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.
The male Mandarin Duck continues to be New York City's most famous escapee. Even the discovery that he spends time in New Jersey hasn't tarnished his reputation. Lucky for him he doesn't have to take PATH or NJ Transit!
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.
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.
On Wednesday evening a hawk was on the NE flagpole of the Plaza Hotel. I've been seeing this hawk a great deal recently, but other than seeing it around The Pond I don't know much about it.
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.
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.
Hints of spring are in the air. The park has some Snowdrops and Forsythia in bloom and the city's Red-tails have begun to copulate. Today, I caught up with a Cooper's Hawk, and both of the Fifth Avenue Hawks, Octavia and Pale Male.
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.
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.
The young Peregrine Falcons on Central Park West are big enough to see finally. I saw two of them on Saturday and both the parents. My understanding is there might be a third youngster.
The pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on the The Century on lower Central Park West supposedly have three chicks this year. I studied them for an hour and only saw signs of a parent. I suspect I'll need to make a number of visits to see the youngsters.
The colder weather made for a quiet day on Pale Male and Octavia's nest. However, there were a large number of migrates, including a Least Bittern (a small heron) and Red-headed Woodpecker.
Central Park had two Indigo Buntings stopping in the park during their migration today. They were filling up on grass seed just south of Sparrow Rock.
Two Green-Wing Teal drakes have been hanging out in the Upper Lobe of The Lake in Central Park. Wonderful ducks to watch.
Central Park has had an Immature Red-headed Woodpecker near 68th and Fifth for over a week. I caught up with it after it started snowing on Saturday. It was hanging out in and around a Shagbark Hickory tree.
I spent the afternoon watching more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the Oven in Central Park, just as I had yesterday. They're so much fun to watch!
In the Ramble of Central Park is an area of the Lake called the Oven. It has a patch of Jewelweed that attracts Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks during the fall migration. It also attracted a Tennessee Warbler today as well.
Fall Migration is in full swing with lots of different species in Central Park. My favorite of the day was this male Hooded Warbler.
A female Hooded Warbler was near the Azalea Pond in Central Park today. This shy bird was the highlight of my day.
The hawks at 116th and Riverside have begun "branching", so they should be leaving the nest soon. Good luck little guys!
A Swainson's Warbler was in Central Park today, near Strawberry Field. It's a bird that usually stays further south, so it created a great deal of excitement.
I went to Central Park South tonight to figure out where the Sheep Meadow Red-tailed Hawk pair have relocated only to see the male briefly at 64th and Fifth Avenue. I saw them copulate last week by Tavern on the Green, but that was the last time I saw the female. So, this is still a mystery. If anyone has figured it out, please let me know.
While looking for the Red-tails, I saw The Century Peregrine Falcons again on Central Park West. They were on both The Century and the Zeckendorf buildings.
I spent the weekend trying to figure out what was happening with our three pairs of hawks in Central Park.
- The Sheep Meadow pair continue to be seen in the SE corner of the park, but don't seem to have settled on a nesting location just yet.
- The pair that tried to nest on the Beresford last year, are bringing twigs to the Beresford and San Remo this year.
- Pale Male and Octavia are doing just fine. Pale Male gave Octavia a long break on Sunday afternoon.
- A Merlin was a nice extra bonus near the band shell.
The two Snow Geese continue on the Central Park Reservoir. They've been hanging out with about 75 Canada Geese at the south end.
As winter finally arrives and we get a light dusting of snow, Central Park has two Snow Geese on the reservoir. Large flocks of snow geese fly over the park during migration, but it's unusual for there to be a pair hanging out on the reservoir, especially in January. So, they were a nice treat on a gray day.
As I was leaving the park, I ran into Pale Male in the east Pinetum. He looked handsome with a dusting of snow.
While two of our winter stars left when the first freeze arrived this last week, the Great Horned Owl in Central Park and the Painted Bunting in Prospect Park, one star from the Christmas Bird Count is still in Central Park, an Orange-crowned Warbler. This fabulous little bird has been hanging around the south west corner of the Met, and loves to visit some fresh cuts made by a Yellow-belled Sapsucker.
In addition to the warbler, many of us were treated to a double rainbow after a brief, but heavy downpour.
This afternoon started a little slow. The Great Horned Owl was in usual spot around 2:30, and I was thinking what am I going to do until fly out at dusk? Luckily, a mature Cooper's Hawk arrived and the owl decided to fly over to it to show it "who was boss". Then the Cooper's Hawk started calling and decided to try and show the owl who was boss. They ended up shifting from perch to perch a few times. There was no contact and it just a lot of bluster but fun to watch.
The Cooper's Hawk left but returned about an hour later to make it's presence known. This time the owl just ignored it.
While preening, the owl broke off a branch and chewed on it. It might have been using it to clean it's beak. It was hard to tell.
At the top of a tall pine this afternoon by the 79th Street Transverse north of the maintenance building, was an American Kestel eating what looked to be a house sparrow. This small falcon is one of New York City's most beautiful birds.
For about two weeks, there has been an injured Sora in the Loch in the North Woods. If you look closely at the photographs and video you'll see the left wing is dragging. Today was the first time I had seen it myself.
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.