Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Birding Highlights and Stats

1. RWBL NH -kab Red-winged Blackbird at the Geremonty Marsh in Salem, NH

We’ve had wild and unpredictable weather here in March with temperatures ranging from the low 20’s up to 80F! With the wild weather we have also seen the return of the blackbirds and vultures. I have spent much of this month counting birds right here in my own town with just a couple of trips elsewhere. I recently added Sacred Heart Park to my list of locations that I bird on a regular basis for eBird’s Site Survey. On March 30th I was counting birds there while Gus walked the dog and was thrilled to spot my First-for-Massachusetts Fox Sparrow down by the Shawsheen River near one of the backwater pools. It is species number 167 on my Massachusetts Life List. Here is how this month wrapped up for me:

March eBird Stats













States Birded














New York




New Hampshire





2. BCCH NH-kab Black-capped Chickadee in Salem, NH 3-12-12

3. Killdeer CT-kab Killdeer in Colchester, CT 3-9-12

4. NOSH NY-kab Northern shoveler in NY 3-18-12

5. PIGR NY-kab Pied-billed Grebe in Central Park 3-18-12

Update: We just returned from a trip to Maine where I counted birds in that state for the first time in over a month. I saw 24 species today and added 1 new species to my Maine Life List when I saw an Eastern Bluebird down by the Sandy River in Norridgewock. Story and photos to follow.

Now I’m ready for some April birding! See you soon!

6. crocus in yard-kab Crocus in my yard 3-13-12

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birding the Reservoir in Central Park

1. Resevoir-kab Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir 3-18-12

After Rambling around The Ramble, coursing through the castle and peering in the Pinetum we finally reached the reservoir! While Brother C gave Gus a history lesson, I checked out the birds! We had been seeing a few Northern Shovelers in the lake but here at the reservoir I counted 140!

2. ruddy ducks-kab Ruddy Ducks

The ruddy ducks were in the same area of the reservoir where I saw them last year at this time. When I cropped and enlarged this photo I took I realized they looked like musical notes on a bar and staff if you could just draw the lines in there! You can just see a few of the males starting to molt into their “ruddy” breeding plumage.

3. NOSH-kab Northern Shoveler male


4. displaying-kab Northern Shoveler male and female


5. PIGR-kab Pied-billed Grebe

I saw two grebes here at the reservoir today. The first was quite far out but this little guy was swimming closer to shore with the shovelers. I saw my first grebe here last March when I visited the reservoir for the first time.

6. paddling awy-kab Northern shovelers paddling away.

We walked 1/4 of the way around the reservoir. The guys were waiting for me off the track and down on one of the trails and just as I was preparing to join them I saw something different out towards the middle of the water. I signaled for them to wait a minute and went back with my binoculars and camera at the ready.

7. hooded merganser-kab Female Hooded Merganser

That thin bill and crested head told me I was seeing a merganser and I snapped off a quick pic, then tried to get closer. However, it was as if the bird knew I was coming for it and it took off! Drats! The foggy, cloudy day made visibility poor but I saw enough to recognize the female Hooded Merganser, species number 71 on my New York Life List! I was just thrilled. However, as I rejoined my husband and my brother, I remarked to them how I had not seen a single Red-tailed Hawk. Last year when I was here I saw one in the park right near the street. We had been here twice now and today we had been here for a few hours, but I had not seen a single hawk. As we headed back towards the apartment our path took us through Theodore Roosevelt Park which surround the Museum of Natural History. The usual pigeons, starlings and house sparrows were about us and a lone mockingbird ran through its repertoire in a nearby tree. However, as we rounded the corner of the building I continued to scan the trees, bushes and lawn. Suddenly I noticed a large bird rising through the London Plane trees and alighting on the corner of the building!

8. red-tailed hawk-kab Red-tailed hawk on the corner of the Museum Of Natural History 3-18-12

It was my final species of the day! Once again Gus and my brother stood and waited while I photographed and counted birds. Then we headed for a local pizza place where we ate our late lunch before heading home. Our weekend was over but the memories and the bird counts remain.

