Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Central Park, New York, Oct 2014

A walk in New York’s Central Park always carries my hopes for a long list of New World Warblers, but my luck and skill could not combine to bring these hopes to reality today. It was a glorious day to be out in the park however and was enhanced by a great look at a young Red-tailed Hawk and chance meetings with other like-minded wanderers.


I had borrowed a bicycle and entered the park on the cross drive at 72nd St. The mound that carries a tribute to the Pilgrim Fathers brought some early birds with the regulation Blue Jay, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the first of many Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.


The Falconer bronze stands beneath an outcrop of New York Gneiss which harboured Chipping Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Dark-eyed Junco.


I chained up the bike by the benches at Wagner’s Cove, the southern lobe of the boating lake and immediately walked into the red-tail. It was in a tree which was rooted lower down the bank and this left it sitting at the perfect height for a picture. It appeared relaxed and I was able to sit on the rock and enjoy it for a while until a call from another hawk stirred it into action.


While it sat, no other birds bothered it, but when it flew, it was chased by Blue Jays and American Robins which continued to bombard it after it landed in a nearby oak.


A second Red-tail cruised across the cove and my bird gave chase. Mallards on the water ducked beneath the surface each time a hawk passed over.
A Pine Warbler was seen in a conifer on the south side of Bow Bridge and raised my hopes of a warbler fest. Another warbler evaded me as I approached The Oven, but in chasing it, I ran into Cindy who thought it may have been a Magnolia Warbler.


We walked together for a while and got some good views of Brown Creeper, White-throated Sparrow and dozens of American Robins along The Spit. We took a slight wrong turn on the way to the feeders which proved fortunate as an Ovenbird stepped and flicked through the rank vegetation to the right of the path. Another warbler by the Azalea Pond had us foxed, though the smart money is on Tennessee Warbler.
Cindy left me here and I continued on to Maintenance Meadow, arriving at the same time as a party of school kids. It was dispiriting that the meadow would probably be disturbed, so I moved out quickly to stay ahead of the children, but was pleasantly impressed as the teacher primed the class that I was hoping for a quiet few moments and the children very respectfully gave me that chance.
A Song Sparrow fed from low plants to the west of the meadow and a Cooper’s Hawk flew high above.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Cedar Waxwings were seen in the large tree on the northwest corner of the meadow and a Northern Parula gave a poor view and had to be confirmed from a photograph later on.


Another birder had seen some warblers up near the arboretum, so I sauntered up that way and added Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, half-a-dozen more Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and a Northern Cardinal.


On the return south, a Red-breasted Nuthatch was added from the Shakespeare Garden, a Blue-headed Vireo was seen from the Maintenance Meadow and Karen Wang pointed out a Black-throated Blue Warbler near The Gill.

Birds seen;

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 7, Gadwall (Anas strepera) 2, Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 15, Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 70, Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) 45, Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) 1, Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 5, Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 6, Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 4, Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) 3, Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 15, Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) 8, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) 10, Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1, Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1, Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) 1, Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) 1, Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 25, Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 6, Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) 15, Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 1, White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 3, Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) 5, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 6, Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 5, American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 120, Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) 5, European Starling  (Sturnus vulgaris) 15, Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 10, Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) 1, Northern Parula (Setophaga americana) 1, Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) 1, Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 1, Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) 4, Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 30, Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 4, White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) 150, Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 6, Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 10, Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 35, House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 1, American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 1, House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 80.


Central Park can be found on Manhattan between 5th and 8th Aves and from 60th St, north to 110TH St.
The most talked about area for birding is The Ramble, which can be seen at Google Earth ref; 40 46 36.89N73 58 10.74W

Previous posts from New York’s Central Park can be seen at the links below;

Visit the dedicatedUSA and Canada Page for more posts from New York including Jamaica Bay WildlifeRefuge and Floyd Bennett Field.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Itatiaia NP, RJ, Brazil.

Although the drive seemed longer and much more hectic, the forest of Itatiaia NP hardly seemed to have changed at all since my last visit nearly 8 years ago. 


There was little purpose in stopping along the way to pick up common birds, so I made a dash for it and reached the park at around 13.00.


Pousada Aldeia dos Passaros, is located at the 6km mark, just beyond the control gate at Google Earth ref; 22 27 45.69S 44 35 33.33W . I had booked to stay here over night and took the chance to stretch my legs and watch the hummingbird feeders and fruit tray for a while.


