Wednesday, May 13, 2015


There are always surprises. On Monday, a Marsh Wren popped up in Bryant Park. He (the bird was reported singing a few times) was a lot more accessible than his species usually is. I suppose he didn't have much choice--there's not that much room to hide there.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Marsh Wren, Bryant Park
uncharacteristically sassy

The wren was in the southwest corner, next to the guard booth. He was there yesterday as well, but I haven't seen any reports from today.

After a few slow days, Tuesday was pretty busy in Central Park. On my way through in the morning, there was a commotion of birds bathing and drinking at the stretch of slow water just north of Azalea Pond. Several warblers buzzed around, including Yellow-Rumped, Black-and-White, female Black-Throated Green and Blackpoll, and a very drab one I couldn't identify. I got a bunch of photos of it and moved on.

Fifty feet on, I saw movement up in a tree. The bird seemed large but well-hidden--and then it came out.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black-Billed Cuckoo, Central Park
"I'm ready for my screen-test"

A Black-Billed Cuckoo! I'd missed this species so far this Spring, despite it being reported more frequently than usual. But there it was, posing nicely. I got a few passing birders onto it, and then a bunch more showed up when I tweeted the sighting. (Reminder: a lot of good birds in Manhattan are reported on the Twitter hashtag #birdcp. There's a description of the system on David Barrett's website at

On the way out of the Ramble, I saw my first Chestnut-Sided Warblers of the Spring. About time, too.

Then, on the subway to work, I took a look through my photos. That drab warbler? Wasn't a warbler.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Philadelphia Vireo, Central Park
got to be good-looking 'cause you're so hard to see

Philadelphia Vireo! Not a frequently-seen bird around here, and when we have it it's usually in the Fall. And they usually stay up pretty high and well back in the leaves, so this is by far the best view I've ever had of a Philadelphia. It simply never entered my mind that one would be around, so I didn't recognize it while I was looking at it.

During the day, people found an Olive-Sided Flycatcher in the Ramble. That's not as infrequent a visitor as the Vireo, and we regularly get one at the same location every May about this time. I'm convinced it's the same bird every year.

*Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Azalea Pond
his favorite place for dinner when passing through the City

It likes the top of a tall mostly-bare tree just at the northwest corner of Azalea Pond. It's a good perch for an Olive-Sided, and there's lots of larger insects around. The bird will sally and return to the perch over and over, pausing in between to eat its catch. And that's where I found it in the good late-afternoon light.

This Olive-Sided comes back in mid-August, usually just a little earlier than returning birds of that species are expected. This has gone on for some years now.

This morning, I saw my first Pewees of the season. That leaves Great Blue Heron as the most common bird I haven't seen this year. That's a surprise, too--I've usually seen several by this point in the year.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Great Blue Heron, Turtle Pond
have you seen me?

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