New Year’s Resolutions 2006

My goal for 2006 is to finally add all the regular New York City species to my life list. They’re a few that reliably show up here, but I just haven’t gotten yet. In decreasing order of probability they include:

  • Purple Sandpiper. This one’s regularly seen at various locations along the New York City shoreline, including here in Brooklyn. I’ve looked for it a few times. I just haven’t gotten lucky yet.
  • Common Nighthawk. These are reliably seen during for a couple of weeks migration in Central Park. Of course I went out the first night they didn’t show up. This year I’ll go sooner. They also show up in Prospect Park, but not as reliably.
  • Eastern Screech Owl. At least two roost in Central Park. Officially those are released birds and not “countable”, but I’d still like to see them.
  • Redhead. These show up at Jamaica Bay during Fall migration, but not every day. I’ve gone out looking for them after hearing other people’s reports at least three or four times, but I’ve missed them every time. This year for sure.
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This bird is reported frequently in both Central and Prospect Park. I had one possible siting this year at Sandy Hook, but I wasn’t experienced enough with cuckoos to tell from the quick look I had whether it was a Black-billed or Yellow-billed. I also went out looking for it in Prospect several times after other birders reported it, but I never found it. This bird is heard more often than seen so I’m going to brush up on my cuckoo calls come Spring.
  • Clapper Rail. These birds breed at various locations in Brooklyn, including the Saltmarsh Nature Center. They’re secretive, but they’re also quite noisy. If I can get myself up early enough to get to the Salt Marsh Nature Center at dawn I should at least hear one, even if I still don’t see it.
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I may have had this one at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge this year. I just wasn’t sure. They’re fairly regular there at the right time of year. I just need to make sure I’m ready to recognize it if another one shows up.
  • Wilson’s Snipe. This shows up at various locations around the city that I bird regularly. I only missed it last year because I was out of town at the right times to see it. It shouldn’t be too hard to find.
  • Cerulean Warbler. This is one of the least common warblers in New York City, and it’s declining worldwide. Starr Saphir regularly finds it in Central Park, so if I go on a few of her Spring walks I should be able to get this one. She might be able to find a Yellow-billed Cuckoo for me too. (She found Black-billed for me last year.)
  • Seaside Sparrow. This is a breeding bird here. It’s regularly reported at Jamaica Bay and also at Four Sparrow Marsh. The only problem is it likes to nest in the most inaccessible, swampy mosquito infested parts of the city. Come Spring I’ll have to cover myself in DEET, put on my wading boots, and track it down.
  • Nelson’s Sharptailed Sparrow. Pretty much the same story as the Seaside Sparrow, except it’s even less likely to be found anywhere that doesn’t involve mosquitoes and knee deep mud.
  • Saltmarsh Sharptailed Sparrow. Again the same story as the Seaside Sparrow, and Nelson’s Sharptailed Sparrow (Nelson’s and Sharptailed used to be considered one species) but still less likely to be spotted without sinking thigh deep in mud.
  • Long-eared Owl. Not a regular species anywhere in New York City, but when one does show up it often hangs around for a while so you can chase it.
  • Kentucky Warbler. Pops up here and there in Spring migration, including Prospect Park. I didn’t bother chasing the reports this year, but I may in 2006.
  • Horned Lark. This is a regular at Floyd Bennett Field. In fact there may be some there now. I’m going to try to check this out this week.
  • Pine Siskin. Not a regular in New York City, but a few show up at feeders, inlcuding the feeder in Prospect Park. I’ve been checking that feeder regularly this month, but I haven’t seen it yet.
  • American Bittern. This is tough one. It hasn’t shown up in Prospect Park for several years, and only very briefly in Central Park. It’s a little more regular at Jamaica Bay, but it still hides. This was one of two target birds I had for 2005, and the one I didn’t get. Maybe 2006 will be its year.
  • Connecticut Warbler. This is the longest shot on the list. Connecticut Warblers actually aren’t all that uncommon, and they regularly pass through New York City on Fall migration. However, they are extremely secretive. There could be dozens in the park on any given day, and no one might see one. For this species I just have to get lucky.

They’re a few other possibilities. Blue Grosbeak shows up irregularly here, but you have to get lucky. If the winds blow right, I could get some pelagic species close enough to shore to identify at Breezy Point. And of course you always hope for some nice rarities like this year’s Clay-colored Sparrow and Black-throated Gray Warbler. However, even with all of those, I’ll still need more than 50 on out of town trips this year to break 400. I may be able to get Golden-Winged Warbler and Upland Sandpiper elsewhere in New York state. I should get a dozen or so new species in California in March. I should get a few more in Maine in June at the ABA convention. I’ll probably go to Louisiana sometime this year, and that should be good for three or four more (Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Great-tailed Grackle, Neotropic Cormorant, Painted Bunting, Inca Dove, and/or White-winged Dove). I’ll probably need a trip or two to a more exotic locale to make 400 this year though. Possibly I’ll get to Poland, Germany, and/or Amsterdam this Spring. And I’m tentatively planning on going to Seattle in November. That might do it.

3 Responses to “New Year’s Resolutions 2006”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » #341 and #342 with the BBC Says:

    […] We could have spent more time here, but instead we elected to drive to Desoris Pond before it closed, which was a fortuitous decision since it proved to be one of the most productive sites of the day. In the pond itself we found dozens of Mute Swans, mallards, 5 American Wigeon, a small raft of Greater Scaup, quite a few red-Breasted Mergansers, a couple of Buffleheads, some Canada Geese, and two Redheads, my first life bird of the day! As you may recall, I’ve been out to Jamaica Bay multiple times in the last few months looking for these birds without success. Possibly a scope would have helped since although the birds were visible with binoculars, you really needed the scope to identify them. Light was also important. Depending on sun angle and cloud cover the red on the head could be more or less obvious. […]

  2. Mokka mit Schlag » #336-338 at Ogier Ponds Says:

    […] Continuing on under the power line and walking between two ponds my second lifer flew overhead. an American Bittern. In flight it looks very much like a Great Blue Heron, only it’s brown. I now think of it as the Great Brown Heron. I’ve been looking for this bird for a while, and it would have been nice to find it in New York, but I’ll take it where I get it. […]

  3. Mokka mit Schlag » #343 at Dubos Point Says:

    […] Two American Oystercatchers flew south down the basin, calling jeenk-jeenk-jeenk. A Double-crested Cormorant was also heading south. And then as we were about halfway up the point I flushed the a completely unfamiliar bird. It looked like nothing so much as a cross between a female Mallard and an Oystercatcher. It was brown like a mallard but had a large, pointed orange bill. I had to consult my field guide before I realized what it was: a Clapper Rail, one of my target birds for the year! […]

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