Today, I birded Manhattan in hopes of finding two target species that have been seen in various locations this morning: Great Horned Owl & American Woodcock.
After getting off the B at 103rd, I birded the Central Park Loch in hopes of finding the reported GH Owl, as well as any migrants that may have been in the area. There were birds around, as I almost immediately heard a BROWN CREEPER and saw this common RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER:
It was raining lightly and in the 40’s, making for less-than-desirable photography conditions, but it was still fun to be out in nature. The usual GADWALL in the “Pool” were cooperative for photos today:
Then, I ran into a friendly birder who gave me directions to the GREAT HORNED OWL — and there he/she was! As promised, the owl was roosting in a fairly obscure location (probably because there had been reports of jays harassing it earlier), so getting photos of it was a sport of shooting through the twigs and branches.
Close up on its beautiful face:
Here is one of the Black Squirrels, of which there are a few in the north end of Central Park — pretty cool! Hopefully, the owl finds a rat for dinner instead...
Next stop was the Reservoir where I was hoping to find some waterfowl migrants, including my favorite duck, the Bufflehead. NORTHERN SHOVELERS immediately proved to be in large numbers:
As did RUDDY DUCKS:
The three expected gulls: RING-BILLED (left), GREAT BLACK-BACKED (center), & HERRING were also prolific.
Then, as I was heading south about to leave to Reservoir, I spotted the BUFFLEHEADS, yay! So beautiful!
Between the Reservoir and my next stop, Turtle Pond, I found a couple HERMIT THRUSH:
And as I expected, the HOODED MERGANSERS were on Turtle Pond, but not showing particularly well for photos. Here is a male:
Then, on the recommendation of David Barret from the Manhattan Bird Alert, I took the B train down to Bryant Park to look for the woodcock. Upon arriving, to my surprise, I saw a warbler! Then I remembered that this male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT has been hanging around the park for weeks, possibly even months now. Getting late for you little buddy!
And after a little bit of searching, I found the brilliantly-patterned, dorky shorebird called the AMERICAN WOODCOCK foraging underneath some bushes. This species is one of the few shorebirds just about never to be found near water.
My secondary target for Bryant Park was this late-staying WOOD THRUSH which is another tardy straggler: these guys should be in Central America just about now. I’d bet that the tall buildings, bright lights, and noise ambience of Bryant Park disorients these migrants and keeps them “trapped” from migrating, sadly enough.
Then, I got too cold & damp so I decided to head back home on the D train. It was a great afternoon of birding, though! Bird-of-the-day to the American Woodcock with runner-up to the Great Horned Owl. Not any day that one gets to observe both of these species, and in Manhattan!
World Life List: 978 Species