My birding centered around Turtle Pond in Central Park today. The Pond had a pair of Belted Kingfishers, one of whom seemed to be exhausted after getting wet while fishing. After the Kingfisher's it was Pale Male who was very photogenic, leading photographers and bird watchers on a journey from tree to tree until he caught a rat. It was a fun Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to a report from Tom Perlman and Karen Fung, many birders got to see a Eastern Whip-Poor-Will in the Loch today in the northern part of Central Park.
I explored the north end of the park today. During a brief rainstorm, I got to photograph a hawk at the eastern side of the North Meadow. Later this same hawk circled the Recreation Center a few times and then gained altitude. It started to get harassed by Chimney Swifts, so it went even higher until it was hard to see. It then dived and quickly moved northwest towards Morningside Park.
On Sunday, I didn't see any of our "regular" hawks in Central Park. Only this adult with lightly colored eyes in the Ramble.
At the feeders on Saturday, were an American Tree Sparrow and a Chipping Sparrow. (The Tree sparrow has a bi-colored beak and one wing bar.) They very cooperatively both went to a single bird feeder together a few times.
Central Park in the winter has a number of visitors from farther north. Today's special bird was a Common Redpoll, a small finch. It certainly made a grey day a bit brighter for me.
I spent Saturday bird watching rather than hawk watching and like earlier in the week got mesmerized by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are enjoying feeding on the Jewelweed flowers in Central Park this season, and occasionally rest on branches nearby. This young bird rested on the same branch every five minutes or so, sometimes staying only a few seconds but sometimes stayed for as long as two minutes.
It's ironic, given that I'm Red/Green Colorblind, that my two good birds of the day on Saturday were a Red-tailed Hawk and Green Heron.
The Red-tailed Hawk was the same bird I saw Friday. It was again perched on a window railing of 2 East 70th Street.
The Green Heron was in a shallow area of the The Pond north of Gapstow bridge. These mudflat areas are import to wading birds, but they're constantly being removed by the Central Park Conservancy. The original landscaping of the park had water bodies with clean sculpted edges, which removed the transitional areas of marsh and mud needed by many birds. Luckily, natural erosion does a great job of bringing these mudflats back!
At about 6:56 on the video is a great shot of the Green Heron "licking its lips".
For the last few weeks I've been keeping track of a new Red-tailed Hawk pair in Sheep Meadow of Central Park. Most of us who knew about the pair decided to keep them under the radar while they got established. But a photograph was recently showed on the palemale.com site, so now that the secrets out I think it's reasonable to share some photographs.
My quest to find the nest of the pair of hawks that have been seen on upper Fifth Avenue came up empty again. While I was in the Consevatory Garden, I saw a Red-tail circle around the garden with a pigeon in its tallons. The hawk then took the bird to the roof of the El Museo del Barrio.
After a few minutes, the Red-tailed Hawk flew off in the direction of the Academy of Medicine, and disappeared. Searches of the ledges of the building came up empty.
American Woodcocks have been in Central Park for about the last week. I caught up with one on Saturday. They're very well camouflaged, worm eating birds with a silly walk and mating ritual.
The bird was doing a good job of hiding, but we did get some glimpses!
With the snow and ice, I only stayed in the center of Central Park today. I added two species to my year list, a Fox Sparrow and a Rusty Blackbird. Highlights also included a very tame Carolina Wren and a Long-eared Owl.
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.
In the fall, raptors migrate over Central Park in great numbers when the winds are right. Last weekend, I watched hawks from the Belvedere Castle terrace. Among the raptors seen were a Broad-winged Hawk and Juvenile Bald Eagle.
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.