Peak Migration Now: Mid-May 2019
Updated: Feb 28
8 May 2019 - Peak of Spring Migration
Bird Notes: No mincing words here - from 7 May through 17 May is the peak time of migration. Weather looks good except for Sunday (Mother's Day), so check the web site to see if we have cancelled before you set out that morning (look at the top of the main landing page of this web site). Also, Sandra Critelli is having lots lots of birds, lots of fun and relatively small (10-15 people) groups in the evening - try a 6pm evening walk on Tuesdays or Thursdays - only $10.
This week we learned of the death of Drew Stadlin, a young man in his late 20s who started birding with us in spring 2017. I wish there were words to heal the sadness and loss that his wife, and his parents and two sisters must be dealing with. We can say that Drew was much fun to be with, and we will all be with him in time. We remember him in life - here is a something from the New York Times about Drew: https://tinyurl.com/yafjdg5y
With Historical Notes, we present an early May 1982 article about birding Central Park by Donald Knowler who was a United Nations correspondent that year. In his free time he took up birding and visited Central Park often, doing what we would call a "Big Year." Knowler wrote a book on his experience of NYC and Birding Central Park: The Falconer of Central Park. In the excerpt below, you will read references to Lambert Pohner, who figures prominently in Knowler's account of Central Park in 1982. The second historical article is from the New York Times (July 1984) and describes Mr. Pohner's work (along with Sarah Elliott) on the butterflies of Central Park.
adult male Blue Grosbeak in Central Park on 6 May by Deborah Allen
Good! Here are the bird walks for Mid-May 2019
All Bird Walks in Central Park - $10
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
1. Thursday, 9 May at 9am - meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond (78th st. Mid-Park)
2. Thursday, 9 May at 6pm - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park (Sandra Critelli)
3. Friday, 10 May at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)
4.***Saturday, 11 May at 7:30am/9:30am - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park 5.***Sunday, 12 May at 7:30am/9:30am - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park
6.***Monday, 13 May at 8am/9:00am - Imagine Mosaic at STRAWBERRY FIELDS (72nd st)
7. Tuesday, 14 May at 6pm - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park (Sandra Critelli)
*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person. So you get two for one. OR you can do either the early walk or the second walk for $10/person.
Any questions send them our way: email@example.com or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
Black-throated Blue Warbler by Deborah Allen in the Ramble on 6 May 2019
The fine print: On Saturdays and Sundays, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!. On Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue - walk down the steps and walk straight ahead for the far side. If worried, ask someone to direct you to the men's restroom - we meet 10 meters from that location. On Mondays we are at Strawberry Fields - meet at the Imagine Mosaic - that is approx. 72nd street about 40 meters inside the park from Central Park West. On Thursdays we meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond - for all of these meeting locations check this web site - there is a full page devoted to meeting locations! Evening walks (Tuesday and Thursday nights from 23 April through and including Thursday, 16 May) meet at 6pm at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. These evening walks are led by Sandra Critelli.
Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient! If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk! We end all our walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.
Veery by Deborah Allen on 5 May 2019 in our backyard in the Bronx
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Thursday, 2 May (Dock on Turtle Pond at 9:00am): Sad to say, as I write this (Wed. 8 May), I remember we had a good day, but I don't remember what we saw! Worse, I had a school group in the afternoon, so by the time I got home, I wanted to have dinner and go to sleep (7pm). Apologies...
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Thursday, 2 May:
None - we were too tired to do one...
