A Travellerspoint blog

Third time the charm for the Bicknell’s?

Central Park, NYC

overcast 60 °F

THURSDAY, MAY 12:

Upon being woken up by my 6:20am alarm, I jumped out of bed and checked the Manhattan Rare Bird Alert GroupMe and was relieved and exhilarated to see that somebody had just found the Bicknell’s Thrush a minute ago! So, I threw some clothes on and, for the third time in 24 hours, raced down to Central Park on my scooter. Upon arriving to the appointed coordinates, I immediately had my lifer BICKNELL’S THRUSH singing. Here is a short clip I posted to youtube:
https://youtu.be/Evil0MhXmqY

Notice that the final note of its song ends in an upward motion, compared to the downward slur found in the nearly-identical Gray-cheeked Thrush song. It foraged at point-blank range for me and a dedicated group of early-morning birders for a long time, allowing for absolutely unprecedented photo ops.
large_542F886F-096A-4EDC-AF89-D5C4FB14FD20.jpeglarge_DF9BD9CE-2ACC-425F-A81B-40C9560CC70B.jpeglarge_7DEA31C0-B419-4192-BDEA-1C383BD8BF9B.jpeg

The show it put on was just spectacular. To give perspective, here is a photo with a biker from the main loop road right behind it. Usually, in order to find this bird as a lifer, one has to wake up at 1am and make the long trek to the top of the Catskills near the treeline where this bird breeds in stunted boreal-like habitats at the top of the highest mountain peaks. And I was actually planning on doing that to find this bird next week! Luckily, this visitor to Central Park oficially saved me that grueling (albeit beautiful) trip. This species passes through Central Park I would say maybe 1 out of every 5 years, though they almost definitely make their way through unidentified every year. So I was so lucky this happened before I leave on May 20!
large_D15B73A4-C396-412A-BC16-90621772BE8F.jpeglarge_9EC479D8-2F53-4FC7-A3AC-793569300804.jpeglarge_4EBC9BBC-1A53-4C31-BC73-E9BA9594D1F2.jpeglarge_3A64A5C9-2B7A-40A1-90A2-87ED8AB8458A.jpeglarge_9A092721-C65A-4504-9F3A-77B5EDE98224.jpeglarge_14EEE9FD-6A55-47C5-A351-71D5CC695729.jpeglarge_20962055-FE2C-4FD4-B428-43EC799D1410.jpeglarge_0F45A47F-74E3-4322-8C17-A691A1D9C6D6.jpeglarge_FB561C52-1CA1-4A1A-81B4-B8BD9FF72BC3.jpeglarge_FE2F9F75-DC12-4BF1-A5EC-102D3C151733.jpeglarge_2D50DD49-EB5E-4513-BB2D-77B144F9710D.jpeg

As if the morning could get any better, a birder alerted me to the fact that there was a Cerulean Warbler at Summit Rock down near 83rd St! So, I scooted as fast as I could to Summit Rock and within twelve minutes was staring up into the large oaks surrounding the area. NORTHERN PARULAS abounded, briefly confusing us was their Cerulean-like songs:
large_2CF1D19F-E684-498A-B2AF-6561B4FACBFE.jpeg

After about fifteen minutes of searching, I saw a tiny warbler flit into the top of a tall tree, and it gave the vibe that it was not staying for a long time, so I quickly zoomed in and grabbed an identification shot. Sure enough, it flew off the second after I clicked my shutter but not before I could nail it down as my year-bird CERULEAN WARBLER! Absolutely sweet! The colors did not pop on this gray morning, but you can see its identifying necklace contrasted with a pure-white breast.
large_A179EDCF-D3A8-4B95-8EC5-AC42AEC9728B.jpeg

To get two extremely vulnerable and rare species like the Bicknell’s and the Cerulean on one Central Park checklist is an anomaly, and a very welcome one at that.

