Sunday, December 2, 2012

Van Cortlandt Park/Alley Pond Park Dec 1st

Some days my predictions are luckier than others.  A Barnacle Goose that originally frequented Inwood Hill Park (found Nov 11th, seen over the next few days) had pulled a vanishing act - I went looking for it myself and struck out - and given that there's precious few flat grassy areas in that area I made the prediction via my venerable list eBirdsNYC that it might turn up in Van Cortlandt Park, geographically close albeit in the Bronx and not Manhattan.   In one of those uncommon alignments between plausibility and actual events the Barnacle turned up in Van Cortlandt Park on Nov 26th.

So although I was denied a nice rarity for my Manhattan (NY County) list, I did find my NYC list Barnacle Goose on Dec 1st amongst a large flock of Canada Geese feeding on the parade grounds area on the west side of Van Cortlandt Park.  Taking its cue from the other tame Canadas in this park the Barnacle was not particularly wary, although the light was pretty bad for photography and the bird decided to take a nap, further limiting photo options.  Took me all of 5 minutes to find the bird after finding street parking.  In retrospect I should have stuck around and looked for a Cackling Goose - a rare bird in NYC - amongst the large Canada flocks rather than head out to Queens.

However, flushed with easy success for one NYC bird, I headed out to Alley Pond Park in Queens to search for a more elusive one - the persisting Virginia's Warbler.  Although present for a while it had acquired the reputation for being difficult since it covered a large area in a non-demonstrative way.  In real habitat Virginia's Warbler is rather skulky and difficult to find, too.  Alley Pond Park had clearly taken a beating from Hurricane Sandy with a lot of felled trees although the parks dept had cleared up all the trails.  I predictably failed to find the warbler, and there was really only one part of the park that was at all birding with a mixed flock including chickadees, titmice, robins, Winter Wren and multiple Fox Sparrows.  Most of the woodland was pretty quiet with only a few sparrows.

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