A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Migration is picking up!

New York, NY

overcast 53 °F

Today after a successful voice jury, I treated myself to an afternoon of birding Manhattan, chasing rare bird notifications from the Manhattan Bird Alert twitter page.

My first stop of the day would be at Clinton Community Garden, a tiny pocket park in Midtown Manhattan along 48th St near 10th Avenue. I had heard a report of a very cooperative male Summer Tanager that had been spotted there this morning, and hoped I would have some chances to photograph this uncommon species. It took a lot of sifting through HOUSE SPARROWS & FERAL PIGEONS to find the more interesting species, including this gorgeous male YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER:
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Then, I saw a flash of red in the tallest tree of the park. Could it be my hoped-for, all-red, tanager?
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Indeed it was, a beautifully-plumaged adult male SUMMER TANAGER! Score — and in Midtown Manhattan of all places!
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Then, it was off to the North Woods area of Central Park where a few nice things had been reported earlier today, including a Prairie & a Worm-eating Warbler. Their cousin, the BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, was present in numbers:
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GREAT EGRET:
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BROWN CREEPER:
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This BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was great to see, but even more fun to point out to other birders:
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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Male AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:
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HERMIT THRUSH:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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I was delighted to see my first OVENBIRD of spring:
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A flyover AMERICAN KESTREL was also a nice bonus bird:
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Perhaps, best of all though, was when I spotted a tiny warbler flitting around in the treetops above a stream called the Loch. Upon seeing its characteristic stripes on its head, I had found one of my target birds, the WORM-EATING WARBLER! Only the third time I have ever seen this bird, how very cool!
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Bird-of-the-day to the Summer Tanager for its incredible, eye-candy views. Runner-up to the uncommon and subtly beautiful Worm-eating Warbler.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 17:50 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A few days of migration!

New York, NY

all seasons in one day 59 °F

The last few days have heralded in spring migration in New York City! It is just getting better and better, with the diversity of warblers and other neotropical birds increasing.

Two days ago I birded Riverside Park after school and one tree in particular held many migrants, including a PALM WARBLER:
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CHIPPING SPARROW:
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YELLOW WARBLER, my first of the year in NY:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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Today, my girlfriend Tian and I birded Central Park. Many thanks to her for putting up with and even enjoying my hobby/obsession/mania about birds! It was a great day to take her out birding as the “Central Park effect” of crazy numbers of migrant birds was evident.

GADWALL:
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Male AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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EASTERN KINGBIRD:
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RED-TAILED HAWKS abounded throughout the morning, including this adult:
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And a juvenile bird:
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PINE WARBLER:
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And its “oreo cookie” cousin the BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, my first of the year!
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Another first of the year warbler, a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, was great to see — first identified by its “bee-bzzz!” song, this bird proved tricky to find and photograph high in the trees.
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RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, the last of these are still moving on through:
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HERMIT THRUSH:
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And another new arrival for the year, the Hermit’s rarer cousin the WOOD THRUSH:
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Speaking of “rare,” when I heard a report of a HOODED WARBLER over by appropriately-named Warbler Rock in Central Park, Tian and I ran over and quickly found the bird by first finding its many admirers. It is always great to see my favorite bird in the American Birding Area!
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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SPOTTED SANDPIPER, another new arrival:
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Two BLUE-HEADED VIREOS were lovely to see!
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As well as yet another new bird for the year, and another vireo species, the WARBLING VIREO.
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What a wonderful morning — stay tuned for more migration fun. Bird-of-the-day to the Hooded Warbler, my favorite!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:58 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Plumb Beach, Brooklyn

New York, NY

sunny 71 °F

Upon hearing that Seaside Sparrows were back on territory for the spring at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, I knew I had to spend my free Tuesday morning searching for this long-elusive life bird. I awoke at seven o’clock, and after a ride on the A & B trains as well as an uber, I arrived at Plumb Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the sixties.

I arrived just before nine o’clock and started off the day with a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER:
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SNOWY EGRET, I think the first I’ve seen in New York:
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AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, nice to see that they’re back:
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Not my hoped-for Seaside, but a SONG SPARROW:
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Then, I met a friendly birder who pointed me in the direction where she had seen two Seaside Sparrows earlier in the morning! My hopes were high.

