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The Birding Floodgates are Open: Central Park September 2021

American Redstart (female) Belvedere Castle (Central Park) 29 August 2021 by Deborah Allen

1 September 2021

Bird Notes: Our Friday through Monday bird walk schedule for September-October is on our web site: SCHEDULE . Our Evening walks have begun on Tuesday and Thursday (5:30pm start/$10) led by Ms. Sandra Critelli of Italy...meeting at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. If you have questions (or need her cell #), email Sandra: you can find her direct link on the Schedule page.

Good news: the weather for the weekend is 100% great...and as these rains clear, the remnants of Hurricane Ida, we will be flooded with migrant warblers. On a personal note, construction on our house is 80% done (photos way below) - and no leaks!

In this week's Historical Notes, we send two excerpts: (a) Birding Central Park in September 1982 from the wonderful book, The Falconer of Central Park by Donald Knowler; (b) the weather for July 2021 in NYC: it was the third wettest July on record (100+ years) for this city. Details via Rob Frydlewicz writing on his NYC Weather Archive blog.

Veery Central Park on 2 September 2017 Deborah Allen

Cliff Swallow (juvenile) Pelham Bay Park (The Bronx) 26 August 2021 D. Allen

Bird Walks for Early mid-September 2021

All Walks @ $10/person

1. Friday, 3 September 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, 4 September 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, 5 September 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, 6 Sept. 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).


AND!!!: Thursday 2 September (+ Tuesday 7 September), meeting 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:


5. Friday, 10 September 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, 11 Sept. 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, 12 Sept. 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, 13 Sept. 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).


Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions:


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 ( 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.

Baird's Sandpiper (hatch-year) Pelham Bay Park (The Bronx) 26 August 2021 D. Allen

Below: Cape May Warbler in Michigan. 20 September 2017 Doug Leffler

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights): We'll remember last week, starting with Friday 27 August, as the most humid late summer birding experience we've had in some time. We were drenched before the walks even began. Though we had our highest species counts for the season so far on Saturday-Sunday (28-29 August), numbers of migrants were low. We have seen more than the usual number of Great Crested Flycatchers...and Blue-winged Warblers have been around in reasonable amounts - but where are all the Chestnut-sided Warblers and Northern Parulas? On good days in the past we would tally 10-20 of far 2-5 have been the norm this August. Last week, American Redstarts easily overtook Yellow Warblers as the most common small passerine migrant...and Veerys were everywhere in cherry trees, coming in from all directions to the calls from my tape to perch a few feet away. The other interesting late summer migrant has been the Baltimore Oriole...Friday very few, but Saturday everywhere! And by Sunday/Monday very few again. Deborah has numbers of what species we saw (and their locations) if you follow her four links below.

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday 27 August: Click Here

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday 28 August: Click Here

Bay-breasted Warbler in Michigan. 24 Sept 2018 Doug Leffler

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday 29 August: Click Here

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday 30 August: Click Here

Canada Warbler in Michigan. 28 August 2015 Doug Leffler

Below: White-rumped Sandpiper Forsythe National Wildlife Ref. (NJ) 5 Oct 2017 D. Allen

Below: Black-throated Green Warbler in Michigan. 31 August 2015 Doug Leffler


Falconer of Central Park [September 1982].

by Donald Knowler:

Humid on the first day of September [1982], a greasy, perspiration-pulling humidity, which New York City had escaped for much of the cool summer. In the sheltered gullies of the park the air hung thick like damp laundry. The insects appeared to be suspended and trapped in moisture, and the warblers dropped in slow flight, wing and tail feathers outstretched, to snap at the midges and mosquitoes as they passed. Parula, Canada, and black-and-white warblers, and redstarts shared a tight space where the stream in the Indian Cave melts into the boating lake. The warblers adopted the same routine during the downward journey, seeking safety in numbers during the uncertain, tortuous course of migration, knowing instinctively that the birds of prey were also on the move, just behind them.

