Some late day birding at Sandy Hook yielded some excellent results. Within the span of just 2 hours, I spotted quite a few warblers. Some old friends were seen, including yellow-rumped warblers and pine warblers. Old acquaintances were flying and feeding as well around the maritime forests of the hook. It was good to see some Common yellowthroats, yellow warblers, black-and-white warblers, and even a lone American Redstart.
A special treat was watching a yellow warbler build a new nest not far off the multi-use path, about seven feet off the ground. Female yellow warblers are usually the nest builders taking 3 to 5 days to complete their task. The nest was nearly finished by the time I spotted it, and a beautiful nest indeed. There was already a strong cup-shaped nest of grasses, moss, and small strips of tree bark and plant fibers. Next on her to-do list was bringing in animal hair, bird feathers, and dandelion fibers to help soften the nest for what will eventually be an incubator for one to seven green or bluish white eggs with gray, olive or brown speckles. It will be a lovely home and I will have to try to return here often to check on the progress of this new yellow warbler family at Sandy Hook.
It just wasn’t warblers, though, I was seeing. A pair of bright blue male Indigo Buntings was foraging for seeds among brushy bluestem grasses. Several pairs of frisky Cedar Waxwings could also be seen. Males were courting females by passing berries to the female. Things looked promising, as females were passing fruit back to interested males. The need to breed is strong.
There was plenty of life down along the bay too. A few Ospreys or fish hawks had newly caught fish in their talons, either bluefish or bunker, or some other fish small fish that weighed about a half-a-pound. They were either feeding on a fish now or flying with a fish, head first to make it more aerodynamic in flight, to gobble down the poor critter someplace closer to their nest. Green herons and Black-crowned night herons were seeking fishy meals of killifish or mummichogs along the muddy edge of the estuary. The herons were not easy to spot, hidden behind a tangle of reeds and grasses. That’s the point, though, to crouch patiently unseen and surprise a small fish with a snatch of their blade of a bill.
Sandy Hook is not unique. Bird life abounds around the bay this early month of May, notwithstanding the cooler than average temperatures. According to several local online bird lists, the harbor has been busy with bird sightings.
On Staten Island, there have been sightings of a Summer Tanager and a Cerulean seen at the Cemetery of the Resurrection and two Red-headed Woodpeckers at Willowbrook. There also have been sightings of a Male Golden-winged Warbler at Clove Lakes Park and Victory Blvd. there have been sightings of two Hooded Warblers, a Blue-winged Warbler, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, and a Worm-eating Warbler.
At Big Marsh in Queens there has been a sighting of a Cattle Egret in full plumage. The population of migratory shorebirds are up too, including numbers of semipalmated plover and short-billed dowitchers.
Of course the real hot spot has been Central Park for the last few weeks. Many migratory birds have been stopping by the park to rest, feed, and be part of the show. Some of the highlights have included Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and the Baltimore Oriole.
Take some advice and get outside with binoculars in hand before the show is all over.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell