Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Birds still coming in

Over the last week or so, the Fall migration has brought me a couple of new birds for the year. On the 26th, there were a flock of Pine Siskins in the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Pine Siskin, Central Park
Siskin irruption!

Usually, Pine Siskins stay well to the north, but in some years when the pine cone crop is scarce, they irrupt into the US to find food. There have been a lot of Siskin sightings this Fall. I had missed them until now, and they became my 185th Manhattan species of the year.

While I was in the Park that day, I spent a pleasant hour at Belvedere Castle looking for migrating raptors. I didn't have much luck with the migrants, but I did watch a local resident Kestrel hunting over the Great Lawn. Eventually it roosted in a tree top, and a bold Blue Jay made it known that he found the Kestrel's presence unsatisfactory.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Kestrel vs. Jay
off with you, I say!

The Kestrel was not too impressed.

During the week I saw my first brown creeper of the autumn in the Park, bathing at the east end of Turtle Pond.  It was the most birdlike I've ever seen a Creeper--they usually act more like some kind of acrobatic mouse.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Brown Creeper, Central Park
fluffing dry

Last Sunday was the NY Marathon. I live east of First Avenue, so usually the Marathon traps me at home all day. This year, I got moving early to take a bus north before they closed the streets, and went over to Randall's Island.

I once again failed to see a Nelson's Sparrow in the salt marsh area at the northern tip of the island, although an older gentleman there told me he had seen one. Well, they're notoriously hard to spot. I gave up after an hour and a half and went off to see what else was on the island.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Brant, Randall's Island
sign of winter

There were a lot of Brant in the East River, a sure sign of impending winter. I noticed two very small brownish ducks swimming with them. Green-Winged Teal! (Species 186 for the year in New York County.)

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Brant and Green-Winged Teal, Randall's Island
our smallest duck

Down in the Hell Gate Inlet salt marsh there were Yellow-Rumped warblers, and a very pale bird with streaks on the sides of the breast that was either a very pale Yellow-Rumped, or maybe a Blackpoll.

Along the "Water's Edge Garden" on the east shore of the island, Palm Warblers frolicked in the flower beds. Then I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk flying hard and low across the grounds of the mental health center. He was carrying a squirrel, which he carried up into a tree. There was a dense chain-link fence between us, but I got a couple of decent photos.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Red-Tailed Hawk with squirrel
hawk and dinner

I hear there are Green-Winged Teal on the Central Park Reservoir, and someone saw a Woodcock in Strawberry Fields the other day. There was a report of a Varied Thrush in Madison Square Park as well, but the reporter wasn't sure of the ID and as far as I know the bird was not refound. among more common but still very nice birds, there are Kinglets all over the place. So it's still quite birdy out there.

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