Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More Fall migration photos

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American Redstart, Central Park
bold Redstart

Fall migration continues to be productive. Warblers are still coming through; I'm seeing mostly Common Yellowthroats and American Redstarts, like the charming little guy above.

There have also been some rarities, like this very cooperative Marsh Wren who spent a day at Maintenance Meadow in the Ramble.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Marsh Wren, Central Park
confiding Marsh Wren

I'm going to rant a bit now. This bird was showing quite well, popping out of the bushes along the west edge of the meadow every few minutes, and giving some fine looks. Then, one of Central Park's famous bird guides came through with his group.

Locals will know who I'm talking about when I say that he played recordings of the wren's calls for a good twenty minutes to try to get a better (or faster) look for his group. As so often, that didn't work at all--the wren went and hid the whole time. One of the onlookers was a visiting birder from England, who was boggled by the entire business. When the group went away, the wren eventually returned, but was much more skittish and less cooperative. At least it wasn't scared entirely out of the area; I've seen that happen, too.

The whole practice is abusive to to birds and inconsiderate of everyone else in the area.

Anyway. If you're visiting and want to go on a Central Park bird walk with a group, there are walks organized by the Museum of Natural History, the Audubon Society =, and the Linnean Society, which are all very good and don't engage in this kind of nonsense. Try one of them.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Breasted Chat, Central Park
Chat in a tree, for once

Returning to rarities--the Maintenance Meadow also hosted a Yellow-Breasted Chat for a couple of days. Unlike all other Chats I've seen on migration, this one liked being up in a tree instead of hiding out in the bushes.

Last weekend, a Whipoorwill roosted at the Loch in the northern part of Central Park--I'll have photos of that when I do my next post--and a Grasshopper Sparrow was seen on the Knoll (also in the north end of the Park).

More common migrants have also been showing well. I spotted this Wood Thrush, my first of the season, while taking a break from the bad birdwalk incursion (so that time wasn't a total loss).

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Wood Thrush, Central Park
first Wood Thrush of the Fall

Great Crested Flycatchers have been around and a couple were active much lower down than usual.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Crested Flycatcher, Central Park
goodness gracious!

I haven't seen too many Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks this Fall, but one posed in the sun on a fence at Tupelo Meadow at the end of a line of House Sparrows.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and House Sparrows, Central Park
just trying to blend in with the crowd

There have been a lot of Brown Thrashers around--you can hear them all over, and sometimes they come out for a look around and a nice berry.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Brown Thrasher, Central Park
Thrasher with tasty berry

Northern Flickers have been moving through in great numbers as well.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Northern Flicker, Central Park
Flicker striking a noble pose

More coming soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Connecticut Warbler!

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Connecticut Warbler, Trinity Church
Connecticut Warbler, up close and personal

I've mentioned before that I've never seen a Connecticut Warbler in a dozen or so attempts. Once, I was standing next to four other birders, who all saw one skulking in the bushes only a few feet away. The Connecticut is kind of a "nemesis bird" for me.

Monday, I took the day off from work for an appointment. It ended sooner than I expected, and when I was finishing lunch afterwards, I saw a tweet that a Connecticut Warbler had been seen in Trinity Church Cemetery, which stands at the head of Wall Street.

The Lexington Avenue subway entrance is literally right in front of the church, so I was there inside of a half-hour. I spotted birders among the ancient tombstones in the northwest corner. And there was the bird, popping out of the shrubs and flower beds occasionally. It would walk under the shrubs (and walking is one of the field marks of the Connecticut), once in a while jumping up to snatch at an insect. When it reached the edge of one planting it would take off low and fast to the next.

I watched it circle the area several time in this way. It's big eye-ring was plain to see (when the bird was in sight), as was the dull brown hood. Eventually it retreated...somewhere.

I walked around a bit. There were several other warbler species there--Black-and-White, Redstart, Black-Throated Blue, Common Yellowthroat--plus a Veery and a couple of Catbirds. Quite birdy for such a small bit of greenery.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Connecticut Warbler, Trinity Church
new bird, old headstones

The northeast part of the churchyard is blocked off from visitors--I believe they're doing some renovation--and we spotted a bird walking on the grass there--a second Connecticut, or the same one? It was rather distant from any place one could stand and watch it, though.

On a hunch, I walked out of the churchyard onto Broadway, and looked through the wrought iron fence. As I hoped, the bird worked its way closer to Broadway, away from the bird paparazzi inside the cemetery.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Connecticut Warbler, Trinity Church
putting on a show

For about a half-hour, I was the only one watching the warbler from the street. I saw people moving back to the northwest corner inside. The bird became quite confiding, coming to within perhaps eight to ten feet from the fence at times. An excellent view!

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Connecticut Warbler, Trinity Church
the blemish below the eye is probably a tick

Eventually other birders came out onto Broadway as well. They had been watching the other Connecticut--so clearly there were two--back in the northwest shrubs, and then it flew to somewhere in the closed-off area. We never had both birds in view at once, but the one I'd been watching continued to wander fairly close to Broadway, and everybody got fine views.

So now I have seen a Connecticut Warbler and I'm going to need a new nemesis bird. Of the northeastern warblers, only the quite rare Golden-Winged Warbler isn't on my Manhattan list, but that's really too rare to be a nemesis--I've never even had a chance to chase one.

The Connecticuts continued at Trinity church on Tuesday, and I'd say the odds are fair they'll be there Wednesday, so if you're in town it's worth a look in.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some Fall migration photos

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Proud young Redstart

I'm sorry I've been silent lately. It's been a tiring summer, is all. Also, there hasn't been much going on at once, so it has taken a while for the interesting things to build up to the size of a post.

Still, there's been a steady trickle of Fall migrants, like the proud young Redstart above (a first-Fall male, from the orangy bits), and the very nice male Hooded Warbler below, from Tanner's Spring a couple of weeks back.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hooded Warbler, Tanner's Spring

The resident birds have held some interest, too. I was quite surprised to see this scene in the Ramble the other day:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Grackle killing a mouse

That is a Common Grackle killing a mouse. I have never seen a Grackle stalk and kill prey before.I didn't know they even did that. This one kept chasing the mouse into the waters of the Gill--and occasionally grabbing at it with his beak--until the mouse drowned. Then the Grackle ate part of it, with some difficulty. A Grackle's beak is pretty big, but I don't think it's really suited to tearing up meat.

Other birds dined in a less violent manner.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Catbird grabbing a pokeberry

I love watching birds eat berries, don't you? Also, woodpeckers are hard at work as always.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Downy Woodpecker at work

I'll wind up with a couple of more migrants. This shy Canada Warbler was in poor light, but I think it made a nice picture:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Canada Warbler

And a Great Crested Flycatcher was hanging around Maintenance for several days, giving uncharacteristically close views.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Crested Flycatcher