Monday, November 23, 2020

November 22 - Inwood Hill Park: Brown Booby

I wish the Brown Booby in this post was my observation, but, alas, it is not! This morning, Nathan O'Reilly and Nadir Souirgi saw and photographed an immature Brown Booby from the Dyckman Street pier as it flew down the Hudson River. An incredible pickup for the park. Indeed, a great find anywhere in the metropolitan NYC area.

I have added an addenda to My Inwood Bird List page of species that have been recorded in the park, but that I have not seen myself. The total is now 255 species.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

November 21 - Inwood Hill Park: near record late Blackpoll Warbler

Just a short note for today. Did not get into the park in the morning because of shopping at the Farmer's Market for Thanksgiving. Nathan O'Reilly texted in the morning that he had a warbler or vireo in the park on the north side of the soccer fields. He followed up with a text that he thought it was a Blackpoll Warbler. In the afternoon, Ann and I were having lunch outside at the café in front of our building when Danny Karlson walked out of the park. He said the bird was still there. So after lunch I grabbed my bins and camera and headed over to see it. This is very late for a Blackpoll. I was able to find it and get one recognizable shot.

Blackpoll Warbler - Inwood Hill Park - November 21 2020

Afterwards, I checked my own records and the references. This is the first Blackpoll I have ever seen in the month of November. It is less than two weeks short of a record late date for New York State, which is December 3. Far more likely at this date would be the very similar Pine Warbler. This bird can be identified as a Blackpoll by the streaks on the back and the yellow feet. A Pine Warbler would have dark feet and a plain, unstreaked back.


 

Monday, November 16, 2020

November 16 - Inwood Hill Park: mainly watching the river

Hoping to get some interesting migrants on the Hudson River I met Hilary Russ on the Dyckman Street pier at 7:30 am. A few other birders had similar ideas and a friend of Hilary's joined us a little after 8:00. We got reports of a female Common Eider seen down river at West 70th Street flying north. We watched for it but finally heard it had turned around and was seen again there later headed south. We did see Bald Eagle and later two Peregrine Falcons chasing a small passerine (unsuccessfully) but the river was quiet except for the usual gulls. After a while we headed north on the ballfields and met up with Danny Karlson. The fields were also quiet. Hilary, her friend, and Danny left and I was joined by Diane Schenker. We continued to scan the river. Finally, Diane and I were rewarded with three Greater Scaup (two males and a female) flying up river. They settled on the water and drifted north. This is a relatively infrequent visitor to the park and are the first I have seen in the park since the winter of 2014. After leaving the ballfields Diane and I spent some time on the ridge, but it was very quiet. On our way out of the park we encountered a large flock of Mourning Doves (two dozen) feeding on the soccer fields at the north end of the park.
Part of a flock of 24 Mourning Doves on the soccer field - November 16 2020

As we left the park we stopped at Muscota Marsh where we spotted the lone Brant from yesterday feeding along the shoreline on the north side of the ship canal. My bird list of 30 species is below.

Brant  1
Canada Goose  8
Mallard  4
Greater Scaup  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  24
Ring-billed Gull  70
Herring Gull  20
Great Black-backed Gull  8
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Carolina Wren  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
American Robin  1
House Sparrow  12
American Goldfinch  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Common Grackle  30
Northern Cardinal  1

Sunday, November 15, 2020

November 15 - Inwood Hill Park: two new birds for my personal park list

On a mostly gray day I added two species to my personal Inwood Hill Park list. The first was shortly after I started at 7:30 am. I was on the deck at Muscota Marsh when I heard a flock of Canada Geese approaching from the north. As they passed over to the south I raised my binoculars to count the flock. If I hadn't I would not have spotted a group of six passerines also flying south. I was thrilled to recognize them as a group of Evening Grosbeaks! This fall has seen a considerable finch flight with many "winter finches" being seen throughout the NYC/Long Island area. Inwood has had many Pine Siskins. Evening Grosbeaks have been reported from many parks and cemeteries around the city. None had been reported from Inwood before today, but I had been watching for them, so I was thrilled to spot this small flock. It was species number 223 for me for the park. Later in the morning, Nathan O'Reilly and Nadir Souirgi reported a flock of Common Goldeneye on the Hudson River. Danny Karlson and I looked for them with no success. This would have been another new species for my personal list. A while later Danny and I were at the Hudson Overlook on the ridge when Nathan texted that he and Nadir had a Black Scoter on the Hudson near a barge and tug anchored in the river. Danny and I were able to spot the bird from our higher vantage point and watched it as it took off and flew down river. This was another new species for me for the park (and the last of the three scoters for my park list), thus becoming species 224 for my list. This has been a great year for my Inwood Hill Park bird list. I have added nine species to it this year.

