Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Bird Count in Central Park...

I got up around 5:00 a.m. today and prepared to head out to Central Park for the Christmas Bird Count, which is a yearly event that was started by ornithologist Frank Chapman back on December 25, 1900. The data from this and other counts are compiled and used by scientists to determine trends in the winter birds’ population.

The Central Park meeting place was at the South Pump Station of the Reservoir (85th Street & 5th Avenue) and I arrived at around 7:40 a.m. after taking a couple of trains and a brief walk. I quickly signed up, paid my registration dues and mingled with the crowd of birders that were gathering. The turnout was good with many well renowned birders in attendance. Around 8:15 a.m., we broke up into teams, to cover the Northeast, Northwest, Reservoir, Great Lawn, Ramble, Southeast and Southwest areas. I decided to bird with Team Ramble, which was led by well known photographer and naturalist/birder Lloyd Spitalnik. Our group was quite large…probably the largest no doubt, due to the quality birders that were present and the area that the group was assigned.

Our group headed out towards the feeders in the Ramble and were quickly counting Nuthatches, Chickadees, Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and House Sparrows to name a few of the many species we saw. We birded the Ramble to around 12:00 and then headed out to the Arsenal where the groups were supposed to meet to do the tallying. For our group, the highlight was the sighting of a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. The final tally began with opening statements from the Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe followed by John Flicker President of National Audubon and then Glen Phillips NYC Audubon Executive Director, who led the count.

In all, we ended up with around 6,041 birds a total of 55 species. While the Red-headed Woodpecker was a nice bird to have, there were disappointed groans at the non-recording of some species. I did have a nice ending to one such disappointment. During the tally none of the groups reported any Kestrels; however, as we left the Arsenal, myself and fellow birders, Nicole Belacretaz, Candace Khaokham and Alicia Svenson had one that flew into the trees to the left of the wildlife center…so at least we ended up with one Kestrel. There was media coverage from a number of outlets and many of us were being interviewed and photographed throughout the event; here is one such report from the New York Post. It was a fantastic day and I look forward to participating in the Queens count, which is this coming Saturday. Check back for a complete report.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I miss all the fun. Oh, yeah! I work at a most fun place and sometimes even get to bird there.
Sounds like the 14th was a good one.
Come by and visit -- with advance notice, maybe I can get out to bird with you.