Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birding in the Bronx and Long Island NY...

On Saturday, I headed out to join New York City Parks department official, Dave Kunstler, for a tour of a location in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx that is being considered for a birding program (yep…another project that I am involved with). Since, I was meeting Dave at 10:30 A.M. I decided to do some birding at Pelham Bay Park Bronx for a couple of hours. Pelham Bay, was relatively quiet with not much land birds except for flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and an increased presence of Brown-headed Cowbirds. As it was low tide, there was not much waterfowl near the shore either, but I managed to pick up some Buffleheads out on the water. After a bit of poking around I left with 32 species for my day and site list.

Heading over to Vancortlandt, I met Dave and started our walk/tour on schedule. Immediately on entering the park on the way to the Ranger station, I spotted a Swamp Sparrow and got Dave on it. Minutes later, I picked up my FOS (first of the season) Eastern Phoebe; I mused on the good start, as both birds were additions to my day list. Once into the park, Dave and I birded along the John Kieran Nature Trail that runs along the Van Cortlandt Lake. That trail led us near and across Tibbetts Brook which took us behind the golf course. Here we had another Swamp Sparrow that was singing its heart out and we stopped to listen and take in the lovely song. On the bridge looking into an opening on the brook we spotted a couple of Green Winged Teals. Around the same area, a couple of Carolina Wrens announced their presence first by voicing their displeasure probably at our presence, then singing as if acknowledging that we had passed inspection. From there, we took the path along the parade ground that took us to the path of Vault Hill. A little ways into one of our first hills, Dave pointed out a meadow, which was one of the few places in NYC where the Hoary Edge Butterfly can be found. Apparently, the meadow has a plant, Tick Trefoil that brings them in to that location. You could bet I will be checking that out when the time is right. I would love to see and photograph a Hoary Edge.

We continued hiking the steep climb of Vault Hill and headed to the Northwest Forest. Here we saw many of the birds we had already seen and after a while Dave suggested that we headed back. Heading back, we came across the place or vault where many of the Van Cortlandts were buried until the land became a public park in 1888. After that time, the family purchased a large plot in the nearby Woodlawn Cemetery and the remains relocated. Around that same area, we both had our first Butterfly of the year, a Mourning Cloak. At the foot of the hill, we decided to cut across the parade field and found a lone Savannah Sparrow foraging on the ground. Across the field in an area that was undergoing some construction, I found 4 Killdeers and took the time to share scope views of these birds with some folks who were wondering what we were looking at. They were thrilled and were happy that we took the time out to explain to them the type of birds they had just seen; who knows, maybe they will become more interested in birds adding to the family of nature lovers out there. Dave and I, parted ways around 2:15 and I decided to head to Jones Beach.

The traffic out of the Bronx was a crawl and I got to Jones Beach around 3:06 P.M. My first stop was the Coast Guard Station, where I quickly picked up Oystercatchers across the bay. Around the station I had several Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, 1 Immature White-crowned Sparrow and 1 Field Sparrow. From there I birded around the Swale picking up a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Killdeers and Piping Plovers. On the way out, I picked up 3 Eastern Phoebes bringing my day total to 4 for that species. I had designs on making a stop at Alley Pond or Forest Park, but decided against it calling it a day after I encountered traffic on the Southern State Parkway. Not a bad day in the field; I picked up a few first of the year species and took the first step in exploring a potential bird program at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. More to come on that I hope.

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1 comment:

Cindy said...

Nice birds and pictures. I hope to get out to Jones Beach next week while school is out.