Sunday, December 26, 2010


The Scene: Scanning the waves across the street from my beach house, looking at scoters and hoping for alcids.

The Bird: A pale cream gull, soaring by on the wind.

The ID: First cycle gull, with an all dark bill. Glaucous would have more pink on the bill, and be bulkier, as per my new Birds of Europe guide.

The Lifer: Iceland Gull

Merry Christmas and good birding!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More Rare Birds- Varied Thrush in Central Park

Today Benjamin Van Doren and I decided to chase the Varied Thrush that was found earlier this week in Central Park. It had been hanging around the area in the ramble known as "maintenance meadow," so we headed there after arriving in the park. The first bird we saw at the spot, however, was a young Cooper's Hawk, which was keeping the thrush in hiding. After a bit of searching in the thicket were it had been last seen, I happened to glance across the road and saw a distant bird high in a tree. Figuring it was a robin, I raised my binoculars, and was surprised to realize that it was the Varied Thrush! It then flew down and closer, foraging in its usual spot for a few minutes before disappearing again.

Next we wandered (or rambled, I guess) around the ramble, seeing a Fox Sparrow along with the usual suspects. There was a Bufflehead on Turtle Pond, but despite the good winds it was too late in the season for us to see any hawks. A stop back at the thrush spot yielded no more views, so we went to the Boathouse, where a Yellow-breasted Chat had been seen yesterday. No one had seen it yet today, so we were happy to find that it was still there, and it gave very good looks, especially for a normally skulking bird. The chat, belying its reputation, then flew into a dumpster, before joining a flock of House Sparrows foraging on the sidewalk right next to the entrance to the boathouse. So much for secretive and hard-to-see.

I got 2 lifers, the chat and the thrush, and extended my streak of both lifers and rarities to 3 weekends. Now about that Hermit Warbler...