Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Never, ever, leave home without your camera ....

So August was a super-frustrating month bird-wise and my year-list really didn't move all that much.  I did add 6 species but was frankly hoping for 10, 12, or more.  With no hurricane, no offshore pelagic trips, and a bewildering absence of vagrants (especially when compared to last year), birding felt painfully slow.  To add insult to injury, I also missed a few of the things that did show up.  For someone who spends a significant chunk of their life seawatching or messing about on boats, missing Brown Pelican is a little embarrassing.  I also managed to miss all 26 Hudsonian Godwits that came through New York, a fact made more painful by my having decided not to run up for the long staying bird at Montezuma in the Spring.  So, to sum it up, not feeling too good about the whole "Big Year" thing right now.

So, this morning I almost didn't go out but, psyching myself up, finally forced myself to get motivated to go to Central Park. The weather forecast was dismal, with Yahoo Weather predicting a 100% chance of thunderstorms by 9:00am (the remnant of Hurricane Isaac).   So at 6:00am I jumped on the 3-Train but left the camera at home, brought an umbrella, and planned to spend just an hour or two, mostly looking for the Red Crossbills (Type-3) that had been reported there over the weekend.

The Lake in Central Park
Arriving at Strawberry Fields, the light was so terrible that the few warblers I saw were all Warbler sp.  The rain held off though and , and the light slowly improved, so I pushed on to the Upper Lobe (where there were some recent Crossbill Records), and started working uphill towards Belvedere Castle and the Shakespeare Garden.  As I walked uphill, I swore I heard a Connecticut Warbler sing twice - a rich, loud, fluty 'wichity-wichety' song*.  So I pushed on to the spot and quickly saw a bird walking on the ground in one of the densely vegetated woodlots.  I put bins on it and saw a gray-and-yellow warbler, with a long bill, and a white eye-ring!  Male CONNECTICUT WARBLER (NYS 2012 #337)!  Only the third one I've ever seen in Central Park in 21-years - and I didn't have my camera with me ....

I got a couple of good looks and then lost the bird briefly as it crossed to the far side of the fenced enclosure it was in.  Before I went round to the other side, and nervous of flushing it, I stopped, picked up the phone and fired off a NYNYBIRD Text Alert.

Now there are three things that can happen when you do that .....

Scenario 1: you put the bird on the text alert system and 40 birders quickly appear, see and photograph the bird and everyone basically has a jolly good time.  Strangers come up and shake your hand.  Younger/beginner birders thank you for their life bird.  People generally say complementary things about your birding skills.  This happened to me a couple of times this Spring (Kentucky and Yellow-throated Warblers in Central Park).  It's a pretty good feeling.

Scenario 2: you put the bird on the text alert system and 40 birders quickly appear, but fail to see the bird.  They wander around for 15 minutes and look in the area immediately surrounding your sighting.  There is some muttering, mumbling and a general reluctance to make eye-contact.  Birders who don't know you ask others whether you're experienced or whether you could be the type of birder who makes mistakes on the complex IDs.  After what seems like an eternity, people drift off (even while you stay frantically looking for the bird) and an uncomfortable silence returns to the scene.

Scenario 3: you put the bird on the text alert system and 40 birders quickly appear, and quickly get on the bird but, instead of the Connecticut Warbler a Common Yellowthroat or a Mourning Warbler pops out of a nearby bush.  Game over ... take up a new hobby.

Well, lets just say we got Scenario 2 today, and even though I spent most of the next three hours in the general area looking for the bird, I couldn't re-find it.  There were plenty of other good birds in the Park today - Olive-side Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and a good wave of migrants including lots of Red-eyed Vireos and a scattering of warblers - but was unable to re-find the star bird.  Guess I owe the locals a bird, and I'm never, ever going out without the camera again.

* - I feel better about the song having since listened to tapes and also hearing that one of two Connecticut Warblers found this week at Cape May was also singing.


  1. Anthony,
    Just discovered your blog. I found this post on the COWA highly amusing. Thanks for the chuckle. Let's hope for many scenario #1s but if #2 occurs I now know not to mutter and mumble too much!
    Lynne Hertzog

  2. Merely identified your website. I came across this particular publish about the COWA very entertaining. Just giggle. Let us expect numerous circumstance #1s however , if #two takes place We today realize to not grumble and also maunder a lot of!


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