October 29th - November 4th
I have only ever been outside of Europe once, on a short family holiday to Morocco back in 2005, so I have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to World Birding. My October reading week at Uni saw me venture across the pond to New York City! I have come away from this 7 day trip with 46 lifers without leaving Manhattan! Over the next two blog posts below, I will try to explain my trip without going on and on about the awesomness that is North American birding and Central Park alone!
Day 1 - Arriving at lunchtime to heavy snowfall, we dumped our bags in the apartment on 53rd and 9th and went for a short 15 minute walk in Central Park producing 6 lifers!
Day 2 - The morning was spent in south Central Park from first light in the sun producing 18 lifers. I ventured as far north at The Lake.
Day 3 - The morning spent alone in the park exploring The Ramble and then getting a taxi to Bryant Park on 42nd street 'twitching' a Yellow-breasted Chat and Lincoln's Sparrow
Day 4 - After two days of pure birding in the park, I went in with my family but still managed some birding
Day 5 - Went on the Staton Island ferry to see the statue of Liberty and then spent the afternoon in Battery Park.
Day 6 - I ventured to the north of Central Park above the reservoir and then walked to the Harlem River by East 91st street looking for a Belted Kingfisher seen the day before...unsuccessfully!
Day 7 - Friday didn't see much birding as we had a flight to catch, but I went to say goodbye to the ever present Yellow-breasted Chat in Bryant Park!
Northern Cardinal - reasonably common in more overgrown areas of Central Park. More obvious in the colder snowy conditions
Hermit Thrush - One of the commonest new birds of the trip with good numbers present in most areas of greenery in Manhattan. Stunning birds and I am so pleased to have had such an educational trip with this species!
Red-tailed Hawk - I don't think you can go to New York and not see this species! It's almost an iconic species of Central Park with at least 3 seen on multiple occasions
Downy Woodpecker - one of the commonest species of Woodpecker seen in most areas of the park reasonably close to denser woodland.
Red-bellied Woodpecker - The commonest woodpecker sp seen with probably 20 seen in the park.
American Robin - not a lifer, but stunning birds and it was nice to see several different plumages and very good numbers in most areas of greenery. Lovely birds.
Ovenbird - one of 4 species of New World Warblers seen on the trip. This was by far the most obliging bird seen in Bryant Park and incredibly, it actually stood on my shoe at one point whilst I was photographing the Yellow-breasted Chat! One of the best moments of my life, I'm not going to lie! I've wanted to see one of these for years!
Chipping Sparrow - One of my biggest target birds of the trip as these are truly delightful little birds, and I think I would probably twitch Shetland if one were to turn up! Several small groups of these were present in the open areas of Central Park.
Golden-crowned Kinglet - Very educational little birds that reminded me of a hybrid between a Goldcrest and a Firecrest (I'd love to see how similar this hybrid would actually be!). A lot of this species were moving through the park in small flocks on occasion with estimated 120 birds seen.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - This species was slightly less common than the Golden-crowned but equally as obliging and educational. Without getting good views of the small crest, it was reminiscent of a juvenile Goldcrest. (I tried my best to get a top quality picture, but they are even more mobile than European crests and a real terror to photograph well!)
Eastern Phoebe - 4 seen on the trip with 2 in Battery Park and 2 in Central Park (one on the west side of Bethesda fountain and one on the north west side of The Great Lawn)
House Finch - 2 pairs seen in Central Park. Females look remarkably similar to Common Rosefinch!
Lincoln's Sparrow - this immature was 'twitched' in Bryant Park and showed on + off on the north side of the Ice rink with the other sparrows. It proved quite elusive however!
Song Sparrow - probably the 3rd commonest sparrow species seen on the trip and one of my favourite! I can only imagine what it must have been like finding the Seaforth bird back in the day!
Blue Jay - a constant chorus of screeching was ever-present in Central Park and these lovely birds were a real joy to watch for the first time, no matter how annoying the screeching became!
Dark-eyed Junco - These are just in for the winter and several large flocks were present in the park. A rather educational bird and another one of those species you look at in the back of your collins and imagine what it would be like seeing one hop up into your bins view...
Fox Sparrow - One of the prettiest sparrows seen but also one of the least common with only 3 seen on the whole trip. All of these were seen in Central Park, one by the Hallett Nature Sanctuary and 2 by the Ramble bird feeders.
Double-crested Cormorant - 2 were seen on the Turtle Pond and as with most birds seen, they were very educational. I wouldn't however, feel capable of claiming one in Britain however!
Part 2 below!