Saturday, April 28, 2012

Central Park, April 28th

In one week numbers have dropped because of indifferent migration weather, but diversity has exploded.  Somehow - and many of these were heard-only - I racked up 15 species of warbler in a morning while spending chunks of it looking for a Kentucky Warbler.

The Kentucky had been seen the previous day and stuck around the same place in Shakespeare Garden on the Saturday.  I was told it had not been seen in an hour, but Kentucky's often make regular circuits of the same terrain and vanish for quite some time between appearances.  I first saw it - a ventral view - scooting into a tree and dropping onto the ground whence it did a very Kentucky thing and vanished entirely.  Subsequently found by others it eventually ante'd up by perching on the fence and the semi-exposed rock.  Right on time, that Kentucky, in the last few days of April.

Also right on time was the Nashville in Strawberry Fields, the singing Prairie Warbler in the Upper Lobe and the Blue-winged singing on top of Shakespeare Garden.  Two of these were heard-only, but at least I found a Northern Parula near Belvedere Castle while being taunted by an elusive Black-throated Green.  Challenging Kentucky for the best bird of the day was a singing Orange-crowned Warbler in the big oak still standing in Maintenance Field.  Another decent bird was a Chestnut-sided Warbler also in the Maintenance Field.  Despite a warm winter and prematurely warm March the migrant timing is pretty much as expected - some early appearances but most of them are clamped by the need to fly a couple of thousand miles during spring.  Kind of tough to speed that up.  This is still a transitional stage in spring migration, as evidenced by more early spring species like Blue-headed Vireo and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Hermit Thrush as the only Catharus.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Blue-headed Vireo
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Eastern Towhee

Monday, April 23, 2012

Negri-Nepote, pre-deluge, Apr 22nd

Yellow Warbler was singing from the neighborhood when I was getting ready to depart for Negri-Nepote despite threatening weather and a day's worth of rain headed up on the southerly winds.  It didn't quite make it to my yard list or my year list, since I never saw it and it didn't come quite close enough.

Instead, in heavy cloud and beginning drizzle I headed out to Negri-Nepote Grasslands (Franklin Twp) to check for shorebirds in the small pond there.  Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, House Wren and Common Yellowthroat were all singing.  Along with four Mallard males in the pond were four breeding plumage Greater Yellowlegs, a nice find, and the real prize was a Pectoral Sandpiper at the back of the pond.  No Wilson's Snipe, recently reported here, but I don't usually see Pectoral until the fall.  As the rain started to fall I retreated to snag my first seen Common Yellowthroat for spring migration, close to the parking lot.

Central Park, Apr 21st

Apparently getting a little slow in my old age, I missed the 0612 train into Manhattan by 1 minute and spent 45 minutes at Princeton Institute Woods while waiting for the next one, which was if anything more productive than Central Park: heard but not seen Common Yellowthroats; singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak; singing Black-and-white Warbler; singing Gray Catbird; singing House Wren.  It was a little cool so activity only started to pick up while I was there.

The Ramble in Central Park was not having its best day, even allowing for the fact I got there an hour later than intended.  Strawberry Fields was quiet, there was a Northern Waterthrush feeding and singing in the small stream that flows under Balcony Bridge, but many areas in the Ramble were slow enough that I only spent about three hours there.  Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers were still around, Black-and-white Warbler was a new addition for this migration, but it was notably slower than the previous weekend.  The woods at the North End was rather more productive, judging from reports (Worm-eating, Prothonotary).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Central Park, April 14th/15th

In a series of days with strong south-westerly wind components I did a rare mid-April "double" weekend, traveling by train into Manhattan on both Saturday and Sunday. Usually in mid April there's not enough volume of diversity to pull me in on both days.

While diversity was lacking, there was a lot of volume on both days. Warblers dominated Saturday but sparrows put in a good showing on Sunday. Multiple Louisiana Waterthrushes on both days, year firsts like Brown Creeper and Winter Wren, my House Wren early date for the north east, and Brown Thrasher my earliest date for the park by about 10 days. The aggregate list did not contain anything remarkable, but the number of birds for the middle of April was surely one of the best migration movements for that date I'd seen in years.

Also of note was a leucistic White-throated Sparrow that I saw in Strawberry Fields on both days (photos obtained on Sunday) which had a striking mostly-white head.

Double-crested Cormorant
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Blue-headed Vireo
House Wren
Winter Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Brown Thrasher
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Palm Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

A slice of spring at Princeton Institute Woods

An overcast day with north-westerlies led me to cancel a prospective trip into Central Park and stay locally, birding Princeton's Institute Woods. Activity levels were relatively low, but there were some signs of spring: singing male Pine Warbler; male Eastern Towhee; singing Eastern Phoebe; male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; a pair of Wood Ducks. The Tree Swallows have moved into the pond in small numbers after it was refilled this week - the pump that maintains it was broken for a while and it had almost totally dried out. Some frogs have survived, but it remains to be seen if it can reach the traditionally deafening levels of frog singing that you can encounter on warm spring evenings.