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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Raining Warblers in Green-Wood Cemetery

Today's Wednesday walk in Green-Wood Cemetery seemed to be an endless stream of southbound fall warblers. By 12:30 I had seen 16 species of warbler. In addition there was a good showing of migrating thrushes.

I didn't check the wind forecasts last night as I planned on doing my birding walk anyway. When I was heading home my friend Sean called and told me the winds and radar showed a big liftoff of birds from the Connecticut coast last night and early this morning. That explains everything. It seemed like whenever I stopped to investigate a chip note or movement in a treetop I'd invariable end up spending 15-20 minutes teasing out multiple species from a feeding mixed flock. At the Dell Water the low branches of a Weeping Willow hang over the pond where a pipe trickles a slow stream of water. I sat in the shade of a horsechestnut for about 30 minutes and watched a nice mix of warbler, vireos, tanagers and thrushes alternate between foraging for insects and dropping into the pond to drink or bathe. I tallied 8 warbler species at this spot.

The cherry topping to an already stellar day of fall birding occurred when I thought I was done and was heading back towards the cemetery entrance.

I noticed that most of the feeding activity had been within oak trees so I was keeping a look out for movement in this type of tree. This forced me to stray from my usually route. From the Crescent Water I would normally stick to Dale Avenue around the back of the new mausoleums then up Southwood Avenue towards "The Flats". Instead today I chased a flock of birds directly up Summit Ridge, on the east side of Crescent Water. I continued following chip sounds and fluttering redstarts to Union Avenue, which is on the north side of a small, shady dell bordered by Southwood Avenue and Vernal Avenue. There were a lot of birds flying back and forth between a large oak, several small yews and the sweetgums that line Southwood Avenue. I walked onto Southwood to get a better view of the sweetgums when a car drove passed, flushing an "interesting looking" bird from the ground beneath a stand of three small yew trees. I decided to use a large granite headstone as a blind (Barbour) and wait for the bird to return. It only took a minute or two, but when it did I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a Connecticut Warbler. Here's a video I shot with my iPhone of the bird casually foraging in the short grass at the center of the dell:

The connecticut was still present when I left, but when I went back later to help a few birders relocate it, we came up empty.

For future reference, I created a cemetery map from the official one that highlights noteworthy locations. You can download the PDF file here.


Location: Green-Wood Cemetery
Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Species: 61 species (+1 other taxa)

Great Blue Heron (1.)
Osprey (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Olive-sided Flycatcher (1.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (4.)
Empidonax sp. (3.)
Eastern Kingbird (1.)
Warbling Vireo (2.)
Red-eyed Vireo (7.)
Barn Swallow (1.)
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren (1.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1.)
Veery (2.)
Gray-cheeked Thrush (3.)
Swainson's Thrush (8.)
Wood Thrush (1.)
Cedar Waxwing (6.)

Ovenbird (4.)
Black-and-white Warbler  12
Common Yellowthroat (5.)
American Redstart (22.)
Cape May Warbler (2.)
Northern Parula (9.)
Magnolia Warbler (3.)
Yellow Warbler (1.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1.)
Blackpoll Warbler (3.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (6.)
Pine Warbler (4.)
Prairie Warbler (2.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (3.)
Wilson's Warbler (1.)

Chipping Sparrow (3.)
Scarlet Tanager (4.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5.)
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (2.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

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