Sunday Birding in Central Park in Summer at 7:30am/9:30am for $10
Updated: Feb 28
17 July 2019
Bird Notes: This coming Sunday, 21 July, we continue our summer schedule of Sunday bird walks at 7:30am/9:30am. Hot weather (mid-90s F) is forecast for the weekend - but we will be there at the Boathouse (shaded) on time, cool and ready to go. We are still planning Eastern Screech-owl walks at dusk in August at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) and Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan).
This weekend is shaping up to be the first one of the summer with 90F+ temperatures. That is perfect for morning birds and butterflies. Indeed, we will be searching diligently for the Snout Butterfly (photo below), a summer specialty of Central Park. See Historical Article #2 below for more info.
In this week's Historical Notes, we provide summer reading for birders interested in escaping the heat of NYC: (1) a 1772 article on the introduction of the Lobster to NYC; (2) a 30 July 1984 NY Times piece on stalking the Snout Butterfly in Central Park; (3-4) two notes on the rarity of the Black Skimmer in NYC: 1874 in the Rockaways (Brooklyn) and 1924 in the Bronx; (5) an "early" Purple Sandpiper on Long Island on 28 July 1925; (6) an August 2012 Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Jamaica Bay (Brooklyn); and finally, (7) a 10 July 1881 story about fishing for Bluefish and Blue Sharks on Long Island.
American Snout Butterfly, Laupot Bridge, Sunday 7 July 2019 by Deborah Allen
Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late July
All July Walks in Central Park @ $10/person
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
1.***Sunday, 21 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
2.***Sunday, 28 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Dr. (Central Park)
*** 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)
Adult Barn Swallow at Nest in Central Park, The Reservoir, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen
The fine print: On Sundays through November, 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! Our Fri/Sat/Mon walks will resume in early to mid-August.
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 Central Park 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.
Migrant Male Northern Parula, Maintenance Field, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Sunday, 14 July (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - somewhere along the way of writing this, our web site decided to delete our observations...Oh well. So we summarize again!
The Wood Thrushes we have been following successfully fledged young from their nest at the northwest corner of the Ramble (see Deborah's cover photo at top). Karen Evans, Peter Haskell and Tom Ahlf saw the young in the nest on Wednesday (10 July), and this past Sunday we could only find adults low in the shrubs in the same area - likely keeping an eye on young Wood Thrushes. (As an aside we have Blue Jays nesting in our yard in the Bronx...and when the young fledged on Wednesday, 17 July, they both ended up on the ground with at least one adult within a few feet all day.) Good news this past Sunday in Central Park came also in the form of several Northern Flickers in the Ramble - young and adults from a nest. We found a young Downy Woodpecker (see Deborah's photo below) - a recent fledge from a Central Park nest. And we also found another Northern Parula migrant, this one a male hatched in spring 2018 somewhere north of us...
Remember! The month of July is the nadir of bird observation in Central Park. But, if you come to the Sunday walks in July with reasonable expectations, they are likely to be met.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 14 July: https://tinyurl.com/y46qg5dj
Juvenile Downy Woodpecker from a Central Park nest, Warbler Rock, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen
LOBSTERS (1772 - NYC)
Here is another item that is of interest. While speaking of New York, and the oysters found there, Benjamin Franklin goes on (1772): "LOBSTERS are likewise plentifully caught hereabouts, pickled much in the same way as oysters, and sent to several places. I was told of a remarkable circumstance about these lobsters, and I have afterwards frequently heard it mentioned. The coast of New York had already European inhabitants for a considerable time, yet no lobsters were to be met with on that coast; and though the people fished ever so often, they could never find any signs of lobsters being in this part of the sea; they were, therefore, continually brought in great well-boats from New England, where they are plentiful; but it happened that one of these well-boats broke in pieces at Hellgate, about ten English miles from New York, and all the lobsters in it got off. Since that time they have so multiplied in this part of the sea, that they are now caught in the greatest abundance." Wm. H. BREWER.
A BUTTERFLY AFICIONADO STALKS THE SNOUT
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.''
Black Skimmers at Nickerson Beach, Long Island on 1 August 2009
BLACK SKIMMER Rhyncops nigra  - a pair of fine adult specimens were shot by a gunner at Rockaway, July 26, 1876, and presented to me. These with two others observed flying over the bay, September 8, 1876, and one young bird procured in Fulton Market, are the only specimens that have been noted in a number of years, and yet Mr. Geo. N. Lawrence informs me that twenty-five years ago the Skimmers were very numerous on the south side of Long Island, and particularly in the neighborhood of Rockaway.
Black Skimmer and Golden Plover in Bronx County. On September 14, 1924, we noted a Black Skimmer flying north, off Hunt Point. Approaching us from the direction of "Hell-Gate," it hovered for a moment, and alighted on a mud-flat, not thirty yards distant, in company with a large number of Gulls. After taking wing, it flew by, and we were at once impressed by the remarkably long slender wings, the forked-tail over the water. None of us had ever seen the species before in life, but we were able to name it before referring to a text-book. Moreover, this is not a bird likely to be confused with any other North American species. Our friend, Mr. J. T. Nichols, informs us that a "northward invasion" was under-way, this summer, the birds being recorded more freely in Long Island waters, than since 1898, when another such movement took place. He attributed the birds' presence "inland" to the storms which had been sweeping the coast line. On the same date the writers met with a couple of Golden Plovers, on a nearby stretch of burned meadow. They were approached within seven or eight yards and were watched on the ground for over a quarter of an hour. A decidedly yellowish tinge covered the top of the head and the middle of the back. The call-note was heard at regular intervals. When the birds finally flew, we were careful to note the gray axillars which at once distinguish this species from the Black-bellied Plover. It is perhaps only proper to add that the writers have been long familiar with the Black-bellied Plover in life. J. and R. Kuerzi and P. Kesski, New York City.
