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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

September Birds

As the southbound movement of birds intensified, the number of new species for my Brooklyn year list bumped up slightly. During the month of September I added 12 species, one of which should be noted with an asterisk.

The Connecticut Warbler's annual migration pattern is somewhat unusual in that it travels North to its breeding ground along the Mississippi Flyway, then along the Atlantic Flyway as it heads South in the Fall. This skulker of the forest understory is not easily seen and poorly studied. Fortunately one that stopped off in Prospect Park hung around the Peninsula Woods long enough for many people to get good looks at it.

On September 10th I spotted my first Purple Finches of the year, also in Prospect Park. A south-facing section of Lookout Hill near the Maryland Monument has been cleared of invasive trees in recent years. The landscape management crew planted hundreds of native wildflowers in that spot making it a great bird hotspot. During the Fall finches, as well as, several warbler species frequent this spot. It was here that I saw a pair of Purple Finches feeding on the dried flowers of the Wild Lettuce plant. Also along the hillside was a single European Goldfinch. While the Cornell eBird website seems to count it on one's list as a "legitimate" wild species, I suspect that all
European Goldfinch around New York are the result of escaped pets, not long distant travelers or nesting birds. They are, without question, a very beautiful bird worthy of "oos" and "aahs", but to most birdwatchers it is like getting excited about sighting someone's lost canary flying around their local park.

My September 15th walk in Prospect Park for the Linnaean Society of New York was very successful. We tallied 16 species of warbler, which included nice looks at a lovely Cape May Warbler. In addition, we spotted 4 species of vireo including one very bright Philadelphia Vireo. There were several species of flycatcher seen throughout the morning, but the highlight was an Olive-sided Flycatcher on Breeze Hill. I had all but given up hope on finding one this year, so it was a nice surprise. Heydi managed to take some photos of it while it hawked for insects from a dead snag at the top of the hill.

Over the past weekend Heydi and I searched for marsh sparrows, more specifically, the Nelson's Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow. The best place in Brooklyn to search for these birds is at Plum Beach. To the North of the dunes there is a tidal saltmarsh habitat. When the tide is high it pushes any birds hiding in the grass closer to shore making finding these secretive individuals a lot easier. Arriving at first light, high-tide was quickly approaching and the path around the marsh was already submerged. Several Savannah Sparrows flushed as we walked towards the East end of the marsh. About 5 minutes later we had both target species in our bins. It was almost too easy.

With only three months left of the year, I don't feel very confident that I'll get anywhere close to last year's 251 final Brooklyn tally, but each day that I head out into the field I'm still excited about seeing something new and interesting.


NYS total: 236
Kings total: 223

212) Connecticut Warbler (Prospect Park--Peninsula, 09/01/12)
213) Common Nighthawk (Prospect Park--Long Meadow, 09/01/12)
214) Black Tern (Coney Island, 09/03/12)
215) Baird's Sandpiper (Floyd Bennett Field, 09/04/12)
216) Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Floyd Bennett Field, 09/04/12)
217) Purple Finch (Prospect Park, 09/10/12)
218) *European Goldfinch (Prospect Park, 09/10/12)
219) Olive-sided Flycatcher (Prospect Park, 09/15/12)
220) Bobolink (Floyd Bennett Field, 09/17/12)
221) Clay-colored Sparrow (Dreier-Offerman Park, 09/22/12)
222) Nelson's Sparrow (Plumb Beach, 09/29/12)
223) Seaside Sparrow (Plumb Beach, 09/29/12)

*Should not be counted towards total as it is most likely an escaped pet.

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