The Reservoir had a pair of Mute Swans today. It isn't that unusual for the park to have a swan or two on the Harlem Meer or The Pond in the southeast corner of the park, but this was the first time I remember a pair on the Reservoir. Maybe they're passing through searching for warmer climates. I'm sure there are lots of frozen lakes further north.
Fall brings back to Central Park a wide variety of ducks. Today, there was an unusual duck for the Park, a Northern Pintail, and a group of Wood Ducks among the Mallards on the northern shore of The Pool. The Pintail was trying to sleep and was hard to photograph, but the Wood Ducks were having fun being out in the open.
On Sunday, I had a great time in Central Park.
As I walked into the park, Pale Male was in a favorite windows on Fifth Avenue. It was so nice to find him within a minute of walking into the park. Later, I saw another Red-tail circling around 85th and Central Park West.
Then it was off to see a Vesper Sparrow in the Pinetum. It was eating grass seed on a newly seeded lawn. This semi-rare sparrow for Central Park was fairly easy to watch.
The last highlight of the day was a Cape May Warbler high atop an Elm tree. This specific tree has been knocked full of holes by Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and has been dubbed by some birders the Magic Tree, because it is attracting so many warblers this year.
I had lots of fun birding in Central Park this weekend. It's a great time because you never know what you'll see and where. A Red-tailed Hawk, a Brown Thrasher, Blackpoll Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, bright yellow male American Goldfinch, and some Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds where some of the highlights.
In late August, Central Park can have lots of migrants one day and be quiet the next. On Saturday, it was fairly quiet. A highlight was a common bird for the park, an American Goldfinch. Generally we see them at the bird feeders in the winter, so it was nice to see this bird enjoying seeds in the Wildflower Meadow in the North Woods.
The pair that has been trying to build a safely located nest on Central Park West has found a new nest location on top of an air conditioner on between 87th and 88th Street.
A second clutch is unusual for Red-tailed Hawks, although we have seen it in the city before. It will be interesting to see if this pair attempts one this year.
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.
|1||Great Black-backed Gull|
|2||Northern Saw-whet Owl|
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.
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.
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.
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.