Next, I hit the Ramble which I hadn’t actually birded yet this year (!) and I picked up my year-bird CANADA WARBLER, the other warbler with a (very-different) necklace!
large_5F5FFC9D-18A1-4BE4-9F8F-A884C836DDAB.jpeg

HERMIT THRUSH:
large_FC0D54E1-ED51-48B7-A188-C39A038D7A39.jpeg

Azalea Pond was looking absolutely beautiful.
large_9398B761-3840-4E2A-8E94-1C41029C69CB.jpeglarge_EA2FF8F1-0E04-46AB-9A16-4014BED29A5C.jpeg

BLUE-HEADED VIREO:
large_2F8D9A7F-3719-47B2-B8D6-ADE37F2D6599.jpeg

Male MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
large_0D617334-3AE5-497E-B872-235AADEEACDB.jpeg

CEDAR WAXWINGS:
large_348B4C02-B6CF-4018-8247-89D6A93D0953.jpeg

Female YELLOW WARBLER:
large_F0927872-23B3-4308-92CA-24DCA3EFA65B.jpeg

Male BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
large_7F897C59-699A-44D4-BED5-4905B93353B6.jpeg

Female BALTIMORE ORIOLE:
large_5CACA797-C6F4-4CE4-A4BA-D6DB05A455AE.jpeg

Then, I looped back north in the park to bird my way back up to the Loch. This GREAT EGRET was hunting the perimeter of Turtle Pond:
large_74EE24A1-E5BC-4BE7-B181-2B26AB2DE26B.jpeg

The rest of the park, including the Loch, was quieter with the exception of one noteworthy find: this WORM-EATING WARBLER which barely allowed a documentation shot before disappearing into the shrubbery:
large_037FC572-5921-4A22-8338-E16BFBC9402F.jpeg

So, bird-of-the-day has to go to my lifer Bicknell’s Thrush which saved me an excruciatingly long trip into the Catskills, with runner-up going to the Cerulean Warbler. A very solid morning at Central Park.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1130 Species (1 life bird today: Bicknell’s Thrush)

Posted by skwclar 02:56 Archived in USA Comments (1)

In pursuit of a visitor from the Catskills

Central Park, NY

semi-overcast 70 °F

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 — still catching up…my goal is to have all May posts up before June, but various musical obligations may prevent that from happening, we’ll see!

After singing a successful end-of-the-year jury at the ungodly hour of 10am, I rewarded the year’s efforts with a trip to Central Park for migrants. Somebody had found either a Gray-cheeked or a Bicknell’s Thrush west of the Blockhouse yesterday, so it was on my mind to scope out all of the thrushes there in hopes of maybe finding the suspect bird. These two species are almost identical and can only be reliably separated by voice since any minute distinction in plumage can almost never be discerned in the shaded, thick habitat these birds prefer.

Upon arriving, I noted the usual chorus of birdsong that rings through the Central Park North Woods on a cloudy May day. Unlike back home in Chicago where these birds are expected but not particularly common, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS like this gorgeous male are one of the most abundant warbler species passing through in early-mid May here in NYC.
large_BE954CB4-41AF-4AB0-9CAB-E216FEAD7B8F.jpeglarge_C51F2834-77C3-445E-8E74-7B71C39094C0.jpeg

OVENBIRDS also abounded:
large_89B3BB0C-5DD2-454E-8C66-A7AB4E0A0964.jpeglarge_BAE80803-E5F3-45A8-A95F-6F5D4BF2FCB0.jpeg

My first photographed BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER of the year was fantastic to see:
large_22484327-F8DE-49E4-AFD5-434A27B06EEE.jpeg

Male YELLOW WARBLER:
large_B52163C3-E467-401E-BE37-0385B0D84050.jpeg

And FOY EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE while I was fruitlessly searching for a female Summer Tanager:
large_8C906468-90C9-46EC-ADE5-06B44F0E2D92.jpeg

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
large_40271DA4-9475-4A49-A318-333702DCF743.jpeg