The migration of bird watchers to the park was very much like the movement of birds at this time of the year -- casual, not as prolific as in April and May. During spring birders had taken "sick" days from work so they could spend time in the park, or the more honest ones had made an arrangement to arrive later at the office or the workshop. The "hooky" syndrome, that feeling of elation derived from cheating the system to do something you really want to do, illicitly, was absent and, as a result, bird watching became more of a sober affair. It takes more skill and stamina to bird watch in the fall; this might explain the drop in numbers of people birding. Most birds have lost their spring mating plumage, and the warblers become confusing-a group of them are technically referred to as "confusing fall warblers" because females, moulting males and juveniles of many species look similar. One birder who did not lose any enthusiasm was Lambert, who now carried a flicker's feather of yellow-gold in his hat. But he was torn between his twin passions of birds and butterflies.

Blackburnian Warbler in Michigan. 31 August 2015 Doug Leffler

The hardcore Central Park birding fraternity numbers about fifty. There is no stereotype, or composite picture of a birder, although people who regard bird watching as an eccentricity like to believe there is. Among the birders is a man who talks loudly because he spent his working life in a railroad switching yard, a viola player with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra who has an ear for birdsong, and a used car salesman who frequently warned me about "lemons." Another birder, until he retired, was a policeman and another, until he became deceased, a bank robber.

The bank robber story, a favorite for rainy days when the bird watchers are confined to the boathouse: the bank robber carried a little black book in his back pocket in which was recorded his life list of birds spotted. He told other bird watchers he was a writer and for long periods he was not seen in the park. He was traveling for research purposes, he said. Then one day a birder saw a news item in a newspaper about a man shot dead in the process of robbing a bank in San Francisco. The San Francisco police, so the story goes, returned the robber's life list to the boathouse+++.

[+++Roger Pasquier, who has been birding in the park since the 1950s, sent me this info: "I do remember the birding police officer in the 1970s, a nice fellow, but I can’t recall his name. The viola player was Bob Benjamin, there in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The others, I might not have met, because I never hung around the boathouse — or had an interest in long stories while I focused on birds."]

It is raining. The bank robber story is finished and now comes a second favorite: a tale about the policeman birder who, when he was wearing his uniform, was one of the most popular people in the park. Once the Emperor of Japan paid a visit to Central Park, for reasons which are obscure now. But his visit coincided with the bird migration and the policeman birder went on duty with his binoculars, commandeered a rowboat and, from the center of the boating lake, spent the afternoon scanning willows for warblers. One of the top officers of the New York force saw the policeman birder and later commended him for his "initiative." The officer thought the policeman was looking for snipers.

One more bird watching story, this time my own. It is mid-morning and the retired couple who linger at the boathouse waiting for an escort of birders have accompanied me into the Ramble. I explain that I have limited time because I must be at work within a couple of hours.

"You're lucky," says the wife. "You could be retired."

Red-eyed Vireo in Michigan. 23 August 2015 Doug Leffler

A blue jay in the lower branches of a plane tree on Fifth A venue screamed at people sitting in temporary bleachers erected on the sidewalk. The jay had been trying to feed on acorns on the other side of the park's wall, but people climbing the wall to reach the rear entrance of the bleachers were disturbing the bird, a juvenile from this year's brood, who believed it owned the park.

The crowd had gathered between East Sixty-second and Sixty-third Streets to see the finish of the Fifth Avenue Mile on September 4. A voice boomed over loudspeakers that the runners were "off'' at Eighty-second Street. The crowd fell silent but the blue jay started up again. The spectators ignored it and craned their necks to look along the street. Two police motorcycles, blue lights flashing, appeared in the distance. One hundred yards behind them was the thin line of some of the fastest milers in the world. Lanky, muscled legs pounded tar, which had been warmed by an afternoon of sunshine, and a block from the finish Tom Byers of the United States kicked clear of the rest of the field. Shoulder length blond hair coursing behind him, Byers clocked 3 minutes, 51.35 seconds to win the straight mile. "He'd have run faster if he got his hair cut," said a New York cop holding back the spectators. Watching the race, and the television circus that accompanies such a sporting event, I was not to know a rare Connecticut warbler was working its way through the low bushes that surround the west side of the Point Lobe. A mourning warbler, equally rare, was seen in the same location. The television cables running along Fifth Avenue to a central control point in the park were being wound in when I finally wandered to the boathouse to check the bird register. My heart raced like Tom Byers's at the mile's finish when I saw the entry for the two species. I scoured the shrubbery around the Point Lobe for an hour without success. The Connecticut and Mourning warblers would come to represent a frustrating fall and my good fortune of the spring would not be repeated. Although I had been in the park virtually every day since mid-July-with only a week's break in August-vital birds, which I needed to make the one hundred fifty target, eluded me. Bad luck stalked me for the entire month, and the only new species for September was a Philadelphia warbler [Vireo!!] - my first new bird since I recorded the cedar waxwings in May.

