Red-necked Phalarope on the Hudson

Just before 1 p.m. today a Red-necked Phalarope was reporting swimming near the Manhattan shore of the Hudson River south of Pier 40.

The only other historical eBird record of this species in Manhattan is from 28 August 2011, when Andrew Farnsworth observed over 70 birds in several flocks flying south after being displaced by Hurricane Irene.

I was at the gym, so I did not see today’s alert until 2 p.m. Then I needed to eat, and I also needed to be ready to meet a friend at 3:30 in midtown. I was not set to to leave until 2:35, when I realized that I probably would not be able to both see the bird and make it to my meeting on time. Later a report came in that the bird was no longer being seen at 2 p.m., so I was glad I had not tried for it.

After I was free again at 5:35 I saw reports that the bird had been re-found near the prior location. I walked home, refueled quickly, and by 6:20 was out the door. The Lexington line was fast and took me right to Canal Street, from which I ran to the Hudson shore, arriving around 6:49. Still plenty of light, but a scan of the area did not turn up the bird. I ended up walking further north to Pier 40. It took a few minutes of searching, but the small, long-billed bird popped into view near a couple of gulls. By walking out on Pier 40 I was able to observe the phalarope from as close as 20 feet.

This Red-necked Phalarope was a life bird for me, my 228th, as well as my 176th species of the year.

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Summer update

It’s been two months since my last report, and fall migrants are already passing through. Let’s look back at some interesting birds that have appeared in the interim in Manhattan.

A Red-headed Woodpecker appeared over Evodia on May 27 and lingered just southeast of there in the Ramble for roughly a week.

A couple Purple Martins were observed over Turtle Pond in Central Park beginning June 14 through June 19, reported only by one observer. I watched for them and might have seen one flying high at midday but cannot say so conclusively.

A Black Skimmer was reported feeding over the model boat pond in Central Park at 10 p.m. on July 10. I arrived at 11 p.m. that night, and visited again on some successive nights, but did not see it, nor have I seen them on the Reservoir at night, an even more likely spot to check. Black Skimmers had been photographed last in July 2008 on the model boat pond.

Yesterday afternoon, August 5, I visited Swindler Cove Park in Inwood just after low tide and was treated to a flock of fifty Semipalmated Sandpipers ranging over the Sherman Creek mudflats, giving me my 175th bird species of the year. These birds appeared in 2012 on these mudflats in large numbers, as many as 200 at peak. along with other more unusual shorebirds.

The last couple days have also brought reports of a variety of expected warblers and flycatchers in Central Park.

I am pleased to see that my recent book, “A Big Manhattan Year,” continues to sell well on Amazon. If you want to learn more about birding Manhattan, or just want to read a good big-year story, you should check it out.