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Central Park in May

After yesterday's excitement at Bryant Park we were very hopeful about what could be around today.

American Robin

American Robin

The night had been cloudy and cool. We started birding in Central Park at about 6.45am with the usual Feral Pigeon, House Sparrow, European Starling and American Crow – not good fall material. However, there were a few more-American species around: Blue Jay, Common Grackle, and American Robins everywhere.

We first went to Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond getting Gray Catbird and American Redstart on the way. Looking out over Turtle Pond we added Red-winged Blackbird and a Green Heron. Chimney Swifts flew overhead but otherwise it was very quiet.

We then headed back towards The Ramble and began to come across warblers. In the next few hours, as we walked around The Ramble and The Lake we had at least four Blackburnian Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, around six male Black-throated Blue Warblers (most singing) and two females, three Northern Parulas, four Magnolia Warblers, one Wilson's Warbler, three Black-and-white Warblers, loads of Ovenbirds and Veerys (both seen almost everywhere), tons of American Robins, two Northern Waterthrushes (only ever very close to water) and a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

The lake edge added Mallard, a Black-crowned Night-heron, Double-crested Cormorants and, by Bow Bridge, a Great Egret.

Back into the woods and the birds kept coming: a singing Eastern Towhee, two singing male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a couple of male Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, male and female Scarlet Tanagers, a Least Flycatcher, Mourning Doves, two Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a Nashville Warbler.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Back by the lake we found a Song Sparrow and a very good-looking male Swamp Sparrow. A male Blackpoll Warbler was found as we again went back into the woods, followed by a Great Crested Flycatcher, then a single Swainson's Thrush. A highlight was when we heard then saw a male Canada Warbler. The light was not good but we saw all the salient details. A few minutes later we came across another male Canada Warbler, in good light, showing fantastically well. In the one tree that held this bird we saw, in the space of about two minutes, and in approximately the same place, the Canada Warbler, a male Blackburnian Warbler, a Blackpoll Warbler, a male Magnolia Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler! The tree 'next door' held a Tennesee Warbler. Great stuff.

Finally we came across a first summer male American Redstart, then a full adult male and a female. We also found a lone Gray-cheeked Thrush feeding in the woods. An excellent trip by anyone's standards.

Sunday morning came and we were back in Central Park (Peregrine over 5th Avenue). The night had been clear and today was sunny: there were far less birds about. There was a feeling about the place that didn't have the excitement of yesterday.

We did hear a lot of species we'd seen the day before but they were much harder to see and fewer individuals were about. We heard one Black-throated Blue Warbler, a single Northern Parula and fewer Veerys and Ovenbirds. We did get three Blackpoll Warblers (two yesterday) and another Swainson's Thrush. The Black-crowned Night-heron list doubled with two individuals.

American Robins were still common as were Common Grackles. Two White-throated Sparrows on a path were joined by a lone Lincoln's Sparrow which was new for the trip. However, there was one highlight. We walked up a hill and both heard a bird singing. 'That's different' I said. Helen replied with 'It sounds like jangly keys'. To all other people that probably doesn't mean a thing but to us it meant only one thing. We immediately scanned the trees but couldn't see anything moving. A spot of pishing induced the bird to come forth to see what was going on. As we thought, it was a superb male Bay-breasted Warbler and it gave us great views and it fed and sang a few metres in front of us.

It was colder than yesterday so we headed back into the city in search of breakfast. Still in Central Park we saw our first Northern Flicker of the trip. and as we headed back to the hotel after stopping for breakfast we came across a couple of small trees on Third Avenue. We first heard, then saw, a nice singing male Northern Parula that showed well.

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