A Torrent of Migrants

The last seven days offered excellent species variety in Manhattan. I added 21 new species for the year, including some rare warblers that I was not expecting to get. This leaves me with 170 species for the year, which suddenly puts me well ahead of last year’s pace (had 161 as of the same date then) after having been well behind it last week.

My warbler deficit largely got filled with a great influx of the rarer varieties: Blackburnian, Cape May, Prothonotary, Mourning, and Tennessee.

I also picked up my “peeps,” with Solitary Sandpiper and Spotted Sandpiper foraging side-by-side in the Compost Heap last Sunday. I had a single Least Sandpiper on Randall’s Island off the NE shore today. It was near a wading Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, another new species for the year that I had in the same spot last year in July.

I also had a few unexpected species. A Marsh Wren showed up last Saturday in the bamboo on the Riviera section of the Lake. Even more surprising were the two nightjars I had (along with dozens of other birders) yesterday. A Common Nighthawk was found high up in a tree SW of Mugger’s Woods in the Ramble. I wrote a chapter (“Nighthawk Watchman”) in my book about how I spent many August and September evenings watching in vain for a Common Nighthawk flyover until a pair finally arrived. I will not need to repeat that exercise this year. Later another nightjar was found perching prominently high above the north end of Tupelo Meadow. After some debate and close inspection, this bird was determined to be a Chuck-will’s-widow, a species with no prior eBird records for Manhattan. It was a life Manhattan bird for nearly everyone who saw it, including me.

Just minutes after viewing it, I wandered over to the fenced-in area just west of Humming Tombstone and had a Willow Flycatcher, which I identified by call. This, too, was a life Manhattan bird, one of the easiest of those I was missing.