Friday, 3 May (Conservatory Garden at 9:00am) - This was the first time I can recall seeing three Cerulean Warblers on one walk. We had heard there was one near the Blockhouse, so I played the tape there (west side of Blockhouse) and immediately had a male Cerulean fly into a tree opposite us - everyone had great looks. I managed to bring it into a small, dense cherry tree next to us - but we could not get a better look - and it flew back to the woods. Continuing on, we had another Cerulean on the east side of the Blockhouse, and then further down the hill, Gilian Henry called our attention to a probable third Cerulean. All told, 19 warbler species today...possibly the best day of spring birding to date.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 3 May: http://tiny.cc/qd4d6y
Saturday, 4 May (Boathouse Restaurant Cafe at 7:30am/9:30am) - I remember a forecast for today of cloudy, cool with a passing shower...however the light rain lasted all morning but it was indeed very minor and annoying...somewhat like Bob. But for those who prevailed we had three if not four Cuckoos as the first birds of the day, all circling over our heads at Balancing Rock, up the hill from the Boathouse. Each came into the cuckoo calls from my speaker - and it was fun to see them circling at once: at least two Yellow-billed Cuckoos and one Black-billed Cuckoo. For the day, 19 warbler species though the two male Hooded Warblers were seen before the walk in the area of the Swampy Pin Oaks and Warbler Rock.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 4 May: https://tinyurl.com/y3ym8tsm
Sunday, 5 May (Boathouse 7:30am/9:30am) - Yikes! Rain, rain and more rain. Yet 13 people showed up for the walks and saw 12 warbler species. We had nice Scarlet Tanagers at Humming Tombstone but were otherwise soaking wet.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 5 May: https://tinyurl.com/y432m5cy
Monday, 6 May (Strawberry Fields at 8am/9am) - we had a lot of birds/species today including a very cooperative young male Summer Tanager that perched just above us at Strawberry Fields; and Indigo Bunting here and there...a possible female Yellow-throated Warbler that may have been a female Blackburnian Warbler at the Upper Lobe...and nice Hooded Warbler male (to conclude the bird walk) at the Maintenance Field.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Monday, 6 May:
None - we were too tired to do one...
Tuesday, 7 May (Dock on Turtle Pond at 7:30am and again at 9:30am): we added today's walk because we believed this morning would be the best day of spring for birds. Monday was exceptional even with overnite (Sunday into Mon) rain. Night migration from Monday night into Tuesday morning was strong - so the radar showed. The problem was the birds passed over us..yes new birds arrived - but not in any significant number. Highlights included two Blackburnian Warblers at the base of Summit Rock; two Cape Mays on the north side of Azalea Pond...20 warbler species overall between our two walks and Deborah's private walk.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Tuesday, 7 May: https://tinyurl.com/y5lvxhy6
Wine Cap Stropharia Fungus in Central Park (Ramble) on 5 May 2019 by Sandra Critelli / Stropharia rugosoannulata
The Falconer of Central Park (1984; pages 60-65)
Donald Knowler: http://donaldknowler.com/newsite/about/
Early May 1982
A popular out-of-town birding trip during the spring is a weekend journey to the Delmarva Peninsula, where birds rare in the park are easier to see. Prothonotary warblers are common in a swamp in Whaleysville, Maryland, and another rare bird for the park, the yellow-throated warbler, is found in nearby Mitford State Park. I joined one of those trips in May with a group of other park birders. We drove over a thousand miles in three days. The sight of the warblers was worth it, but we could have stayed at home. The two species were spotted in Central Park during the same weekend and I missed them for my park list. The first week of May had brought westerly and northwesterly winds, raising hopes of a wave day when the wind finally changed direction to the south. A busy workday kept me in the canyons of the city all day on May 7, but an uncanny feeling told me I should really be in the park. I did not have time to listen to a weather report to determine which way the wind was blowing, but every time I looked skyward blue jays were strung out across the sky, hundreds of them, in undulating height from the south. Lunch-hour in Times Square-above the traffic drone and the honking of horns came the sound of a man drawing attention to a topless bar: "Lovely dames, no cover, check 'em out." And high above the lovely ladies with no cover and their hustler came the call of the laughing gull. In the novelty shops on Times Square it is possible to buy a little plastic laughing man who, when you pull a cord, makes the same maniacal, boisterous sound of the gulls. I thought the gulls were laughing at me, caught amid all those people, the porn cinemas, the bag ladies, junkies, prostitutes, pimps, and the smell of urine rising from the entrances of the Times Square subway station. Passing the United Nations building a little later I saw the flags of the UN's 157 member states fluttering madly to the north side of their poles, indicating a southerly wind. It was time to call a halt to my business day and head