Sunday, 30 April 2017

Great Turkey Chase

Honestly…..a wild Turkey
This shows how close the bird was to the main path
I've seen prettier birds
Jacqeline Onassis Reservoir (can you spot the Red-necked Grebe)
Female Ruddy Duck
Male Ruddy Duck
Red-necked Grebe
Our final day in New York started early with a trip up to the top of the Rockafeller building giving us amazing views of the city and also Central Park. After breakfast we opted to return to park but start further north so we could take in the Jacqeline Onassis Reservoir & also Strawberry Fields.

It was a beautiful morning & the park was busy with the active New Yorkers going about their weekend run or cycle. There was also outdoor fitness classes taking place, in fact we hadn't expected to see so many in shape people in New York. The reservoir was a favourite jogging spot of Jackie Onassis and Bill Clinton, with it holding a billion gallons of water & covering an 1/8th of the park in size. 

First birds to catch my eye were a pair of stunning Buffleheads that thankfully swam towards us enabling me to get a few nice shots. In the same part of the reservoir there were a pair of Ruddy Ducks, the males beak was striking in colour.

A wintering Red-necked Grebe was a good bird to catch up with but it was a few weeks behind the one I found at Salford Priors. Mrs D then picked up a Northern Rough-winged Swallow flying around the east side. 

After taking in the historic Strawberry Fields we headed to the south west corner where after a decent walk we found the reported wild Turkey. To be honest I didn't even know Turkey's were wild. Apparently this was just the 9th record for the park with the species and it was thought the birds had dispersed from its breeding grounds. The Turkey was foraging for food at very close quarters allowing many local people to get great views. 

By the end of the trip I'd manage to record 63 species with 47 being lifers. 

Trip List

1) Common Grackle
2) Red-winged Blackbird
3) House Sparrow
4) American Herring Gull
5) Laughing Gull
6) Great Cormorant
7) Brent Geese
8) Lesser Black-backed Gull
9) American Robin
10) Chipping Sparrow
11) White-throated Sparrow
12) Peregrine
13) Red-bellied Woodpecker
14) Blue Jay
15) Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
16) Ruby-crowned Kinglet
17) Belted Kingfisher
18) Mallard
19) American Coot
20) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
21) Northern Waterthrush
22) American Goldfinch
23) Northern Cardinal
24) Green Heron
25) Red-breasted Nuthatch
26) White-breasted Nuthatch
27) Orange-crowned Warber
28) Northern Parula
29) Palm Warbler
30) Pine Warbler
31) Yellow-rumped Warber
32) Red-tailed Hawk
33) Brown Thrasher
34) Mourning Dove
35) Song Sparrow
36) Downy Woodpecker
37) Chimmey Swift
38) Double-crested Cormorant
39) Great Cormorant
40) Black-crowned Night Heron
41) Red-headed Woodpecker
42) American Kestrel
43) American Crow
44) Blue-headed Vireo
45) Black-capped Chickadee
46) House Wren
47) Hermit Thrush
48) Wood Thrush
49) House Finch
50) Louisana Waterthrush
51) Eastern Towhee
52) Brown-crowned Cowbird
53) Bufflehead
54) Ruddy Duck
55) Shoveler
56) Rough-winged Swallow
57) Great White Egret
58) Starling
59) Tufted Titmouse
60) Canada Goose
61) Red-necked Grebe
62) Great Black-backed Gull
63) Turkey

Central Park Birding

 After what seemed a very long time from booking, Mrs D and I headed to the Big Apple last weekend to celebrate her big birthday from earlier in the year. Three nights & four days of non stop sight seeing from dawn to dusk definitely tested the feet but we saw some wonderful sightings including the Empire State Building, Rockafeller Building, library, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 museum & memorial, Brooklyn Bridge plus so much more. 
 American Robin
Chipping Sparrow
As we headed into the city our first bird of note was a Red-winged Blackbird trying to keep up with the train. When passing the Statue of Liberty we recorded American Herring Gulls, a Peregrine fly past, Great Cormorants, four Laughing Gulls and six Brent Geese. The only other bird we saw on our travels were Common Grackle. When over in Brooklyn we finally found our first American Robin, much bigger than I expected and pretty tame allowing me to take some photos at close quarters. In the same area I also found a small group of Chipping Sparrows that were much prettier than expected. 
I'd spent many hours researching how Central Park always attracts a fantastic array of birds during spring & Autumn migration as they migrate along the eastern seaboard. There seemed to be a real community of knowledgable birders which actually featured in a HBO documentary called Birders: The Central Park Effect. For months I'd been following with interest all the local birders on Twitter & even formed by own Twitter list for quick click news. Author David Barrett offered plenty of great advice in advance and we met up at the Boathouse at 7.30am. David had recommended Birding Bob as a guide as he would cover most of the park and target the spring migrants. 

Bob is now very well known and charges just $5 per person per walk. There was about 7/8 of us on the first walk which swelled to around 25 for the 9am walk. Also joining us was Warwick birder @1stbirdoftheday.
1st bird of day running the locals through patch list for Warwick Racecourse
Birding Bob
7.30 group in full swing
 Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
Northern Waterthrush
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
 Downey Woodpecker
House Finch
Female Northern Cardinal
Black-crowned Nigh Heron
Northern Cardinal
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Wood Thrush
Nesting American Robin
Blue-headed Vireo (File photo)
Palm Warbler
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Yellow-rumped Warbler (File photo)
American Goldfinch

Orange-crowned Warbler (File photo)
I'll try and write up the sightings as best as possible but the action was fast & my priority was to see the birds well before making a note & taking a photograph. Whilst waiting at the Boathouse for the rest of the early group I recorded by first Blue Jays (a real iconic bird for me to see but actually very common), Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robins & Common Grackles.

