The Pond

The Pond had the Mandarin Duck, who had returned, but also had an unusual visitor for so late in the year, a Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.  As a birder, the Heron won.  As a photographer, the Mandarin Duck won.  So, I guess it was a tie.

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Cedar Waxwings

South of Sparrow Rock and across the West Drive there was a flock of at least 45 Cedar Waxwings eating berries this afternoon.  The Cedar Waxwing is a beautiful bird and it was great to watch a flock this large.

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Mandarin Duck In The Snow

The Mandarin Duck took the snow in stride this afternoon on Central Park's Pond.  Although the weather had deteriorated when I arrived, it was nice not to have to deal with the duck's crazy fans.  They've trashed the landscaping on the east shore of The Pond.  They're also feeding the ducks (and rats) bread and pretzels which are unhealthy for the ducks and is prohibited by the Parks Department.

The area around where the Mandarin Duck is residing is filled with wonderful wildlife.  Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, American Coots, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and Raccoons are always there in the winter, with many more birds and animals in the summer.  Nearby are a set of trees in Grand Army Plaza where hundreds of birds come to roost each evening.  The Hallett Nature Sanctuary, which is now open year round, is a wonderful place to enjoy nature and is on the west shore of the Pond. The sanctuary has hosted at least two coyotes in years past.

There is so much more to see at The Pond than just one duck.  It's sad to see people come into the park, motivated by their FOMO (fear of missing out) who stay at a frenetic NYC pace, rather than slowing down and enjoy a park that was designed specifically to be a restorative place for city dwellers.

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American Woodcock

American Woodcocks are one of the parks strangest, but wonderful birds.  Adapted to eating insects living underground, the bird has a long beak and a wonderful "dance" to help find the insects.  The also are one of the hardest birds to find in the park.  They can sit still for hours and blend in with the leaf litter.

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Kirtland's Warbler

Found by Kevin Topping on Friday, hundreds of birders got great looks at a Kirtland's Warbler in Central Park today.  Its migration path is usually up and down the Mississippi River, so this was a very rare event.

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Wilson's Snipe

A Wilson's Snipe was on the west shore of The Pool, a body of water at the north end of Central Park.  It's a wonderful bird, and was out in the open, which was a real treat.

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Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

On Saturday afternoon, I walked for about five miles through Central Park. I was able to add three more birds to my 2018 Manhattan list, a Ring-Necked Duck (female at the North Gate House of the Reservoir), a Great Cormorant (on the dike in the middle of the Reservoir, a rare visitor to Central Park, but seen frequently off Randalls Island in the winter) and an immature Cooper's Hawk.

The Cooper's Hawk was exploring the Loch, a waterway with three waterfalls that flows under the Glen Span and Huddlestone arches from The Pool to the Harlem Meer.  It has recently been restored by the Central Park Conservancy. The restoration carefully reshaped the waterway, to provide a mix of currents and depths designed to maximize biodiversity, with the help of a environmental consulting company.  Improved landscaping was also added to minimize erosion and run offs from the North Meadow Ball Fields.  I'm looking forward to seeing the biodiversity results in a few years.

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Red-throated Loon

The surprise of the day was a Red-throated Loon on the reservoir this afternoon.  About two thirds of the reservoir is still covered with ice, so the Loon was closer to the shoreline than normal making for great looks.

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