I am back to trading the markets every day, which is one reason my blog posts are fewer — I am doing a lot less birding. When an opportunity for a life Manhattan bird arises, though, I am always ready to spring into action.
This morning at 9:27 ornithologist Joe DiCostanzo posted to eBirdsNYC that he had observed a drake White-winged Scoter flying west over the Spuyten Duyvil, just north of Inwood Hill Park. At 10:42 he posted that he had observed the scoter again, swimming on the Duyvil just east of the Henry Hudson bridge.
I was 35 minutes late in reading his second message, but I had trades in progress and would not have been able to leave earlier anyway. Ducks tend to linger for the day, particularly in calm locations, so I was not too worried — particularly now that open (unfrozen) water remains relatively scarce.
You may recall DiCostanzo from my book. He holds the lifetime record on eBird for most species in New York State: an amazing 404 from a New York birding career that began in the early 1970s. He gives birding walks in the Central Park Ramble every spring and fall through the American Museum of Natural History, and they are always in great demand. Sign up for them here. You will see (and hear) a huge variety of birds, learn something new, and have a fun time. You should also check out his blog, which he began today.
I arrived at the east end of Inwood Hill Park at 1:15 p.m. I did not initially see any ducks on the water near the bridge, so I walked over to the newly-created Muscota Marsh where DiCostanzo had seen some Canvasbacks this morning, including a leucistic one. I was not seeing them, but I did see three Greater Scaup swimming together on the north side of the creek, which got me year bird number 69.
I thought I would have a better view of the Spuyten Duyvil to the northwest, where the scoter was last seen, if I walked on a promontory that juts out toward it. So I did, and the drake White-winged Scoter, with its characteristic white comma behind each eye, came clearly into view.
I later walked the trail that goes around the northern edge of the park and got a closeup look at the scoter from just east of the Henry Hudson bridge. I did not mind spending the extra time. I figured it probably would be years before I saw another.
While walking back along the Dyckman ball fields after following the trail west and off of Inwood Hill, I saw a drake Canvasback land on the Hudson, only the second time I have observed this species in Manhattan.
The White-winged Scoter was species number 237 on my lifetime Manhattan list.