for the park. I jumped on a subway train at Grand Central and counted the stops-Fifty-first, Fifty-ninth, Sixty-eighth and freedom from the crushed and stale air underworld at Seventy-seventh. Immediately upon entering the park, it was obvious it was a wave day. Bird song was everywhere and in twenty paces I picked up two new species for the year; another ground-feeding warbler, an ovenbird, and a Swainson's thrush. My list for the year had stood at eighty-eight species, and in the next hour I would see eleven more. One of the birders who had been in the park since early morning counted ninety species; and when a group of bird watchers compared notes at the end of the day, they determined there were at least one hundred different kinds of birds. Ovenbirds and five species of thrushes littered the Ramble, and northern waterthrushes left their favored wet feeding areas for the woods; there was simply no room for them at the crowded lake margins. In all, thirty species of warblers were counted during the day but the highlight for me was a large and dramatic finch, the rose-breasted grosbeak, in a willow overlooking an area of shallow water tucked between the Point and the Ramble, which is known as the Point Lobe. The wave was over in twenty-four hours but there was still plenty to see. The action had switched from the Ramble to the Turkey oaks at the reservoir. The oaks were in bloom, attracting insects, which in turn drew the warblers. And where there was a concentration of small birds I was sure to find a kestrel. On a high poplar, towering above the oaks, I saw one of the predators before it dropped on half-folded wings to close the day on a warbler. Flickers had started to excavate nesting holes in the dead limbs of trees when Lambert and Sarah marshaled the birders for the second walk of the year. Sarah, now wearing a white headscarf wrapped in the form of a turban, had all the magnetism of a snake charmer when she went through her dance routine. A mesmerized cyclist passing on the east side circular road ran into the curb and fell off his machine. One of the birders gave the cyclist a tissue to wipe blood from his knee as Sarah, a former schoolteacher, shouted to Lambert: "OK, move 'em out." The snake of birders only moved ten yards, however. Lambert had seen a variety of birds coming to drink at a spring near the car park, and for the next half hour the birders lined the car park fence to observe a blue jay, a purple finch, three species of warblers, and a robin take a bath. "What's that black and white warbler?" said a newcomer to birding who was learning fast. "Oh, that's a black-and white warbler," said Lambert by way of explanation. I had passed my first target of one hundred birds and now had to concentrate on seeing some rarities if I were to finally reach one hundred and fifty. Before the bird walk had started, Lambert said a rare Kentucky warbler had been seen in previous days in low bushes on the west side of the park, and I left the bird tour to hunt for it. A bird will often remain in one location for a few days if there is a good food supply, and I soon found the Kentucky warbler - the only one seen in the park that spring - hopping in a bed of daffodils. My good fortune continued the next day when I came across the most interesting and spectacular bird I would see all year. Chasing a calling Northern oriole through a clump of flowering chestnut trees, I gave up when the bird moved into another area of the park. In unfamiliar territory, I headed for the nearest path to regain my bearings and spotted what I thought was the biggest bumblebee I had ever hole and the female fought a last-ditch stand to win it back. The female attacked a starling in the uppermost branches of a birch, and the two birds locked together in combat. So intense was the fight that the flicker and starling fell fifty feet, the golden color of the flicker's underwings blurring with the starling's dark blue plumage. The interlocked birds hit a branch and then thudded against the ground. The flicker splayed out her wings, and I thought she was injured; but she continued to attack the starling in the tall grass before they broke apart, flew back into the tree and started the fight again. The male flicker, making a variety of croaking and chirping sounds, egged on his mate and then dive-bombed another starling, pecking at the back of its head. Four times the female flicker and starling crashed to the ground, but it was the flicker who was sustaining injury, blood matted in her feathers. It appeared the flicker's long bill, although good for drilling trees, was not capable of dealing a deadly blow. The starling was far more agile and, with compact beak, he wounded the flicker when he chose to strike back. An unwritten law in bird watching forbids the birder to interfere with the course of nature. Birders are supposed to be impartial observers, but I was unabashedly biased toward the flickers. A small rock was close at hand, and I hurled it at the starling, missing the bird. Without remorse, I did this a few times but only succeeded in giving the flicker a scare with a misplaced shot. Now the starling went on the offensive against the flicker, and I reached for another rock. As I bent down, I caught sight of an elderly couple out for a stroll. "Shame on you," said the man taking his wife by the arm. "I'm going to call a ranger."
