Sunrise Birding Walk – April 11th 2010

12 04 2010

Yellow-throated Warbler - Cynthia Cage

A rather quiet day early in spring passerine migration was definitely highlighted by the discovery of a Yellow-throated Warbler at Sherwood Island State Park on Sunday. After a few stops that had produced a smattering of new migrants: Pine Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler, we decided to wing it over to SISP for a quick check of the park.

Upon leaving the cars at the Pavilion Parking lot both Katie Rice and I picked up a weird song coming from one of the pines. At first the impression was something almost akin to Black and White Warbler, but it definitely was not that and after a minute or two scanning I found myself looking slap bang at a Yellow-throated Warbler. The song was not quite as usual, with no real sign of the sliding descend to the song more just a flat series of notes (but without the wheeziness of B&W) – here’s the typical song from Cornell:Yellow-throated Warbler

As Yellow-throated is probably the rarest of our regularly occurring warblers, by regular I mean I think there were two reports last year and weirdly enough one of them was found by myself and Joe Bear on a Sunrise Birding Walk which Katie was on (blast from the past report here). This was a  fantastic find for Connecticut and for Sherwood Island State Park in particular, as I think it represents the first ever park record, which is pretty amazing when you consider how many species have shown up in the park over the years (see online park checklist here).

Everyone got good looks, including a couple of teenage girls who came over to see what all the excitement was about. The two girls were disappointed  they had left their bins at home but the group were happy to loan them a pair or two and probably enjoyed sharing this moment with them as much as they did seeing the bird itself – the world needs more young birders after all and dare I say female ones particularly! Cynthia captured a few decent record shots of the bird that likely indicate that it was of the dominica subspecies thanks to the yellow lores (it was also hanging around a pine after all) that you can see in the link to her blog here

After a few minutes with the bird sallying out to flycatch and singing constantly it clammed up and seemed to disappear, so we wandered into the park trying to both relocate it and see what else was around. Although we added Chipping and Swamp Sparrows and a couple of Great Egrets, the show had definitely been stolen by that wandering warbler. You can find out more about the bird and its general range on the Cornell website.

Trip species list (heard and seen):

Mute Swan, Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch, House Finch, House Sparrow.





The Eagle has landed…

10 04 2010

Brown Thrasher - Luke Tiller

on the West Side Highway. Well almost! Out today at the mini West Side Highway park a few new additions and a couple of smart birds for the day included incredible looks at a two sub-adult Bald Eagles low heading along the Highway and then circling back south and west. It was kind of interesting to see them this early in the morning and made me wonder where on earth they had spent the night as it was cool and the sun had been up for less than half an hour. Had they stopped off on a city roof somewhere the night before? Perched in a tree along the river? Something of a mystery!

Other nice additions to the now regular loop were a Brown Thrasher, a brief sighting as it disappeared from view before the girlfriend got on it (cue one mad girlfriend – only slightly placated by the fact she spotted the eagles), an Eastern Towhee, 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and a flyover Common Loon. A cold but rewarding mornings birding – made all the better by warming coffee at Cafe Joe.

The species list thus far (38)- new birds in capitals:

Canada Goose, Brant, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, COMMON LOON, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, BALD EAGLE, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Fish Crow, Blue Jay, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, BROWN THRASHER, European Starling, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Sparrow





More Bird Comedy

10 04 2010

From the “That Mitchell and Webb Sound”.





Birds Attack

8 04 2010

It seems that unexpectedly, like many backyard birds, Pelicans seem to go for nuts too! Click here for video.





West Side Highway Birding

8 04 2010

Chipping Sparrow - Luke Tiller

So my new latest passion is going birding in this tiny little patch of greenery right off of the West Side Highway in NYC. With a week or so before I head into spring madness, trips to Colorado, NY State and North Carolina, I have decamped to my girlfriend’s flat in the city for some pre-touring schedule hangout time. Just a stones throw away from the apartment is a little sliver of greenery that has now become my temporary patch for the next few weeks. OK it’s actually a shared patch as the girlfriend is as equally obsessed with tracking down whatever feathered migrants might show up there in  the next few weeks as well.

Although the place is never likely to be inundated with birds, just the smallest welcoming habitat is proving to be a hit with exhausted migrants and we are quickly racking up a fairly decent little score of early migrant movement. Today we managed to add a couple of new species to the list including a few migrant Great Cormorants (with resplendent white breeding patches) heading up river, and a solo Field Sparrow that was making the most of a morning layover with a group of Dark-eyed Juncos.

As I said, numbers of birds overall aren’t high but each little new species adds some excitement to an early pre-work walk. Today’s list included a smattering of Junco’s, a Northern Flicker or two, a half dozen Juncos, 3 Palm Warblers, a handful of White-throats and the Field. A few pictures of the park here, here and here.

EDIT: Today’s highlights at the park: 1 Palm Warbler, 1 Eastern Towhee*, 1 Northern Cardinal*, 1 Field Sparow, 1 Savannah Sparrow*

* New species

The species list thus far (35)- new birds over last two days in capitals:

Canada Goose, Brant, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall,  Double-crested Cormorant, GREAT CORMORANT, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Fish Crow, Blue Jay, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, EASTERN TOWHEE, Chipping Sparrow, FIELD SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, NORTHERN CARDINAL, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Sparrow.