Friday, April 11, 2014

Inwood Hill Park - Apr 11 - warblers, finally!

OK, there were only a few, but they are here at last. I will get to them shortly.

It was a warm, if mostly overcast morning in the park. I hoped the south winds might finally have brought in the first real group of migrants. In the fenced-in area at the north end of the soccer field there was a Swamp Sparrow, but that has been there most days for over a week now. Walking across the soccer field I spotted a group of female Red-winged Blackbirds on the grass at the south side. They are the first female Red-wings I have seen in the park this spring. they were joined in a minute by three Brown-headed Cowbirds. Heading up the valley (Clove), I heard and saw the usual Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and White-throated Sparrows. Near the glacial potholes a small movement in the underbrush caught my eye - as I guessed, it was my first Winter Wren of the year. As I got to the top of the valley road, a raptor flew into a tree to the east. It looked a bit "floppy" in flight and when I checked it with my binoculars I discovered it was a Peregrine Falcon that had just caught a pigeon. The capture had clearly just happened since the pigeon was still actively struggling. That didn't last long as the Peregrine settled down to breakfast. The poor light and my desire not to disturb the falcon's repast did not lead to a very good photo.

Peregrine eating pigeon                                                                                                 © Joseph DiCostanzo
Along the ridge top there is increasing amounts of green on the ground and in the middle levels as many shrubs are now sprouting.

                                                                                                                                                       © Joseph DiCostanzo
North of the northern pine grove in the center of the ridge was where I finally encountered the warblers. There were at least two Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of Pine Warblers and several Palm Warblers. Most of the Palms were the bright yellow race that predominates in the spring, in contrast to the duller "Western" Palms we often get in the fall.

Palm Warbler                                                                                                                        © Joseph DiCostanzo
I encountered more Palms and Pines as I continued north along the ridge and there was a scattering of Palms just above the soccer field as I came down from the north end of the ridge.

In the Spuyten Duyvil area west of the Henry Hudson Bridge there was a lingering lone female Red-breasted Merganser. In the end I totaled 42 species on my walk with the last being a male Belted Kingfisher on my way out of the park near 218th Street.

There were also two nice non-avian finds. The first surprised me. On the slope west of the Henry Hudson Bridge there was an Eastern Chipmunk. Maybe, I have just overlooked them, or maybe my memory is off, but I don't remember seeing one in the park in years.

Eastern Chipmunk, Inwood Hill Park, 04-11-2014                                                            © Joseph DiCostanzo
My other non-avian find was totally expected - three Mourning Cloak butterflies around the edge of the soccer fields.

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