Lifers denoted in bold
Remember how Max, Ryan, and I could not solve the ID of a mystery Catharus thrush in Central Park seen in the same area as a Bicknell's Thrush? We concluded our first day in Manhattan more determined than ever to find the Bicknell's while it was still in the area.
The plan was to look for the Bicknell's Thrush if it was still around in the morning then take the ferry to Governor's Island, and later in the afternoon meet up with Ryan again to get more warblers and if he wanted, to find the Bicknell's. Max and I were checking every thrush (and I was having trouble getting my camera to focus), so when we came across several other birders that claimed to hear a Bicknell's song, we joined the group to hopefully confirm this. Several of us followed the thrush around in an effort to get it to sing again and thus confirm it's id. We trailed it for a while and heard it call several times. James Muchmore was in this group, and got pictures that he would ask me what I thought about the bird. I replied: "I think we got it." Satisfied with both of us having Bicknell's Thrush as a lifer, we headed back to prepare for more adventures.
On the way down to Governor's Island, we stopped at Madison Square Park in search of Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers reported hopping around the lawn in the center. I had gotten Prothonotary the day before I left ESF, but Max still needed Prothonotary and we both needed Kentucky for life. Unfortunately, neither was in the area, but we did find a female Hooded Warbler on the lawn with several yellowthroats and many other warblers in the surrounding trees.
When we got to Governor's Island, there were not too many birds around (well, not too many birds we haven't seen in Central Park or elsewhere in NY this week). However, there were some surprises, one being a flyover Solitary Sandpiper identified by call and a Common Nighthawk which both Max and I heard, but did not see.
After lunch, Ryan met us at the entrance of the park and we headed towards The Ramble to look for the Bicknell's Thrush again, which he needed for his county list. We were checking all the thrushes we saw, as usual, when we heard the Bicknell's type song. Later we saw the bird in a tree and got a recording of the song. The bird flew past us and we alerted Deborah Allen, who was also in the area, of its presence. On the ground, it was just as cooperative and allowed us to get many pictures. Also in the area were White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrows.
We then set out for the Pinetum, an area with lots of warbler activity. Max needed Blackburnian Warbler for life and both of us needed Cape May as well. There were several Yellow and Magnolias, a Canada, and a Blackpoll. Then Ryan picked out a Cape May Warbler, which Max and I quickly got on (though it took me a minute to get it). Also in the Pinetum was an empid, which after hearing it call, we confirmed as a Willow Flycatcher. Ryan also found a Blackburnian Warbler. Moving on to the Reservoir, our next target were Bank and Cliff Swallows before Ryan had to leave. We got one of the Cliff Swallows, but not the Bank Swallow. Also, a large brown bird flew across the path that we were not able to safely identify.
The first spot we went to in Brooklyn was Prospect Park. Many of the birds we saw were similar to those we had seen in Central Park so far, with the addition of a Prairie Warbler that Max saw but I didn't, a Wood Duck in a Tree, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which we both saw, but could not get pictures of (many empids are flagged in Kings County).
The last spot in Brooklyn we went to was the entrance to Green-wood Cemetery, which has become famous for an unusual reason: parakeets. As absurd as the idea of looking for parakeets in New York sounds, it is not that farfetched. In the 1970s, a shipping crate at JFK airport containing Monk Parakeets, a native of South America, was damaged and broken giving the birds a chance at freedom. They managed to survive, and have persisted enough to be countable on the ABA Checklist (I had seen them in Florida this year as well). It didn't take us long to spot them on top of the entrance.
Back in Manhattan, Max and I took the subway all the way up to Inwood Hill Park to find one of the two Eastern Screech-Owls in the park. Ryan was giving us directions remotely to the spot (he was in class), so while we were able to locate the spot it usually hangs out in, we could not actually see the owl.
Ryan couldn't join us in Central Park this time (more on why later), so Max and I set out for the Pinetum on our own where we had a Tennessee Warbler and several Black-throated Greens. Our main destination was the North Woods area, where an Acadian Flycatcher was recently seen. Along the way we stopped at the reservoir where all the swallows were reported from and managed to get pictures of the Bank. In the Ravine, we got the Acadian, as well as another Yellow-bellied, and a Black-billed Cuckoo singing which we heard at the top. On our way out of the park, we stopped at an area of high warbler activity near the playgrounds, including several Ovenbirds, a male Cape May, and a Prairie Warbler, this time I was able to get on quickly enough to add to my state list.
The next morning, Ryan and my father met us outside the hotel we were staying at to head to Doodletown (this is why Ryan couldn't bird with us the day before). Upon getting there we immediately saw a Black-billed Cuckoo (only one we saw this week) before setting out on the trail. Heading up, we saw a Worm-eating Warbler (one of two) close to us on the trail. In the forest, we saw a female Cape May Warbler and a male Scarlet Tanager. At the dam, we went down to check for Louisiana Waterthrushes, with no luck. As we were descending the trail, we saw a Cerulean Warbler perched in a tree providing excellent looks. In total, we got two Worm-eating Warblers, three Hoodeds, and four(!) Ceruleans as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Blue-headed Vireo.
The next spot we went to was Ironwood Drive in Sterling State Forest, a known spot for both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers, as well as their hybrids. After a short hike through the shrubby envarea of a powerline cut, we heard a Blue-wing type song, but to our surprise, it came from a Golden-winged Warbler! We then saw a Blue-wing and Golden-wing (one of four at the spot) chasing each other. We also saw and heard more Blue-wings, a Prairie Warbler, a Cerulean Warbler, an Eastern Bluebird, and a Blue-winged x Golden-winged hybrid.
The last spot we went to was Croton Point Park in Westchester where Max, Ryan, and I saw several Purple Martins, Bobolinks, and Willow Flycatchers before headed back to Manhattan to drop Ryan off then back home to Long Island. In total, Max and I saw 147 species and 9 other taxa.
I originally planned to look for a Tricolored Heron at Marine Nature Study Area again after dropping Max off at the airport, and was even en route to the spot, when I got an alert about an American Golden-Plover at Lido Beach Passive Nature Area. Golden-Plovers are typically pass through New York in fall, so a spring sighting is one definitely worth chasing. Fortunately, my grandmother and I were able to change my route and after scanning a distant flock of Black-bellied Plovers, I identified what I determined to be a solid candidate for the American Golden-Plover. While I was there, a breeding plumaged Tricolored Heron flew by as well, making this a win-win situation.
Satisfied with this chase, we then went back to Nickerson in the hopes of seeing any rare terns, with no success.
To be continued...
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