The waxwings were now common on the Point where the two thousand fruit trees planted during the winter were rich with berries. The waxwings and the robins swallowed the berries whole, but I noticed the warblers - I counted eight species on September 4 - merely pierced the skins and sucked out the juices. Although warblers are basically insect eaters, they supplement their diet with other available food in the fall. The flickers also enjoyed the fruit. Ungainly, they waded across clusters of berries. The flickers, the biggest members of the woodpecker family represented in the park, are built and balanced to cling to tree trunks. They looked ill at ease amid the fruit and appeared in danger of toppling out of the branches at any moment. In contrast, the chickadees were masters of the berry-eating technique. A chickadee hung upside down from a clump of berries, picked one and then fell with the berry in its beak before righting itself in mid-air and landing on a nearby branch. The bird then gripped the berry in its feet and stabbed at it with needle bill. At the tip of the Point an Empidonax flycatcher had left the trees to perch on a rock jutting into the water. The flycatcher flitted across the lake to catch mosquitoes hovering a few inches above the surface, and then the bird plunged into vegetation behind the rock to spear a cabbage white butterfly. There are five species of Empidonax flycatcher, and they are virtually identical in appearance, song being the only reliable guide to identification. Although I had a willow flycatcher pointed out for me in the spring I did not put it on my list because I was not satisfied I could identify the species myself. Now in the fall, the flycatchers did not sing, and this one on the Point would elude identification.

Ovenbird in Michigan. 12 September 2015 Doug Leffler

It was a balmy, pleasant early evening, and I lingered in the park. Hundreds of people had gathered around the Belvedere Lake to watch the folk dancing in front of the King Jagiello statue or to be entertained by mime artists and buskers. The cold, gray granite of the newly restored Belvedere Castle loomed over the lake, a romantic ghost from the days of the park's construction. The backdrop of setting sun highlighted the castle's turrets and battlements, and town pigeons arrived to roost in crevices in the outcrop of rock on which the castle is built. A barn owl had once used this roost for a winter, but pigeons unable to forget their roots had taken it over as a nesting site in spring and a roost in the other seasons-in the same way that their ancestors colonize rocky sites in Europe.

The start of the hawk migration was signaled by two majestic ospreys during the first two days of September but I missed the birds. On September 5 I decided to spend the whole afternoon watching for hawks and, at the same time, get on line for tickets to "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the last performance of the summer at the Delacorte Theater. The performances are free but an all-afternoon wait is necessary to obtain tickets. On my way to the theater I had passed a green heron, standing on a floating plank of wood, jealously guarding his fishing ground in the Upper Lobe, and now I guarded my place in a line of theater-goers, which stretched around the whole of the Great Lawn. I had a bottle of French red wine, a picnic lunch, a book and binoculars for hawk watching, and I could not think of a better way to spend an afternoon. More than one thousand people, all waiting for tickets, were camped out on the Great Lawn; all afternoon they were pestered by vendors selling soda, beer, hot dogs, marijuana joints, and cocaine. Among these was a fat man with odd socks, a dirty vest, and shorts. He carried a cardboard box tied with a string handle so that it resembled a suitcase, and he carefully placed this on the grass when he stopped at each group of theater enthusiasts.

"I'm a poet," he said through a white beard that followed the line of his round face and then stopped abruptly at his bronzed bald head. "If you buy one of my poems it'll bring you luck." When the poet sensed he had not caught the customers' attention, he added quickly: "Luck, and two years' immunity from herpes."

