American Woodcock and Red-necked Grebe, Central Park

In general, American Woodcocks are hard to find. They blend in well with surrounding foliage, and they stay low to the ground and move very little for much of the day. When they are found resting, however, they are good to birds for which to issue alerts, as they usually stay in place unless approached very closely. The Bryant Park woodcock of last March was a good example. It stayed in place for days, causing some to wonder if it was ill, and giving many birders (including me) an easy view of a life county bird.

On Saturday, March 8, two American Woodcocks were found resting near some rotting logs in the area just to the east of Azalea Pond, an area where one had appeared later in the spring last year. These two lingered for another day, giving close views to dozens of birders.

A more exciting find occurred the next day on Sunday, March 9. Peter Post, a longtime Manhattan birder, found a Red-necked Grebe lazily floating on the small area of open water near the Reservoir’s fountain and quickly alerted everyone on NYSBirds.

There are no prior eBird records of this species in Central Park, and it may be the first occurrence of Red-necked Grebe there in forty years (according to Mr. Post). This bird is generally uncommon around the New York City area, but this year the freeze-over of the Great Lakes has driven many Red-necked Grebes further south in search of open water and made it temporarily abundant in some coastal spots. I had it off of Randall’s Island in late January, but it was distant and the view was unsatisfying. The grebe on the Reservoir was close and unmistakable.

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