Sunday, July 28, 2013

Birding in NYC: Central Park

Just this past May, Nick and I had the absolute pleasure of visiting New York City for a friend's wedding, and we, of course, had to bird one of the greatest urban birding spots - Central Park! Our trip started out a *bit* rough. We drove 2 hours north to the Charleston, SC airport to be 2.5 hours early for our flight only to be told 30 minutes before boarding that our flight was cancelled! Another flight to NYC was also cancelled, which left Nick and I scrambling like a scene from a movie trying every airline counter to see if anyone had any way of getting us to NYC that day. Well, that wasn't going to happen. The only flight that may have gotten us there would have us land around 11pm. So what does this pair of crazies do? We decide to drive up to the Big Apple since we would end up there at the same time, while avoiding having to pay for a whole new ticket, and going for one heck of a long road trip. Life's always an adventure with us two! 

Central Park Scenery

William Shakespeare Statue in Central Park

So when we finally get to the city, we waste no time in getting up early, getting a hearty breakfast at the famous Carnegie Deli, and trekking out to Central Park. The weather was not ideal - it was very gray and cloudy, and did end up raining later that day. But we made the most of it and hit up the Ramble, an area in Central Park well known for great birding. It did take us a while to make our way to the Ramble as we kept getting distracted by any flitting we saw. This wasn't our first time to the City, but it was our first time there together as birders, and we didn't want to miss any county, state, or life birds!

Cool Fungus

Pretty White flowers

The Ramble did not disappoint! We were charmed by the sweet songs and great, long looks at our lifer Warbling Vireo. He was quite the performer and delighted us for a good while. Nearby our avian crooner was a Baltimore Oriole that went back and forth from a nest that kept it well-hidden once it was in there.

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo singing

Notice the black crown of the Baltimore Oriole poking out at the top of its nest

Oh, and the Warblers! Definitely most birders' favorite birds to search for, these little beauties were so bright and bold in their breeding plumage - something we almost never saw while living in South Florida, and something that's still pretty uncommon for us to see in Savannah. The Yellow Warblers were so yellow, the Blackpoll Warblers had such bold black caps and streaks, and the Chestnut-Sided Warblers just screamed with beauty with their yellow caps, black war paint on their faces, and just good ole chestnutty goodness.

Female Blackpoll Warbler (the males didn't want to pose)

Another look at a Female Blackpoll Warbler

Female Common Yellowthroat

A not-so great pic of a Chestnut-sided Warbler, but you can tell how handsome he is

Another look at this handsome Chestnut-sided Warbler

Even the birds that we've seen down in the Southeast seemed even lovelier up there. The Cardinals were redder. The Gadwalls were in close proximity to allow for better looks. And we even had amazing look at Cedar Waxwings, which had been all over Savannah for all spring and in early summer. We actually had a very intimate look at what seemed to be a little courtship ritual between a pair of waxwings. One of them collected a small, juicy berry and passed it to the other. Then they proceeded to pass the berry back and forth to each other a few more times before one of them ate it. It was very sweet and endearing and a behavior that we hadn't witnessed before. I could just hear them speaking to each other in French accents, "Here you go, mon cheri. A sweet berry for my sweet berry. Oh no, mon amour. Please, I insist you take it."


And forth...

And Back.

Over the several days of our trip, we made it to Central Park as much as possible and enjoyed so many lovely birds and all of the spring flowers, and even the dark morph of the gray squirrel which I have only seen in the Northeast. We only wished that we could have stayed longer on our last day to enjoy the sunshine that had finally decided to make an appearance. But alas, we had to make the 14 hour drive back home. One of our mornings we did spend in the famous Jamaica Bay, but that'll have to wait for another post!


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