NORTHERN FLICKER, our seventh woodpecker species of the day. The others were red-bellied, red-headed, downy, pileated, red-cockaded, and the sapsucker.
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There were a few WOOD STORK alongside the road:
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An adult BALD EAGLE perched nearby:
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GREAT BLUE HERON:
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A flyby PEREGRINE FALCON was nice — it was turning into a lovely day for finding raptors.
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On nearby Morgan Road we found a CRESTED CARACARA, a Florida specialty that is much more common south of the US border. Cool!
large_63BCB6C5-E700-4D11-AC8D-3D113B259E92.jpeglarge_9EB2F454-DF04-4C70-8A48-2A658BF261A6.jpeglarge_986B80B4-346E-4E95-B57A-43FDE0C18B19.jpeglarge_615A8E49-AF7F-42EA-83B1-C50B009B3305.jpeglarge_4A7240DB-4C40-4E13-8563-EEB75C8C0F88.jpeglarge_44A61B02-0A6F-4055-8D90-22AD1F407E4A.jpeg

RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS:
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This CATTLE EGRET was found perching atop a horse:
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Flyover ANHINGAS:
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This SWALLOW-TAILED KITE flew by. Along with the kite, our raptors were Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered, Cooper’s, & Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey, Peregrine, Caracara, and Black & Turkey Vultures if you count those as “raptors.” Alas, we never found the Short-tailed Hawk, but ten raptor species isn’t too shabby!
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Then, this late afternoon & evening my mom dropped me off near Pelican Bay and I was hoping to find waterbirds, shorebirds, and a nightjar called a Chuck-will’s-widow.

I immediately found this alligator:
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SNOWY EGRET:
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WHITE IBIS and a great find, a ROSEATE SPOONBILL, a bird I hadn’t found yet this trip that I was hoping to see!
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SPOTTED SANDPIPER:
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WHITE IBIS:
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TRICOLORED HERON:
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SANDERLINGS:
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RUDDY TURNSTONE:
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WILLETS:
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Here they are with SANDERLINGS:
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ROYAL TERN:
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OSPREYS:
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The mangroves glowed in the late-afternoon light:
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Then, a perfect formation of BROWN PELICANS flew over:
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FORSTER’S TERNS:
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SNOWY EGRET:
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The sunset was beautiful:
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As I was listening for the Chuck-will’s-widow calling post-sunset (and swapping the many mosquitoes away), I spied this YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, another species I was hoping to find this trip:
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Unfortunately, I never heard a Chuck-will’s-widow, though it was not for a lack of trying as I probably swapped away thousands of bugs tonight.

Overall, a swell day of birding! Bird-of-the-day to my life bird Red-cockaded Woodpecker with runner-up to the Crested Caracara. I’m leaving Florida tomorrow to head back to Chicago for the rest of spring break, but it sure has been a great trip!

Also, I would love to invite you to my FRESHMAN RECITAL in Chicago! I will be singing and playing piano and this show will feature a few of my friends from the area, as well. Would love to see you there!
Saturday, March 9 @3pm
Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church
744 Fair Oaks Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species (1 life bird today: Red-cockaded Woodpecker)

Posted by skwclar 16:42 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 2: Corkscrew Swamp & Environs

SW Florida

sunny 81 °F

Today, thanks to my mom and dad, was one of my favorite mornings of birding of my entire life! The three of us birded Corkscrew Swamp’s famous 2.5 - mile boardwalk through a thousand-year-old bald cypress swamp and pine forest. The wildlife was STUPENDOUS! My target bird for the preserve was Brown-headed Nuthatch, a diminutive and uncommon passerine species which inhabits pine habitats of the southeast.

We arrived just before 6:45am to make the most of the early morning, and boy were we glad we did — the sightings were absolutely thrilling from the start with this female PILEATED WOODPECKER:
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We were joined by a wonderful birder named John who delighted our presence with both his expertise and his cheer.

PALM WARBLER:
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Then, we monitored the feeders at the visitor center for PAINTED BUNTINGS, and within a minute, five of these beautifully-colored songbirds had shown up! What an absolute dream!
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The female was understated but also beautiful:
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Then, a mixed flock of warblers moved into the nearby pine trees and among the more common species I picked out this YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER:
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GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER:
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DOWNY WOODPECKER:
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Then, I heard what sounded like a squeaky toy and sure enough, my life bird BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH came into view — life bird!!!!!
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This spider’s web alongside the trail was neat — to reiterate, there was just SO much wildlife to see at the preserve it was unbelievable.
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Male NORTHERN CARDINAL, common but beautiful:
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OVENBIRD:
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Some flyover WHITE IBIS:
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This beautiful GREAT EGRET perched in a tree alongside the trail:
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BLUE-HEADED VIREO was nice:
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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NORTHERN PARULAE such as this individual were conspicuously abundant — we may very well have heard over one hundred this morning!
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Brown Anole:
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We then came to a platform overlooking a shrubby, marshy area and saw very interesting things including this LIMPKIN, a denizen of southeastern marshes:
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GREEN HERON:
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ANHINGA:
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COMMON GALLINULE:
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WHITE-EYED VIREOS such as this one were present throughout the walk:
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CAROLINA WREN:
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A number of SWALLOW-TAILED KITES appeared to be migrating today:
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A highlight of the walk was this River Otter:
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Bromeliad plant:
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Shadow of a Green Tree Frog:
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Beautiful flowers:
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WOOD STORK:
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BLACK VULTURE:
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At one point I caught this Green Anole (and released it after the photo!):
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A number of alligators were seen today, including both juveniles and adults:
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American Bullfrog:
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Then, a kindly ranger stopped us to point out the nesting cavity of a Pileated Woodpecker:
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And then the female came out:
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Then, we happened upon a nice pocket of warblers including this BLACK-THROATED GREEN:
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BLACK-AND-WHITE:
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And PINE:
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It was a WONDERFUL time at Corkscrew! The next stop on my agenda was Oil Well Grade Road where I was on the lookout for Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Although we dipped on that target, we did find a BALD EAGLE nest:
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And a white-morph LITTLE BLUE HERON:
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The third and final birding stop was Bird Rookery Swamp where my mom and I hiked for a couple of hours. It was slower but there were birds around like this LITTLE BLUE HERON:
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RED-SHOULDERED HAWK:
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WHITE IBIS:
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Turtle:
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TRICOLORED HERON:
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The payoff of the hike was nice, a beautiful lake:
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ANHINGA:
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An AMAZING day of birding! Bird-of-the-day to my life bird Brown-headed Nuthatch with runner-up to the Painted Bunting. Truly incredible! Stay tuned — tomorrow I am headed to Picayune Strand State Forest in search of my life birds Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Short-tailed Hawk.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 969 Species (1 life bird today: Brown-headed Nuthatch)

Posted by skwclar 12:13 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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