Sunday, April 6, 2014

Inwood Hill Park - Apr 6 - Red-necked Grebe

On my morning walk through the park the best bird was the last one. I was headed out of the park at the West 218 Street entrance when I stopped to scan the canal off the new Muscota Marsh area as I always do. All this winter I have been hoping for a Red-necked Grebe here since there have been virtually unprecedented numbers of them in the New York City region. Now there one was in the channel. I was momentarily torn between running upstairs to try to add the bird to my apartment list and doing the more responsible thing of heading out towards the Columbia dock to try to get a picture to document the record. It only took a few seconds, but responsibility won and I quickly headed down the ramp of the new Muscota Marsh area and out to the gate that restricts access to the dock. I was greatly disappointed that when I got there I could not see the grebe anywhere! I scanned up and down the channel and across the channel repeatedly. I kept looking back and forth since I know Red-necks can dive for long periods and I thought it could have drifted off in the few moments it took for me to get to the dock from the street. I finally gave up and even though I was sure about what I had seen I resigned myself to being extra cautious and not adding the grebe to my list. As I turned away to head home I saw one of the tourist cruise boats heading east towards me from the direction of the Hudson River. I decided to watch until the boat had passed east towards the Harlem River, just in case it disturbed something on the water. The decision paid off. I don't know where the grebe was since I did not see it take off, but suddenly there it was, flying low over the water westward along the canal towards the Hudson. I could easily see the birds white cheek and dirty looking long neck and trailing feet. The white secondaries on the trailing edge of the wings was very prominent. I lost sight of the bird behind the peninsula of land to the west that contains the Little League baseball field currently under reconstruction. Hoping the bird might have landed again before setting to the river I quickly headed that way. Along the wall overlooking the marsh I encountered another birder. I told her about the grebe and she followed me out to the peninsula to look for it. When we got to the far end of the point of land we could find no sign of the bird. It probably continued on to the river. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a picture of the Red-necked Grebe, but this may have been a first record for Inwood Hill Park. It was my 195th species for the park.

The woods along the Clove and up on the ridge were nowhere near as exciting as the end of my morning walk. Bird activity is starting to pick up though. There were a number of Eastern Phoebes around, particularly toward the north end of the ridge. I also had my first Golden-crowned Kinglets for the year in the park (species #61) and a couple of Hermit Thrushes in the Clove. I encountered all five of our regular woodpeckers: Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Northern Flicker.

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