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.”