Delayed migration

Greetings, everyone! It has been several months since I have blogged about birding. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I have been busy writing my book, A Big Manhattan Year, which is now complete and available for purchase. Second, with Starr’s passing in early February I made her site, StarrTrips (where I blogged last year), entirely a memorial to her and decided that it was no longer appropriate to continue writing about my own birding experiences there.

Near the end of my book I stated that I had no intention to do another big year anytime soon, and that is still the case. But, despite birding much less than I did last winter, I actually ended up well ahead of last year’s pace. As of this April 3, I had 92 species; last year on the same date I had 85. By tomorrow (April 6), this advantage will be gone.

For nearly a month now, New York has had cold weather and predominant northerly winds. The effect on birds is that many early migrants are appearing later than usual — much later than they did last year, when warm conditions brought unusually early arrivals. For example, in 2012 Eastern Phoebe was being observed frequently by March 14 and Pine Warblers arrived on March 10. This year it took until April 1 for the Phoebes to be seen in decent numbers, and Pine Warblers have yet to arrive as of April 5!

Last year, the first Palm Warblers appeared on March 29th, and we still have not seen any this year, nor have any warblers at all been reliably reported from Central Park.

Golden-crowned Kinglets have been appearing, in good numbers, since March 31, and Northern Flickers are starting to be heard and seen. The park’s water bodies have also been graced by some Great Egrets, which will remain common throughout the spring but are always a delight to see.

Two weeks ago I added another “white whale” bird to my lifetime Manhattan list when a very cooperative American Woodcock took up temporary residence in the plant beds of Bryant Park.

Warmer weather and southerly winds are on the way. Let’s see what they bring!

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