I spent a considerable amount of my time in the park today watching from the Hudson River Overlook; first with Danny and then with Hilary Russ who joined us and stayed after Danny left. We had a number of Bald Eagles and a few Cooper's Hawks including one large female. The highlight, however, were the hundreds of blackbirds going by in mixed flocks of Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. The numbers for these species in my day list below are low estimates.

In the afternoon, after I got home to my apartment and had finished lunch I got a text message from Rachel Joakim that she was across the street on the Muscota Marsh deck and there was a Brant by the Columbia Dock. This is a species that is usually only seen in flocks passing over the park on migration. A few weeks ago we had hundreds going over on one day. It is however, rare to have one settle down in the park, so I went out and photographed the visitor.

Brant - Inwood Hill Park (Muscota Marsh mudflats) - Nov 15 2020

Canada Goose  30
Mallard  16
Black Scoter  1     
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  30
Mourning Dove  6
Ring-billed Gull  50
Herring Gull  30
Great Black-backed Gull  6
Great Blue Heron  4
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1     (late for this species).
Cooper's Hawk  3     
Bald Eagle  7
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Blue Jay  10
American Crow  2
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  10
Carolina Wren  1
European Starling  5
Northern Mockingbird  2
American Robin  8
House Sparrow  30
Evening Grosbeak  6     
American Goldfinch  14
Dark-eyed Junco  4
White-throated Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  6
Red-winged Blackbird  500     Blackbird flocks migrating.
Brown-headed Cowbird  50     Blackbird flocks migrating.
Common Grackle  500     Blackbird flocks migrating.
Northern Cardinal  2

Saturday, November 14, 2020

November 14 - Inwood Hill Park: beautiful fall day

An absolutely beautiful fall day in the park. Crystal blue, cloudless skies. I started out at Muscota Marsh around 7:15 am. Shortly afterward I was joined by Diane Schenker. Later we met Danny Karlson on the soccer field. During the course of the day we met and birded a bit with Nathan O'Reilly, Nadir Souirgi, Elizabeth White-Pultz, and few others. Danny and I left the park around 2:45 pm.

When we started it was nearing high tide and with New Moon tonight, it was a very high tide. The little canal that connects Muscota Bay and the main bay was flooded and Diane and I found a Muskrat sitting in the open there.
Muskrat - Inwood Hill Park - 11/14/2020

On the north side of the soccer field the tide was so high the main paved path was flooded as was much of the fenced in area. In recent weeks there had been good numbers of Pine Siskins around and we usually found some in the lower Muscota Marsh area or a few at the fenced in area on the soccer field, however, they seemed to moved on since we did not see any today. Indeed, I haven't seen hardly any in the last week. It was another good raptor flight day. I recorded seven species, plus a Turkey Vulture that Danny spotted over the Palisades. The highlight among the raptors was a total of nine Bald Eagles, most of them immatures, but a few adults. There were also some flocks of blackbirds moving over and Danny and I encountered a group of Red-wings and Grackles that landed in a tree on the ridge as we headed down the Clove. For me, the highlight, or rather highlights, of the day were picking up two year birds: an American Pipit (finally!) on the Hudson River ballfields and an Eastern Bluebird up on the Ridge.

I ended the day with 49 species (full list below). I was also able to get some photos to add to My Inwood List page. I now have photos for 115 of 222 species on my Inwood list. 

I missed the best bird reported in the park today. Nathan and Nadir saw a gull flying south over the Hudson River in the morning. Nathan got some very poor quality photos of the bird which appear to show an immature Black-legged Kittiwake. This would almost certainly be a first record for the park.

Canada Goose  60
Mallard  5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Mourning Dove  6
Ring-billed Gull  40
Herring Gull  15
Great Black-backed Gull  6
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1  (getting late for this species)
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  9
Red-tailed Hawk  3 (probably more than this, but it is impossible to tell migrants from residents)
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
American Kesrel - 11/14/2020
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  3
crow sp.  16     One flock.
Common Raven  1
Common Raven - 11/14/2020
Black-capped Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Carolina Wren  1
European Starling  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Eastern Bluebird  1  (Nathan had a flock of 14 on the Ridge)  
Eastern Bluebird - 11/14/2020
American Robin  2
Cedar Waxwing  10
House Sparrow  10
American Pipit  1  
House Finch  4
Purple Finch  2
Purple Finch (female) - 11/14/2020
American Goldfinch  10
Chipping Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  10
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  4
Swamp Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow - 11/14/2020
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Grackle  20
Tennessee Warbler  1 (late for this species - spotted by Nathan on the Hudson River ballfields)
Northern Cardinal  1

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 3 - Inwood Hill Park: A Big Turnout.

