Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How I made my first successful twitch...

So it came to pass that I had a day to pass in New York in between flights and since the Blonde ended up on different flights I was all alone. A plan formed itself in my mind that was delightfully simple - I would get a cab from my JFK hotel round the corner to Jamaica Bay and spend the day enjoying all manner of northern shorebirds of the kind I don't see all that often. It was an awesome plan and one that I fully intended to follow until I stepped outside the hotel and was met by some sort of arctic wind howling around my ears. My Caribbean temperature gauge rebelled and the plan was cancelled completely. Instead I headed to the American Museum of Natural History for the morning with Deli lunch, brief shopping and a quick scout round central park to follow.

Having enjoyed the AMNH (more to follow) I ventured out towards central park, having read posts by the 10,000 birds guys I knew it was good for birds but didn't really have a clue where to head for the bets action. Luckily there was a dead giveaway; 2 guys with bins, scopes and bigass telephoto lenses leaving the park.

Asking if anything was about; they replied "You know about the Tanager right? its just over there. Ask the group with scopes"

The penny dropped -I did know about the Western Tanager. Corey had blogged about it a while back. I wandered over, had a brief chat with the crowd and knocked off my first successful twitch in short order. Western Tanager - my second central park bird (it would've been my first but those American Robins are hard to miss). Kind of pointless to twitch a rarity when all the birds are new to you but hey - never look a gift bird in the mouth.

Record shot below - Tanager ringed. A better photo is here.


With that done I asked a friendly couple if they knew of any spots nearby in the park where I could catch up with american woodpeckers. "Try over there - I can hear a flicker and a downy over there" she says. So I wander over and 5 minutes later have had crippling views of both (so cripplingly good in fact that had my battery not run out taking the above there would be frame filled photos taken with the 4x zoom on my digicam here). This american birding is easy! I wandered back to thank the lady and wander on only to have my new friend run to catch up with me moments later. "Would you like to see the sapsucker?" Would I? Yes I would! 5 brilliant minutes watching this little fella follow after which I get my cab and head to the airport.
It was probably the most fun half-hours birding I've had. Thanks to the kind birders of central park who were so welcoming and helpful to the random stranger in their midst.
Fullish list:
American Robin
Western Tanager
(northern?) Flicker
Downy woodpecker
Red-Tailed Hawk
That small glossy black bird that gets everywhere.
Sparrows (of a couple of species I don't know which but they are character filled little chaps American sparrows)
Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Tufted Titmouse.
I missed a lot of potential birds I'm sure but this was more than enough for this half hour. Plus I'm sure I'm going to have to fly through NY again soon!


Patrick Belardo said...

Congrats! let me know next time you're in the neighborhood. I'm a short hop by trian to NY!

corey said...

That is so great that you got on the tanager...easiest twitch ever!

And, as Patrick said, let us know when you are coming next time!

tai haku said...

Thanks guys - you'll definitely hear next time I'm coming - hopefully it'll be better planned (with warm clothes, camera batteries and such like)!