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

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here


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).

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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: s.cri@icloud.com

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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).

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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.


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 each...so 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

HISTORICAL NOTEs


Falconer of Central Park [September 1982].

by Donald Knowler: https://tinyurl.com/y4h96jxe


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.