These are the birds I counted in Central Park and Theodore Roosevelt Park on this day:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Northern Shoveler
  4. Hooded Merganser*
  5. Ruddy Duck
  6. Bufflehead
  7. Pied-billed Grebe
  8. Great Egret
  9. Ring-billed Gull
  10. Herring Gull
  11. Great Black-backed Gull
  12. Rock Pigeon
  13. Mourning Dove
  14. Red-bellied woodpecker
  15. Downy woodpecker
  16. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker*
  17. Blue Jay
  18. Tufted Titmouse
  19. White-breasted Nuthatch
  20. American Robin
  21. Northern Mockingbird
  22. European Starling
  23. White-throated Sparrow
  24. Northern Cardinal
  25. Red-winged Blackbird
  26. Common Grackle
  27. House Finch
  28. American Goldfinch
  29. House Sparrow
  30. Red-tailed Hawk-Theodore Roosevelt Park
  31. Peregrine Falcon*-Highline Trail 3-17-12
  32. Eastern Phoebe*
  33. American Crow
  34. Dark-eyed Junco

With the addition of the species seen yesterday on the Highline Trail I have a total of 34 species for this trip to New York City!

*New York Life Birds

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sapsucker or Downy? WBW

1. downy andover yard-kab Downy Woodpecker 1-1-2012 Andover Backyard

We are all familiar with the adorable Downy Woodpecker most often seen at our backyard feeders. As the smallest woodpecker in North America, this little cutie is familiar to even non-birders, with a nationwide distribution that extends up to Canada and Alaska. So it was no surprise to find one on my recent trip to New York City in Central Park.

2. Downy Central Park-kab Downy Woodpecker in Central Park 3-18-12

However, as soon as I saw this Downy, I started thinking that there should be Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers around also as migration was starting and with the warming weather, the sap was starting to run. While Downies do not migrate, sapsuckers do since their food source is seeds, fruit, sap, and the insects that get trapped in it. Though I searched high and low through the heavily wooded “Ramble” in Central Park I did not see a single sapsucker. However, as we headed for the Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis Reservoir to search for ducks and other water species we had to cross an area know as the Pinetum, which is an open park-like area with lots of tall pine trees mixed with deciduous trees. As the edge of the reservoir came into view I saw movement out of the corner of my eye high in some sort of deciduous tree. With little more than a glance, I knew I had my sapsucker.

3. Sapsucker-kab This is what I saw.

4. looking up-kab This is how high up it was. I had my 70-300mm zoom extended as far as it would go, so how did I KNOW the bird I was seeing was a sapsucker?

5. sapsucker-kab Well, the first clue is that vertical white stripe on the folded wing.

6. DOWO Andover-kab Notice how this Downy has black wings with white barring?

Downy Woodpecker Field Marks:

  • Black wings with white barring
  • White throat
  • White belly and breast
  • Red nape on male
  • White patch in middle of black back

7. sapsucker-kab Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Central Park (You can see a bit of the red throat.)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Field Marks:

  • Vertical white stripe on folded wing
  • Red throat on male bordered by black
  • White throat on female bordered by black
  • Red forehead on male and female
  • Mottled black and white belly and breast
  • Mottled black and white back

8. sapsucker back-kab Here is a good view of the Yellow-bellied sapsucker’s back.

So where is its yellow belly you ask? Well, you rarely get to see it since it is down between its legs and the bird is usually high in a the shade of a tree clinging to the bark with its belly pressed against the trunk!

9. downy back -kab Female Downy at my backyard feeder. Notice the white patch on back.

10. Red-naped sapsucker_0102 This is the Red-naped sapsucker of the west, which is similar to our eastern variety, yet differs in its red nape for which it is named and a few other subtle differences. They use to be considered the same species and will interbreed where their territories overlap. The female red-naped sometimes has a white chin, bordered by the red throat and then black. Sometimes she is missing the red nap.

11. Sapsucker-kab Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3-18-12 Central Park

So, when you see that white vertical stripe on that black and white woodpecker, think “Sapsucker” and not “Downy” or “Hairy.” Yes, there is also a Hairy Woodpecker that looks like a larger version of a Downy Woodpecker but that is another post! Seeing this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Central Park was such a thrill for me because I had never seen one in New York State anywhere, so it was a new species for my New York Life List!

