WINTER BIRDING IN NEW YORK CITY (1)


Strange as it may seem, New York City is a great place for birding. The city may not sleep, and maybe neither do the birds, but nonetheless there are several excellent locations to see a wide variety of species. NYC lies right on the East Atlantic Flyway, the eastern migratory route of the USA. Along it, birds hurtle forth and back twice a year, from tiny warblers to large shorebirds, as they seek winter warmth nearer the equator before returning in summer.

north-america-migration-flyways

wqed.org

The optimum hotspot is CENTRAL PARK, in particular The Ramble (central) and the secluded Pond / Ravine walk by a pretty stream (north). This is definitely the first place to head for if you have half a day to spare. There’s a very good Central Park website (link above). You’ll also find a CP birding map online, and several websites devoted to birding CP from which you can get or make your own checklist (caution: some sites are a bit… intense). Among books, I have Birds of Central Park by Carl Vornberger and The Ramble: A Wilderness West of 5th by Robert A. McCabe. These are small coffee table books to enjoy rather than field guides, and can be found on Amazon (.com), ABE and occasionally eBay.

It’s worth mentioning PROSPECT PARK BROOKLYN as another good place for birds. It is very large and has plenty of water, which is excellent for water fowl and geese. I’ve seen chipmunks there too (well, I was excited, anyway). There’s the added bonus that the BROOKLYN MUSEUM is right there – perfect for a morning followed by an afternoon in the park.

Here are a few birds photographed in and around the City when temperatures remained below freezing despite a bright sun. There’ll be some more soon.

STARLING BY THE HIGH LINE, LOWER MANHATTANStarling, High Line, NYC

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, HIGH LINENorthern Mockingbird, High Line, NYC

NORTHERN CARDINALS, CENTRAL PARK Northern Cardinal, Central Park, NYCNorthern Cardinal, Central Park NYC

TUFTED TITMICE, CENTRAL PARKTufted Titmouse, Central Park NYCTufted Titmouse (2) Central Park NYC

HOUSE SPARROW, CENTRAL PARKHouse Sparrow, Central Park NYC

RING-BILLED GULLS, STATEN ISLAND FERRYRing-billed Gull, Staten Island Ferry NYCRing-billed Gull, Staten Island Ferry, NYC

HERRING GULLS, STATEN ISLAND FERRYHerring Gull, Staten Island Ferry, NYC

Helicopter photobomb above the bird!Herring Gull, NYC

TUFTED TITMOUSE STUDIES, CENTRAL PARK, NYC


Tufted Titmouse CP NYC 5Tufted Titmouse CP NYC 1Tufted Titmouse CP NYC 2

Tufted Titmouse CP NYC 4Tufted Titmouse CP NYC 3 copy

‘DUCKING & DIVING’: BUFFLEHEADS IN CENTRAL PARK NYC


The Bufflehead Bucephala albeola is a small American duck of the goldeneye family, named for the ‘buffalo’ shape of its head. These shots were taken on the JKO Reservoir in central Park NYC, at a bit of a distance. The ducks were mostly floating peacefully, with the occasional sudden splashy dive. When they surfaced, fat beads of water stayed on their backs. Unfortunately the light / position of the sun meant that I never caught one head on, when the purple and green sheen of the face feathers would be clearly visible. 

Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 1Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 4Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 3Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 5Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 6Bufflehead Duck Central Park NYC 7

HOODED MERGANSERS IN CENTRAL PARK, NYC


These hooded mergansers were on the JKO Reservoir in mid-Central Park, New York. The colourful male is shown first, then the less flamboyant female.

Hooded Merganser (m) NYC CP 3Hooded Merganser (m) NYC CP 2Hooded Merganser (m) NYC CP 1Hooded Merganser (f) NYC CP 2Hooded Merganser (f) NYC CP 3Hooded Merganser (f) NYC CP 1This bird has just surfaced from a dive, leaving her rather wet and dishevelled

WINTER BRIDGES OF CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK


THE POND

Central Park Bridges, NYC 4

NEAR COLUMBUS CIRCLE

Central Park Bridges, NYC 1

THE DAIRY

Central Park Bridges, NYC 5

BOW BRIDGE OVER THE LAKE, SUNSET

Central Park Bridges, NYC 7

NEAR COLUMBUS CIRCLE

Central Park Bridges, NYC 2Central Park Bridges, NYC 3

TUNNEL SUNRISE

Central Park Bridges, NYC 6

CENTRAL PARK & ALL THAT JAZZ: “30 BANDS, ONE SET LIST”


Central Park, New York - Bow Bridge & The RambleCentral Park, New York: The Lake, Bow Bridge and The Ramble

9 NOVEMBER 2103. CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK. 30 BANDS. 1 SET LIST

photo 2

This remarkable event involved 30 different jazz bands spread round different locations throughout the whole of Central Park, simultaneously playing from one carefully timed set list. The ensemble below, the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars (feat. Russell Hall Quartet), were stationed at Cherry Hill, the scenic horse carriage circular turn-around overlooking The Lake and Bow Bridge (see header picture, taken in February)

Central Park Jazz 1

I’m not a jazz person myself, but this sort of open air occasion could get me interested… For anyone who might like to know more details, here’s the set list to give an idea of the breadth of the repertoire and the opportunity for quality soloing. The four-hour event was entirely free. What’s not to like on a misty November day?

12.00 – 1.30 pm

  • Caravan (Juan Tizol)
  • Bemsha Swing (Thelonius Monk)
  • Cherokee (Ray Noble)
  • A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie)
  • So What (Miles Davis)
  • Footprints (Wayne Shorter
  • Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock)
  • Take 5 (Paul Desmond)
  • Tenor Madness (Sonny Rollins)

Central Park Jazz 2

2.00 – 3.00 pm

  • Take the A Train (Billy Strayhorn)
  • Harlem Nocturne (Earl Hagen)
  • Stompin’ at the Savoy (Chick Webb)
  • Grand Central (John Coltrane)
  • Central Park North (Thad Jones / Mel Lewis)
  • New York City (Gil Scott Heron / Brian Jackson)
  • A Foggy Day in London Town (George Gershwin)
  • Las Vegas Tango (Gil Evans)
  • We live in Brooklyn, Baby (Harry Whittaker)

3.30 – 4.00

  • Encore – Original Material [‘Free-for-all’]

ON KEYBOARDS…

(Note horse carriage passing in the background at 0.10…)

photo 4 copy

SAX APPEAL…

Central Park New York - Bow Bridge & the RambleCentral Park, New York: The Lake, Bow Bridge and The Ramble near dusk

Credits: RH – Bow Bridge images; Mrs RH + iPh@ne – the rest of the Jazz