Little Park Big Day – Pictures Pt 2

5 10 2010

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Here are a couple more pictures from the Saturday. The thing I like about the Little Park is that it is so small the birds always tend to be close enough to snag a decent shot.

Little Park, Big Day – Pictures Pt 1

4 10 2010

Black-throated Green - Luke Tiller

Here’s some of the warbler snaps from my fun Saturday in the Little Park in Chelsea. I’m now at 76 species for the Little Park including 15 species of warbler (a female BT Blue on Sunday making it 15 on the season).

Little Park, Big Day

3 10 2010

Swainson’s Thrush – Luke Tiller

Saturday morning I found myself in the city. After a weeks worth of lousy migration weather it was almost tough to sleep such was the excitement of  getting up to see what the overnight winds might have delivered in the shape of birds to the Little Park on the Hudson.

I have to admit that having been here in the states a number of years now that I sometimes become a little blase about the common migrants (and the more you bird, the more ‘common’ birds get added to that list). What I love about having a patch is that it often makes finding of even the most prosaic of birds exciting, for example the thrill of adding Semipalmated Plover to the Allen’s Meadows list was no way undermined by having seen thousands of them in other parts of the state.

As I’ve said before, for me the thrill of birding is the thrill of the unknown. The great thing about the Little Park on the Hudson is that almost any find there is something of a thrill beyond the odd House Sparrow or Starling. Saturday morning though was something of a banner day at the park. I arrived just before sun up and realized that the park was alive with migrants. Not quite dripping with birds but nothing to be sneered at. Almost as soon as I got into the park I was on my first goody of the day, an immature White-crowned Sparrow and things just snowballed from there.

Although commonplace almost anywhere else, a latish Ovenbird was highly unexpected in a spot with barely a patch of trees, let alone an area with something of an understory. The bird’s somewhat startled impression, as it flitted out of a patch of bayberry, almost seemed to scream ‘what the heck am I doing here!’ It wasn’t alone in being the only woodland specialist skulking through the shrubbery, as almost immediately I had a Swainson’s Thrush scuttling along the edge of the hedge row, a genuinely good bird most places let alone a small patch of greenery smack bang in the middle of Chelsea.

Birds just kept coming and going through the morning, and before I knew it I had been circling the confines of that little park for about 4 hours. Having the camera with me is something of a blessing and a curse. It allows you to capture some of those birding moments for posterity but the time it takes to get shots eats into your birding time, so for me it’s a bit of a double edged sword.

Just to show how even the most common birds can cause of frisson of excitement when found out of context, three of my highlight species of the day wouldn’t cause most northeastern birders to bat an eyelid in almost any other circumstances. For me though a trio of birds that most birders probably hardly even consider migratory really made my day. Firstly the welcoming sound of a trio of Black-capped Chickadees caught my ear. These birds rarely nest in Central Park let alone nest in the tiny confines of the Little Park but here they were winging their way south through the trees (I also noted large numbers in Central Park on Sunday so it must be a fairly big movement year for them). The other two highlights a couple of wandering woodpeckers: first a Red-bellied and then even more unexpectedly, a little Downy. Usually these would have been glossed over on the way to finding better birds, but here in the context of the Little Park it gave them a new meaning and gave me a new appreciation of them (not that I don’t love Chickadees anyway – I mean who doesn’t!)

All in all a pretty exciting day in the park, with highlights being: 9 species of warbler (2 Nashvilles probably would have been the best species but for the conspicuously out of place Ovenbird), 3 White-crowned Sparrows, 1 Swainson’s Thrush and 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Trip List (asterisk denotes new park species – notes on numbers where I can be bothered):

Canada Goose, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey (2)*, Peregrine Falcon (1), 3 x Gull Species (Ring-billeds back in force), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (1)*, Northern Flicker (12), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1), Downy Woodpecker (1)*, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (3)*, Red-breasted Nuthatch (1)*, House Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet (4)*, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (6), Swainson’s Thrush (1)*, American Robin, Gray Catbird (20+), Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher (2)*, European Starling, Nashville Warbler (2)*, Northern Parula (4), Magnolia Warbler (3), Myrtle Warbler (3), Black-throated Green Warbler (1)*, Blackpoll Warbler (1), Palm Warbler (8), Ovenbird (1)*, Common Yellowthroat (15+), Scarlet tanager (3)*, Chipping Sparrow (2), Savannah Sparrow (2), Song Sparrow (10+), White-throated Sparrow (10+), White-crowned Sparrow (3)*, Dark-eyed Junco (4), House Sparrow.

