Saturday, October 1, 2011

Field Notes: Birding The Bronx…

Digiscoped Indigo Bunting
Completely overlooking that I was not scheduled for civic duties in the Bronx. Today, I ended up in Van Courtlandt Park only to realize after I got there that my morning was free.  At first I thought of just heading back into Queens or LI, but then decided to make the most of it and bird Hunter’s Island/Orchard Beach.  I arrived at Orchard Beach around 8:25 a.m. and began working the edges of Hunter's Island.  At first all I could hear and see were Palm Warblers (Dendroica palmarum), but then I began picking up the buzzing calls of Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) and the chip notes of Swamp Sparrows (Melospiza georgiana).  Working the areas and doing several passes allowed me to run into a small wave of passerine activity that included, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), Wilson ’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla), Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia), Northern Parula (Parula americana), Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrina), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) and a Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus).  I continued birding the edges making my way past Hunter's Island towards the Twin Islands.  I worked both Islands, thoroughly but the returns were dismal and the only notable birds I got were Great and Snowy Egrets feeding on the mudflats during low tide.  However, once I got out on the edges, I picked up another warbler, Black-throated Green (Dendroica virens).
Digiscoped shot of the Dickcissel at Orchard Beach, Bronx NY
On my way back towards the parking lot, I worked over several flocks of sparrows that were feeding all along the hedges near the beach.  As I neared beach marker number 3, I noticed a couple of birds on the hedges.  Putting my bins on the birds I picked out one with a yellow stripe over the eyes and I immediately thought that I might have a Dickcissel (Spiza americana).  Concerned that the activity nearby would flush the bird, I quickly put my scope on the bird and confirmed that it was indeed a Dickcissel (Spiza americana).   I managed to get a couple of digiscoping shots before a park employee drove up and flushed all of the birds.  I waited for a bit, but the Dickcissel did not return. I continued my birding, working my way back towards the parking lot.  In a small group of Oak Trees just before the parking lot, I picked up my second wave of passerines and added, Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata), Chestnut sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica), Bay Breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea), Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca) and American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla).  I decided to work the West side of Orchard Beach and walked the Siwanoy Trail all the way out to the restoration area.  The birding along the way was quite slow, but I did see more Indigo Buntings, Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis), House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) and both Snowy and Great Egrets.  Finally, I decided to head back to Queens.  With about 7 hours of birding in the Bronx, I felt that 15 species of Warblers, along with a Philadelphia Vireo and a Dickcissel was not a bad haul at all.

Digiscoped shot of Snowy Egrets in the Bronx NY

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