Southbound Bird Migration in Full Swing: Late August in Central Park

Updated: Aug 24


Prothonotary Warbler (male) 14 August 2021 in Central Park by Deborah Allen.

19 August 2021


Bird Notes: Our updated Aug-Sep schedule is now on our web site: SCHEDULE . Starting 24/26 August we are adding two EVENING WALKS (5:30pm start/$10) led by Ms. Sandra Critelli of Italy...meeting at the Boathouse every Tues/Thu night. If you have questions (or need her cell #), email Sandra: you can find a direct link on the Schedule page.


The weather for this coming weekend is in flux. ("It's still too soon to know exactly how close Hurricane Henri's center will get to the coast of New England," the National Hurricane Center said.) As we send this (Thursday afternoon 19 August), scattered thunderstorms are forecast starting mid-day (12noon) Saturday into late Sunday....Monday seems to be fine. Unless it is pouring rain, the bird walks will take place as scheduled...but just to be sure check the Main (Landing) page of this web site for any cancellation notice. We will post a cancellation by 6am the morning of the walk. If no cancellation info is posted, the walk will take place as scheduled.


In this week's Historical Notes, we send four old-timer notes: (a) the first known occurrence of a Prothonotary Warbler in NYC (and New York State) in May 1849; (b/c) nesting Spotted Sandpipers in NYC in 1905, and on Long Island in 1915 some observations on odd behavior by this shorebird; (d) fishing for Swordfish in the outer Long Island Sound in late August 1878.

Red-banded Leafhopper in our yard (The Bronx) 18 August 2021 Deborah Allen


Prothonotary Warbler (male) New York Botanical Garden (The Bronx) 11 April 2011 D. Allen

Bird Walks for Late August 2021

All Walks @ $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here


1. Friday, 20 August 8:30am. Bird Walk. Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave) $10. N.B. this walk meets uptown - at the north end of the park...but easy to reach.


2. Saturday, 21 August 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.


3. Sunday, 22 August at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.


4. Monday, 23 August 8:30am. Bird Walk. Strawberry Fields (72nd street and Central Park West) $10. N.B. this walk meets at the IMAGINE mosaic inside the park at 72nd - inside the park (about 50 yards from CP West).

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AND!!!: Tuesday 24 August and Thursday 26 August at 5:30pm meeting at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. An approx. 90 minute long walk for birds/bats with Sandra Critelli. Please contact Sandra directly if you have any questions: s.cri@icloud.com

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5. Friday, 27 August 8:30am. Bird Walk. Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave) $10. N.B. this walk meets uptown - at the north end of the park...but easy to reach.


6. Saturday, 28 August 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.


7. Sunday, 29 August at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.


8. Monday, 30 August 8:30am. Bird Walk. Strawberry Fields (72nd street and Central Park West) $10. N.B. this walk meets at the IMAGINE mosaic inside the park at 72nd - inside the park (about 50 yards from CP West).

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Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions: rdcny@earthlink.net

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The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30/9:30am 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! Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden; Mondays at Strawberry Fields - check the "Meeting Points" page of this web site for exact meeting location.


Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (rdcny@earthlink.net). 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) near 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 aim to please.


The Bronx (Pelham Bay Park) on 6 March 2021

Below: The Bronx (Pelham Bay Park) on 6 March 2021

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights): Warbler migration ramped into high gear starting Saturday, 14 August with nine warbler species seen including the ongoing Prothonotary Warbler. Sunday, we upped the total to 14 warbler species with first of season Black-throated Blue and Mourning Warblers plus the ongoing Prothonotary Warbler (a lovely male) - and a big number (7-9 individuals) of Canada Warbler. On Monday we started to come back to earth, with "only" ten warbler species plus Great Crested Flycatcher and Black-billed Cuckoo (via D. Barrett). Deborah has all the birds, honestly, and in the right number. Thank Goodness she and the Manhattan Bird Alert folks keep tweeting - else we would have fantasy birds and numbers from the lying prevaricator on the NYS Bird List. Truth matters. Accuracy matters.


Deborah's List of Birds for Friday/Saturday 13-14 August: Click Here


Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday 15 August: Click Here


Deborah's List of Birds for Monday 16 August: Click Here


Common Tern (hatch-year) Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge NJ on 17 Aug D. Allen

Below: The Bronx (Pelham Bay Park) on 6 March 2021

hatch-year Spotted Sandpiper (Pelham Bay Park/Bronx) 10 August 2021 Deborah Allen

HISTORICAL NOTEs


Prothonotary Warbler. Protonotaria citrea. In April, 1888, I recorded a specimen of this Warbler which was sent to me for identification by the keeper of Montauk Light, and which I supposed was the first one that had been taken in New York State. I find, however, that as early as May, 1849, one was shot at Jamaica, Queens Co. It was a male in fine breeding plumage, and was mounted by Mr. Akhurst. It is the only one he ever saw from Long Island.


