After my very nice morning in Inwood Hill Park, Ann and I drove up to Bear Mountain Park in Rockland County planning on birding Doodletown Road. We discovered, however, that many, many, many other people had also decided that Bear Mountain Park was a fine destination on this lovely Sunday on Memorial Day weekend. We discovered that park rangers had closed the park and the roads in due to the extreme numbers of people. The stretch of road along route 9W where one parks to go up Doodletown Road was a traffic nightmare with cars pulled up on the shoulder for long distances above and below the Doodletown Road access and rangers threatening that anyone parking on the shoulder might be ticketed. We drove out to the end of the Iona Island road and ate the snacks we had brought with us before deciding to head home to Manhattan. We did at least see a few Black Vultures circling overhead with the Turkey Vultures.
Back home I found a message from Nadir Souirgi that he and some others had found an Eastern Bluebird by the area on the ridge at Inwood that burned last month. Ann still wanted to go for a walk to exercise her knee so we headed up into the park. Not surprisingly, it was much quieter than in the morning with very few birds singing or calling. We went up to the burn area and did not see or hear any sign of the morning's bluebird. I was, however, rewarded with one very good bird. While looking around the burn area I spotted a small, dark backed thrush and pointed out the "Gray-cheeked Thrush" to Ann. But as I looked more carefully at the thrush, I started to get a bit suspicious. The bird was warmer toned on the back than I am used to with Gray-cheeks, especially on the tail. The lower mandible also was extensively bright yellow for the basal two-thirds to three-quarters of its length. I told Ann, "I am going to try an experiment." I took out my iPod and softly played the song and call notes of a Gray-cheeked Thrush (this was a low volume playback since the iPod was not attached to any external speakers and was using its tiny built in speaker alone.) The bird completely ignored the playback and after a few moments dropped out of sight behind a fallen log. Next, I played, at the same volume the song and calls of a Bicknell's Thrush. The bird reacted immediately by popping back up on the log and actively looking all around, even coming a bit closer. I did not continue playing the recording since I felt I had my answer and did not wish to cause the bird any more disturbance. The bird continued to give us good views as it perched on the fallen log and continued to look around. I have seen Bicknell's Thrush on the breeding ground and years ago mist netted and banded a couple on Great Gull Island when they could be identified in the hand by measurements. This was the first migrant out of a mist net that I felt confident in identifying. Nadir had reported hearing a Bicknell's singing on the ridge two days ago, so this may have been the same bird. I later discovered that this was my 200th species for Inwood Hill Park! It is always nice to hit a milestone with a good bird.