Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Bird Notes: As you read this we are halfway through our trip to New Zealand to see pelagic birds such as albatrosses, petrels, skuas, shearwaters and penguinos too. This issue is peppered with images taken on our trip. We return on 18 December - in the meantime our colleagues Sandra Critelli and Jeff Ward cover our weekend (Sat-Sun) walks meeting at the Boathouse at 9:30am. By about 10 December, we'll post some owl walks at night for the Christmas-New Year time period - so stay tuned.
Greetings from New Zealand! We came here to see Albatrosses and as of 4 December have photographed five species, all of which we include in this Newsletter. These five are: Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, (Gibson's) Wandering Albatross, Campbell Albatross and Salvin's Albatross. On some pelagic trips we have had several flying right above our small boat, and it is almost possible to touch them (see photos below). Of course we have seen other seabirds from Petrels to Shearwaters to Penguins (three species) - perhaps in the next Newsletter issue we will feature those...for now, we confess to eating Sooty Shearwater (aka Muttonbird or TiTi), which is quite nice:
Muttonbird (Sooty Shearwater) for dinner on Stewart Island. This bird is one of the most common seabirds in the world. All the meat of the breast/legs is dark, and the taste is like a fishy duck with smooth texture (not tough or dry).
In this week's Historical Notes we present two articles about Albatrosses: (a) an 1890 piece about the Albatrosses of the area near New Zealand: how their feet were used for tobacco pouches; their flesh is quite edible (eaten by Maori people and British sailors); but their feathers were the most valuable and useful part: light and warm; and (b) is perhaps our all-time favorite birding story by Robert Fisher from 1960, about the GREAT ALBATROSS Day, a pelagic birding trip in New York waters on which a Yellow-nosed Albatross was seen and photographed.
Lots of White-capped Albatrosses (Stewart Island, NZ) on 29 November 2019
These birds like to hang around fishing boats waiting for the "bycatch" to be tossed over
Good! The Bird Walks for Early-Mid December 2019
All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park
1. Saturday, 7 Dec. at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
2. Sunday, 8 December at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive
3. Saturday, 14 Dec. at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
4. Sunday, 15 December at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive
Any questions send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
[Gibson's] Wandering Albatross on 22 Nov 2019 at Kaikoura Bay (South Island, New Zealand)
The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through early January 2020. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!
Starting Saturday, 23 November and through at least Sunday 15 December, we have weekend walks only in Central Park at 9:30am (only). Our friends Sandra Critelli and Jeff Ward (two fine birders) will be leading these weekend walks. After 16 December, we may add several other walks for the holidays through 2 January 2020. Keep checking this web site (schedule page) for updates.
Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (email@example.com). 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.
Southern Royal Albatross on 29 November 2019 at Stewart Island (most southern New Zealand)
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Friday, 15 November (9am at Conservatory Garden/105th st and 5th Ave): my goodness: a Summer Tanager (female) as well as an Orange-crowned Warbler...plus Hairy Woodpecker.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 15 Nov: https://tinyurl.com/ryb43zm
Saturday, 16 November (New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx at 9:00am) - the first Rusty Blackbird (a female) of the year for us as well as Eastern Bluebird (2).
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 16 November: https://tinyurl.com/vymxf2f
Northern Royal Albatross on 22 November 2019 at Kaikoura Bay (South Island, New Zealand)
Sunday, 17 November (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - the first big owl of the season, a Great Horned Owl, was found at the north end of the park (but not found by us)...meanwhile in the lower park, we had Winter Wren and Hooded Mergansers.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 17 November: https://tinyurl.com/usgwdr4
Saturday, 23 November (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am)
Sandra Critelli led today's walk and here is her summary:
Oggi e’ stata una bellissima e fredda giornata invernale. Eravamo in 22 a fare birdwatching, tra cui alcuni stranieri. C’era un giovane birdwatcher di soli 6 anni che era molto bravo, simpatico e di piacevole compagnia. C’era anche Jeff Ward che e’ stato un ottima aggiunta per avere due occhi in più per avvistare uccelli presenti ieri al parco.
Questa e’ la lista di ciò’ che abbiamo avvistato:
2 White- breasted Nuthatch (feeders)
3 Fox-sparrrow (swampy pin oacks); 1 che cantava posato su un ramo.
alcuni House Finches in parti diverse del Ramble and Goldfinches su sweet gum tree nel Ramble.
1 Brown Creeper
10-15 Dark-eye Junco
White -Troated Sparrow ovunque!
2 Song Sparrow
3-4 Red Bellied Woodpecker
3 Red-Tailed Hawk, 1 che volava, 1 posata in cima a un palazzo, 1 su un albero.
Cooper Hawk, Oven
Kestrel a Turtle pond
2 maschi - 3 femmine Hooded Merganser a Turtle pond.
2 Red Winged Blackbird a Oack Bridge
1 giovane Bald Eagle che volava in zona Oack Bridge
1 Turkey Vulture In cielo
2 Eastern Towee (maschi)
Piu I soliti Cardinals, Blue Jays, 3 Morning Dove, House Sparrow.