William Dutcher

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Birds Breeding Within the Limits of the City of New York

John Lewis Childs


The Spotted Sandpiper - 1905

Actitis macularia


WHILE the Spotted Sandpiper is known as a bird of ponds and streams it frequently seeks dry uplands far removed from any stream or body of water to breed. For years one, two, or three pairs have come to Floral Park, located their nests, deposited their eggs, and hatched their young under the shelter of some large clumps of herbaceous peonies in a cultivated field some distance from any building. In the Borough of Queens and other places on Long Island they are occasionally found breeding in hay fields or near hedges and fences, and sometimes in vacant lots and pastures.


The nest, if such it may be called, is a decidedly flimsy affair, consisting only of a small quantity of dried grasses as a lining to a slight depression in the ground which serves the purpose of a nest. The eggs, four in number, are light creamy-buff, heavily and irregularly spotted with black. The note of the Spotted Sandpiper is pleasing, and its flight most graceful.

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Spotted Sandpiper and Water [1915]. Mr. L. L. Jewel speaks of a crippled Spotted Sandpiper (Actiris macularia) diving and swimming under water. I have found this to be a regular habit in young of the species at Mastic, Long Island. I remember distinctly the last one I banded at this place, a bird not yet able to fly, which, when pursued took to the water. I reached down and grabbed it below the surface where it was swimming with its wings. In this connection I would like to relate a boyhood experience which I do not remember ever to have published. While crossing a small bay at Far Rockaway, Long Island, a Spotted Sandpiper was observed flying excitedly about close to the surface. Its actions were inexplicable until suddenly a hawk swooped to it from out of the sky somewhere. The Sandpiper dropped upon the surface where it lay limp as though dead. After making one or two more unsuccessful swoops the hawk departed. When approached the Sandpiper first sat up like a little duck, then rose and flew ashore.


J. T. Nichols, New York City.


Pearl Crescent (Pelham Bay Park/Bronx) 10 August 2021 Deborah Allen

SWORD-FISH. Bridgeport, Conn., August 22, 1878. I have just returned from a sword-fishing excursion off Block Island [between Rhode Island and Long Island], and have become very much interested in the habits of this fish, and especially its manner of breeding, concerning which I am unable to find out anything. The fishermen know absolutely nothing about the habits of the swordfish except that he comes up to the surface periodically for the purpose of sunning himself. They also know that he is a migratory fish, because "he's here in summer and he ain't here in winter." I have never seen a fisherman who ever saw a female, or who has ever seen anything which evinced any difference in sex. The smallest one which I over heard of being caught weighed 46 pounds, the commonest size caught in Block Island waters ranging from 80 to 225 pounds, fish being occasionally caught as high as 450 to 500. These, however, are rare. I wish you would publish something concerning this curious fish in the columns of your valuable paper, as I am sure they would be appreciated by such of your readers as have ever seen one. The "Encyclopedia Britannica (1860), Eighth Edition, "gives a somewhat meagre description of the fish itself and the methods employed in its capture in the Mediterranean, but says nothing of the habits of the fish, and does not even mention that it is found in American waters. Any information which you can give regarding their habits and method of reproduction will be very gratefully received by myself and several others. We had very good luck fishing, and in twelve and one-half days' fishing captured 13, varying from 94 to 326 pounds in weight. S. H. Hubbard.


Related: Fishing for Swordfish 22 August 2013: Click Here


We may state to our correspondent that the sword-fish probably never spawns on our coast. The only known spawning grounds are in the Mediterranean, and especially about the Straits of Messina. In the Mediterranean quantities of young sword-fish are seen from half a pound upward. None less than three or four feet long have ever been seen in the Western Atlantic, and these have lost the distinguishing character of the young fish, which have a high, sail-like fin the whole length of the back and a prominent spine on the operculum. The Fish Commission recently had a sword-fish from the coast of Maine, which weighed nearly 600 pounds, one of the largest with authenticated weight. The Cape Ann fishermen have of late caught many of these fish on their trawl-lines when fishing for halibut on the Nova Scotia Banks at a depth of 150 to 200 fathoms, an entirely new phase in the history of this species.


The sword-fish make their appearance on our coast off Block Island and Montauk from May 15 to June 1, and remain in the New England waters till early winter when the snow falls. Their presence seems to depend on that of their favorite food, the mackerel and menhaden, which they follow industriously. When the schools of summer fish disappear the sword-fish also goes. It is impossible to say how far they are influenced by temperature, though it does not at present appear as if they were sensitive to cold. They kill their prey by striking it sideways with their sword. They must needs do this, because their toothless mouths are not adapted to seize and hold living struggling fishes. Mackerel and menhaden taken from their stomachs are usually marked with a stray gash in their sides, the effect of the blow of the sword. We may add that Professor G. Brown Goode is collecting material on the sword-fish, which will shortly appear in the " United States Report of Fish and Fisheries."

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Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

Reservoir, Central Park looking southeast from the northwest corner

Finished Bay Window (one of five) on 19 August 2021. This is the front of our house, first floor. We have been running around with contractors all week...doing private bird walks on other days...apologies since it does affect our focus and this Newsletter. Anyway, four of five windows are completely done - better photos to follow. Well...almost done - that white strip below the window will be spray painted a dark color to match the frame...inside that area is 4inches of closed cell foam insulation R16 rated. Fiberglass door at right just has to be painted above/sides with special paint for stucco (elastomeric)


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