Manhattan, N.Y. City -

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday, Oct. 25/26/27, 2018 -

-     -     -   
Thurs., 25 Oct. -

A strong new arrival of migrants occurred on Thursday; reports of good movement 
came from as far as the Canadian maritime province of New Brunswick, through 
much of the eastern north & mid Atlantic U.S., with a mix of species 
representing both ‘late’ neotropical-wintering birds, & more of later-season 
species that are somewhat expected in late Oct.  At least one dozen warbler 
species were noted from Central Park alone; the vast majority of warbler 
numbers were made up of Yellow-rumped, with a much smaller percentage of Palm 
Warblers there, & in reports from other parks & greenspaces.  Featuring 
strongly in the arrival were also American Robin, a lesser percentage but still 
many Hermit Thrush, and assorted members of  the ‘blackbird’ family, perhaps 
mainly Red-winged Blackbirds, with various sparrows which were especially made 
up of White-throated, Chipping, & to lesser extent Song & Swamp, plus 
Slate-colored Junco, and a much smaller percentage of E. Towhee, as well as a 
further influx of both Kinglet species & as particularly noted by more-coastal 
observers, finch species with Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, and somewhat lesser 
percentages of American Goldfinch those in evidence.  A LOT of excellent 
reports came from dozens of observers through mnuch of Manhattan, & from a lot 
of various sites.

Many had gone to observe one of two Yellow-breasted Chats ‘downtown’, that in 
City Hall Park being the more obliging for most seekers, while a 2nd Y.-b. Chat 
was at Madison Square Park.   

However, the Birds[s] of the Day for NY County (2 of them) were the EVENING 
Grosbeaks reported by Nadir Souirgi at the n. end of Central Park; hopefully, 
the first of more that may well turn up, as that species is invading-irrupting 
through New England & other parts of this region, some already now having been 
found well south of NY.

-   -   -
Friday, 26 Oct. -

Again, one dozen species of warblers were found, with at least 11 of those in 
Central Park alone; these included the lingering Northern Waterthrush at 
“triplets” bridge, seen by many observers, as well as Cape May, Magnolia, 
Black-throated Blue, Nashville, Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Common 
Yellowthroat (all these excepting the waterthrush in the north end, as well as 
in the Ramble-Great Lawn areas), plus Ovenbird, N. Parula in Central south of 
the reservoir, and in at least one mid-town park, American Redstart. (A few of 
these are ‘late' for the species but none is even close to a record late date 
for Manhattan.)   At least several American Woodcock were seen in smaller parks 
in Manhattan, one (especially) noted by a lot of birders at Madison Square 
Park; while at City Hall Park farther downtown, that park’s Yellow-breasted 
Chat was still lingering as were some other migrants.

-   -   -   -
Saturday, 27 Oct. -

Big bad nor’easter, and with it also a lot of birds having attempted to migrate 
overnight, as that storm was coming in from the south. Part of the result of 
that, a LOT of grounded smaller birds, many in situations that can make them 
vulnerable and not at their best, as they faced high winds & fairly strong 
rains at the coast.  I went through all of Central Park (110 St. to Central 
Park South, & was finding a modest ‘fallout’ of species that had been somewhat 
common already, but then continued on a route down-town, stopping in Bryant 
Park (slathered in seasonal shops set up covering more than 3/4 of what little 
open area had been there to start, & with also no more central lawn for the 
‘winter’, & rather few migrants I found, in an admittedly quick assessment), & 
then Madison Square Park, where I spent far more time, & found what seemed 
remarkable numbers of some migrants (& species that may winter there), with 
170++ White-throated Sparrows, 45++ American Robins, 25+ Yellow-rumped 
Warblers, 20+ Slate-colored Juncos, 15+ Hermit Thrushes, 15+ Ruby-crowned & 8+ 
Golden-crowned Kinglets, 12+ Chipping Sparrows, 6+ Swamp Sparrows, 4 or more 
Palm Warblers, 2 or more Common Yellowthroats, 3 or more White-breasted 
Nuthatches, 3 or more American Goldfinches, and at least singles of: Baltimore 
Oriole, Pine Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler (bright adult male), Winter 
Wren, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Gray Catbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, as well as 
a few Blue Jays, and the 3 typical feral-type city resident species.  It seemed 
very likely some additional species were also there… these birds were seen all 
around Mad. Square Park, but some of the edges, esp. north & eastern, were the 
richest during my time in the park. [N.B., the Baltimore Oriole is very likely 
one that’s been lingering a bit.]