World Bird Wednesday


12. Hairy woodpecker-kab Female Hairy Woodpecker Andover Yard 9-2-2011

Monday, March 26, 2012

Birding Central Park

1. WTSP in CP-kab White-throated Sparrow in Central Park 3-18-12

Sunday morning dawned cool and gray. A soft blanket of fog hovered over the city. We woke up leisurely, ate our breakfast, grabbed our coffee and out the door we went. This was finally MY TIME; My time to bird. We padded down the cold pavement with me in the lead as we headed for Central Park!

2. Central Park-kab I use to hate the city, but when my brother introduced me to Central Park it changed all of that. I now love to come here to visit and wander around this park. Though I can still see the skyscrapers through the branches, The Park is a world of its own. And while many people head for the trails or the lawns and ponds, I head for the birding areas that I have come to know.

3. DOWO-kab With all the trees in the park, there are bound to be woodpeckers around. Sure enough it isn’t long before my brother spots a cute Downy in a tree. If he has taught me to love New York, well, I have taught him to notice the birds! He’s become a great spotter!

3. signs of spring-kab We walk past the lake on our way to The Ramble, a wooded and well known birding spot. Soon this area will be alive with spring warblers, but I have yet to be here at that time of year. In the lake I spot mallards and a couple of Canada Geese. All around the lake the grackles are calling, clicking and whistling. I can hear a lone red-winged black bird calling “konk-a-REE” over the water, and all around I can see White-throated sparrows. I listen  as they sing their sweet song to  the day. to me it sounds as if they are saying, “Oh Sweet-Canada, Canada, Canada!” which is where most of them will soon be heading to breed and nest for the summer.

4. bow bridge-kab My brother waits patiently while I watch birds and Gus looks around at the park. He left his camera back in the room today. He is just mellow and taking in the sights.

5. willows-kab There is a lot of beauty to be seen in Central Park!

6. egret-kab Just over the bow bridge Chris and Gus spot a Great Egret for me. I was behind them watching birds, but I got there in time to see the bird and get its picture before it walked behind a fence! We are about to enter The Ramble and I am so excited!

7. TUTI-kab Chris leads us over to the feeding area where I am able to photograph this Tufted titmouse at a meal.

8. HOSP-kab I was surprised to see House Sparrows clinging to the bark like this. I have never seen them do that before! Whatever it is, it must be good!

9. HOFI-kab On one of the feeders a female House finch sits.

10. AMRO-kab While down in the forest duff the robins hunt for worms.

11. bird sculpture-kab I found this tree sculpted by woodpeckers. With all these trees I thought sure I would see a sapsucker, but no,

12. the guys-kab so we walked on.

13. magnolia bud-kabWith just a little more warmth I am sure this Magnolia will blossom!

14. castle-kab We leave the ramble and climb the stairs to Belvedere Castle. This castle is famous for showing up in so many movies, including Step-Mom with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. On our first trip ever to Central Park back in the late 1990’s my brother brought me and my two youngest children here to New York City. Seeing this castle then was a huge thrill for them. Seeing it now makes me miss them so, but it is fun to remember the good time we had here.

15. guys-kab I am so happy to show this place to their Dad. Seen here with my brother the two guys look like a couple of body guards. I have nothing to fear with them around!

16. k at belvedere3Don’t bother me, I’m birding!

While I am in full birding mode the Watcher is watching me and snapping off his own photos! Here I am standing on the terrace to the castle trying to find something I haven’t already seen…but no luck.

17. K at belvedere-cja I take a picture anyways…

18. cityscape-kab …’cause you can’t beat that skyline!

Come back tomorrow to see what I found at the reservoir!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New York City Montage OWT

1. butts and shoes-kab 

2. Art-kab 

3. art-kab 

4. art-kab 

5. pretty bird-kab 

6. street art-kab 

7. it speaks for itself-kab

These are just a few of the sights we saw while walking the streets of New York City on March 17, 2012. Click on the link below to see more of…

Our World Tuesday 

The birds are next!