Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meadowlands and Central Park - better luck in February

Back when NJ Transit had more reasonably priced tickets I used to take the train into Manhattan, but since they jacked the round trip prices by 50% it barely makes sense to give up the flexibility and pay $35 for parking+ticket to get to NYC. So, I drove in and parked on local streets. The upside of this is that I had the chance to go to the Meadowlands early before I went into Manhattan.

In contrast to the previous Sunday, I found a light morph Rough-legged Hawk moving from one landfill dome to another, giving good looks but it was not a bird I refound. Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk were also around. Near the old ballfields I also saw an immature White-crowned Sparrow, but attempts to refind it were stymied by a birder who stopped right in front of where the birds had retreated into the phragmites after a Harrier fly-over.

But not a bad start, so then I went into Manhattan. On the walk up Cedar Hill I saw a Yell0w-bellied Sapsucker, then into the Ramble. I failed to find the Varied Thrush, despite looking around its old locations quite carefully. However the feeders gave good birds - Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Pine Siskin. In a strange moment the Brown Creeper was feeding at the thistle feeder.

Apart from the feeder birds the Ramble was quiet, Turtle Pond was frozen over (the Varied Thrush was seen by others at the west side of it), so I wandered south toward Sheep Meadow. In some places the footing was treacherous with ice, but after the little trek I was rewarded by views of the immature Red-headed Woodpecker on the south side of Sheep Meadow. And now being in the south end of the park I went off to the 59th Street Pond to look for the reported Wood Duck. Most of the pond was frozen, but in the open section there were 120-150 Mallards taking advantage of the people feeding them. In the time I was there they were fed at least 4 times, so despite the high numbers of ducks there really isn't all that much of a food shortage, at least on weekends. Mixed in was a clearly hybrid Mallard, a fairly typical American Black Duck, and two male Wood Ducks. The Wood Ducks, despite being smaller than the Mallards, were fairly vocal and fairly aggressive, and did manage to get a decent share of the bread being thrown.

So not a bad day, in total, at least measured in terms of finding the desired target species.

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