Monday, November 14, 2016

Avoidance tactics

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Randall's Island
here's looking at you, kid

So I guess I'll just go on blogging about birds as if nothing's happened.

Speaking of avoidance mechanisms, I made my usual trek up to Randall's Island on the day of the NY Marathon. I live east of First Avenue, so if I don't get out of the area before 8:30am on Marathon Sunday, I'm pretty much stuck there until late afternoon unless I walk a couple of miles each way to get in and out of the area.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Song Sparrow, Randall's Island
Song Sparrow watches out

The north end of the island was pretty quiet. The first few Brants have arrived for the winter, and there were a lot of Song Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows. The Song Sparrows were pretty cooperatve.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Savannah Sparrow, Randall's Island
landscape with Savannah Sparrow

I followed a group of Savannah Sparrows north along the eastern shore. They were a bit less approachable than the Songs.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Savannah Sparrow, Randall's Island
inclined to fly

I did get a couple of decent photos of them anyway. The usual gulls were around. Mostly Ring-Billeds and mostly distant, but there was a Herring Gull on the rocks on the shore.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Herring Gull, Randall's Island
curious Herring Gull

There were a few Laughing Gulls in their winter plumage. I don't recall seeing many in the county so late in the year before, though eBird didn't blink at them. I didn't succeed in turning any of them into more unusual species.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Laughing Gulls, Randall's Island
who's laughing now?

The little freshwater wetlands across Central Road from Icahn Stadium was also quiet. There were a couple of late migrants: a Black-Throated Blue Warbler skulking around the underbrush, and a Monarch Butterfly in the flower garden just south of the marsh.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Monarch Butterfly, Randall's Island
Monarch of all et cetera

It looks like they're putting in another water feature in the wetlands area, and also they seem to have completed a bike/pedestrian path just east of the marsh, right outside the wastewater treatment plant. I look forward to seeing what's up back there on a later visit.

Not much was doing at the Little Hell Gate saltmarsh: a few Mallards and one Black Duck, a few sparrows, and along the southern path, several Golden-Crowned Kinglets very active in a tree.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Randall's Island
ready for takeoff

In the next tree sat a single tired-looking Ruby Crowned Kinglet.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Randall's Island
contemplative Kinglet

Along the River's Edge Garden )between Little Hell Gate and the Ward's Island pedestrian bridge) there were a few more Savannah Sparrows, and one Black Capped Chickadee who scolded me vigorously while feeding.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Black-Capped Chickadee, Randall's Island
hungry but talkative

The Marathon was still going when I got back to First Avenue. Up in that area, the crowd was much thinner than in my neighborhood, but there were some spectators.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; 2016 New York City Marathon, about 103rd Street
watching the race


  1. Hi Ed, as a longtime reader of your blog I thought I'd (finally) say hello and thank you for sharing your great birding experiences and photos. I'm frequently looking for birds just across the East River from Randall's Island in Astoria Park. With mostly mowed lawns and spaced, manicured trees Astoria Park doesn't provide exceptional habitat but I've still had some really nice sightings, especially during spring and fall migration. Most recently I've been enjoying near-daily hermit thrush sightings, one of my favorite birds. I've also had fun watching kinglets of both kinds, although I'm seeing fewer of them as we get further into November. Thanks again and happy birding - I always look forward to seeing your photos here!

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your comment. It's always good to get some feedback.

    It seems that wherever there is fresh water and any kind of greenery, birds will show up. I've blogged about the birds in some tiny spaces in Manhattan--even the garden at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue in midtown, which is about the size of a postage stamp, has gotten 22 species in the past year--Towhee and Swamp Sparrow were new this month. And of course, downtown there's been Yellow-Breasted Chats in the yard of Trinity Church and also on a traffic island near City Hall. It's amazing what can be found.

    Thanks again and good birding to you,