Grasshopper Sparrow, Central Park

Grasshopper Sparrow 5-20110201

Grasshopper Sparrow 5-20110201 (Photo credit: Kenneth Cole Schneider)

At 11:39 a.m. today, as I was watching the market, I received an email from eBirdsNYC: Stephen Chang, one of Manhattan’s top birders, had found a rare Grasshopper Sparrow on the lawn west of Triplets Bridge. (This lawn is at the very west end of Central Park, north of the 77th Street entrance off Central Park West and a block east of CPW, just west of the stream that feeds the Lake.)

Mr. Chang seems to have a way with Grasshopper Sparrows. He also was the finder of the one near the Lawn Bowling courts in May 2012 about which I wrote in my book.

I ran to area, arriving at 11:55 a.m. I was first on the scene, and I saw neither the bird nor its original finder. I did see some House Sparrows on the lawn, so I scanned them and then circled around the lawn.

As I was searching the opposite side of the lawn, another birder called out that the bird was appearing by the fence just west of the stream. I turned and got a good look. Its eye ring, buffy throat, and overall shape and coloring left no doubt as to its identity.

The bird remained in view for five minutes and then seemed to disappear into the brush. I remained on the scene for another twenty minutes as seven birders watched for it, but it did not reappear. It was reported again later in the afternoon.

The Grasshopper Sparrow has been appearing roughly once per season in recent years in Central Park. As we begin the fall sparrowing season, I am hoping that more ammodramus sparrows will show up in Central Park.

I visited the northeast shore of Randall’s Island on Monday, September 30, and found the lone Saltmarsh Sparrow (also of the ammodramus genus) that had been found by another observer the day before. It was my 183rd species of the year. Today’s Grasshopper Sparrow was my 184th.

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Longstanding nemesis bird finally enters my list

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs (Photo credit: Len Blumin)

I added a number of good birds since my last post: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Sunday the 14th — a tough bird to find early in the season, of which there have been only a few reports so far in Central Park; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, which I had over the Meer on Monday and over the Lake this morning; Snowy Egret, seen from around 93rd Street and the East River among a breeding colony of Great and Snowy Egrets on Mill Rock Island; and, today, Greater Yellowlegs!

Credit goes to ace birder Stephen Chang, who appears in my book. He found two Greater Yellowlegs on the Sherman Creek mud flats of Swindler Cove Park in Inwood last evening and posted his sighting on eBird. This morning eBird alerted me to his observation, as the species is one I have not yet observed this year (or ever) in Manhattan. I made many trips to Swindler Cove in the heat of August last year to try to see large shorebirds, but after my initial sighting of a likely Short-billed Dowitcher, no others appeared for me. I was delighted to see this one venture out on the mud flats roughly 20 minutes after my 11:15 a.m. arrival.

I then went to Fort Tryon Park to raptor-watch, but I saw only three Turkey Vultures gliding north over the Hudson and two Red-tailed Hawks.