This week I was at Central Park even brighter and earlier, hoping to redeem myself for last week’s strike-out. And I did!
Oh, there was nothing of Black-throated Gray caliber. But, despite the intermittent and extremely irritating drizzle, I racked up a nice round forty species on my five-hour ramble from the Ramble all the way up to the Harlem Meer.
The Blue Jays were still on the move, and lots of other migrants were in evidence. The warblers were anchored by Ovenbirds and Common Yellowthroats, with a good showing by Black-and-Whites and Redstarts, and singles of Black-throated Blue, Yellow, Northern Parula, Northern Waterthrush, and a lovely male Black-throated Green. Other notable passerines included Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrush and no less than three Eastern Towhees. The shape of things to come was presaged by my first-of-season White-throated Sparrows and a single, disgruntled-looking Northern Shoveler on the otherwise quiet Reservoir.
But far and away, the big migration story today was Northern Flickers. The Ramble is usually good for a couple of Flickers, of course, but today I had fifteen, appearing in loose knots of three or four at a time. Flickers are one of those species, like Blue Jays, that are year-round residents here but migratory if they breed further north. As I watched the yellow shafts and white rumps flash across the landscape, I got to wondering about this phenomenon – how far do the Canuck birds have to travel, on average?
I did some googling, and I didn’t find out, but I did find this online copy of the always-charming Arthur Bent’s account of the species.
The most exciting non-migrant was my first sighting of the legendary Central Park Turkey, now looking even more ragged than in Corey’s photo from last weekend. I was able to persuade a couple who came by while I was watching it to put their stupidly large sight-hound on a leash* on the theory that the turkey probably can’t fly at its usual level of skill with half its feathers gone. Just call me Captain Planet Jr.
*Never mind that people aren’t supposed to have their dogs off-leash in the Ramble anyway.