Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27 - Hammond's Flycatcher - Central Park

Over the Thanksgiving weekend an Empidonax flycatcher was discovered in the Ramble in Central Park. First tentatively identified as a "Western" Flycatcher (a Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher), it was later identified as a Hammond's Flycatcher, a third New York State record. Back on October 27, 2001, I was lucky enough to see New York's first Hammond's Flycatcher - before it was eaten by a passing Merlin. I was out of the city over the holiday weekend, so I wasn't able to chase this bird until this morning. Luckily, it was still present this morning and being reasonably cooperative, though occasionally elusive.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 9 - Corn Crake: R.I.P.

Unfortunately, the Corn Crake out at Cedar Beach was picked up dead this morning, apparently struck by a car. The corpse was brought to the Museum where it will be prepared as a specimen and placed in the scientific collection.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 8 - Corn Crake!

I have had a busy fall and need to catch up on my blog, however, I cannot let seeing a bird as spectacular as a Corn Crake on Long Island go by without a mention. The bird was found near Cedar Beach on the Jones Beach barrier strip in Suffolk County, NY yesterday. Today Ann and I were among the many birders who dashed out to see such a spectacular rarity. The bird did not disappoint!
My last life bird on land (as opposed to pelagic species offshore) in New York State was a Western Reef Heron in Brooklyn ten years ago.

Corn Crake 11/08/2017

Afterwards, we went over to Heckscher State Park and saw two of the Hudsonian Godwits and the Long-billed Dowitcher that have been there.

Hudsonian Godwit 11/08/2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sept 2 - Great Gull Island - Bridled Tern

In August Ann and I went with a friend, Georgia Rose, out to Nebraska to see the total solar eclipse. We had a great trip and got great views of the eclipse. I will post pictures and account of the trip when I get a chance. As soon as I got back to NY, I immediately went out to Great Gull Island where we are going to be closing down the island for the season this week. Yesterday afternoon we had a great thrill and surprise when an adult Bridled Tern showed up on the eastern end of the island. Below are a couple of shots of the bird. The flight shot was cleaned up a bit for me by Sean Sime. This is the second record for the island for Bridled Tern. The first was in August 2016 and was posted on my blog last year.

Bridled Tern - 09/02/2017 - Great Gull Island   © J. DiCostanzo
Bridled Tern - 09/02/2017 - Great Gull Island   © J. DiCostanzo

Friday, August 4, 2017

July - Moths, Butterflies, Amphibians, and Birds - Upstate NY

In July, Ann and I went upstate to visit friends and to do a little camping. We started out visiting our friend Loretta in Columbia County. After a few nights there we went onto Pat and Ron in Essex County in the Adirondacks. Then we camped for a couple of nights at Meacham Lake in Franklin County, still in the Adirondacks. Then it was west for one night in Watertown in Jefferson County before returning to Loretta's for a day or so of drying out our tent and then home to New York City.

Of course, everywhere we went we spent a lot of time outdoors - when it wasn't raining. In Columbia County we spent a morning at the Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary. With all the rain in July there were many mushrooms throughout the woods, though the birds were somewhat scarce. In another post I hope to put up some pictures of the fungi, once I get more of them identified. A highlight here was a worn Luna Moth, the first I have seen in years.In Essex County we visited White Pine Camp, one of the old Adirondack Great Camps and one that had served as the summer White House for Calvin Coolidge for a year or two in the 1920s. We also briefly visited Bloomingdale Bog. Later from our base at Meacham Lake, Ann and I birded Madawaska for boreal birds. We saw a couple of Gray Jays and heard Black-backed Woodpecker and White-winged Crossbill. Later in the day we saw a couple of White-winged Crossbills on Oregon Plains Road near Bloomingdale. Our quick trip over to Watertown was so that we could spend a morning at the Perch River Wildlife Management Area before heading back south. Below are a few pictures from the various stops.

