Monday, September 22, 2014

End of summer

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Semipalmated Sandpipers, Inwood Hill Park
I feel there should be some fine Japanese calligraphy on this one

This weekend was the technical end of Summer. Of course, that means that Fall migration is about halfway done already--more for some birds, such as shorebirds.

Despite that, there was a report on Saturday of a very unusual bird for New York, a Pectoral Sandpiper, at Muscota Marsh in Inwood Hill Park. They come through the region on migration in the Fall fairly regularly, but apparently there had never been one in Manhattan before.

Sunday morning, a report from eBird said the bird was still there, so off I went to the very northern edge of Manhattan.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Pectoral Sandpiper, Inwood Hill Park
The Pectoral gets its name from the fact that it's upper chest is quite buff. Seriously.

And there it was, hanging out with a couple of dozen Semipalmated Sandpipers. Our hero bird was notably larger and browner. I was very lucky--after I had watched the flock from some distance awhile, they took off---and landed not thirty feet in front of the bench I was sitting on.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Inwood Hill Park
Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers synching up

I watched them there for a long time, then went off to see what was doing in the rest of Spuyten Duyvil Creek (answer: not much). When I returned, another birder told me that a Peregrine Falcon had flown in and perched atop a light tower at Baker Field (the Columbia University athletic complex right next to Inwood Hill Park). The sandpipers had mostly flown off, except a few very brave or very foolish Semipalmateds.

The Peregrine eventually gave up, but the Pectoral did not return while I was there. Which doesn't mean it's gone.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Scarlet Tanager and lunch, Central Park
dinner is served

Meanwhile, in Central Park this weekend, migration also continued. Scarlet Tanagers, Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, and a good variety of warblers are all around. Oh, and hummingbirds. Did I mention the hummingbirds? They were all over the place.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Central Park
right now, wherever there's jewelweed, there are hummingbirds

I also had a Red-Breasted Nuthatch at the Pinetum--my first of the year, and I had only one in all of 2013 as well--, a Kingfisher (always charming to see) and various confusing fall warblers. One of the warblers might have been a very dull Bay-Breasted, but most were Pine Warblers, I think.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Confused Fall Warbler (Pine Warbler), Central Park
confused Fall warbler

The Red-Breasted Nuthatch was my 178th species in New York County this year, and the Pectoral Sandpiper was my 179th (and a life bird).

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