1 November 2017
Note Well: This Sunday's (5 November) bird walk will NOT meet at the Boathouse. It is Marathon Race Sunday, so we will meet at Conservatory Garden, 105th street and 5th Avenue. Meeting times will be 8am and again at 9am. As always, you can do one or both walks for the same price, $10. Our Friday, Saturday and Monday walks continue as always/normal. The weather in October was much milder than average (more on this next week), and there are lots of migrants "holding back" that will pass our way in November. Don't stay home!
Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx including one hawk, sparrow, kinglet and two photos of a Pectoral Sandpiper - an uncommon migrant species in our area.
This week's historical notes include info on the Winter Wren (1878), as well as the Western Kingbird (1875), and an Orange-crowned Warbler (1876), all in the Bronx at Riverdale. Also below is an 1877 note on hunting migrating Red-headed Woodpeckers in Brooklyn at Forth Hamilton, followed by an 1881 description of migrating Red-headed Woodpeckers on the north shore of Long Island at Miller's Place in Suffolk County. Finally, there is a snippet on a Lapland Longspur in Long Island City (Queens) in mid-October 1888.
Deborah Allen sends photos taken in the Bronx!
Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, NY:
Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in Flight, Orchard Beach, 31 October 2017:
Pectoral Sandpipers, Orchard Beach, 27 October 2017:
Swamp Sparrow, Bartow-Pell, 22 October 2017:
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orchard Beach Lagoon, 17 October:
Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site: http://tinyurl.com/ydflkdp4
Good! Here are the bird walks for early November - each $10***
All walks in Central Park:
1. Friday, 3 November - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and Fifth Ave) at 9am.
2. Saturday, 4 November - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10***
3. Sunday, 5 November - 8am and at 9am - Conservatory Garden (105th st/Fifth Ave)***
4. Monday, 6 November - 8am and again 9am. Strawberry Fields (Imagine Mosaic). $10***
*** on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays you can do two walks for the price of one: Pay $10 and do both walks (or either one). On Fridays there is only one walk.
The fine print: In November, our walks on Sundays meet at 7:30am/9am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approximately 74th street and the East Drive on the lake; it is NOT one of the buildings on the nearby Model Boat Pond). Bathrooms are nearby and ok; they open at about 7am. On Saturdays we continue to meet at the Boathouse (74th street and the East Drive) at 7:30am/9am - but check schedule on web site just in case we are going further afield such as NYBG in the Bronx. You can do either or both Saturday/Sunday walks for $10. On Mondays we meet at Strawberry Fields: find the Imagine Mosaic and we are sitting on the benches nearby...look for people with binoculars. The Friday walks meet at Conservatory Garden - enter at 105th street and 5th Avenue and walk down the stairs - we meet straight ahead at the end of long (75 meter) grassy area, and adjacent to the men's bathroom (women's bathroom on opposite side about 50 yards away). Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (= firstname.lastname@example.org). We have a new web site...if in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not, check the web site the morning of the walk: info will be posted on the main landing page as well as the "Schedule" page. If still confused, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk!
We end all our weekend and Monday Central Park walks at the Boathouse at about noon - you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $5 total - coffee is now $2.25). Our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.
Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights) with some anecdotal notes and observations. Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best:
Friday, 27 October (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am only) - it looks like the "action" was on the west side of Central Park this morning where a male Hooded Warbler and an Orange-crowned Warbler were found. We found the latter, but despite our best efforts, missed the male Hooded Warbler. We did find Magnolia Warbler (great looks for everyone) and before the walk, a Black-throated Green Warbler on the west side of Conservatory Garden. However, rare birds don't always tell the full story: we had a wonderful time with quality birds including two Blue-headed Vireos; 26 flyover Turkey Vultures (Sean from the UK); a lovely Red-shouldered Hawk (David Barrett); several Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers; Field Sparrows and lots of Kinglets. Finding rare birds is a matter of luck; getting migrant and local birds to come and perch in front of the group for good looks - that is a skill we've developed over the years.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/yap5gttt
Saturday, 28 October - (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - there was a male Yellow-throated Warbler just outside the Ramble this morning. This represents the latest date this species has been seen in our area (Region 10) on migration. I only learned about it late in the afternoon....We did see on the walk a Northern Parula (warbler), Winter Wren and the absolute Highlight: Golden-crowned Kinglets...particularly one individual that we used the tape (contact calls) to bring down from the top of a conifer to eye-lever for several minutes. We happily watched the bird searching the pine needles at eye level (sometimes a foot away from us) for insect eggs, larvae, moths, beetles and aphids.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y7o6ytue
Sunday, 29 October (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - RAIN! The Franken-Philippe storm started at about 8am and lasted 24 hrs, leaving us with 2-3 inches of rain.
Deborah's bird list for the day: NO...cancelled due to rain. The LeConte's Sparrow (really rare in the eastern USA) that was found on Saturday, 28 October at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, was not re-found today before the rain began in earnest.
