A Travellerspoint blog

A “slower” day

Central Park, NYC

overcast 59 °F

Today, if measured in total number of bird species, I fared less than yesterday, with the same going for total number of warbler species. No matter, we must forget ourselves from time to time!

All joking aside, it was another great day in Central Park. Though slightly less crazy of a density of birds, migrants were still supremely evident, such as my first EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE of the year:
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Flyover DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT:
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NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
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A male HOODED WARBLER, again one of my favorite birds, was a wonderful treat to see! I have seen more of these in recent days than ever before!
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NORTHERN PARULA, one of many:
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HERMIT THRUSH numbers were also astounding today:
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At one point a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD zipped in to say hello:
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Seeing a female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER was a nice treat — their telltale identification mark is the white wing-patch:
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A few males showed nicely as well:
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BLUE-WINGED WARBLER numbers hit an all-time high today; I have never heard nor seen as many of these birds as I did this morning!
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Male BALTIMORE ORIOLE:
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Another black and orange bird, the AMERICAN REDSTART:
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Look at those tail feathers:
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WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
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OVENBIRD:
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GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER:
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PALM WARBLER:
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MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
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One highlight was seeing this male ORCHARD ORIOLE — there was a group of birders from Britain who especially appreciated this bird:
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Roosting BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
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Male INDIGO BUNTING:
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Male BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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Then, I saw a report of a male Cerulean Warbler in the North Woods. I had one problem: I was in the Ramble, over 30 city blocks away from this bird (Central Park is HUGE!). I raced to the C train, caught an uptown train to 103rd, and in no time was stalking through the North Woods of Central Park in search of the birding group which was reportedly tracking the bird.

I found another SWAINSON’S THRUSH, the second I’ve seen this year:
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Then, I met up with the tour “Birding Bob” was leading. He had the CERULEAN WARBLER alright! Woo-hoo: not only my second Cerulean this week, but this one was in Manhattan of all places — insane!
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I would have been jumping for joy a little harder had it not been for the particular situation in which I observed this bird. Unfortunately, this nutcase named “Birding Bob” leads tours through Central Park where he incessantly employs playback of bird songs and alarm calls using speakers, making the songbirds go absolutely nuts. And he doesn’t even stop after a minute, the tapes go on and on! I personally believe that playback in moderation is ethical (outside of breeding grounds), but Birding Bob exploits technology for a quick buck. He knows that people will keep coming back to his walks if the birds come close, so he will do anything including messing around with Mother Nature to “bring in the birds.”

Unfortunately, I was not brave enough to say all of this to his face (though many have already) but I did offer my viewpoint about why I believe what he does his unethical to some of the bird walkers who would listen to me. Birding ethics is a touchy issue and must be handled with utmost grace.

Bird-of-the-day to the Cerulean Warbler, despite the wasting of its’ migratory energy on the part of Birding Bob. Runner-up to the Hooded Warbler. Stay tuned for more migration madness!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 18:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Central Park Effect

Central Park, NYC

semi-overcast 72 °F

Today, I realized why this park is so incredibly famous for birding. I may dare say that this morning I experienced one of my first-ever fallouts, where birds were literally dripping off the trees. I birded the Ramble, the most famous and typically most productive area for birding in the park, and I was not disappointed. Warblers, vireos, thrushes, finches, tanagers, even a cuckoo — sixty-seven spieces in total — graced my presence this morning, literally dripping off the trees. It was spellbinding, jaw-dropping, ALL the superlatives: birding Central Park in early May should be on any birder’s bucket-list!

One of my first birds upon entering the Ramble was this WOOD THRUSH, always a nice species to see:
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HERMIT THRUSH like this one were everywhere — there were at least twenty-five of them in the Ramble:
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Then, I heard about a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that had been seen near the weather station in the Ramble. I raced up there and the cuckoo, of course, was gone — I did; however, come upon a group of friendly birders who showed me this YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER. An uncommon species, this would be one of twenty-one warbler species that I would identify today!
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Immediately after, as if on cue, a brilliant male SCARLET TANAGER flew in to show off his namesake colors:
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Later in the morning I also spotted the relatively-drab female:
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Another “eye-candy” bird, an INDIGO BUNTING, also put on a show for us birders:
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Then, a little while later, I spotted a long-tailed bird fly through the canopy and land a hundred feet away. I raced over to a position that would give the bird better light and was delighted to find the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO I had missed earlier! I also managed to get a couple from Denmark, who had never seen this species before, on the bird.
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Next, I climbed up to the top of a large boulder to get a better view of the treetops in the Ramble, and boy was I glad I did, for a male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER put on a show for me not just three feet away from my head!!! This was paradise!
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A very different warbler species, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH:
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And mouth-watering looks by a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, one of many seen foraging and singing this morning!
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VEERY:
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This female HOODED WARBLER, my favorite warbler, evaded decent photos but put on quite a dancing show for me!
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Only trumped by YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS were the second-most common warbler this morning: I counted over twenty-five of these beautiful creatures!
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Another beautiful warbler species, this AMERICAN REDSTART, was my first of the year:
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Female BALTIMORE ORIOLE, one of quite a few around this morning:
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One highlight of the morning was tracking down this GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, which is a rarity for the park, by ear. It stayed in the treetops and would not keep still, as evidenced by these photos:
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Quick look at an OVENBIRD before it disappeared:
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One of many BLUE-HEADED VIREOS again present this morning:
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My FOY sighting of SWAINSON’S THRUSH was nice to see:
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WARBLING VIREO:
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And then, in quick succession, multiple more nice warbler species. Here is a male BLUE-WINGED, my friend Isoo’s favorite bird!!
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And a WORM-EATING WARBLER, continuing the unprecedented number of these guys I have been seeing:
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NASHVILLE WARBLER:
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And yet another bird I had been hoping to see, a PRAIRIE WARBLER!
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A MAGNOLIA WARBLER fluttered in for some nice, close looks:
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And a BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, a little early for this beautiful species, was a great surprise!
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Its close cousin the CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was another FOY for me:
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And finally, a NORTHERN PARULA to end the morning. There were dozens of these, singing everywhere! Unbelievable.
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It is hard to choose a bird-of-the-day but for the sake of its sheer rarity in Manhattan, I must choose Golden-winged Warbler. Runners-up to the uber-cooperative Yellow-billed Cuckoo & Black-throated Blue Warbler for their great photogenic quality today. I will end the day with a list of all of the warblers positively identified this morning — they are the crown jewels of spring migration, and seeing over twenty in any day is AWESOME!

