Monday, October 15, 2012

Central Park, Fri/Sat/Sun, Oct 12-14th

The best migration day was the Saturday, by far, but there was useful birding on the day before and the day after the large migrant movement.   On Saturday there was a huge influx of late fall birds like Yellow-rumped Warblers (abundant) and Hermit Thrushes (numerous) as well as fairly good numbers of other late fall birds like Winter Wren, Eastern Phoebe, both kinglets, Song Sparrow.  On all three days the number of other warblers were somewhat low - Palm Warblers put in a decent showing but other species were in ones and twos.

All three days had the ongoing Red-breasted Nuthatch invasion with a couple of them found repeatedly in the hemlocks near Belvedere Castle and others turning up all over the Ramble.   Pine Siskins put in an appearance on Sat and Sun with one perching on a camera lens right next to me on Saturday, and a flock of 15 alighting briefly in Strawberry Fields on Sunday.  I saw or heard multiple Purple Finches on all three days.

Friday: low-ish numbers with the best bird being a cooperative Lincoln's Sparrow - no longer a rare bird in the park but still never numerous and the first one I'd seen all year.  Tanner's Spring was the most active on this the least voluminous day with Swainson's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush seen there.  Warblers: Yellow-rumped, Palm, Blackpoll, Magnolia, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat.

Saturday: amongst the Yellow-rumped, which were literally everywhere, the best bird was a Mourning Warbler (immature, likely female) which was near the Tupelo tree.  This unfortunate bird turned out to have only one leg with no trace of a second leg - either a birth defect or an injury that happened a very early in life and completely healed.  It seemed to feed OK, albeit awkwardly, and otherwise was in good feather condition.  My first Mourning of the year.  Another unfortunate bird was an American Woodcock which was handed to the Parks Dept - it did not seem inclined/capable of flying so the attempted release near the MOWA location was abandoned and the bird picked up again.  Woodcocks suffer a fair amount of attrition through building collisions on migration. Warblers: ubiquitous Yellow-rumped, Palm, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Mourning.  Perversely I found some species to be less numerous: Eastern Towhee and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Sunday: a lot of residual birds from the previous day's big migration, held in place by the southerly wind direction.  The Mourning Warbler was still present, many Yellow-rumped Warblers persisted and it was really a scaled-down version of the previous day.  Warblers: Yellow-rumped, Palm, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Mourning.  An adult Cooper's Hawk was vocalizing at an immature Red-tailed Hawk that was sitting in the low canopy in the Ramble - I wasn't sure if this was one of the two rehab Red-tailed that were released nearby on Saturday, but clearly the Cooper's was not at all happy that the Red-tailed was working the same territory.

Not a bad three days, mostly in terms of volume rather than diversity, which is showing the usual drop-off for late fall.  Commuting into Manhattan via the more-inept-than-usual NJ Transit had its upsides on Friday and Saturday since attendees of Comic-Con trekking through Penn Station were sometimes dressed in superhero outfits - memorably including one woman I was following who was dressed up as the John Candy character in Spaceballs (the Wookie parody) complete with tail.  See: short NYTimes video on the convention.  On Sunday I only saw a single person dressed up as part of the Borg, almost a let-down.

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