Tradition tells us that “April showers bring May flowers,” but so far the rains have lingered for a bit longer. Instead of pleasant, springy weather, the first week of May featured clouded skies and frequent precipitation. At this time of year, it’s wise to bring binoculars to and from work if you’re interested in the natural world’s seasonal happenings. Rare birds reports and sudden migration events can be welcome detours during the afternoon commute. Inclement weather kept my post-work adventures to a minimum for the first half of the week, but I found some time to swing by Central Park on Thursday. A few new arrivals made the stop worthwhile, including a bright male Indigo Bunting, a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and my first Wood Thrushes of the season. On Friday, an impromptu plan to catch up with Edem over dinner meant I had more time to kill in Manhattan. I didn’t see any additional year birds, and activity levels were nothing to write home about, but it was still a pleasant way to pass the time before an even more pleasant dinner. The antics of some raccoons who emerged at the Upper Lobe near dusk were the highlight of the visit.
I was happy to find that Saturday brought a break in the rain. Heading down to Hempstead Lake, I met several other birders combing through the area. We spent some time exploring together, trading stories and sightings as we went. Conditions remained overcast and damp, but it was a noted improvement on most of the week’s weather. Wind conditions had been subpar for all of May so far, but the birds still need to move and there had been a few individuals fighting the storms and trickling back on a daily basis.
I managed to pick up a few additional species for the year as I searched the park. A large flock of swallows was foraging in the area, wheeling above the treetops and dipping down to the water’s surface. We were able to relocate two previously-reported birds of interest, a Cliff Swallow and some Bank Swallows, among the crowd. Most of the few warblers in the area were continuing from my previous visits, but they were joined by an energetic American Redstart, a late Orange-crowned Warbler, and the first Nashville Warbler I’ve seen north of Texas this year. Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird provided related bookends to my outing. Canada Goose families, along with some robin nestlings I spotted in Manhattan, are among the first wild babies to join the world this season.
My siblings, Andrew and Katherine, returned home from West Virginia University on Friday night, so we got to spend some time together over the course of the weekend. Despite a late night on the town with my brother and parents, I had plans to wake up early on Sunday morning. There had been a change in the wind, which promised to open the floodgates for eager travelers winging their way north. I did not want to miss a second of it.
Year List Update, May 7 – 293 Species (+ Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, American Redstart, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Eastern Kingbird)