Monday, February 9, 2015

Snowy afternoon on Randall's Island

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Northern Mockingbird, Randall's Island

The weather forecast for Saturday was pretty nice, so I went off to Randall's Island to look for the American Pipit that had been reported at the Little Hell Gate salt marsh a couple of days previous.

The paths were in even worse shape than I had expected, but I slogged through the snow and ice. As I crossed the footbridge, I was visited by a very confiding Mockingbird, who popped up to forage several times as I crossed.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Northern Mockingbird, Randall's Island

Then it began to snow. It snowed, thick and fast, for the next hour and a half.

On the southeast corner of the marsh, the path runs partly under the approach roadway for the actual Hell Gate Bridge. There, s mixed flock of sparrows foraged on a pile of sand, occasionally flushing to the bushes at the edge of the marsh.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Mixed sparrows, Randall's Island

The flock was about half Juncos, and most the rest were White-Throated sparrow. There were three or four American Tree Sparrows, a couple of Song Sparrows, and a Swamp Sparrow. Associating loosely with the sparrows were a pair of Cardinals, and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Rumped Warbler in snow, Randall's Island

Yellow-Rumped Warblers are known to winter at this latitude, and in fact eBird doesn't flag winter reports of them as unusual. But I always wonder what such a bird is thinking:

"New York will be balmy, he said. Global warming, he said. Probably never get much below freezing, he said. Hardly any snow these days, he said. That moron. And I believed him. I gotta get a new travel agent."

Anyway, after watching the flock for a while--the warbler always flushed to a tree on the opposite side of the road from the bushes the sparrows went to; I have no idea where the Cardinals went--I moved on up the northeast shore. The paths were actually sholveled there--probably has to do with the golf center and Icahn Stadium being along that stretch.

A flock of a hundred or so Canada Geese was swimming up the river in a long loose line. Snow was accumulating on their backs.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Geese in snow, Randall's Island

It was tempting to laugh about the silly geese not seeking shelter or even flapping to get the snow off. But then I thought, what exactly was I doing, anyway?


  1. Nice photos, the yellow rumped warbler does look cold! Ernie

  2. Hi Ernie, glad you like the photos. Yes, quite a cold little bird. At least it was foraging with birds who are clearly adapted to the conditions, so there's likely enough food. -Ed