Connecticut Warbler, Central Park Ramble

The Connecticut Warbler has proved over the last couple years to be very chaseable. Unlike most warblers, it prefers walking (not hopping, and this is an important element in identification) to flying during the day, and so it tends not to go far from where it is sighted. When it appears in a not-densely-vegetated area, as it did two years ago near Tupelo Meadow in the Ramble, it can offer extended views to many observers. The flip side is that its tendency to stay low in heavy brush can also make it very hard to see in the first place and challenging to re-find.

Yesterday, September 29, a Connecticut Warbler was observed walking on the loose dirt and leaves of the hill that rises just north of the Riviera (the path along the Lake) at the south end of the Central Park Ramble. It was reported quickly, both online and by BirdCP text alert at 5:59 p.m. I was at home when I received the alert, and in a few minutes I was running toward the Ramble, binoculars in hand.

I did not want to waste any time, as sunset was 6:40 and the Ramble could be dark well before then on a cloudy day. I arrived at 6:13 and saw three birders in the area. They said they had just seen the Connecticut, and almost immediately it appeared again near a large log. I watched it for a few minutes as some of them took photographs. The bird had a gray hood and unbroken eye-ring, and it was walking, so there was no question about identity.

The Connecticut Warbler was my 196th species of the year. I still need Golden-winged Warbler to complete another “perfect” warbler year (of all regularly-occurring warblers in Manhattan), as I had once before in 2012. It appears extremely unlikely that I will see one, as none have ever been recorded on eBird in Manhattan in October, and cross-breeding is making the pure species rarer each year.

**3 October Update: 

More chaseable Connecticut Warbler reports in Manhattan followed: first at Madison Square Park in the afternoon on 30 September, and then the next day in Strawberry Fields, Central Park at 5:35 p.m.