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


  1. Hi Kathie. Loved the close up of the Shoveler. It is rare for me to find a Ruddy Duck around here now after the authorities carried out a cull to prevent interbreeding with the White-headed!

  2. Frank, I think I have heard of that. that's too sad. Were the ruddies introduced or did they get there by themselves?

  3. Beautiful array of birds, those shovellers are very interesting.

  4. Great Post Kathie

    We stayed in a hotel right across fron the park by the museum so I knew exactly where you had been. Great that you saw the Red Tail.


  5. Great captures of all those ducks in their finest mating plumage.

    What size lens are you birding with?

  6. I so enjoyed all of your water birds here. What a great close up of the Shoveler. Gorgeous bird.

  7. Hi Kathie, wonderful shots of the ducks and cool sighting of the hawk. Happy Birding!

  8. The shovelers were so bright! Looks like you are having a great time in the city!

  9. Gillian, I am glad you liked them!

    Guy, that's so interesting!

    Gaelyn, I use a 70 to 300mm zoom.

    Quiet paths, thank you. I love its beak!

    Eillen, thank you! It was, indeed, a happy birding weekend!

    cindy, I did have a good time! It was fun to watch my husband explore it and I always manage to find something new!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.