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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Central Park's Oven

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.


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Peregrines at The Century

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.


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Southern Central Park Raptors

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.

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Snow Geese and Pale Male in the Snow

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.


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Orange-crowned Warbler

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.


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Great Horned Owl And A Cooper's Hawk

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.


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Sora in the North Woods

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. 


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Belted Kingfisher and Pale Male

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.


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North Meadow Red-tailed Hawk

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.


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Ruby-throated Hummingbird

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.


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Red and Green

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". 


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El Museo del Barrio

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.


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American Woodcock

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!


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Central Park

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.


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Mute Swans

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.

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Wood Ducks and a Northern Pintail

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.


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Central Park Sunday

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.


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