8 species of tanagers came to feed on a banana and a list of 23 birds was compiled very quickly. As the afternoon progressed, I headed into the forest taking in the lookout at Km 7 which brought Gray-rumped Swifts, Swallow Tanagers and Long-tailed Tyrant.


A trail leads from the Visitor Centre towards Lago Azul. It winds for about 500 meters through the forest and the first trogon was seen just a short way in. A guide from the visitor centre had come with me and called White-tailed Trogon, but I had to give that one up in favour of Surucua Trogon. And so it continued, 3 calls for White-tailed Trogon all proved to be Surucua on closer inspection. The race in this forest often sports the orange belly which must be what was causing the confusion. 


A feeding flock including Olivaceous Woodcreeper and Plain-Brown Woodcreeper also brought a White-shouldered Fire-eye which I had not seen since 2007. At the bottom of the slope, is a pool in the stream that flows down through the valley. It was not quite what I was expecting from Lago Azul, but very pretty nevertheless. A small flock of the Gilt-edged Tanagers fed in the trees here.


Back at the top of the slope, Cliff Flycatcher and Blue-and-White Swallows perched on the roof of the visitor Centre and the tree beside the parking lot added another half-a-dozen species with Scaled Woodcreeper, Blue Dacnis and Saffron Finch passing through as the light faded.


The next morning I took an early walk along the jeep trail that starts from the top of the road at around Km 14. Sepia-capped Flycatcher and Yellow-olive Flycatcher were early finds. There was plenty of bird calls, but I struggled to pick out the birds in the thick forest along this trail.
Two birds that I was very pleased with were the Bi-colored Hawk (which gave a good look and a long squeaky call) and White-browed Woodpecker that needed a poor picture to confirm its identity.


A brown feeding flock passed through and included White-collared Foliage-gleaner and Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner.


Thence up the steep driveway to Hotel do Ype, which is always a pleasure. The hotel is a real favourite among bird watchers that visit Itatiaia NP and so it should be. 


The breakfast buffet for the birds included a magnificent fruit platter, an orange tray and the obligatory sugar feeders for the hummingbirds. 


White-throated Hummingbirds, Brazilian Rubies, Versicolored Hummingbirds and Black Jacobins buzzed around the feeders, chasing each other and landing inches from fascinated spectators.


12 species of tanagers sported more colours than I could name and were seen during a short visit to the restaurant and a quick walk along the pool deck brought Maroon-bellied Parakeets, Saffron Toucanets and Double-collared Seed-eaters.


At around Km 9 is a bridge crossing the river. Calls from the forest just below the bridge stopped me and I went to investigate. It was infuriating to hear the calls and not see the bird, but I persevered until I noticed a movement which turned out to be a Swallow-tailed Manakin.



Feeling immensely pleased with myself after finding a manakin, I left the park and headed southwest, back towards Sao Paulo. Approximately 12kms from Itatiaia is the BR 354 which cuts back into the mountains and gives access, via the Agulhas Negras Rd, to the high slopes of Itatiaia NP. Unfortunately I had left it a little late and barely had a few moments up there. The road up from the motorway was 26 kms of steep winding roads, busy with slow lorries and very few opportunities to overtake. I underestimated how long it would take to climb and should have given myself at least 2 hours from the motorway to still have a few minutes of daylight left at the top. The journey back down was made all the more exciting in the dark and the rain. 

Bird list for Itatiaia (and a bit beyond).

