The best birds were the warblers. We saw 14 species of wood-warblers, including magnolia, black-throated blue, black-throated green, parula, yellow, nashville (a lifer), ovenbird, black-and-white, redstart (lifer), northern waterthrush (another lifer) and yellowthroat.
None of these, however, was the best bird of the trip. We were walking back from "the point," part of the wooded section of the park (the ramble), when another birder stopped us. " Sorry, but I just have to tell someone about this," she said, "I just saw a Blackburnian Warbler right here." We, of course, all immediately stoppped. The blackburnian is one of, if not the most beautiful warbler (Other contenders include Magnolia and Cerulean. Not having seen Cerulean, I can't comment on that, but I would say that this bird is more amazing that magnolia. Rarer too.)
Sure enough, there was an adult male blackburnian warbler right there. It was low in the trees, and we were on higher ground, so it was at about eye level and only ten feet away. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. It throat was amazingly brilliant orange, and its black back and wings with white wing panels were striking as well. It stayed in one spot for a minute, posing for pictures. Of course, this would have been a perfect time to take a great photo, if I had had my camera with me. But then, according to the universal laws of birding, we wouldn't have seen the bird. It was one of the five lifers, and it made the already good birding morning.
If you are ever in the NYC area, central park is a great spot for birding, and you should stop there, if only briefly, especially during migration.