Monday, 30 October (start at Strawberry Fields [Imagine Mosaic] at 8am and again at 9am/$10) - the skies began clearing, and the rain stopped at 8:55am! But we cancelled the bird walk because of the high winds and lingering rain.
Deborah's bird list for the day: No...canceled due to strong winds and some rain.
Anorthura troglodytes var. hyemalis. Winter Wren . The Winter Wren is found in winter in the Hudson Valley at least as far north as Rhinebeck. Mr. Bicknell writes me that "it is somewhat irregular as a winter resident, "but does not consider it unusual to see it any time between October and May (May 4, 1877). It is, however, most abundant in the fall (October)." In the Highlands it is generally common all winter, but is somewhat irregular. It has been abundant during the severest winters, and uncommon, at times, in mild ones. Not plentiful last winter. It is often found in the rushes of the salt marshes beside the Hudson River; feeds, at such times, upon small mollusks. EDGAR A. MEARNS
Capture of two rare Birds at Riverdale, N. Y. Among the rare and accidental avian visitors which have come under my observation as having occurred at Riverdale [Bronx], N. Y., it may be well to note the following:
Tyrannus verticalis. Arkansas Flycatcher [Western Kingbird]. A young male, in somewhat worn plumage, taken on October 19, 1875, furnishes the third extra-limital eastern record of the species, and the first for New York State. The bird was first observed on the afternoon of the day previous to its capture, pursuing its avocation of insect-hunting from the topmost branches of some tall trees near a private residence, and the following day was again found about the same spot and without much difficulty secured. Its stomach contained parts of a small beetle and partially digested berries of Ampelopsis quinquefolia [Virginia Creeper – a native vine], the latter also often forming the principal food supply of its congeneric species, T. carolinensis [Eastern Kingbird], during the last few days of its northern stay.
Helminthophaga celata. Orange-crowned Warbler. A female was taken on October 9, 1876, and a second specimen seen on the 29th of the same month. The former bird was shot while gleaning among the withering blossoms of a patch of golden-rods (Solidago), while the latter was hopping about in a clump of leafless briers and shrubbery quite unsuspiciously, allowing an approach of a few feet. E. P. Bicknell, Riverdale, N. Y.
Red-headed Woodpecker. About the 20th of September, 1877, great numbers of the Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), made their appearance about Fort Hamilton [Brooklyn]. They outnumbered the "Highholes," [= Flickers] usually so common at that time of the year, and attracted the attention of the local gunners. Up to this time I had looked upon the Red-head as a scarce bird with us, having seen it only a few times before. As long ago as 1844, Giraud noticed that this bird had become much less abundant in the Eastern States than formerly. Dr. Coues, in "Birds of the North West," says it is now rare in New England. The conclusion is that either the bird is becoming extirpated in these regions, or else it is taking the advice of a late prominent politician. However, in the fall of 1877 it was very common here for about ten days. It was also abundant in the adjacent parts of New York and New Jersey. Thus, at Tarrytown, an acquaintance of mine took a hundred and four specimens, and my friend Gerard Hardenberg, Esq., found it very plentiful about New Brunswick and Princeton. Unless I am mistaken, it was recorded in considerable numbers from the south side of Long Island in the winter of 1877 and 1878. In the fall of 1878 I saw only two or three individuals of this species, and during the last autumn I shot but one. De L. Berrier, Brooklyn.
Red-headed Woodpeckers [Autumn 1881]. This bird is a rare visitor in this vicinity [north shore of Long Island], seldom more than one or two being seen during the season, and then only while migrating, usually in the Fall, but very rarely in the Spring. The first one observed this season was on the 10th of September. On the 12th I saw three, and on the 20th I saw one. Early on the morning of the 24th of September they began to pass over in large numbers, and continued to pass until about ten o'clock, after which very few were seen, except straggling groups of three or four, and occasionally a single one was seen to pass over during the day. The flight must have consisted of several hundred, principally young birds. They came from the east and were flying west. Many of them in their flight would alight for a few minutes in the orchards and corn fields to feed on the half-ripened corn, or search among the apple trees for the larva or eggs of insects but would soon continue on their journey, and their places would be supplied by others. I noticed one or two to dart out and seize an insect in the manner of a fly catcher. The following day but two or three were seen. A few stragglers, however, were occasionally met with up to the 10th of October, and one was seen as late as the 23d of November. I secured several specimens. Upon dissecting them I found their stomachs filled with remnants of acorns and insects. A. H. Helme, Miller's Place. L. I.
Miller('s) Place, Long Island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_Place,_New_York
Lapland Longspur. Calcarius lapponicus. -- Mr. John Hendrickon shot one October 18, 1888, at Long Island City. He informs me that it was alone, and was secured as it flew up from among some weeds growing on the edge of a drain. From the fact that Horned Larks (Otocoris alpestris) were first seen that day, he thinks it not unlikely that the Longspur had migrated southward in their company. This is the earliest autumn date of which I have any record.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
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