We then walked towards the point where a Green Heron with orange legs took flight above us whilst a Belted Kingfisher was sat on the other side of the pool. An American Coot was on the edge of the reeds & an American Goldfinch sat for a few seconds before flying towards the boat house.

It was easy to get distracted by the common species but as we edged towards the famous Point we record both White-breasted & Red-breasted Nuthatches. The White-breasted was a real gem of a bird that spent most of its time feeding low unlike our Nuthatch. 

It was then the action went ballistic with Ruby-crowned Kinglet (first of ten seen in morning), Orange-crowned Warbler, Northern Parula, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler & Yellow-rumped Warbler. Five Wood Warblers all with close proximity feeding high above us. The Yellow-rumped stood out for me but the rarity was actually the Orange-crowned which the locals were purring over. 

Northern Cardinal was one of the birds I was keen to see & whilst the research indicated they would be common I didn't expect to see as many as I did, some at very close quarters. Same applied to Downey Woodpeckers, these were similar in size to our Lesser Spots and could be seen in excellent detail.

As we edged through the famous Ramble area & the other side of the Point we recorded species including Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Crow, Northern Flicker, Mourning Dove, six Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Finch & White-throated Sparrow.

The areas around the water continued to attract great birds throughout the morning, either on the edges or over head. These sightings included two Chimney Swifts soaring high, four Double-crested Cormorant, a Canada Goose on eggs (locals were very excited about this !), Hermit Thrush & Louisiana Waterthrush which 1st bird of the day actually found. 

Red-tailed Hawk's were soaring over 5th Avenue and we saw one land on its spring nest. The Hawks population continues to grow in Manhattan where there are now over 20 pairs. 

Around the Maintenance & Tupelo fields there were more hidden gems with an American Kestrel overhead, three Blue-headed Vireo & three Field Sparrows. 

As we headed south east we picked up a high House Wren, a uncommon Wood Thrush, two Brown-headed Cowbird & an Eastern Towhee.  

Our final bird was a Red-headed Woodpecker, the first-spring record at the Dene.  

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Easter Migfest

Bredon Hill
First sighting of a Redstart this year
Pesky Wheatear
 Common Redstart in the Wyre
Best shot of Wood Warbler possible
 Dowles Brook
Hearty breakfast at the George pub
 Common Tern at Earlswood
 Stretching out
Common Tern close up

With no spring rarities tempting me to venture out of the county I've been concentrating on the migrants moving through the local area over the Easter break. 

First destination was Bredon Hill which is just 20 miles south from home. As we headed up the sharp accent the thought did pass what are we doing as it was cold & miserable. Thankfully the weather past through allowing some great views as always and the sighting of our first Ring Ouzel which was a male flying across the north escapement. Four Common Redstarts were an additional year tick, there were also four Wheatear on the lower slopes.

Bank Holiday Monday is now a traditional to head to the Wyre Forest for a good walk & hearty breakfast. Two Marsh Tit were calling by the bench before we turned left to record our only Tree Pipit in the company of a big fall of Willow Warblers. Entering Knowles Coppice I heard what a I thought was an early Wood Warbler. This seemed a little early however this was the first of two that showed very well but trying to get a photograph was very difficult.  Three Pied Flycatchers were keeping their distance in their usual spot so we moved through to the orchard where I found a male Redstart, a bonus. Cuckoo was the next bird added to the year list as we headed down to Dowles Brook. We didn't have any luck with Dippers but we did get two Grey Wagtails.

After a morning visit to the pits I headed over to Earlswood for a mooch around where I found my first two Commmon Terns of the year. Earlswood is a great place for watching terns as they fly so close to you and there is always chance of getting a passing Arctic, Black or Sandwich, all of which I've seen previously there. Additional sightings were a Common Sandpiper, a brood of Mallard, Great Crested Grebes,  30 + Sand Martin, 5 Swallows and a strange sight of a Lapwing flying low over Engine pool.

Wheatears at last

Superb Male Wheatear
Romance on the rock
Female close up
Keeping a close eye on me
 Saturday saw the start of the cricket season
 Brown Hare
 Hybrid Goose
 Common Sandpiper
 Like this shot as shows environment
 Attention !
Swallows return
 How many Wheatear can you get on a rock ?
Never get tired of them

With an extended Easter break I've been visiting daily and sometimes going back for a double helping. With the Blackcaps & Willow Warblers now in good voice, an additional Reed Warbler has come in with five Whitethroats.  A Common Sandpiper was another pleasing arrival and looks pretty settled on the main pit.

By far the best entertainment was watching our Wheatear mini flock which has varied in size from three to a maximum of six. If you scan from the main pit sometimes they are impossible to see yet on other visits they have been comfortable going about their business around me taking no notice what so ever. 

Additional sightings of note were a pair of Pochard on the middle lagoon, a Red Kite, a drake Mandarin (found by Chris Lane), 3 Little Ringed Plovers,  6 Shelduck, White Wagtail and a frustrating female Greater Scaup that took off as I was setting my camera  up on the tripod.

From my records we have recorded 107 species at the pits to date up to and including Monday 17th April.