Blackpoll Warbler in Michigan. 12 September 2015 Doug Leffler

NYC Weather Archive

With 11.09 inches of rain measured in Central Park, July 2021 became the third rainiest July on record (behind 1889 and 1975), and 15th wettest month overall. This was New York's first month with ten inches or more of precipitation since June 2013 (10.10"), and the most to fall in any month since August 2011, when 18.95" flooded the City (the greatest monthly amount on record).

A little more than half of July's rain fell on three days between July 8-12th: 2.27" on 7/8; 2.06" on 7/9, and 1.42" on 7/12. The amounts of 7/8 and 7/9 set records for the dates. 8.49" of rain fell in the first 12 days of the month (and 9.14" if 6/30 is included), then 2.60" fell thereafter (which was slightly below average for that period).

There were 18 days of measurable rain, which was the second greatest number of days with rain in July. July 1871 had twenty days, but just half the amount of rain as July 2021. (Of the 27 months with ten inches or more or precipitation, the average number of days of measurable precipitation is 13.)

Besides being rainy, this was the coolest July since 2009 (and 0.1F degree cooler than July 2014). When all Julys are considered, July 2021 is in the middle of the pack, temperature-wise, with 54% being warmer. The combination of a warmer than average June (+2.3F degrees), and July being 1.5 degrees cooler than average, placed these two months closer together (1.7 degrees) than any June/July combo since the summer of 2001 (when July was just 0.3 degree warmer). Looking at average high and low, July's average high of 83.0 was just 0.5 degree warmer than June's, while the low of 69.0 was 3.0 degrees milder. Because many days had dew points in the 68F-73F range, the air often felt oppressive rather than cool.

For the first time since 2009, a reading in the 50s occurred in July: 59F on 7/3. And on 7/3, the high was only 66F, which was the first high cooler than 70F in July since 2013, and the coolest reading in July since 2005. The month's coolest and hottest readings were three days apart as a high of 92F occurred on 7/6 (and the 59F reading came three days after June's hottest temperature, 98F, on 6/30).

July had four days in the 90s, half as many as June, and the fewest such days in July since 2014, which had three. (Seven of the Julys between 2000-2009 also had four or fewer days in the 90s.) Although the number of days of 90+ was half the average for July, the number of lows in the 70s, 16, was an average amount (but ten fewer than last year's record amount).

July had 8.47" more rain than June's 2.62", but there have been ten other instances where the disparity between two months was even greater (looking only at wet months preceded by dry ones). The greatest difference occurred in Sept-Oct 2005, when October had 16.73", which was 16.25" more than September's bone-dry 0.48".

Finally, after suffering through sweltering heat, and a nighttime thunderstorm on the last day of June, the last day of July couldn't have been more different, as skies were clear and temperatures on the cool side (high/low of 77F/60F). While 6/30's high of 98F (14 degrees above average) was the hottest reading on that date since 1964, 7/31's low of 60F (ten degrees below average) was the chilliest since 1956.


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

1 September. OK! We finished the foyer with the Mexican Talavera Tiles - the Black-and-white "Day of the Dead" skulls (left side of photo above); and the color geometric pattern/florals - best seen below). We must have the original marble stairs polished...and add a brighter light (pendant) from above to make these wall tiles "shine."

and finally (below) the front of the house is 99% done...bay windows have nice copper roofs (and not leaking through these recent tropical storms). The new fiberglass door (open in the photo below) is a joy to use...does not expand in heat/rain. And everyone likes the electronic locks - we no longer carry keys to open any doors! We just have three windows left to go (including one last bay); re-finishing wood floors and painting the rooms as well as the bottom of the bay windows that are white (to dark brown).

#BirdWalksCentralPark #BirdWalksCentralParkSeptember


WOW!!! That tile is amazing!! Love to see those stairs when you are finished!! Windows are so fantastic!! Great for bird watching!! ENJOY! Laura

Replying to

Hi!! Thank God you are OK!! That was wild!! No thanks to these storms!!! If we were still there, our basement would be flooded!!! I don't miss that!! But I sure do miss my Monks... Oh do I miss them!!!

All the best from a now sunny PA!! :)

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