A Big Day: Part One

Brooklyn Birding

Spring Migration is under way, and the Warblers have arrived in full force!  After traveling thousands of miles from their Winter homes in Central and South America, these little birds pass over our area and need to refuel on insects.  Large green spaces are hard to come by amidst our urban sprawl, so places like Central and Prospects Parks draw huge numbers of birds (and the bird watchers who admire them.)  This is one reason birding is so great around NYC, it’s easy to find the birds. We entered Prospect Park at 8am Saturday morning, May 3rd, via the 16th Street entrance.  We were greeted immediately not by a Warbler, but by a vibrant Baltimore Oriole.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

We walked a little further into the park and hit the jackpot- a tree dripping with Warblers!  Well there were only 3, but still, it was more than we could focus on at once.  There was a Chestnut-Sided Warbler LL, a Black-Throated Blue Warbler, a Magnolia Warbler and a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet we thought was a rare Warbler species until we properly ID’d it 2 hours later.

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

We sat on steps next to the special tree while eating breakfast (Sarah is no longer allowed to eat while walking, way too much cream cheese and coffee has fallen onto her binocular lenses) and saw Redstarts and Black and White Warblers.  Black and White Warblers were the most numerous species around, we must have seen 25 over the course of the day.  They are rather cooperative birds and allow you to get a good look at them too.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

As we made our way to the Ravine, we saw many friendly birders.  One Sage British Man in a Safari Vest helped us identify our first Ovenbird LL, and another group pointed out a Worm-Eating Warbler LL.  This bird has an unfortunate name and is rather drab looking, but it really excited the birders, so it must have a great personality. Birding tip for fellow novices: If you see a group of people staring at something through binoculars, go there.  They will show you a cool bird you never would have found on your own.

Go over there, these cool Brooklyn birders are probably looking at something cool.

Go over there, they are probably looking at something cool.

At the Ravine we saw our first Northern Waterthrush LL, and a lovely Northern Parula.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Bird sightings were slowing down by early afternoon, but as we made our way to the Peninsula, we did spot a pair of Blue-Winged Teals and Black-Crowned Night Heron perched in a tree.

Blue-Winged Teals.  He has a leaf on his back.

Blue-Winged Teals. He has a leaf on his back, but he doesn’t give a quack.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

We also saw additional Warblers species, like the Yellow Warbler, and the Common Yellowthroat.

Yellow Warbler.  Because you know, it's pretty yellow.

Yellow Warbler. Because you know, it’s pretty yellow.

Common Yellowthroat.  More fabulous than the name suggests.

Common Yellowthroat. More fabulous than the name suggests.

This was a record for the greatest total number of species we’ve seen in one day at Prospect Park (see full list below) and we added many to our Life Lists.  With such an epic day of birding already behind us, how do you think we’d spend the rest of the afternoon and evening?  That’s right, more birding in Jamaica Bay, followed by watching a movie about birding! More to come in Big Day: Part Two.  Until then, a word from our mascot, the House Sparrow:

The House Sparrow.  Ignore the sparrow at your peril.

The House Sparrow. Ignore the sparrow at your peril.

Our List: Prospect Park 5/3/14 8:00 am – 2:30 pm

Baltimore Oriole
American Robin
House Sparrow (!)
Canada Goose
Chipping Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Common Grackle
Gray Catbird
Ovenbird – LL
White-Throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Black-Throated Blue Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Swamp Sparrow
Hermit Thrush
American Redstart (male)
Black and White Warbler
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Towhee
White-Eyed Vireo – LL
Worm-Eating Warbler – LL
Downy Woodpecker
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Veery – LL
Northern Waterthrush – LL
Northern Parula
Blue Jay
Red-Tailed Hawk (chased out of the ravine by a grackle)
Red-Winged Blackbird
European Starling
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Prairie Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Mute Swan
Barn Swallow
Green Heron
Blue-Winged teal
Mallard Duck
Song Sparrow 
Blue-Headed Vireo
Black-Crowned Night Heron
American Goldfinch
Spotted Sandpiper
Chimney Swift
Peregrine Falcon (spotted over the lake from the peninsula)
Tree Swallow
Double Crested Cormorant (two flying overhead)
Pigeon (nesting beneath an overpass)
Gull sp. (identifying gulls is for the birds)

51 species in one outing.  A new record for the bird nerds!

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