Monday, May 4, 2015

A delicious birding Sunday

Sunday unexpectedly turned into one of those rare days of Spring migration where you see amazing things. I hadn't been expecting much--very light winds had kept migration numbers down for several days--and the morning started with an uneventful stroll along the south side of Turtle Pond to Belvedere Castle. But when I descended into the Ramble, I found a hundred or more birders between the Humming Tombstone and the west side of Tupelo Meadow, all staring high into the trees.

In the next half-hour or so, I saw (and heard singing) a White-Eyed Vireo

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; White-Eyed Vireo, Central Park
White-Eyed Vireo

and also a singing Yellow-Throated Vireo--and both of those species can be hard to get in New York City--

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Throated Vireo, Central Park
Yellow-Throated Vireo

and several Warblers, including Black-Throated Blue, Black-and-White, and Nashville.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Nashville Warbler, Central Park
Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warblers aren't rare, exactly, but aren't all that easy to find.

I took a little break on a bench south of Tupelo Meadow, and watched a Titmouse and a Brown-Headed Cowbird poking around a mud puddle. On a snag above the puddle, a male Downy Woodpecker was digging out a nest-hole, sawdust flying everywhere. Then the female of the pair came around and I got to see them mating, which (like everything else about Downys) was adorable.

Out on the Point I saw my first-of-season Blackpoll Warbler--a bit early for them--and another White-Eyed Vireo, this one extremely confiding, spending several minutes at about eye level only a few feet from the path.

A couple of good birds had left the Tupelo frenzy before I got there--Blue-Winged Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler. Someone told me that a Blue-Winged was near the Rustic Shelter, and I eventually found it there.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blue-Winged Warbler, Central Park
Blue-Winged Warbler

My first Common Yellowthroat of the season was there as well--a little late for a first sighting of that warbler.

A couple of rumors of the Blackburnian didn't pan out, and in mid-afternoon I was sitting on a bench at Evodia, watching the feeders and chatting with other birders. Adrian Burke's phone buzzed with an alert. "Blackburnian now in pine south side of Turtle Pond", he read out. "OK, see you all later." He left, followed closely by several of us.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackburnian Warbler, Central Park
Blackburnian Wabler

The flame-throat was indeed there, and Adrian did a great job getting everyone on the bird. The cherry on top of the birding Sunday was when he spotted a Red-Breasted Nuthatch going through the trees. That's shockingly late, like six weeks late, for a Red-Breasted to be hanging around this far south, but the bird's head pattern (black line through the eye, and while stripe over it) was unmistakable.

The nuthatch disappeared to the east very quickly; I think I was the only other birder who got a look at it. Normally I'd have followed it to try to get a better look and a photo, but I was so transfixed by the Blackburnian that I didn't.

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