Dusky-legged Guan (Penelope obscura) 11 Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) 6, Bicolored Hawk (Accipiter bicolor) 1, Southern Caracara (Caracara plancus) 1, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail (Aramides saracura) 1, Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro) 5, Maroon-bellied Parakeet (Pyrrhura frontalis) 1, Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) 5, Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) 3, Pale-rumped Swift (Chaetura egregia) 11, Black Jacobin (Florisuga fusca) 7, Scale-throated Hermit (Phaethornis eurynome) 1, Brazilian Ruby (Clytolaema rubricauda) 8, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird (Eupetomena macroura) 4, Violet-capped Woodnymph (Thalurania glaucopis) 4, White-throated Hummingbird (Leucochloris albicollis) 4, Versicolored Emerald (Amazilia versicolor) 3, Surucua Trogon (Trogon surrucura) 3, Saffron Toucanet (Pteroglossus bailloni) 2,  Red-breasted Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) 2, White-browed Woodpecker (Piculus aurulentus) 1, Pallid Spinetail (Cranioleuca pallida) 4, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner (Syndactyla rufosuperciliata) 1, Black-capped Foliage-Gleaner (Philydor atricapillus) 1, White-collared Foliage-Gleaner (Anabazenops fuscus) 1, Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) 4, Olivaceous Woodcreeper (Sittasomus griseicapillus) 2, Scaled Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes squamatus) 2, White-shouldered Fire-Eye (Pyriglena leucoptera) 8, Sepia-capped Flycatcher (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) 2,  Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) 1, Cliff Flycatcher (Hirundinea ferruginea) 6, Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus) 4, Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa) 2,  Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) 3, Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis) 1, Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus) 2, Piratic Flycatcher (Legatus leucophaius) 1, Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) 3, Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) 1, Swallow-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia caudata) 1, Blue-and-white Swallow (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) 21, Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) 10, Gray-breasted Martin (Progne chalybea) 4, White-rumped Swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) 3, House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 5, Yellow-legged Thrush (Turdus flavipes) 1, Pale-breasted Thrush (Turdus leucomelas) 1, Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris) 10, Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) 3, White-browed Warbler (Myiothlypis leucoblepharus) 2, Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) 7, Brown Tanager (Orchesticus abeillei) 2, Magpie Tanager (Cissopis leverianus) 2, Olive-green Tanager (Orthogonys chloricterus) 12, Black-goggled Tanager (Trichothraupis melanops) 6, Ruby-crowned Tanager (Tachyphonus coronatus) 11,  White-lined Tanager (Tachyphonus rufus) 2, Brazilian Tanager (Ramphocelus bresilius) 4,  Sayaca Tanager (Thraupis sayaca) 17, Golden-chevroned Tanager (Thraupis ornata) 9, Palm Tanager (Thraupis palmarum) 19, Green-headed Tanager (Tangara seledon) 8, Brassy-breasted Tanager (Tangara desmaresti) 2, Gilt-edged Tanager (Tangara cyanoventris) 8, Burnished-buff Tanager (Tangara cayana) 4, Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) 4, Swallow Tanager  (Tersina viridis) 5, Green-winged Saltator (Saltator similis) 2, Double-collared Seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens) 20, Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola) 8, Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) 9, Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) 2, Red-rumped Cacique Cacicus haemorrhous) 19, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia (Euphonia pectoralis) 1, Hooded Siskin (Spinus magellanicus) 1.


Itatiaia NP is located inland of the BR 116, between Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo. I drove from the airport at Sao Paulo and the journey was 240kms. The BR116 does the entire journey from the airport. This is a toll road and I passed through 5 or 6 booths, charging from Reas 2.40 to 10.80.

Visit the dedicated Central and South America Page for more posts from Sao Paulo, including;
Botanical Gardens, Cantareira and Ibirapuera Park.

Birding, Birdwatching, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Monday, 6 October 2014

Jardim Botanico, Sao Paulo, Sept 2014

This week’s visit to Brazil started at the Jardim Botanico, but had to wait until the afternoon before kick-off. Boat-billed Flycatchers were evident here today as never before.


The jardim was full of excited children again on school trips. Keen to be out of the classroom the kids screamed and squealed and the teachers had to shout over the top to maintain any semblance of order. Luckily, the gardens are big enough to find a quiet area and I banked to the right from the entrance (which can be seen by cutting and pasting the Google Earth coordinates; 23 38 21.71S 46 37 38.07W) onto a small lawn which played host to Rufous-bellied Thrush, Pale-breasted Thrush and Shiny Cowbird


The lake was quiet, but a few Neotropic Cormorants perched with wings out while a House Wren picked through the lichen on a tree and a Social Flycatcher watched on.


The hot-spot of the day came behind one of the administrative buildings where 15 species were ticked as I leaned against a corner of the structure. Posers included the Streaked Flycatcher and Bananaquit, with Orange-headed Tanager and Green-winged Saltator being slightly more stand-offish.


From the green houses, a set of steps lead up to the right into the forest. There was not much happening here today except for the Red Howler Monkeys which began howling as I reached the trees and kept up the din for over an hour.


The small seep has grown over since my last visit three years ago. The bathing birds that I had hoped for were not there, but a Rufous-bellied Thrush was feeding a tiny chick in a nest. In the forest edge above the lawns, Sayaca Tanagers screeched and Golden-crowned Warblers called.


I caught a quick glimpse of a chicken-sized bird in the small marsh above the top pond and crept round to get a decent view of the Slaty-breasted Rail that can often be seen skulking around the gardens.


