10 July 2019
Bird Notes: This coming Sunday, 14 July, we continue our reduced summer schedule of 7:30am/9:30am walks. Overnight winds are forecast to be from the northwest so a few southbound migrants might join us. We are still planning Eastern Screech-owl walks at dusk in August at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) and Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan).
In this week's Historical Notes, we continue summer reading for birders interested in the Natural History of NYC: (1) a 1924 article on the Orchids of Manhattan Island (18 species!) by H.M. Denslow; (2) a July 2007 piece on searching for a rare NYC orchid at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve: the Ragged Fringed Orchid; and finally (3) a July 1959 field trip summary of a Torrey Botanical Club visit to Clove Lakes on Staten Island by Mathilde Weingartner, a not-famous-enough naturalist in that borough for many years circa 1945-1985.
Virginia Rail in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx; two adults are present since late May - and may nest;
photo by Deborah Allen on 5 July 2019
Good! The Bird Walks for mid-July
All July Walks in Central Park @ $10/person
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
1.***Sunday, 14 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
2.***Sunday, 21 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person. So you get two for one. OR you can do either the early walk or the second walk for $10/person.
Any questions send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
Northern Waterthrush, a July [warbler] migrant in Central Park, by Doug Leffler in August 2018
The fine print: On Sundays through November, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 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! Our Fri/Sat/Mon walks will resume in early to mid-August.
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.
Wood Thrush (currently nesting in Central Park's Ramble) by Doug Leffler
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Sunday, 7 July (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - Saturday night into Sunday featured very light winds from the northwest, and (as with last Sunday with the same weather pattern), we discovered a few new arrivals in the park including a Northern Parula Warbler (male), and a pair of Carolina Wrens. (A group of fine birders out on Wednesday, 3 July, only found one Carolina Wren - so some movement is going on...and it would not surprise us if these two wrens tried to nest in the next few weeks.) We also checked on the progress of the nesting Wood Thrushes (northern end of the Ramble): the adults are now feeding two young at least. We haven't provided exact location of the nest in order to insure the success of the nest that is rather low and only somewhat hidden. With a little foot work, and some patience, one can find the nest as we did.
Other highlights included the nest of Eastern Kingbirds at Turtle Pond with at least three young ones sitting just outside (and adjacent to) the +/- flimsy nest. We also found Cedar Waxwing young in the nest (NE corner of the Maintenance Field in a Horse Chestnut tree). There are several young Northern Flickers in the Ramble (meaning at least one successful nest); I seem to recall seeing one recently fledged Red-bellied Woodpecker; and try as we may, we could only find two just fledged Baltimore Orioles - last week we had several adults! Interestingly in our backyard in the Bronx, we had an adult male (a migrant) Baltimore Oriole (Sunday 7 July).
Remember! The month of July is the nadir of bird observation in Central Park (February can be worse though). But, if you come to the Sunday walks in July with reasonable expectations, they are likely to be met. And if we have just a hint of northwest winds on Saturday night, there will be a migrant or two as well. In fact, the forecast is for those exact conditions, Saturday night into Sunday morning, 14 July.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 7 July: https://tinyurl.com/y6mp4zqk
Young Cedar Waxwing 23 August 2018 by Doug Leffler
Native Orchids of Manhattan Island (1924)
H. M. Denslow
In the autumn of the year 1867, the year in which the Torrey Botanical Club was born, a Brooklyn school-boy was introduced to the orchid-flora of Manhattan by accompanying his uncle, the late William Wallace Denslow, in his botanical explorations. Mr. Denslow was then residing in Inwood and was able to make an intensive study of the plants of that vicinity. The orchids in bloom in that September, so memorable to the present writer, were few in number but very attractive and characteristic. To use the names then approved, Spiranthes gracilis and S. cernua were found on the slopes near the Kingsbridge road and Corallorrhiza odontorhiza in neighboring woods. Liparis liliifolia in good fruit was seen during the same month. In one spot in the bank beside a road through the woods on the western side of the ridge, there was a very small colony of Tipularia, at which the boy was permitted to gaze with unsatisfied curiosity, because he was strictly enjoined from collecting any of the leaves – there were no fruiting scapes and it was too late in the season for the flowers.
The discovery in the preceding year of this beautiful species [Tipularia] was a memorable event and the small colony was cherished with scrupulous care. The species was considered rare in this vicinity, though it was collected also later in Bedford Park [the Bronx] and was still abundant at the earlier date on Staten Island. [Article continued below.]
