Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Van Cortlandt Bird Walk Report 2-11-2012...

On Saturday, despite the dreary weather conditions 4 birders joined me for our bird walk at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx NY. We were missing a few of our regulars, but those who came out enjoyed a nice walk in the cold snowy weather. We began with our now ritual scan of the parade grounds, which yielded nothing of interest, then we made our way to the Van Cortlandt Lake and began scanning the flock of Canada Geese in the water and on the shore.

I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted the star of Van Cortlandt Park for now 3 months and counting. A Greater-White fronted Goose! (Anser albifrons) This bird had not been reported for over a month, so I was uncertain if it was still around, but there it was. It was a life bird for 2 of the birders who were coming out with us for the first time and we took our time to observe and discuss the bird. After getting excellent and prolonged views, we continued along the lake, birding as we walked. We spotted Hooded Mergansers and Ruddy Ducks among the Canada Geese and despite making several passes of the 500+ Canada Geese, I could not pull out a Cackling Goose, although, there were several smaller Lesser Canada Geese that teased with their smaller size.

We finally made it to the bridge near the golf course and as expected, it was there we picked up many of our passerines, with 6-8 Rusty Blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus) putting in a nice appearance. This was another life bird for Jim and Kathleen who now had picked up two for the day. We spent some time near the bridge picking up more birds as they flew in to feed on the bird seed that was laid out near the bridge for them.

During that time I received a message from Tom Fiore a New York birder and naturalist. Tom after reading my message (which I posted from the field) about the Greater-White fronted Goose, responded and informed me of an Eastern Phoebe that he and a few other birders had seen the day before near Vault Hill. Tom provided the location for the bird and I took the group minus Jim and Kathleen who departed, to look for the bird.

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for us as the snow flurries intensified and we came away empty handed. I later learned that Tom had shown up at Van Cortlandt Park after we left and found the Phoebe in the same area. Maybe next week we may have better luck seeing this bird. On our way back out from Vault Hill we came across the Greater White-fronted Goose on the parade grounds and I stopped to scan the flock of Canada Geese. Frank and Alex, who had stayed with me to this point departed as they had enough of the cold. After spending some time studying the flock, I left and continued birding the Bronx. Here is of birds seen from our walk.

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)

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