The boardwalk featured more monkeys and a couple of Dusky-legged Guan which is always a target bird on a visit to the gardens. Red-bellied Toucans flew over and a Yellow-legged Thrush poked its head out from a tangle.

Ruddy Ground-Dove

Bird list for Jardim Botanico, Sao Paulo

Dusky-legged Guan (Penelope obscura) 2, Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) 4, Great Egret  (Ardea alba) 2, Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) 20, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail (Aramides saracura) 1, Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) 4, Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) 3, Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro) 6, Ruddy Ground-dove (Columbina talpacoti) 5, Plain Parakeet (Brotogeris tirica) 6, Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) 2, Sapphire-spangled Emerald (Amazilia lactea) 1, Red-breasted Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) 1, Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa) 3, Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) 8, Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua)   6, Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis) 5, Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus) 2, Piratic Flycatcher (Legatus leucophaius) 1, Blue-and-white Swallow (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) 25, House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 7, Yellow-legged Thrush (Turdus flavipes) 4, Pale-breasted Thrush (Turdus leucomelas) 8, Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris) 60, Creamy-bellied Thrush (Turdus amaurochalinus) 1, Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) 8, Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) 15, Orange-headed Tanager (Thlypopsis sordida) 2, Ruby-crowned Tanager (Tachyphonus coronatus) 3, Sayaca Tanager (Thraupis sayaca) 20, Palm Tanager (Thraupis palmarum) 4, Green-winged Saltator (Saltator similis) 1, Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) 5, Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) 5.


To get to there, take the Metro to Conceicao (just before Jabaquara at the end of Linha 1 or Azul (Blue) Line). Take a taxi from here to Jardim Botanico, Parque do Estado, Cursino (10 mins, Reas15 (@ 2.60 = £1)). The gardens are open daily from 09.00 until 17.00, but are closed on Mondays.
If you are unable to find a taxi for the return, there is a bus stop just outside the main gate. Most buses pass close to a Metro station. Make yourself familiar with the Metro Logo and look for it on the side of the bus. Better still bring the number of a recommended taxi firm.


For previous posts from Sao Paulo Botanical Gardens, follow the links below;

Visit the dedicated Central and South America page for more posts from Sao Paulo, including Ibirapuera Park Parque Ecologico do Tiete and Cantareira.

Birding, Birdwatching, Sao Paulo, Brazil




Friday, 3 October 2014

Montreal Snake

This photo is posted in an attempt to identify a snake from Angrignon Park in Montreal.
If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment.
Thank you.

The snake around 2 feet, but certainly less than 3 feet long. The pattern on the flank is consistent in a few other photographs (all shots were equally poor. Sorry to make your job tough). It also appeared to have a light underside.
Any suggestions would be welcomed.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mount Auburn, Boston, Sept 2014

The rodents were keeping their heads down at Mount Auburn Cemetery today and who could blame them with Red-tailed Hawks everywhere it would seem. I was on the look-out for warblers, but had no luck. The hawks however made it an enjoyable morning in Boston.


The first one was seen by using all my field craft skill and wandering over to a couple of birders and looking over their shoulders as they watched the bird in a tree at the southern end of Auburn Lake.


The others told me that 3 birds had fledged from the resident couple. And shortly afterwards, two more birds, an adult and a juvenile crossed the lake and the first bird followed.


The birds were seen frequently during the day, with at least 10 sightings. I assume that I was seeing the same birds over and over and only recorded 4 that I could recognise individually.


Chipmunks called piercingly throughout the day and I am guessing that the hawks were hungry. One bird gave me an appraising look before deciding that the squirrels on the lawn behind me would make a more manageable meal. It launched a strike, but the squirrels were too alert and were back in cover before the hawk even reached the lawn.


The hawks provided some excitement on an otherwise quiet day in the cemetery which only brought 20 birds and no warblers.




Bird List for Mount Auburn;

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 4, Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) 1, Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 4, Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 6, Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) 2, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) 1, Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1, Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1, Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 3, Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) 2, Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) 1, Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 20, Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 6, Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) 1, White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 3, American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 60, European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 20, Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 15, Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 5, Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 1.


Harvard Square Station is on the Red Line of the subway, heading out of Boston towards Alewife. Bus nos. 71 and 73 leave from the station and take less than 10 minutes to reach the cemetery. There is a stop close to the cemetery gates and between them there should be a bus twice every 15 minutes.


For previous posts from Mount Auburn, see the links below;


Visit the dedicated USA and Canada page for more posts from Boston including; Back Bay FensPleasure Beach and Whale watchingfrom the New England Aquarium.