NYC birding – beyond Central Park!

24 09 2010

Palm Warbler - Luke Tiller

Seems like I am not the only person getting some enjoyment birding NYC outside of the confines of Central Park. Check out 10000 birds (here) for adventures in Bryant Park – a whole host of incredible and fun shots. Hopefully I’ll be back at the little park this weekend for more fun and more pictures. I wonder what would happen if I set up hawkwatching there?

Little Park Birding – wot no warblers!

19 09 2010

Peregrine Falcon - Luke Tiller

Not much sign of migration at the little park this morning just a couple of Blackpolls and 2 Yellow Warblers along with the Common Yellowthroats. Still can’t complain as the Blackpoll is new for the park and a chance scan of the skies picked up a couple of Peregrine Falcons which I assume must be the local birds. Anyway I managed at least one shot I was vaguely happy with. OK time to get back to work on presentations for this week.

Little Park Birding – The Maggie and the Fly

14 09 2010

Magnolia Warbler and fly - Luke Tiller

Sunday morning showed how important even the littlest patches of greenery are in the city. Birding with the infamous 😉 birdspot we had a fun morning out tracking down these little feathered gems right in the heart of the city accompanied by the roar of Helicopters and West Side Highway Traffic. Amongst the good number of migrants was this little Magnolia Warbler that was looking for bugs on the lawn of one of the park piers.

The bird was so intent on getting some food after a long nights flying it seemed to just totally ignore me. They’ve done a lovely job with this park, so although it is small it has a few nice specimen trees, some bayberry (Yellow-rumped heaven!) a little ‘natural’ section (essentially a mix of native plants and some weeds!) and some nice decorative plantings.

The birds seemed happy enough to as they were all sticking around, which allowed me to come back later in the day with the camera (apart from the flycatcher which seemed to have decided to move on). Here’s the google map of the park (pre work completion obviously!) doesn’t look like much, but for these birds a safe haven right slap bang in the heart of NYC.

Trip List: Warblers: Tennessee (1), Northern Parula (1), Yellow (4), Black & White (1), N.Waterthrush (2), Palm (6 – western subspecies types), Common Yellowthroat (17), Magnolia (1). Others: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (1*), Bald Eagle, House Wren, Double-crested Cormorant, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird (1), Baltimore Oriole (1), Laughing Gull, MODO’s, 3 regular gull species, Cedar Waxwing, Gray Catbird (4), Northern Mockingbird (3), 3 introduced species. 1 American Kestrel.

*Well seen down to 15 feet and field marks including heavy breast streaking, yellow wash to throat and eyering, smallish bill, all orange lower mandible, slightly crested shape of large head, primary projection that seemed relatively long to me (compared to Least) and narrow looking tail. Bugger wouldn’t wait for me to go back to the apartment to get the camera though would he!

Little Park Birding

12 09 2010

Tennessee Warbler - Luke Tiller

Here’s the best of today’s rarities from the little park along the West Side Highway. Lots of intrigued looks from the locals as I hung out there for about 20 minutes waiting while this little bugger popped out. Eight species of warbler on the day: Palm, Tennessee, Northern Parula, Black & White, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia, Yellow and Northern Waterthrush. Other goodies included Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (maybe more about that in another post) and Bald Eagle. It’s amazing how productive this teeny tiny park along the Hudson is. Plus it fits into my joy of finding birds in the most unlikely of urban and suburban settings. The Yellow-bellied was just behind the carousel you can see in this NY Times article (here) and photo of the park (here).