Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Count

It's that time of year again--Christmas Count season! The 116th running of the Central Park Christmas Count went off on Sunday December 20th, in unseasonably warm weather. It was fun but, a bit slow. As always, a large group of people met at the south pumphouse of the Reservoir and divided into seven teams--covering the Northeast, Northwest, Reservoir, Great Lawn, Ramble, Southeast, and Southwest areas of the Park--and, accompanied by Urban Park Rangers, attempted to count every single bird in Central Park.

It was a little slow. The Park totals were 4264 individual birds representing 55 species. That's a little sparse--two years ago in terrible sloppy weather, for example, we had 62 species and 5414 individuals--and some types of birds, like native sparrows, had very low numbers. On the other hand , there were three late warblers--Wilson's, Black-and-White, and Orange-Crowned.

The best bird in the Park, for me, was the Orange-Crowned Warbler at the top of this post. It was found by the Great lawn group during the count, next to the "Three Bears" playground at 79th and Fifth Avenue. After the collation meeting, I went to look for it, and found a number of birders watching it some small distance away, along the 79th Street Transverse just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, foraging with a couple of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets.

It was a very active little bird, hard to get my camera on, though it gave some excellent (though brief) views. The photo above is the best one I got, but if you want to see what a better and more patient photographer was able to get, you should check out this photo at Jean Shum's website. You should scroll around for other great views as well.

This year, I was in the Ramble group. It was really too large a group, over 20 people, and a big chunk of the Ramble is currently fenced off for maintenance of the paths (which doesn't seem to me actually happening, but that's another matter). Our best bird was the Great-Horned Owl who's been hanging around for almost two months now.

Near the owl's roost, the bird feeders were quite active. Here's a Chickadee coming in for a landing next to a House Finch.

So, that wraps up my posting for 2015. I hope to update this a little more regularly next year.