Winter Wren, Ramble

Eastern Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis, Cent...

Winter Wren

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 46 species including 8 warblers. Temperatures were in the mid-60s with cloudy skies and the threat of rain that did not arrive during the walk.

We added two new birds for the season, Winter Wren and Wood Duck.

A Winter Wren briefly appeared south of Azalea before hiding in a log. We also had Carolina Wren (as we usually do), including a good visual north of and across the path from the Humming Tombstone area. Since we had Marsh Wren in Tupelo on Monday, all four of the wrens that occur in Central Park (House Wren being the other) have been noted in last few days.

The drake Wood Duck was found in reeds just off the southern shore of Turtle Pond, well-hidden.

The male Hooded Warbler that we saw on Monday seems to like the area just SW of the ringed Tupelo tree that has a large log, as we saw it in the same spot today.

We saw an American Kestrel hunting the Turtle Pond area. Lenore briefly spotted a Belted Kingfisher there by the island.

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Marsh Wren, Tupelo Meadow

Marsh wren

Marsh Wren

Starr Saphir and Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 55 species including 12 warblers. A low pressure system had passed the day before, bringing light NW overnight along with some new migrants. It was a very birdy morning with high individual species counts, as noted on the list below, along with some rarities.

Four standout sightings deserve special mention.

1) We had Lincoln’s Sparrow¬†(first-of-season) twice, first at Hernshead and then again in Tupelo Meadow. Both birds gave us great, close looks.

2) Starr found a Yellow-throated Vireo at Hernshead, a first-of-season bird for the group.

3) Lenore got the group on a handsome male Hooded Warbler in Tupelo Meadow that also lingered and provided great views.

4) The bird of the day has to be the Marsh Wren that some of us, including Lenore, eventually saw in the fenced-in area of Tupelo Meadow to the east of the fenced-in Tupelo tree. We heard about it from another birder around 9:15. It took at least a half-hour of searching before anyone in our group saw it, as the thick, weedy vegetation gave it cover. The species tends to call frequently and distinctively, but it was staying silent. Eventually it wandered to the NW edge of the fence line where we saw it briefly but clearly.

Marsh Wrens are reported only once or twice per year in Central Park. One had just been noted at the Pool on Saturday. It is not in general a rare bird, but its preferred habitat of cattail marshes is something Central Park has only in small supply, so it does not nest in the Park. We get the species only when it passes through in migration, and it tends not to linger.

The Marsh Wren is a new species for both the season and the year (our 150th) for our group.

Other good birds:

  • Chimney Swift
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird (5, feeding on jewel-weed at Oven and Lower Lobe)
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Hernshead, our first-of-season)
  • Hairy Woodpecker (trees west of Maintenance Meadow; first-of-season)
  • Northern Flicker (abundant, 20+ seen)
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee (5)
  • Eastern Phoebe (2)
  • Blue-headed Vireo (3)
  • Red-eyed Vireo (abundant, 12+ seen)
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (3)
  • Carolina Wren
  • Swainson’s Thrush (abundant, 20+ seen)
  • Wood Thrush (3)
  • Brown Thrasher (4 seen, heard often)
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Ovenbird
  • Northern Waterthrush (Azalea)
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler (4)
  • Blackpoll Warbler (4)
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler (3)
  • Black-throated Green Warbler (4)
  • Eastern Towhee (Strawberry Fields, first-of-season)
  • Dark-eyed Junco (first-of-season)
  • Scarlet Tanager (2)
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5, good views at Upper Lobe)

Three species were noted in unusual abundance today, and my estimates above are very conservative and could possibly be doubled: Northern Flickers were seen everywhere, on the ground and flying out of trees; Red-eyed Vireos were seen at close range throughout the Ramble; Swainson’s Thrushes were also all over the Ramble, mostly in trees gobbling down berries.

Rufous Hummingbird in the Ramble

A hovering Rufous Hummingbird on Saltspring Island

Rufous Hummingbird

Starr Saphir and Lenore Swenson led today’s walk in the Central Park Ramble, which was the most productive of the fall season so far, with 57 species and 13 warblers. Conditions were excellent again: temperature in the low 60s and sunny skies.

At Bank Rock Bridge by the Upper Lobe, Starr found a young female Rufous Hummingbird that most of the group got to see. This is a new bird for entire year for the group (#148). It is extremely rare for Central Park, a bird not seen every year. Last year a Rufous Hummingbird famously showed up near the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History on December 14th and then continued to live there through mid-March of 2012.

The Eastern Whip-poor-will that was found on Saturday morning was, to everyone’s amazement, roosting on the very same spot above the Gill. All got to see this rare bird.

The group finally got to see the American Bittern that has been lurking in the Turtle Pond reeds and trees since the evening of September 9th. It was not re-found again until the 12th, but it has been seen every day since then — though not at all times of day.

Lenore found an immature female Hooded Warbler, a first-of-season bird for the group, near the Rustic Shelter.

The group also had some other more common first-of-season birds today: Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Phoebe, and Blue-headed Vireo.

Starr had to leave the walk after about 90 minutes, but she did not stop looking for birds, and she ended up finding two great ones: Philadelphia Vireo and Gray-Cheeked Thrush, the latter being a new bird for the season. Since the walk was still in progress, these birds count!

Not fair, you say? Consistent methodology is part of what makes Starr’s 30+ years of records so valuable. I would also respond that no one works harder than Starr at helping everyone in the group see the good birds.

Still, sometimes she sees a bird that no one else sees — for whatever reason. When this happens, Starr has a ready response that she has been using for years if not decades. In this instance it goes: “I owe you all a Gray-cheeked Thrush.” But don’t come back the next day and insist that Starr cause a Gray-cheeked Thrush to appear for you. She has an airtight escape clause: “All my bird debts expire on midnight of the day they were incurred.”