Orchid Species listed in this Denslow (1924) article [18 species]
Calopogon tuberosa – Grass Pink
Corallorhiza maculata – Spotted Coral-root
Corallorhiza odontorhiza – Autumn Coral-root
Cypripedeum acaule – Pink Ladyslipper
Cypripedeum parviflorum var. parviflorum – Small Yellow Ladyslipper
Galearis spectabilis – Showy Orchis
Goodyera pubescens – Downy Rattlesnake Plantain
Habenaria clavellata (Platanthera clavellata) – Green Woodland Orchid
Habenaria lacera (Platanthera lacera) – Ragged Fringed Orchid
Habenaria flava (Platanthera flava var. herbiola) – Tubercled Orchid
Habenaria psycodes (Platanthera psycodes) – Small Purple-fringed Orchis
Isotria verticillata – Large Whorled Pogonia
Liparis liliifolia – Purple Twayblade (State: Threatened; TNC Rank: G5 S2)
Liparis loeselii – Bog (Yellow) Twayblade
Spiranthes cernua – Nodding Lady’s-Tresses
Spiranthes gracilis (Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis) – Slender Lady’s-Tresses
Spiranthes latifolia (Spiranthes lucida) – Wide-leaf Lady’s Tresses
Tipularia discolor – Cranefly Orchid (State: Endangered; TNC Rank: G4G5 S1)
Other Orchid Species collected in Manhattan not listed by Denslow (1924)
Epipactis helleborine – Heleborine or Weed Orchid (non-native)
Platanthera ciliaris – Orange Fringed Orchis
Pogonia ophioglossoides – Rose Pogonia
Triphora trianthophora – Nodding Pogonia
[Continued from above] These five orchid species, representing three of the four tribes of Orchidaceae found in the Northeastern States, and found so soon after the writer’s introduction a few weeks before to Pogonia, Calopogon and the yellow fringed orchis, in a productive swamp in East Haven, Connecticut, seem to have stimulated an ardor not only for collecting, which is a common inclination of boyhood, but also for botanical study, and are therefore remotely responsible for the writing of this article!
Mr. W.W. Denslow had found other orchids on Manhattan Island, chiefly in 1865 and during the summer of 1867. The list of these specimens, now in the Herbarium of Amherst Agricultural College, includes two of the less common species of Habenaria: H. lacera and H. flava. The latter was found in salt swamps near Spuyten Duyvil and the ragged orchis near High Bridge. Nearby was collected once Spiranthes latifolia (Ibidium plantagagineum). The larger coral root, C. maculata, was found in two localities on Washington Heights and the other tway-blade, Liparis Loeselii, in the same neighborhood. The showy orchis was one of the earliest discoveries, in May, 1866, though the rattlesnake plantain, so-called, Goodyera pubescens, had been collected in August, 1865, near the Kingsbridge road. Here was a very good beginning of the orchid portion of Mr. Denslow’s herbarium, twelve species, one-sixth of the number listed in Gray’s Manual, found within one square mile of upper Manhattan, where now the progress of building has occupied almost every square foot and 2,000 families are housed in a tract where cattle browsed in extended pastures on both sides of Broadway, fifty years ago. The only exemption from this influx of buildings and people is that small area along the Hudson River which the City is now acquiring for a park reservation; and even in this section no native orchid has been seen growing for many years.
Four other genera are represented by the species of this peculiar family that have been found in the parts of Westchester County nearest to Manhattan. These are: two Cypripediums, the early stemless one and the smaller yellow species, the beautiful Calopogon, the curious Isotria verticillata, the purple fringed orchis, Habenaria psycodes, and Habenaria clavellata, with its small but perky spur, in the shape of a sickle-shaped club. All of these, with little doubt, have been growing on Manhattan Island within sixty years. Here are eighteen species, more than one-fourth of the number included in Gray’s Manual, representing all but seven of the genera listed there. The study of these would provide opportunity for acquaintance with the habits of characteristic and widespread North American species. There are few that have a wider range east of the Mississippi than the stemless lady’s slipper, the showy orchis, the purple fringed orchis, the fragrant Spiranthes, the larger coral root. Many of the species formerly represented here by occasional plants are found elsewhere in great numbers, as Tipularia, which is very abundant in parts of Delaware and Maryland and Habenaria psycodes, which in many places borders roadsides and brightens large tracts of meadow land. It could not be affirmed with certainty that any of the eighteen species were ever common on Manhattan, at any time within the last two hundred years. Though the people of New York City who lived north of Hudson Street were gathered chiefly in separate villages so recently as the year 1824; though a pond covered what is now Manhattan Square and there was a covert just south of it where rabbits bred, less than forty years ago; though Jones’ Wood along the East River above Seventy-first Street was virgin forest until the eighteenth century; though there were many brooks, some swamps and some ravines; yet conditions favorable to the growth of orchids were not prevalent. Much of the surface was sand or bare rock. There have been no bogs on the Island within historic times. The forests disappeared steadily, as the demands of the growing population increased. There was scant opportunity for extended colonies of orchids; and the showier species, about one-third of those listed above, were subject then as now, though in a lesser degree, to the depredations of careless pickers. In shady dells, however, and on less frequented hillsides; in the few very wet swamps here and there; the smaller, shyer members of the orchid group lived on in diminishing numbers. A century ago the lover of nature could probably have found some of them in every month from May to October in many parts of Manhattan; fifty years later, they had been destroyed by advancing civilization, except at the extreme northern end of the Island; now they have disappeared and, except for the herbaria and the grateful memories of a few botanists, might soon be forgotten. All of the species named are still discoverable within thirty miles, some within ten miles, of Inwood Hill. But they are members of a vanishing race; unless we treat them with greater care and kindness than were shown to the Indian owners of Manhattan, they too will disappear. It is a pleasure to record here that some of the hardier ones have been seen recently in great abundance on the edge of the suburban district, and that so recently as the year 1868 the orchid-hunter was able to find on Manhattan Island, not infrequently, some scattered specimens of his favorite friends, making their last stand against open and subtle foes, lack of shade, lack of moisture, loss of plant associations and the axe and spade and trowel of “civilized” men. H. M. Denslow.
female Yellow-shafted [NORTHERN] Flicker by Doug Leffler.
This woodpecker nests in all the "larger" parks of NYC including Central Park
12 July 2007: Jamaica Bay, Queens: Rangers Kathy Krause, Julia Clebsh and I headed out to track down one of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's most elusive wildflowers, the ragged-fringed orchid (Platanthera lacera). The plant has been documented from several wet, messy meadows at the refuge and we'd recently heard rumors of a small group growing in a little visited corner of the park. We headed out with cameras and binoculars - an expeditionary force. We must have passed the spot three times when Kathy called out "Got it!" and sure enough she was standing inches from a beautifully developed plant in full bloom. As these things generally work, our eyes, now accustomed to the correct search image, located nine flowering plants within yards of the first. Hardly the spectacle of the white, or yellow-fringed orchids, the ragged-fringed is a blue-collar relative. Still, no finer flower could grace a cool, wet woodland. All the finely cut, pale green and white finery is overwhelming at close glance. Every time I see one, I wonder at the chance evolution that created such a thing as a fringed orchid. We took the mandatory photos of ourselves and the flowers, then returned to the real job of managing a park by computer. Dave Taft
July 5 . Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island, N.Y. The three lakes had been used for ice harvest during the early part of the century. The city took the area for a park, the dams were raised, and a once good swamp has now become a lake. The park supports many native as well as introduced species of plants. Among the intentionally introduced plants were mostly trees and shrubs, such as Cercis canadensis [Redbud], Pinus strobus [Eastern White Pine], Tsuga canadensis [Eastern Hemlock], and many species of Crataegeus [Hawthorns]. There were sizable stands of the introduced Japanese plumegrass. Along the shore of the ponds were lovely stands of Pontederia cordata [Pickerelweed], Sagittaria latifolia [Broadleaf Arrowhead], and Cicuta maculata [Spotted Water Hemlock]. The common ferns were: Dennstaedtia punctilobula [Hay-scented Fern], Pteridium aquilinum [Bracken or Eagle Fern], Dryopteris noveboracensis [New York Fern], Athyrium Felixfemina [Lady Fern], and one plant of Asplenium platyneuron [Ebony Spleenwort] found on an outcropping of serpentine. Someone pointed out a nearby "Indian cave" in the serpentine which used to harbor little boys that ran away from home (school?) until the Department of Parks filled up the cave. A remarkable plant of the park is a large X-Quercus heterophylla (Bartram oak) which was planted as an acorn by William T. Davis in 1888, making it 71 years old. The tree is very healthy looking. Many will remember William T. Davis (See Torrey Field Schedule 1946) and his extraordinary trips for hybrid oaks on the Island. Bartram oak is considered to be of frequent occurrence in parts of the New Jersey coastal plain. Fernald notes it unequivocally as Q. phellos x Q. rubra, but Witmer Stone (Plants of Southern N. J. in Ann. Rept. N. J. State Museum, 1910 (1911) stated, that is certainly not the case in New Jersey." He pointed out that in the area where Q. phellos is common, Q. rubra is rare, Q. coccinea and Q. velutina are more plentiful.
Attendance 15. Leader, Mathilde P. Weingartner.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
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Near the Bronx River (Parking Lot of the New York Botanical Garden) - 15 June 2007