Black-throated Green Warbler on 6 May in the Ramble (Central Park) by Deborah Allen
A BUTTERFLY AFICIONADO STALKS THE SNOUT
By Sara Rimer JULY 30, 1984 Lambert Pohner has seen the snout. The small butterfly, named for what looks like a long, skinny nose protruding from its head, is rare in New York City, and urban butterfly watchers speak of it reverently as ''the legendary snout.'' Mr. Pohner says he has sighted eight snouts so far this summer, all in Central Park. ''This is the summer of the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who has seen more than 40 summers come and go in the park during the years he has monitored the wildlife there. In summers past, he said, he considered himself lucky if he saw a single snout. The nature lovers of Central Park form their own society, and almost everyone knows of Mr. Pohner's obsession with the snout. ''He was always going on about the legendary snout butterfly,'' said Donald Knowler, a British naturalist and journalist, recalling the early days of his friendship with the man he calls ''the sage of Central Park.'' ''He'd phone me up and say, 'Hey, we had the snout today!' '' Some people, particularly those who collect butterflies, can hardly conceal their envy. ''I've looked five years for the snout,'' said Jeff Ingraham, who helps prepare exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History and would like to add the snout to his extensive personal collection. ''Of 181 species in New York State,'' Mr. Ingraham said, ''this is the most difficult to get.'' ''He lusts after the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who shuns the collector's net and can hardly bear the thought of a captive butterfly. Mr. Pohner saw his first butterfly of the year - a mourning cloak - at midday on April 3 in the Ramble. The start of the butterfly season, however, is always a bittersweet time for the 57-year-old Mr. Pohner, for by inclination he is a bird man. His season is winter, when as many as 19 species of ducks can be observed upon the waters of the Reservoir. But in the summer, many of the birds flee Central Park, driven away by the heat and crowds. Even Mr. Pohner's characteristic effervescence is diminished by the humidity. ''I'd really like to be living next to a glacier in the summer,'' he said the other day, hiding from the sun under his trademark bush hat and a long- sleeved shirt as he sipped his morning coffee beside the Lake. Yet unlike most of his fellow birders, who abandon Central Park in the summer for Maine and Canada and other cool places where the birds go, Mr. Pohner remains faithful to his 800-acre urban territory. ''I took a trip to Maine,'' he said. ''It's not my country.''
Any Butterfly 'Is a Prize' Butterflies, he says, add enchantment to summer: ''Every year I look forward to the butterflies coming back. Summer is butterflies.'' It is not easy being a butterfly person, as Mr. Pohner calls himself, in Central Park. ''Central Park is like a desert for butterflies,'' he said. ''Anything you see in Central Park is a prize.'' In the last five years, he says, he has sighted 27 species of butterflies in the park, including the often-seen tiger swallowtail and cabbage white, as well as the harder-to-find spicebush swallowtail and, of course, the legendary snout. For skeptics, he has a butterfly album containing his own color photographs. With his friend Sarah Elliott, he has published a small pamphlet, ''Butterflies of Central Park.''
Seeking the Snout Mr. Pohner, who works part time in a family business on Staten Island, spends most of his time in Central Park. Weather permitting, he looks for butterflies almost daily. The sun was shining the other morning, and after he finished his coffee, he headed for the Ramble - a prime butterfly spot. He was accompanied by Edna Thompson, who is a retired nurse, and Mr. Knowler. Mrs. Thompson, a frequent companion of Mr. Pohner on his walks, had seen the snout five times. But Mr. Knowler, after spending the last two summers in Central Park researching his recently published book, ''The Falconer of Central Park,'' in which Mr. Pohner is the hero, had begun to despair of ever seeing the snout. It did not look as if this would be his day either. As the noon hour came and went, Mr. Pohner and his friends had seen the usual scores of cabbage whites and the occasional tiger swallowtails and question marks. Beside Belvedere Lake, they had seen two alfalfas alight on dandelions. Walking from the lake toward Shakespeare Garden, they had run into Mr. Ingraham, the collector. Mr. Ingraham, as usual, had not seen the snout.
A Joyful Yelp ''It's always the same,'' Mr. Knowler said. ''When you come looking for butterflies, they're not here.'' The group paused for a rest in the garden, among the day lilies and hydrangeas. It was there, with his companions hot and hungry and discouraged, that Mr. Pohner suddenly let out a joyful yelp: ''Snout! Snout!'' And there it was, fluttering about a young hackberry tree, a delicate creature with white spots on its black wingtips. As promised, its long mouth parts protruded, suggesting a snout. ''It looks like the Concorde,'' Mrs. Thompson observed. Mr. Knowler, enthralled, gazed at the butterfly through his binoculars. ''It made my day - seeing the snout,'' he would say later. Mr. Pohner, who said he did not care if passers-by thought he was crazy, chanted the snout's proper name: ''Libytheana bachmannii! Libytheana bachmannii!'' The snout hovered nearby for several minutes and then was gone. Their spirits restored, the trio headed for a celebratory snack at the Lake. Mr. Pohner found this most recent snout sighting thrilling, but hardly incredible. ''People say there are no butterflies in Central Park,'' he said. ''They just don't open their eyes.''
Joel Goldman found this fungus in Central Park on Monday, 6 May 2019. This photograph was taken on 21 May 2011:
Golden Ear Jelly Mushroom Tremella aurania