Purple Sandpiper on Long Island in Summer. On July 28, 1925, I collected a female Sandpiper at Gardiner's Point, Long Island, which Mr. Griscom of the American Museum of Natural History has identified as an adult of this species, moulting into winter plumage. While the bird could apparently fly well, the primaries were reduced to six on the left wing and two only on the right wing, one of which was obviously deformed and abnormally shaped. There is no previous summer record of this rare winter visitant.
RALPH ELLIS, JR., Jericho, Long Island.
Purple Sandpiper at Barnegat Lighthouse (NJ) in winter 2017
Loggerhead Sea Turtle: 29 August 2012 [Brooklyn, New York City]: Kaheem Evans was fishing in Jamaica Bay off the Gateway National Recreation Area's Canarsie Pier when he hooked and landed a loggerhead turtle. The immature sea turtle was about two feet long and had a silver tag on its front flipper indicating that it had been tagged and released by the National Park Service in Florida. Kaheem contacted the Riverhead Foundation, a marine mammal and sea turtle rescue organization; they came and rescued the sea turtle for rehabilitation and a return to the bay. Bill Hutchinson
[Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) are sea turtles found in temperate seas worldwide and are probably the most abundant species of sea turtle found in the coastal waters of North America. The northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead turtles has been designated as threatened by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The major threat to their population is incidental by-catch capture in commercial fishing gear. Growing to three feet long and 300 pounds, they feed on hard-shelled mollusks such as conch and whelk. We have knobbed as well as channeled whelk in our New York Bight coastal waters. Tom Lake.]
BLUEFISHING AT LONG BRANCH [Long Island]
New York, July 10th .
You like to hear of your subscribers having a day of real genuine sport, but it occurred to me your readers would like as well to know where they can find just such a place and have just such a time as I have mentioned, within fifty miles of New York.
On last Friday I received a note from my old friend, Arthur L. S., stating: "Buy a bass rod, reel and line, and come with me to Long Branch [Long Island]. I can give you the best sport you ever had." Knowing so well that Arthur knew what sport was, I proceeded to Abbey & Imbrie's, on Maiden Lane, procured what he had written me, and at 3:30 p.m., I was on the train bound for Long Branch with Arthur. Thence we drove to Seabright, engaged Jack, "the best fisherman on the water," bought a bushel of moss bunkers of doubtful odor, and with the thermometer at 90 degs., we went over to the beach.
Moss Bunker school (August 1990) Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx
Our boat was safely launched through the breakers, sail was raised, and a light breeze carried us out five miles from shore. Our anchor was out, and then the work commenced. Jack began to chop our odoriferous moss bunkers and to throw the pieces overboard, first on one side of the boat and then on the other, a process which is called "charming." We sat under the boiling sun for five minutes, with twenty yards of line floating away with the tide, and, at the end of the line, to which was attached a foot or so of wire, a large hook baited with a piece of moss bunker. I saw Arthur's rod bend almost to the water. Turning to me he said, "John, I believe I have got a whale." The fish ran straight away, reached the end of the line up in the air, and jumped and shook his head, but his efforts failed; and as he was being dragged to the side of the boat with the reel he struggled in almost every conceivable way. I had forgotten all about my hook, but just then my rod commenced to leave me as though I had thrown the line looped over the smokestack of an engine. Having braced the end of my rod under my seat, I tugged away, when Arthur said, "Give him line or he will break your rod." He took the line and away they went, until at last he was checked, and, as he was being pulled up slowly to the side of the boat, I could see him swimming around and around in the water. After he was landed, I realized how very tired I was. The fellow weighed ten pounds.
When we had caught about twenty-five, all over six pounds, Jack said: "You will catch no more to-day; the blue sharks are around us." Sure enough, those big fellows, eight to ten feet long, were swimming about our boat, and occasionally they would make a dive for one of our large pieces of moss bunkers. It was not a pleasant sight, and because I stated that no man-eaters came in these waters, my companions attacked me with great ferocity and suggested that I jump overboard and try it; not, however, caring to prove my statement, I refrained. Still the fish did bite, and we landed forty-two, or, as Jack said, "about three hundred weight." Arthur caught an eight pound bonito, and at last hooked a shark. The struggle was terrible to me. Again it seemed as though his rod must go. Perspiration and blank dismay commingled were on his face, and after twenty minutes the fish was dragged to the side of the boat, his head was chopped half off, and he disappeared beneath the waves. This was not the large variety shark, but was a huge one of the dog fish order. To make it worse, I had a large fish on at the time, and our lines were in great danger of being mixed up and broken, but both were landed. It was just half past twelve then, and being thoroughly broken down, we concluded to stop for the day, and pulled for the shore.
On our way Jack asked leave to sell our surplus fish, which we granted. We sold thirty to the picnickers on the "Fletcher," who no doubt took them home and talked long about the great sport, they had had.
Arriving on shore we jumped into our wagon, gave some of our large ones to Mr. Hugh Hastings, of the Commercial, and to Mr. John McKesson, and then wended our way home with the balance, having had the best day's sport for a long time with the mutual determination to go soon again. The fish were bluefish. J. L. L.
Along the Bronx River (North of the New York Botanical Garden) - August 2009