Thursday, October 15, 2015

Return of the son of the revenge of more Fall migration photos

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Winter Wren, Central Park
Winter Wren working it for the camera

The thing about Fall migration is that it lasts a long time. Spring migration is a few intense weeks in May, with a slow build up for maybe a month. before, and a rather abrupt ending. Fall migration starts around the end of July and continues in a fairly steady stream for about three months.

So the less common birds get spread out a bit. Sort of.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Eastern Whip-poor-will, Central Park
lazy afternoon

This Whipoorwill turned up in the Loch in northern Central Park in late September. That's a nice bird for Manhattan; we get maybe one a year--more frequent than then Chuck-Will's-Widow, less frequent than Common Nighthawk.

Whipoorwills sleep most of the day, like owls, and wake up around dusk to hunt insects. They're hard to spot, since they don't move around much during daylight, and they generally roost pretty high up. This one was in an unusually low perch, the the photographers had a great time with him.

That same day, a Grasshopper Sparrow was spotted on the Knoll, also in the northern part of the Park just a short walk from the Whipoorwill's roost. I didn't see that bird, though. Well, maybe I did: I saw a very streaky backed sparrow fly by me that the other birders said was the Grasshopper. They had had a good look at it before, but for me, that wasn't enough of a view to count.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Green-Winged Teal, Central Park
showing the flag

Then the next week, two fairly uncommon birds showed up at Harlem Meer. This female Green-Winged Teal spent a lot of time browsing a patch of duckweed in the southwest corner of the Meer near the little island.

The Green-Winged Teal is our smallest duck. Here's what that means:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Green-Winged Teal and Mallard, Central Park
size comparison

You see it's about half the size of the Mallard. You can almost ID it just on size.

Also on the Meer at the same time was a female American Wigeon. I had a heck of a time picking it out of the crowd of Gadwalls, even though they were all just a few feet off shore. It blended in surprisingly well.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American Wigeon, Central Park

The dark bill isn't all that striking when you're watching it swim around, and the coloring is a bit cryptic. Eventually I noticed that it was the only one never showing a white speculum, and then it became obvious.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Vesper Sparrow, Central Park
bird of the evening

Besides the Grasshopper sparrow, Central Park has hosted a couple of other uncommon sparrows. A Vesper Sparrow spent the better part of a week in the area called Locust Grove, along a woodchip path just west of the Great Lawn between the Delacorte Theater and the Pinetum. It only liked to come out when the light was dim.

Of course, a lot of non-rarities continue to move through, like the Winter Wren at the top of this post, and this very confiding Pine Warbler:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Pine Warbler, Central Park
warbler at my feet

He hopped around within a few feet of me, too busy foraging to worry about some slow monkey.

But there are signs the migration is ending, like the arrival of Juncos. They usually come right at the end.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Dark-Eyed Junco, Central Park
sign of the end times

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