Thursday, March 23, 2017

Birding Sans Binoculars in Central Park 3/23--Black-capped Chickadee

We had to be in New York today for a couple of appointments but we had time for some culture first. However, what Shari wanted to see at the New-York Historical Society didn't interest me in the least and their Audubon collection was not on display (they've been rotating the collection for the last couple of years and are between exhibits right now), so I decided to walk across the street to Central Park, even though I had left my binoculars at home. I wanted to see how many birds I could find "naked eye."

Blue Jay photographed with iPhone
I did bird by ear, but I only used that as a tool to direct me to where the birds were. I surprised myself at how well I did, totaling 18 species in about an hour and half of wandering around The Ramble. Central Park is the ideal place to do this kind of birding because the birds there are inured to human traffic and let someone even as near-sighted as me get very close to them. The trick, sometimes, is not to step on them.

I knew the best place to see the birds would be the feeders in The Ramble. It was a little difficult for me to get used to so many people looking at and photographing birds. A couple of photographers there had very long lenses and were shooting House Finches and grackles in bursts of 50 or 100 and it all seemed pretty silly to me. I always wonder how they edit their photos--when you're looking at 50 photos of a sparrow taken within 10 seconds, what makes one better than the others? But it was fun to watch school kids get excited about a Tufted Titmouse when their teacher pointed one out.

I, of course, jaded Jersey birder that I am, have seen all the birds at the feeders in our backyard. I wanted one bird today. It took all of 5 minutes until a single Black-capped Chickadee showed up. I don't get to see what used to be my default chickadee very much anymore and, compared to titmice, they seem to surprisingly hard to find in Central Park. I heard one other, but as I was only counting birds I saw today, I left the singleton on the list. Besides, I only need one. I wish I could remember all the names of the birding spots in the park, but they all blur in my mind. The waterfowl I did see were in the body of water overlooked by "The Oven." Geese and Mallards were no surprise, but some Northern Shovelers were, as was, according to my records, the first Green-winged Teal I have ever encountered in the county of New York.

My first non-New Jersey list of the year:
Canada Goose 7
Mallard 5
Northern Shoveler 6
Green-winged Teal 1
Mourning Dove 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 15
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Tufted Titmouse 20
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
American Robin 11
European Starling 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
White-throated Sparrow 75
Northern Cardinal 5
Common Grackle 5
House Finch 5
House Sparrow 125

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