Male AMERICAN REDSTART:
large_2E946035-263E-4D4B-B853-B9233AB10256.jpeg

GADWALL:
large_AD75FACB-B82B-4247-B100-D06AFF4ECA64.jpeg

I found two less-common turtle species out basking in the Pool, an Eastern Painted Turtle in the front, and possibly a Mud/Musk Turtle sp in the back. Anybody here solid with turtle ID? Either way, great to see some turtles that aren’t just Sliders (the House Sparrows of the herp world).
large_2645597B-D08C-431A-B5A6-298629ADF723.jpeg

So, it was back to the Manhattan School for a coaching, but after the coaching, I noticed that the bird found yesterday by others was positively identified as a Bicknell’s Thrush by call! Is this is a very, very uncommon species, I figured many birders would be out searching so the chances of finding it would be higher. So, it was back on my scooter to the Central Park North Woods for a second time in a day! Upon arriving, this MAGNOLIA WARBLER greeted me:
large_5A2609C8-5FA7-4BF1-B17A-870B87C32051.jpeg

And I did find several thrush including a HERMIT and this SWAINSON’S:
large_86CBC82D-2F66-4560-8B27-650515212918.jpeg

But unfortunately no Bicknell’s, and I had to head back to MSM for another coaching. Frustratingly enough, during the intermission of Turandot at the Met that night I got a text saying the Bicknell’s was found singing again in the late evening. Rats! Just kept missing it — and I was seriously hoping to find this bird at Central Park since the other alternative is getting up at 2am to hike into the high Catskills to get the bird on its breeding grounds. Which would be great, but I don’t have a car…

Anyway, I was holding out that the Bicknell’s would stay the night in the park and be found again the morning since migration levels were forecast to be low with headwinds. So my fingers were crossed for early tomorrow morning.

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Blackburnian Warbler with runner-up to all the Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1129 Species

Posted by skwclar 04:27 Archived in USA Comments (1)

An upstate jaunt

Westchester, NY

sunny 72 °F

TUESDAY, MAY 10 — very behind on posting at this point due to a crazy schedule…

Today, I took advantage of a free day to head a bit upstate into Westchester County and bird and herp the Cranberry Lake Preserve. It was about a twenty-minute walk from the train and I had a number of birds, and even a herp, along the way! Here is a NORTHERN PARULA:
large_297FA874-6DA1-4796-AF88-D22616EB54D9.jpeg

RED-TAILED HAWK:
large_555187E5-09B9-48CC-9525-BA28FD9F003B.jpeg

And after noticing a little movement to the side of the path, I discovered my first snake of the year, a little Eastern Gartersnake!
large_401C6776-100D-448E-B42C-CD3DACAB4D85.jpeg

Of course I had to pick him/her up for the in-hand shot.
large_C2BE19BB-06FD-4A4A-B1BB-59BCEB93D15E.jpeg

Soon, I made it to the preserve after a bit of bush-whacking and explored the great trail system there. Female BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
large_0E2F6598-3D0B-429B-9A37-85E8A9070BB4.jpeg

A small Green Frog:
large_3D3C6D78-407E-4D28-A64C-CC13EF5E35B0.jpeg

My first stop in the preserve was a spring-fed creek where Northern Two-lined Salamanders live, a would-be lifer for me. Sure enough, after the second rock flipped, I had my lifer!
large_81AD259A-D753-4BB5-BF94-B05059384C65.jpeg

My other target species today was Pickerel Frog, a type of heavily-spotted leopard frog inhabiting the same system of springs which would also be a lifer if found.