1. Ovenbird
2. Worm-eating
3. N Waterthrush
4. Golden-winged
5. Blue-winged
6. Black-and-White
7. Nashville
8. Yellowthroat
9. Hooded
10. Redstart
11. Parula
12. Magnolia
13. Bay-breasted
14. Blackburnian
15. Yellow
16. Chestnut-sided
17. Black-throated Blue
18. Palm
19. Yellow-rumped
20. Prairie
21. Black-throated Green
22. Yellow-throated

STAY TUNED!!!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:26 Archived in USA Comments (2)

May means Migration

New York, NY

overcast 53 °F

Since it is jury week here and my jury is over, as well as approaching some of the best times of the spring for birding, I took advantage of yesterday afternoon & this morning to again go birding in Central Park. I was very excited upon hearing reports of Golden-winged & Hooded Warblers among other birds seen in the park today and reported on the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter page.

Upon arrival at the Central Park Ramble, I almost immediately spotted this male BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER and immediately tweeted my sighting to the Brooklyn Bird Alert.

An AMERICAN KESTREL flew over:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:
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BLUE-HEADED VIREO:
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A few other birders and I were allowed brief but identifiable looks at this YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, a very uncommon species for the park:
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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A nice male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD flew in and perched as a bunch of birders including my friend Ryan and I were watching a mixed flock of warblers.

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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CHIPPING SPARROW:
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Next, I headed up to the Central Park Loch because there were reports of a Summer Tanager and up to three Hooded Warblers (one of my favorite birds) in that area.

WINTER WREN was a nice, late surprise:
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I missed the Summer Tanager but did nail one beautiful male HOODED WARBLER just before it got too dark for photography. This will be my bird-of-the-day for yesterday, with the Yellow-throated Vireo runner-up because of its undesirable views.
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Today, upon hearing a report of a threatened species, a Cerulean Warbler, among many other goodies at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, I made the long trans-borough trek by A & B subway to this Brooklyn gem for a day of spring migration birding. It is the first day of May and the cloudy conditions this morning gave me high hopes for a nice turnover and activity of birds.

I started off the morning with a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, one of absolutely loads of these birds I would see this morning:
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EASTERN TOWHEE:
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YELLOW WARBLER:
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As you can see, this BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER did its best to evade photography:
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My first VEERY of the year (also known as an FOY bird) was nice:
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As was my first COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, a nice adult male:
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This NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was another first:
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BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS:
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Then, I connected with a group of birders who said they had just seen my target bird for the morning: the Cerulean Warbler! My hopes were high as I scanned every possible warbler flitting in the treetops high above us. Finally, I spotted a dainty-looking bird, holding its wings slightly loosely, and yes, with its clincher identification mark: the thin necklace of a male CERULEAN WARBLER! This is a typical look at one of these birds as they are particularly fond of gleaning insects from the high treetops. My first-ever experience with this species foraging on the ground in 2014 was a true anomaly.
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I followed the bird for a little while and was soon afforded more decent looks!
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Whew — what a bird, and seen in New York City of all places! On the walk back to the subway, I spotted a soaring RED-TAILED HAWK; I believe they nest here in Prospect Park.
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A ride on the G, A, and C subway lines took me back to Central Park where I would try to glean a few more avian species before calling it quits for the day. The view of Manhattan was spectacular along the G train, which I believe is the highest point on the NYC subway system:
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The Central Park Ramble did not disappoint — one of my first birds was this WORM-EATING WARBLER, a bird that used to evade me and now I’ve seen multiple times in Central Park!
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BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER:
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A few uncommon YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS were present:
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BALTIMORE ORIOLE:
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LEAST FLYCATCHER, my first of the year:
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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
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PURPLE FINCH was a nice treat:
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VEERY:
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Once again, I heard the song of a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER and tracked down this bright male bird.
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GRAY CATBIRD:
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HERMIT THRUSH:
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A lingering RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
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NORTHERN PARULA:
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Drab PINE WARBLER:
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And OVENBIRDS were plentiful and fun to see:
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Central Park was hopping today. In the Ramble, the large wooded section along 79th St at which I bird the most often, there were areas when dozens of avian species would be singing simultaneously, and the bushes and trees seemed to be dripping with birds. The best part is that this isn’t even the peak of spring migration! The “Central Park effect” is truly spectacular.

Bird-of-the-day to the Cerulean Warbler, a quickly-declining species which is always an absolute joy to see, no matter how much my neck hurts after viewing it (!).

Stay tuned for more mad obsessive migration birding!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 970 Species

Posted by skwclar 14:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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)

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