Moving onward, I chose to visit the Chelsea neighborhood immediately west, & 
then work north along the Hudson River Greenway, which varies from well-planted 
(near Chelsea, in the 20’s streets) to lightly-planted, to (some) nearly bare 
of vegetation just north of 42nd St. and where active cruise-ship docks are 
located; then well-vegetated again, n. of W. 59 St. with the start of the 
Riverside-South park, and leading north to the south end of Riverside Park.  
And there, along the river, was where I was truly surprised by the numbers of 
migrants (not by species-variety, which seemed rather minimal, but sheer 
numbers, as well as the behavior of some of the migrants) - from W. 24 St. at 
the Hudson river path, to W. 84 St. still along the Hudson, literally yards or 
less from the white-cap-waved river in the strong, gusting NE winds, were, 
actual counts made in 2 hours walk:  855 [+] American Robins, 690 [+] 
White-throated Sparrows, 560[+] Yellow-rumped Warblers, 120[+] Ruby-crowned 
Kinglets, 30[+] Golden-crowned Kinglets, 28 Hermit Thrush, 15 Swamp Sparrows, 
14[+] American Goldfinches, 12 Chipping Sparrows, 8 Palm Warblers, 5 
White-breasted Nuthatches, 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, 3 Common Yellowthroats, 
2 White-crowned Sparrows (non-adult), 2 Winter Wrens, 2 Eastern Towhees, 1 Gray 
Catbird, & just as I came into the southern section of Riverside Park (north of 
W. 72 St. and still along the Hudson river path), 15+ Tufted Titmouse.  Very 
few gulls, anywhere, on my route, and no raptors were noticed in the rain 
(other than a wet Red-tailed Hawk in Central Park, earlier)…

The behavior of, in particular, many of the Yellow-rumped Warblers, & a good 
many of the Ruby-crowned Kinglets as well, in the 2 linear miles or so I was 
along the Hudson river greenway, were that these warblers and kinglets were, or 
seemed to be, attempting, with little advancement, trying to work north-ward, 
against the strong wind, and ON the shores of the high & white-capped river, on 
rocks, on piers, on cement, & only occasionally in weeds or any vegetation at 
all, as the actual shore of the green-way is NOT planted & vegetation there is 
nearly non-existent.  To emphasize, some of the warblers and kinglets were 
working along with waves from the river coming up to splash them with spray, & 
even at least a few getting wetted, struggling to get up & move away from the 
high waters. This, while just yards or even feet away, were mostly some patches 
of thick vegetation in plantings, & the occsional stands of trees, and 
certainly at least, some grasses or weeds in which to shelter & perhaps feed.  
My impression (perhaps incorrect) was that some, possibly many, of the birds at 
the river’s edge were exhausted and may not have had proper ‘bearings’… at a 
guess (which is all it is), some of these migrants might have been caught in 
flight by the rain & wind, perhaps even also having come in off the nearby 
ocean and somehow managed to find themselves up this river’s estuary along the 
concrete & asphalt (mainly) shores of w. Manhattan island. I did not see any 
casualties, but had to wonder.  Migration is not an easy thing…

I may as well add, since there seems to be some interest, as I passed The Pond, 
at the SE sector of Central Park, there was the (or, a) Mandarin Duck, with leg 
band, sitting on a log with some  Mallards and with several Wood Ducks (the 
only other member of the genus in which Mandarin Duck is placed - look up the 
genus Aix) nearby in the water at The Pond; this bird had been seen here 
recently & there was also at least one day it (presumably same escapee from 
captivity, which this species is in the U.S.) was seen at the W. 79th St. 
boat-basin, a marina at the edge of Riverside Park on the Hudson river. I got a 
few photos of the Mandarin Duck at The Pond, in the rain. 

Duckage elsewhere in Central Park did not appear increased or changed much, in 
this rain & wind storm, as of Sat. a.m. anyhow; still at least 4 Hooded 
Mergansers & a pair of Buffleheads on the C.P. reservoir, & N. Shovelers 
totaling about 50 in all, on 3 water-bodies, plus roughly 40 Ruddy Ducks in 
total & assorted others such as Gadwall, American Black Duck, & usual Mallards. 
Many sparrows & Yellow-rumped Warblers were about in various areas of Central 
Park.  The feeder array in the Ramble is not set up with the types of seed (or 
at least not in several visits) that winter finches most prefer (hulled 
sunflower, or nyjer seed, esp.), and in my visit there on Sat. a.m., had few 
birds besides the most common & regular kinds of visitors. (However, merely 
having feeders can sometimes attract any sort of other birds, even if the 
others do not make much or any use of what is available, simply coming around 
for the safety-in-numbers effect &/or out of curiosity, as well as the 
possibility of some feeding at times; obviously a feeder also potentially may 
attract birds of prey to the area, so depending one’s fancies, there can be 
variety in species found, whether the food offered at the feeders is deluxe or 
less so…)   Again for today, as in recent days, the sparrow tribe has included 
a recent influx of E. Towhee, as well as Slate-colored Junco; the latter in 
some areas in high numbers where not that many birders venture to seek birds, 
such as the pine-treed hill & adjacent conifers & rocky spots n. of E. 98 St. 
and e. of the East [park] Drive, as well as multiple other fairly large 
segments of the park that are rather less-birded.  There were at least a few E. 
Phoebes in Central Park, but it is possible the rain & wind had some hidden, 
lurking in trees, & there well may still have been more than the few I noted in 
the rain.  There continue to be a few [Red] Fox Sparrows, mostly with large 
flocks of White-throated Sparrow, from the n. woods to the area just w. of The 
Pond, & elsewhere (& still slightly early for that species main/typical 
arrival).

-   -   -   -   -
"I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation 
as is cooperation with good."
― Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

good birding,

Tom Fiore
manhattan












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