Pretty soon, I made it to a beautiful vernal pool in the middle of the woods that was teaming with wildlife.
large_7306A21B-D895-4E9E-9491-8852DB99AD9A.jpeg

I spotted the snout of a large, algae-covered Common Snapping Turtle poking out of the water:
large_7677A820-6900-493E-89DE-29405FC309F5.jpeg

As well as some Eastern Painted Turtles sunning themselves — so great to see species other than the nonnative Sliders that populate Central Park:
large_BA367A43-334D-4692-A01F-EE0AFE5BC068.jpeg

Northern Watersnake:
large_AB2ADC2F-26CA-4BF8-8EF8-11577D624D94.jpeg

I ran into a modest pocket of warblers including this OVENBIRD:
large_B7EDF9B9-2D8B-4C06-BFF1-BAAA852D560C.jpeg

And this unusually-high male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER:
large_7481B669-3690-4562-B979-13B86A3C18CD.jpeg

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, nice to see they’re still around:
large_8F8DF8CA-0826-4439-92D6-085A35319DF9.jpeg

An in-hand American Bullfrog was nice — this is actually the proper way to hold frogs so they can’t kick out and accidentally dislocate their strong legs:
large_0019C371-5E60-4639-BD16-D429852CB36B.jpeg

I summited a modest rocky outcropping on the eastern side of the preserve allowing for great views:
large_4DD075E8-73C8-4032-9ECA-F0D8B8BF19A1.jpeg

This flipped Eastern Red-backed Salamander was also nice to see:
large_D76FE192-8E1C-4E5D-9465-73B749B41B29.jpeg

Another pocket of warblers yielded my first flipped COMMON YELLOWTHROAT of the year:
large_9C003E5A-8F84-4B62-8490-895C70B8893E.jpeg

And a male YELLOW WARBLER:
large_88010656-D9E3-4768-92E6-58919DA82F75.jpeg

Red-eared Sliders out sunning on Cranberry Lake:
large_D9D773B2-438D-43B5-B821-23A546C4CDC4.jpeg

My first-of-the-year VEERY!
large_E25B4D78-BF59-402B-9C76-97B8D0255AA9.jpeg

Unfortunately, I never found a Pickerel Frog though I did have a frog get away from me at one point that might have been one. Always good to save something for later! Had to celebrate 5 miles of walking with the obligatory ice cream while waiting for the train back to the city.
large_9A42B64F-FC56-4957-BAB5-A14B20630D16.jpeg

More to come!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1129 Species

Posted by skwclar 10:49 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Plumb Beach

Brooklyn, NYC

sunny 71 °F

THURSDAY, MAY 5:

Today, I took advantage of a free first half of the day and beautiful 70-degree weather to hit up an old favorite spot as well as a new experimental birding location, both in Brooklyn.

So I arrived at my old favorite location, Plumb Beach, in the 8 o’clock hour and immediately noted a welcome sight in the form of flyover COMMON TERNS:
large_DA30A611-CD2E-4449-8D47-F8D502D22A75.jpeglarge_D30EB315-B19F-4392-A61D-77F1CAC5BBC7.jpeglarge_47D7BD35-ABCC-45B2-8D44-9D9DE93910A9.jpeg

This flyby female BLACK SCOTER was a nice surprise for May:
large_D33817A7-1E73-4CF4-8BFB-2EB590222FE5.jpeg

Nice to see BRANT still around:
large_99484AF1-ED02-48F8-B274-2845509B42D9.jpeg

MUTE SWAN:
large_FE464859-81D5-4E9C-9BF5-DEFCE96A8040.jpeg

MERLIN was also a great surprise:
large_8114AF26-7E18-4378-B5D6-762408B22ECD.jpeg

There were many Horseshoe Crabs washed up on shore and several of them were overturned (which is a death sentence for them), so I uprighted probably about 10, including this one which was covered in mussels. This helps the ecological distribution because this species’ population is threatened by other human-induced factors.
large_CE471478-6137-4503-8901-F2BCF7EEF92E.jpeg

I had a grand time photographing LAUGHING GULLS:
large_FD03FBCF-FC41-4696-BA58-C804F85755C9.jpeglarge_424E1150-7529-473A-BB41-A3B86B361A72.jpeglarge_687A1CD6-DE44-4395-A5E7-C1CC7CDCD4A4.jpeg

