Monday, November 19, 2012

Inwood and Central Parks, Nov 17th: Barred/Bluebird/Brant but no Barnacle

The possibility of a Barnacle Goose lured me all the way up to the tip of Manhattan and Inwood Hill Park early on Saturday.  The Barnacle was nowhere to be found, although I checked all the grassy areas.  A consolation prize - and apparently my first ones for Manhattan - were a flock of 10 American Pipits on the eastern ball fields.

The rest of the day turned out rather more successfully, and by the time I limped off to the train I'd covered a few miles and added three Central Park birds to my list, which now numbers 199.  A little walk across the north end of the park brought me to the Conservatory Garden where the northern (circular) flower garden is an absolute riot of color.  It's understandably lured in a Rufous Hummingbird  that's been there for about a week - I got enough poor tail-spread photographs to be sure it was a female Rufous and not any other Selasphorus, and the incomplete emergent gorget spot suggests it's an immature although I'm not totally certain on age.  This is not the first hummingbird seen in this location - there was an Allen's in 2002, and it's not the first Rufous I've seen in the park since there was an adult female Rufous in 2004.  As long as those flowers keep going and there's not a hard frost the hummingbird should do well for some time at this location.  (Update: it was gone by the following Friday).  I spent some time at this very colorful and warm location and also noted two Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker but not a great deal else - although there were crossbills reported from more coastal locations there did not seem to be a flight over the park.

I met Junko at the hummingbird who told me about a Brant at the Reservoir.  I managed to miss this on the way down the park the first time but looped back up there on my way out of the park and got good looks at an immature Brant hanging out with Canada Geese.  Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead and Ruddy Ducks were some of the more interesting waterfowl on the Reservoir, mostly clustered at the north end.

The I headed down to what has become a reliable spot for Barred Owl.  Barred Owl would normally be exceptionally rare in the park but there was one on the western edge of the park last winter (also roamed the Upper West Side, apparently) and this winter there may be as many as three Barred Owls here.  Despite once being a pretty regular Long-eared Owl roosting spot, Central Park hasn't hosted any regularly roosting owls in years.  Thankfully (and rather unlike the Long-eared) the Barred Owl roost is a long way off the ground, immune to curious onlookers.  A lot of passer's by were curious about this owl, so my skyward-pointed camera turned out to be mostly used a spotting scope.  I've accumulated a pretty good list of owls seen in the park (Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet, Great Horned, Barn, Barred, Boreal) but this was one of the better ones and one that I never expected to see here.

Finally, I was alerted to an Eastern Bluebird feeding at Sparrow Rock.  This bird seemed pretty tame for a Bluebird, considering a small crowd of birders gathered to admire it, and was in immature male plumage - still pretty resplendent in deep sky blue and red but with a little brown shading to the blue color on the scapulars and nape and pointed retrices.  Also there was a Hermit Thrush, which the Bluebird seemed to be using at times to detect insects and then attempted to steal them from it.  The Bluebird seemed to be doing fairly well on insect hunting, and the continuing fairly sunny and milder conditions (high in the 50's) suggest that all the park rarities should do fine for at least the next week.

Wood Duck                            
Northern Shoveler                    
Hooded Merganser                      
Ruddy Duck                            
Pied-billed Grebe                                                
Barred Owl
Rufous Hummingbird
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker              
American Kestrel                      
White-breasted Nuthatch              
Carolina Wren                        
Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  
Eastern Bluebird                        
Hermit Thrush                        

Update: the Barnacle Goose seems to be more reliably seen at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, which is geographically close to Inwood.

No comments: