Sunday, May 02, 2010

Birding with Bloggers in Central Park

Yesterday I took the train into New York to meet Bev, Catherine, Ann Marie, and three other birders in Central Park. While I have had contact with some of them through Twitter and the blogosphere, this was my first time meeting any of them.

We met and started birding at Tanner's Spring, just above 81st Street. Not many birds were coming down to the water that early in the day, but there was plenty of activity in the trees above us. The highlight was a Worm-eating Warbler, which offered very brief glimpses high in the canopy. Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-white Warblers all showed themselves in the trees around the spring. Near the top of Summit Rock above the spring we saw two male Scarlet Tanagers in the same tree. On the way back down, there was a Veery – the first of many thrushes for the day – near the side of the path.

From there we headed in the direction of Belvidere Castle, where several good birds had been spotted in recent days. On the way, Catherine thought she saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the Shakespeare Garden; unfortunately it gave too brief of a glimpse for anyone else to get on it. The reported birds were not around the castle, but our consolation prize was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Bev also spotted a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in that area.

The Ramble was very birdy yesterday. While the numbers of birds were not high, there was a surprising amount of diversity. There were large numbers of Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, and Black-and-white Warblers, as well as many Blue-headed Vireos. We saw lots of Hermit Thrushes, though Catherine said that there were a lot more the day before. As we made our way through the Ramble, we saw or heard Hooded, Chestnut-sided, Blue-winged, Nashville, and Palm Warblers. We also saw a few Common Yellowthroats and a couple Northern Waterthrushes.

At one trail junction there were a couple of rotting logs from which hundreds of winged termites were emerging. (Update: Bev posted photos of the termites.) As they flew away from the log, a Northern Parula was waiting to snatch them out of the air. Several other birds, mostly American Robins and House Sparrows, also took advantage of the termite feast. Several other logs or stumps had emerging termites, but none of the others had quite as dense a crowd (of either termites or birds).

There was a report of a Yellow-breasted Chat in the Maintenance Meadow, so we followed up on that. Unfortunately there was no Chat when we arrived, or at least if there was one, it was not chatting. After quick stops at the Oven and the Point, we headed to the Boathouse for lunch. In the afternoon we added one more warbler, Magnolia Warbler, which gave some great looks and brought us up to 16 warbler species for the day. At this point, members of the group started to go home. As the rest of us made our way back to Tanner's Spring, we saw a couple of Baltimore Orioles and a Yellow-throated Vireo. Once back at the spring we went our separate ways.