Keep on Ramblin’

New York Birding

The Bird Nerds had a lovely day bird watching in Central Park on Saturday afternoon. But we wanted the full Ramble experience, which means you have to get there early.  After some subway setbacks (the subway basically doesn’t work on weekends) we arrived at the 72nd Street and Central Park West entrance to the park around 8am on Sunday, May 18th. This or the 77th Street entrance seem to be the most direct way to enter the Ramble.

The Ramble is comprised of 38 acres of woodland and winding paths, north of the Central Park Lake.

View of Central Park Lake from the Ramble

View of Central Park Lake from the Ramble

The Ramble provides a quiet escape from the bustle of the rest of the park. Perhaps this is the reason the area achieved iconic status in the gay community, as a site for “private encounters” during the 20th century.  This is actually not the first spot we’ve been to where bird watching and private encounters can collide.  But hey, we keep our eyes on the birds, and as long as the undergrowth isn’t being trampled people can do what they please.

We were fairly certain that we’d been seeing Blackpoll Warblers and confusing them for Black and White Warblers, because they were showing up on other birder’s lists we had seen online.  Our goal coming to the park that day was to spot one, and right off the bat a Blackpoll Warbler appeared. Off to a good start, we walked along the paths and found Black-throated Green Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and Canada Warblers. We aren’t used to taking pictures under so much shade, but you get the idea of how beautiful these birds are even a little out of focus.

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler, eh?

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Notably, we were seeing many more female Redstarts than the males we saw in greater abundance earlier this migration season. And we finally got some decent pics!  These birds are very charming in person, and a photo won’t do them justice.  Redstarts look a bit like butterflies when they flutter around catching bugs- they fan their tails open and a flash of orange appears. Comparison of the sexes below:

American Redstart female

American Redstart female

American Redstart Male

American Redstart Male

We made our way to what has quickly become a favorite spot, the peninsula near the Boathouse.  There we found a bird for nearly every tree, and the bird watchers who admire them. There was even a lady feeding the Squirrels and Blue Jays peanuts, which explained why this little guy was following us so closely:

Work it squirrel!

Work it squirrel!

042

Wilson’s Warbler

On the peninsula, we found a Wilson’s Warbler, and one of Sarah’s favorite birds that we haven’t seen in months: a Cedar Waxwing.  These are just about the classiest birds around.  They have a striking black face mask, a little crest on their head, silky looking feathers, and red and yellow wax-like wing tips. These are social birds, and one of our favorite birding moments was finding a flock of Cedar Waxwings sitting in the trees surrounding a a small lake in Pennsylvania last summer, while the Bird Nerds canoed by.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

While you can feel that migration season is winding down, it was still a great weekend of birding.  It is amazing how much we learned about new birds over the past 3 weeks.  Species we’d never seen before, or really knew existed, we can now ID in seconds.  We wonder how much we will easily recall next year, but IDing is half the fun so it won’t be bad if we forget some things.

Next weekend we will be migrating north with the birds, as we visit family in Detroit, MI and check out Pt. Pelee National Park in Canada.  Until then, a cute dog picture, and the list!

Dog tired after a full weekend of birding.

Dog tired after a full weekend of birding.

Central Park–The Ramble, New York, NY
May 18, 2014 8:17 AM – 11:19 AM

Canada Goose  X
Mallard  X
Great Egret  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  X
Mourning Dove  5
Chimney Swift  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1
House Wren  1
American Robin  X
Gray Catbird  4
European Starling  X
Cedar Waxwing  1
Ovenbird  2
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  2
American Redstart  8
Northern Parula  2
Magnolia Warbler  3
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Black-throated Blue Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Canada Warbler  3
Wilson’s Warbler  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Common Grackle  6
House Finch  1
House Sparrow  X

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