This afternoon I watched a Great Blue Heron walk on the ice of both The Pool and the Harlem Meer at the northern end of Central Park. Just like humans, the bird occasionally slipped on the ice. A few Great Blue Herons spend the winter in New York City. If I could fly, I would certainly fly to a warmer climate!
Located in Central Park's Ramble, the Evodia Field has the only sanctioned bird feeders in the park. They are supported by great volunteers. Indirectly, they end up feeding one or two Cooper's Hawks who enjoy the buffet of sparrows and similarly sized birds during the winter. One young Cooper's Hawk in particular is enjoying the easy pickings this Fall.
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.
As the title says, "Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk Eats A Tuffted Titmouse". Viewer beware. (The video is without audio as there was a middle school class watching the Red-tailed Hawk eat.)
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.