Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas Count and New Year's Birding

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Blue Heron, Central Park
moody heron portrait

The 117th Annual Central Park Christmas Bird Count went off on December 18th. I attached myself to the group doing the southeast park of the park. Led by Ranger Wu from the Parks Department and Lynn Herzog of the Linnean Society, we set off from 72nd Street near Bethesda Fountain, down the Mall to the Pond and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, then up to the Zoo and vicinity before retiring to the Armory for soup and the collation of the counts of the various groups covering the park.

It was a foggy morning, but not too unpleasant, and fairly birdy. We had Juncos on the Mall, and both Sharp-Shinned and Cooper's Hawks. The Hallett Sanctuary was full of raccoons--no, I mean really full of raccoons, like a couple of dozen sleeping in the trees--but there were Ruby-Crowned Kinglets along the Pond shore, and then waterfowl.

Did I mention it was foggy? See the Great Blue Heron above for proof. Not great for photography, alas, unless you like this kind of low-contrast atmospheric portrait.

Anyway, probably the best bird was a Northern Pintail duck who'd been hanging around teh Pond for some weeks:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Northern Pintail, Central Park
cryptic Pintail

and which we took for a female. Now, this duck looked pretty mcuh like that at least through Christmas, but on New Year's Eve, Elena and I went down to the Pond to see it again:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Northern Pintail, Central Park
what a difference a week makes

That's quite a change! Our Pintail is revealed as a handsome young male.

There was also a drake Green-Winged Teal there...and both were still there the next day to help get my 2017 list off to a good start.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Green-Winged Teal, Central Park
getting a taste of city life

Both these ducks have been thoroughly corrupted by city life, and were in the scrum begging for food from the people who feed ducks. It's a living.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Green-Winged Teal, Central Park
streeeetch that wing!

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