Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center is at 106th and Fifth Avenue. This winter I've frequently seen a hawk on top of the building. I didn't think much of it, since we usually have a few wintering hawks in the north part of the park.
Today, I was surprised to see not one but two hawks on the building. Before I could get my camera out, the male flew off, circled the hill with the compost heap, and returned to the building and copulated with the female.
My first thought was these could be the Central Park West hawks? But both seem lighter both in eye color and in chest banding. The couple looks young. Anyone seen nest building on upper Fifth Avenue?
On Sunday, I spent most of the day in the park trying to see a Common Redpoll without success. However, I did have a good time seeing a group of Red-winged Hawks for the first time this year, a very beautiful European Goldfinch (possibly an escapee rather than a wild bird), Owls and the Common Merganser on the Harlem Meer. While I wasn't trying for a long species list, I did end up with a respectable 37.
I've been packing a simple camera and a spotting scope rather than my regular setup these last two weeks. I bothered an old knee injury in the snow and need to lighten the weight of my pack. So, I've been continuing my goal to stay in the top 10 of the Top 100 New York County 2013 list on eBird.org, rather than just follow hawks this year.
Over the last week, this has meant adding a first winter Iceland Gull to my list for the year. In addition, to the gull this week's fun birds included a Northern Saw-whet Owl.
An American Tree Sparrow has been hanging around the large woodchip pile in the northern section of Central Park. Today, it gave me some really nice looks. The American Tree Sparrow has a bi-colored beak, the top and bottom parts are different.
Despite all of time I've spent looking at owls, I have been keeping an eye out for Pale Male. Today, I started my birding near Pale Male's nest. My first views were of a Cooper's Hawk chasing some European Starlings.
Then Pale Male arrived. He broke off a tree branch and took it to the nest. He then perched a little south of the nest on a fence, then a water tank and then a railing. He kept looking south. I think his new mate may be spending her time below 72nd Street.
On a gray late Fall day, a visit to Central Park yielded a few Cooper's Hawks, two Barred Owls and a few Red-tailed Hawks. Let's hope the Barred Owls stay for the Christmas Bird count, Sunday, December 16th.
A gorgeous Eastern Bluebird was north of Winterdale Arch in Central Park today. Although it was near lots of fruit trees, it spent its time catching insects from the lawn. I spent an hour waiting for it to arrive, and was just about to give up before it showed up. It's nice to have patience rewarded.
I spent time watching American Crows, waterfowl and American Kestrels on Saturday and watched Pale Male on Sunday. The Harlem Meer had a nice selection of birds, including Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Wood Ducks, and a Mute Swan.
Sandy made a mess of the park, and there are still sections closed. The clean up may take longer than usual as resources are being sent to hard hit areas of NYC rather than Central Park. Sadly entitled Upper East and West siders are complaining about how they suffered because they can't walk their dogs in the park or use the bypass road in the north of the park, which is now a staging area for the clean up. Get a life folks!
In the fall, winter birds return to Central Park and drab adults or juveniles confuse birders used to watching brightly colored spring migrants. On Sunday, my winter bird was a cute Tufted Titmouse. My confusing birds were a flock of Cedar Waxings, which had only one adult among a number of drap juveniles who were sharing a tree with a number of Mourning Doves.
Up by Green's Bench in the North Woods on Saturday, there was a delightful Red-Breasted Nuthatch. I usually see them lower down in the park and later in the year, so this little bird was a pleasent surprise.
Fall Migration is in full swing and Central Park is full of warblers, thrushes, and fly-catchers. One of the fun migrants is the Ruby-thoated Hummingbird, that loves the necter of the Jewelweed plants in the park.
On Saturday, I was able to study the Red Crossbills more closely. The flock made a circuit about every half hour that included trees in the upper lawn area of Shakespeare Garden and a small mud flat in the Upper Lobe.
The Crossbills had a wonderful way of extracting the seeds from the cones. It was pluck a cone and then, work the cone from the bottom, extract one seed, husk the seed, spin the cone, and repeat until you need to fetch another cone. It reminded me of how humans eat artichokes!
Today, thanks to the excellent birding skills of Jacob Drucker which were followed up on by Anders Peltomaa, many NYC birders got to enjoy a flock of Red Crossbills in Central Park. The light made photographing them tough, but it was enjoyable to watch them. The Red Crossbills are a new bird for my life list.
The video has regular and slow motion clips of the Red Crossbills extracting seeds for cones. The Red Crossbills were identified as the Type 3 subspecies using recordings made by Anders Peltomaa, by Matthew Young and Andrew Farnsworth, the flight-call-wizards of Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This subspecies specializes in smaller and softer cones from trees such as Spruce, Fir and Hemlock.
Kentucky Warblers are rare in New York City, and their skulking habits make them that much harder to find. The excellent birders of Central Park have been keeping track of one for three days near the Swedish Cottage.
I was fortunate to see the Kentucky Warbler twice today. I didn't get any great photographs, but was able to capture enough detail to prove I had seen it! It was a life bird for me.
On Saturday, I explored the park looking for raptors. My first was a Merlin falcon on a water tank on top of the Lincoln Correctional Facility on 110th Street. It was chased away by a mob of Crows. Later, I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting, although it was too fast to photograph. As I ended my walk, I saw the female Red-tailed Hawk, Lima on a 5th Avenue building around 77th Street.
I've been out of town, but have returned and I was able to spend a few hours in Central Park this afternoon. Here are some pictures of a very shy Yellow-breasted Chat who was the highlight of my afternoon.
The Sora stayed in the same area of Turtle Pond on Sunday that it had been on Saturday. It made appearances in the early morning and around 6 p.m. Great little bird, but it took lots of patience to get just a few looks.
A Sora was found on the north shore of Turtle Pond this morning. I got two brief glimpses of the small rail in the early evening. Below is a slow motion video and a few shots taken in less than favorable light.
Despite spending about six hours in the park this holiday weekend, I only got two brief glimpses of the Fifth Avenue family members. Both on the Beresford Apartments, one of a fledgling and one of the mother.
The fall migration has started and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are enjoying the Jewelweed patch in Strawberry Fields.
I was walking out of the park around 8 p.m. this evening via The Pond at 59th Street. Looking out on the ice, I saw a group of Mallards sleeping on the ice, when one of the ducks caught my eye. It was one of the two Wood Ducks that have been hanging out on The Pond this winter.
I was looking for owls Friday night in the north of Central Park. The hunt was unsuccessful but I did get to watch the activity that occurs after darkness falls.
Around the Loch and The Pool this means Raccoons and Rats coming out for the night, and ducks figuring out where to sleep for the night.
What surprised me this evening was a Great Blue Heron that flew in fifteen minutes after dark. While each winter, a sighting of a Great Blue Heron in The Loch, especially when most surounding water bodies are frozen isn't unusual, it always surprises me.