Luna Moth - 07/19/2017 - Wilson Powell Wildlife Sanctuary
Twin-spotted Sphinx moth - 07/22/2017 - Jay, NY
Appalachian Brown - 07/19/2017 - Wilson Powell Wildlife Sanctuary
Northern Pearly-eye - 07/26/2017 - Madawaska
Pearl Crescent - 07/28/2017 - Perch River WMA
American Toad - 07/22/2017 - Bloomingdale Bog
Northern Leopard Frog - 07/28/2017 - Perch River WMA
Caspian Terns - 07/28/2017 - Perch River WMA
Gray Jay - 07/26/2017 - near Madawaska
White-winged Crossbill - 07/26/2017 - near Bloomingdale Bog

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30 - Inwood Hill Park - Greater Yellowlegs

Ann and I got home this afternoon from a trip upstate to the Adirondacks. After unpacking camping and other gear I was sitting down to my computer when I looked out the window and spotted a bird standing on a post on the edge of Muscota Marsh. Grabbing my binoculars to check it out I discovered it was a Greater Yellowlegs. I then grabbed my camera and went down onto the deck at the end of 218th Street to get a picture. It was a nice welcome home surprise.

Greater Yellowlegs - 07/30/2017 - Muscota Marsh, Inwood Hill Park
When I get a chance sometime in the next few days, I will post some things from our upstate trip.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18 - Great Gull Island - Regal Moth

I am out on Great Gull Island doing field work with the terns. We have had heavy fog the last two mornings. As the fog was lifting this morning some of the workers were headed east through the "Meadow" section of the island when Donna Satterlee spotted a very large, unfamiliar moth. She took some pictures of it with her cellphone and I later went out and took some more pictures. We identified it as a Regal Moth (Citheronia regalii). Some research on the Internet turned up that the caterpillar has the wonderful name of Hickory Horned Devil. the wingspread of the adult moth can reach six inches. Its normal range is further south from here, usually just reaching northern New Jersey, though they do wander north to Massachusetts, so we were quite lucky to see one here.
Regal Moth (Citheronia regalii) - 06/18/2017 - Great Gull Island, NY

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3 - Golden-winged Warbler again

I went upstate again today, this time with Ed Eden, to chase some of the same birds Ann and I saw last weekend. The Henslow's Sparrow at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR in Ulster County was a life bird for Ed so we went there first. As we were driving through Blue Chip Farm, minutes from the refuge, I found an email from Rob Jett on the NYSbirds listserv that the Henslow's Sparrow and the Dickcissel were both being seen at the refuge. When we pulled into the parking area we could see groups of birders out in the grassland where I knew from my visit last week the birds were usually seen. We headed down the trail and as we approached the first bunch of birders we could hear the Henslow's singing. It took Ed about five seconds to pick up his first life bird of the day. After long, satisfying views of the Henslow's we walked the short distance down to the blind and got nice views of the Dickcissel. This wasn't a life bird for Ed, but it was the first adult male he had ever seen. We went back to watching the very cooperative Henslow's and waited out a brief passing rain shower that barely got us wet. On the way back to the car we heard an Alder Flycatcher singing and got a few brief views when it perched up. Back by the parking area we saw a Grasshopper Sparrow from the observation platform adding another grassland bird to the morning's list of the two goodies and number of singing and flying Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks. After the brief rain, the day turned into a beautiful partly sunny one with brilliant blue skies and puffy clouds.

Next we headed down to Sterling Forest State Park to try for another life bird for Ed: Golden-winged Warbler. It took more time and effort than the Henslow's, but the photo below is proof of a successful endeavor.
Golden-winged Warbler 06/03/2017 Sterling Forest State Park
Nearby we saw a somewhat cooperative Black-billed Cuckoo. After eating lunch back at the car, we headed back north and east to Doodletown Road near Bear Mountain and spent a couple of hours birding there. We saw and heard 38 species there before heading back to the city. A successful and fun day's birding.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June 2 - Inwood Hill Park: Red-throated Loon

A winter plumaged Red-throated Loon has been hanging out at the north end of Inwood Hill Park for about a month now. On many mornings I can see it from my bedroom window when I get up. This morning when I came down from birding on the ridge the bird was just off the peninsula in the ship canal. It was doing lots of preening and flapping its wings and at one point dealing with waves from the wake of a passing boat. I liked the way it would stick its leg out when preening. It was a lot of fun to watch. Here are a few more pictures in addition to the one I posted earlier today.

2017 Great Gull Island Birdathon Report

I have now finished writing up my account of our 2017 Great Gull Island Birdathon done this year on May 20 and 21. I have posted it as a separate page here on the blog.