A FORSTER’S TERN flew by:
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Then, I saw a smallish, dark sparrow run over the matted marsh grass in front of me. I was 98% sure it was a Seaside, but I had no way of knowing for sure until I got a better look at it. This would end up happening again and again throughout the morning as these tiny birds quickly flitted out of sight.

This BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE was nice to see, a very good bird for Brooklyn:
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Then, I heard a sharp, chattering call from the marsh behind me and tracked the call down to find a CLAPPER RAIL, the first I have ever seen! I have only ever identified this bird before by ear. Too cool!
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Then, I saw it. A tiny sparrow ran into the marsh grass in front of me, so with a little bit of spishing, it sat up, and lo and behold I had my life bird SEASIDE SPARROW! Amazing!!!
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Plumb Beach is possibly this bird’s last breeding stronghold within New York City limits, and this location has quickly become the most reliable place to find other sparrow species as well, such as Saltmarsh and Nelson’s, both of which I saw here last year. Seaside Sparrows are much more common further south along the Atlantic coastline, but Long Island does hold a few breeding populations such as this one within its salt marshes on the southern shore.

Even more surprising, though, was a non-avian sighting: there was a man stalking through the bushes, wearing not a single garment of clothing! Ugh. I immediately called 9-1-1 and, having gained my life bird, called an uber ASAP and was out of there in no time. It is the big city, after all!
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Bird-of-the-day to the Seaside Sparrow with runner-up to the Clapper Rail, an absolutely tremendous morning of birding! Honorable mention to the naked man, lol.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species (1 life bird today: Seaside Sparrow)

Posted by skwclar 10:32 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Central Park with the Family

Manhattan, NYC

semi-overcast 72 °F

On Friday, since my family was in town, I guided them around Central Park for a morning of birding!

We started off the day with a PINE WARBLER:
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My Dad offered to take a photo of the three of us in front of a beautiful flowering tree:
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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at Turtle Pond:
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GADWALL:
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DOWNY WOODPECKER at his nesting hole. I think he was feeding his young:
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NORTHERN FLICKER — look at those beautiful undertail coverts!
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EASTERN TOWHEE male:
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And the female:
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Then, I checked the puddle where I had the LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH the other day, and sure enough, there it was! Too cool!
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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Here is a huge American Bullfrog I saw in the Central Park Ramble:
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And a beautiful WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:
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Another solid day of birding, and it will get even better from here! So nice to spend the morning with my family, too. Bird-of-the-day to the Louisiana Waterthrush with runner-up to the Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 13:01 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Birding Brooklyn

Prospect Park, NYC

overcast 58 °F

Today before meeting my parents to tour the NYC Tenement Museum, I took the A & B trains into Brooklyn to search for a Prothonotary Warbler that has been seen in Prospect Park the last few days. Although I have seen this species before, it is a beautiful bird and I was really hoping to find it because Brooklyn Bird Alert had thankfully posted its exact location in the park on twitter earlier this morning.

When I arrived, I could tell warblers were present including this YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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And this PINE WARBLER:
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Then, I spied a few photographers and lo and behold, there was a brilliant male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, my target bird! Success!!!
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It was incredibly tame — at one point, it hopped down onto the trail in front of us. Here is a zoomed out photo of this brilliant warbler:
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In this picture you can see one of the other photographers in the background on the right:
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An EASTERN PHOEBE on the way out was also nice:
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Then, I saw another birder named Cyrus and he was looking up into pine trees — he told me there was some sort of nest he had spotted. I asked him, “wasn’t there an owl in these trees just the other day?” because I had heard on Brooklyn Bird Alert of a Long-eared Owl being seen in this exact stand of pine trees on tuesday. He broke into laughter and admitted, yes, that is indeed what he was looking for — it is a good practice for birders to be discreet about owls’ locations in order to protect these vulnerable creatures. We searched and searched, checking the areas of the trees very close to the trunks, and finally, I spotted an owl-like blob to the left of one of the trunks:
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I called Cyrus over, and sure enough, we had found our (albeit very well-hidden) LONG-EARED OWL! Too cool — an even more uncommon find than the Prothonotary! What a bonus bird!
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It was a fantastic afternoon of birding. Bird-of-the-day to the Prothonotary Warbler for its brilliance of color and to the Long-eared Owl for its rare surprise. Incredible. Stay tuned for more migration fun!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 11:40 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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