There was a big turnout of diurnal migrating raptors and vultures in Inwood Hill Park today! What? Did you think I was referring to something else?

To get our minds off some other events in the news today, Danny Karlson, Diane Schenker, and Elizabeth White-Pultz and I spent the day birding in Inwood Hill Park. It was a spectacular day for migrating hawks and vultures and a few other things. I spent nearly eight hours in the park and recorded 54 species (total list below). First, let's het the biggie out of the way. We missed, by minutes the bird of the day. As the four of us headed up the ridge to get over to the Hudson River ballfields, Hilary Russ was just coming onto the soccer fields from the east. Shortly afterward, Hilary spotted an immature Golden Eagle flying over, headed south! This is a great bird anywhere in New York State, but a particularly spectacular find for New York City. Amazingly, the bird was seen by other birders, basically down the length of Manhattan. It was reported by birders at Dyckman Street at the south end of Inwood, at West 70th Street and the Hudson River and at the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. Hilary also spotted two Black Vultures, another uncommon (but regular migrant) over the city. Danny, Diane, Elizabeth, and I did not see either of these two special birds, but we did tally a total of nine species of hawks and dozens of Turkey Vultures, mainly from the Hudson River ball fields. The hawks we saw were: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon. It is getting late for Broad-winged Hawk, though not a record date, and James Knox and I saw one during yesterday's morning flight over the soccer field. The specific numbers for all these species are in my list below. In addition to the above we counted seven Common Ravens and saw a single flock of several hundred Common Grackles go over. It is hard to come up with a number for Red-tailed Hawks since it is essentially impossible to distinguish migrant from our resident birds. This juvenile which landed in a tree above us and studied us is certainly one of local birds.
Red-tailed Hawk - Inwood Hill Park - November 3, 2020

In addition to the birds we had some interesting mushrooms on the walk. The iNaturalist app was sure about this colorful mushroom but suggested the genus Pholiota
Genus Pholiota - Inwood Hill Park - November 3, 2020

The app was sure about this Polypore, giving it the wonderful English name of Cracked Cap Polypore. My references, however, disagree on the genus it belongs in; some say Phellinus, some say Fulviformes
Cracked Cap Polypore, Fulviformes (Phellinus) robiniae - November 3, 2020

On the way out of the park, north of the fenced area on the soccer field we came across a Chinese Mantis on the ground. After Diane and Elizabeth moved it to some vegetation, it was ready for its close-up.
Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) - Inwood Hill Park - November 3, 2020

Brant  20
Canada Goose  25
Mallard  10
American Black Duck  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  5
Mourning Dove  1
Ring-billed Gull  30
Herring Gull  1
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  32    
Sharp-shinned Hawk  4     
Cooper's Hawk  10    
Bald Eagle  14
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Broad-winged Hawk  1   
Red-tailed Hawk  8
Belted Kingfisher  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
American Kestrel  2
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  16     
Common Raven  7     
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  8
Golden-crowned Kinglet - Inwood Hill Park - November 3, 2020
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Winter Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
European Starling  8
Northern Mockingbird  1
Hermit Thrush  4
American Robin  4
House Sparrow  6
House Finch  5
Purple Finch  6
Pine Siskin  30
American Goldfinch  10
Chipping Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  1
White-throated Sparrow  4
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  4
Swamp Sparrow  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  4
Common Grackle  200 - 400
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal  1

Monday, November 2, 2020

November 2 - Inwood Hill Park: high winds and migrating vultures and hawks

After yesterday's rains a cold front with high winds moved into the area overnight. In the morning we had sustained winds of over 20 mph from the northwest. The weather pattern brought a significant flight of diurnal migrants over the park in the morning. I went out for about 2.5 hours starting around 8:30 am. I only went as far as the soccer fields and watched the skies from there. There was a good movement of Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles. It is possible more may have been visible from either the Hudson River Overlook on the ridge or from the ball fields along the river. However, the viewing would have been much harder in those locations because of the lack of shelter. In any event I ran up a nice list of migrants passing over the fields and the ridge. One surprise was a Broad-winged Hawk; it is getting late for that species. My total bird list is below.

Canada Goose  45
Mallard  10
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  6
Mourning Dove  1
Ring-billed Gull  70
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Turkey Vulture  35     Conservative count of migrating birds.