Flyover OSPREY:
large_6E8D4D28-F6E3-42C1-A2C9-22F604D96E56.jpeg

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER was an FOY bird for me:
large_C6DE908E-A763-4F61-B124-6A115AE90A86.jpeglarge_F6F782B7-A79F-4379-BFA5-90E43FB8D68F.jpeg

As was LEAST SANDPIPER:
large_762FB7A5-1AEE-41ED-885B-0F9CA92FA2A1.jpeglarge_BB844C62-147E-4CCE-98CB-C8F09901AB42.jpeg

And SAVANNAH SPARROW (plus a pesky SEASIDE SPARROW that got away from me before I could photo):
large_9CC66420-00F6-4F19-A726-E6BD5D599EA8.jpeg

SNOWY EGRETS abounded:
large_9902B296-2BD5-47DA-86FE-6D997120D478.jpeg
large_B7F55127-DEEA-416C-8E06-116B7AB6C149.jpeglarge_1CFA43CB-87F1-4936-8EDA-EC4B9135DA57.jpeg

As did BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES, another FOY:
large_79911303-76F6-46C7-8F4B-F9736A7F90DE.jpeglarge_0B5D260B-09E3-4914-A366-A87A45230AAD.jpeg

GREAT EGRET:
large_96FDC5EA-6B25-496C-9692-5C8B5FF4C331.jpeglarge_7DB930B4-ADE9-4986-8541-DA410A8D2184.jpeg

WILLET:
large_1A10373F-EFEA-439A-8B7A-410FCEB20B90.jpeglarge_15660D08-AFC1-4B17-970D-C2D2F05BA851.jpeg

Then, I took a short uber ride to nearby Floyd Bennet Field to look for birds and herps. There was a decent amount of songbird activity including NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD:
large_EE160915-871A-4629-BCB3-B4C315C377E4.jpeg

WOOD THRUSH:
large_F814C6BD-C6E0-4147-B345-CDECD5E283A0.jpeg

And two FOY birds — MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
large_F47EE246-8305-4CF9-B8D0-BED0D419761F.jpeg

And FIELD SPARROW:
large_074525A1-BDD8-47EE-AFFB-A24D8F6BCE22.jpeg

Apart from a heard-only American Toad, I didn’t find any herps unfortunately. So Floyd Bennet was slightly underwhelming. Bird-of-the-day goes to the surprise Black Scoter with runner-up to the pesky unphotographed Seaside Sparrow which I was hoping to see today. Yet another great day of FOY birds!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1129 Species

Posted by skwclar 05:03 Archived in USA Comments (1)

More Central Park in May!

New York, NY

sunny 71 °F

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4:

Now is the time of year I get behind in reporting and my reports are more concise due to so much time actually birding and limited time to write. “Today” I hit Central Park as I was expecting there to be a modest influx of new neotropical arrivals, plus, I got a rare bird alert about a Chuck-will’s-widow which would be a photographic lifer. And I was right about the migrants! Right off the bat, I noticed a wealth of newly-arrived NORTHERN PARULAS:
large_979D34D7-7451-414C-9850-3D2B71FE88E5.jpeg

OVENBIRD:
large_AD2FCF80-0EC0-43DD-854E-660506DBADA1.jpeg

I made a bee line to the pinned location for the CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW in the North Woods and immediately found a couple birders peering at it with their scopes and cameras. It was tucked up high on a branch on a tree, true to nightjar form. It was only found because somebody accidentally flushed it up there earlier in the morning.
large_A36395CD-B3D5-4782-876B-E02B8672DB14.jpeglarge_8F61E823-4B35-4C9E-8024-7051DA29D1C9.jpeglarge_C6C6A934-E416-4E3F-ACC1-EC82257EBF23.jpeg

Photographic lifer! Here you can see how it so easily camouflages into the surroundings:
large_0355D045-530B-4FC2-98FC-5341BAAE9947.jpeg

A BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER was also a great one to pick up for the year:
large_98EAA121-1E18-40D3-A95B-40C98D0A02B7.jpeg

Many NASHVILLE WARBLERS were also around, FOY:
large_CC50C691-CB66-4A89-BE46-C453863FE5D7.jpeg

And my FOY ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER which is uncommon for around here:
large_3952A054-50CF-4189-8F90-893D38437D01.jpeg

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
large_C5FEC958-91E7-4244-9155-064D3F9F7C26.jpeg

Male BALTIMORE ORIOLE, FOY:
large_1B5F1752-304B-4462-A37D-F41A65B09652.jpeglarge_FFDC0B6D-A3E7-49C0-8E9B-CE441F1AA50A.jpeg

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:
large_F8FE63DD-BEC9-4DDD-A21C-9BFF77428DA2.jpeg

FISH CROW is always a great flyover at Central Park — it thankfully honked right on cue:
large_34FB8CD0-2580-49E1-9598-B35CA2344113.jpeg

Another FOY: ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:
large_9D5B0B88-6101-4989-B6B0-4636F3171D85.jpeg

BLUE-HEADED VIREO:
large_F87181D4-1E37-44FE-9770-047EDA7DEC99.jpeg

HERMIT THRUSH:
large_D7F4C0FF-1381-4048-96A5-8B8136F1E51B.jpeglarge_FFA67D1E-328D-4F5A-83C3-CA1C49804F51.jpeg

CHIPPING SPARROW:
large_597D2576-D8F0-40B2-9E4B-C73208BF2315.jpeg

My FOY BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was a nice one to pick up at the High Meadow:
large_1DFC5A81-013B-41E2-A33D-1DF4081CB097.jpeglarge_CF52DEDE-BD4A-4ADE-B1E3-CB1D8F8B5EFB.jpeg

And a BLACK-THROATED GREEN:
large_CA2017B0-C086-4B23-981C-746435DA6FCD.jpeg

FOY INDIGO BUNTING:
large_D7FB9CFA-3830-49A0-8776-733EB1A6A0C4.jpeg

Yet another FOY, a LEAST FLYCATCHER:
large_103A935E-8B4E-4E2E-B587-007399847F8C.jpeg

WARBLING VIREO:
large_415E8576-6F7D-40EE-9CD7-1C2CD1CE29C8.jpeg

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
large_573E650E-40B0-4C07-BC09-14CA4A0E3DF0.jpeg

FOY CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER!
large_AD09AB87-D239-49DE-AC67-B677AC59B19F.jpeg

GADWALL:
large_DCA2409F-712C-4EF8-9AD1-A3A57310582D.jpeg

YELLOW WARBLER:
large_00718405-0F1F-42DC-8529-2702FFCCD065.jpeg

FOY AMERICAN REDSTART:
large_E54F2468-8DC5-42E0-93FB-5191064EDB7C.jpeg

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW is actually quite an uncommon find here so this was great to see:
large_89DDCFD7-9FD8-45F1-9D1C-2A4501B5770D.jpeg

The next stop was the Harlem Meer in search of a Bank Swallow which is another uncommon species for Manhattan. Unfortunately, I dipped, only finding the more common swallows like NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED:
large_DF94167B-5113-4F85-92C0-121D67AE539D.jpeg

And BARN:
large_A60CA996-04B6-4DFD-A303-2A253670D7B0.jpeg

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
large_96007D62-D4F0-4AD1-9452-4A69DD55D05B.jpeg

GREAT EGRET in full breeding plumage:
large_8376A235-846E-442D-8317-A61BDF361E9A.jpeg

Bird-of-the-day to my photographic lifer Chuck-will’s-widow, an awesome find!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1129 Species

Posted by skwclar 23:34 Archived in USA Comments (1)

(Entries 36 - 40 of 799) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 .. »