Cooper's Hawk  7     Individual southbound migrants counted.
Bald Eagle  10     Minimum total count. At one point had four birds in view at one time.
Broad-winged Hawk  1     
Red-tailed Hawk  5
Merlin  1
Blue Jay  6
Fish Crow  20     One migrant flock; several were calling. .
European Starling  6
Northern Mockingbird  1
American Robin  5
House Sparrow  20
Pine Siskin  1
American Goldfinch  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  4
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Common Grackle  40

Sunday, November 1, 2020

November 1 - Inwood Hill Park: A quick morning walk.

 Daylight Savings Time ended overnight, but despite the extra hour's sleep I did not get out early. Also, since my back was bothering me, I only went for a short walk to Muscota Marsh and out to the soccer fields. In any event, rain was predicted to start around midday (and it did). Still in that short time I was able to record 23 species, including a few nice ones. A Marsh Wren is always nice to see in the park and it is starting to get a little late in the fall for them, so one in Muscota Marsh, first reported by Nathan O'Reilly around sunup was a welcome sight.

Marsh Wren - 11/01/2020

My full list of 23 species is below.

Mallard  10
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  10
Mourning Dove  1
Ring-billed Gull  30
Herring Gull  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  1
Common Raven  1
Marsh Wren  1  
European Starling  7
Northern Mockingbird  2
American Robin  3
House Sparrow  40
Pine Siskin  1  
American Goldfinch  2
White-crowned Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  5
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal  1

October 31 - Halloween in Inwood Hill Park

A beautiful, but cold day in the park. It was the first subfreezing temperatures of the fall - though just barely. It was 31 F when I started out at 7:30 am. I met up with Danny Karlson, Diane Schenker, and Elizabeth White-Pultz at Muscota Marsh. Nathan O'Reilly was also with us for a bit in the morning, though Nathan headed directly up onto the ridge while the rest of us headed over to the ballfields along the river after we headed towards the Henry Hudson Bridge. We had hoped for some Evening Grosbeaks given the overnight northwest winds which continued into the daylight hours. Alas, though we heard reports of grosbeaks from around the NYC area, we did not encounter any. A highlight of the walk was an immature Bald Eagle that sat unperturbed in a tree along the Hudson River for probably more than half an hour.
Bald Eagle (immaure) - 10/31/2020

In addition to the immature we also saw three adult Bald Eagles: one over Muscota Marsh when we started and two more over the Hudson later. On the river there was a lone Brant which took off when the immature eagle finally left his perch and flew over where the Brant was resting on the water.
Brant - 10/31/2020

This single Brant was in marked contrast to last Sunday when on a similar cool day with northerly winds, hundreds of Brant flew over in various size flocks. We did have one flock of Canada Geese fly over in one of their classic "v" shaped migrating flocks, so different from the "untidy" flocks of Brant that caused hunters to call them "wavies".
Canada Geese - 10/31/2020

Another highlight of the walk was an adult Cooper's Hawk perched in a low tree up on the ridge near the "whaleback" rock. It was identifiable as an adult by its reddish underparts. It seemed fairly large, so was probably a female.

I picked up two new birds for this fall season: a small flock of Bufflehead on the river (first spotted by Nathan) and two Winter Wrens up on the ridge. The Winter Wrens were my first ones this year. Other people had seen the species this fall, but I had missed them until now.

My total list of 53 species for the day is below.

Brant  1
Canada Goose  30
Mallard  20
Bufflehead  6
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  80
Mourning Dove  6
Ring-billed Gull  20
Herring Gull  2
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Common Loon  1
Double-crested Cormorant  7
Great Blue Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  4
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue-headed Vireo  2
Blue Jay  12
American Crow  8
Black-capped Chickadee  12    
Tufted Titmouse  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Brown Creeper  1
Winter Wren  2
Carolina Wren  5
European Starling  4
Northern Mockingbird  2
Hermit Thrush  2
American Robin  4
House Sparrow  40
House Finch  4
Pine Siskin  1     
American Goldfinch  4
Chipping Sparrow  10
Dark-eyed Junco  50
White-throated Sparrow  10
Song Sparrow  5
Swamp Sparrow  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  30
Common Grackle  15
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Northern Cardinal  3

Friday, October 30, 2020

October 30 - My Inwood Bird List

We have had two days of rainy weather courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Zeta. So I used some of the indoor time to make a new page on my blog. It is a full list of the birds I have found in Inwood Hill Park. The page can be found in the list of pages on the right side of the main page of the blog. Here is a link to go to it directly: My Inwood Bird List. The list currently stands at 222 species. I will add to it as I see new species in the park. I will also be adding more photographs of birds to the list.