When last we left our heroes, Corey, Carrie, and I had received notice of rare warbler activity at Forest Park in Queens. Since we were already relatively close, we raced over before those coveted migrants migrated right out of our airspace. Plus, I was curious about Corey’s new home away from home.
Let me tell you, Corey has got it good! Forest Park is a primeval paradise in the midst of, in my humble opinion, a hellish borough. Trees tall and thick present an apparently irresistible bivouac for birds making their annual passage to the great Boreal and points beyond. In short order, we added treats like Ovenbird, Blackpoll Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak to the day list, along with the requisite unidentified empid. However, not to sound dismissive of such unimpeachable stunners, we were hunting for bigger game, crackers like Cerulean, Bay-breasted, Prothonotary, and, best of all, Kentucky Warbler. The reason we craved Kentucky most was that none of the three of us had ever eyed Oporornis formosus before. Luckily (and I never thought I’d be saying this) Queens birders were on the scene!
Apparently, Corey is spoiled not just for prime habitat but for an exceptional network of local bird spotters who are quick to share serendipitous sightings. As we restlessly patrolled the Gully for our old Kentucky Warbler, we happened upon another searcher who in turn led us to a small patrol party that had the bird pinned down. Were it not for these diligent sentries, I wonder if we would ever have enjoyed the exceptional views of a preening male in full breeding plumage. Brilliant!
Although my window for bird chasing was rapidly closing, Corey lured me further into Forest Park with boasts of the Waterhole, widely accepted as the hottest migrant trap in the park. We finally added expected thrushes like Wood Thrush, Veery, and a buffy-faced Swainson’s to our burgeoning tally en route, but ignored as best we could the countless parulas, redstarts, and yellow-rumps overhead. I’m glad we did, just as I’m glad I could make time for the Waterhole, because we arrived just in time for another life bird. No, it wasn’t the dashing Common Yellowthroat that bopped about in the brush and muck. Nor was it the Nashville Warbler that managed to stay out of Carrie’s line of sight while still treating me with stellar views. Oh no, the sexy, sexy songbird that I had just about given up on seeing this spring was the beautiful, buff and black-headed Worm-eating Warbler digging for sustenance beneath the undergrowth. And with that memorable moment, I was off, leaving Corey and Carrie to build on the successes we’d already enjoyed. But I have a strong suspicion that I’ll be coming back to Forest Park…
Tremendous! Congrats! Is there some kind of inter-borough animosity I don’t know about?
Patrick, you didn’t know about the vicious interborough prejudices all New Yorkers are prone to? The only bias more vehemently irrational is our scorn for New Jersey! I’m still trying to get past that one…
All I know is that the Bronx sucks (especially their baseball team).
You sound a little defensive, Corey.
Y-O-U S-A-W W-O-R-M–E-A-T-I-N-G !!!
How did you manage the overwhelming felicitous feeling of utter amazement? How did you cope with the fact that the baddest-to-see bird on this planet is now on your list? How will you move on from where you are now with your birding, what is left for you to conquer? How did you pierce through its invisibility devices in the first place, please share details on your observation technique!? How long were you able to still feel the prickling of the champagne in your throat? How did your boss take your request to have two weeks of to celebrate?
Gosh, so many questions, Mike! So many questions!
Jochen, I should be honest and admit that right after I saw the worm-eater, I did feel a little deflated. For some reason, I’d completely given up on seeing one this year and when it popped up (believe me, it was as elusive as you’d expect) I immediately started running through a mental list of northeastern warblers yet to be seen. Then I told Corey and Carrie that I’ll probably have to move away to someplace with new birds. How is the German real estate market?
The German real estate marked is pretty relaxed up in the North-East. You might want to consider taking a personal look though. However, be warned that our warblers will make you homesick. Reading “The Drinking Bird” though, you might want to consider alternatives to our Acrocephalus warblers when it comes to moving to where the new birds are.
I know about that deflated feeling, it is so awkward and even though I am not particularly fond of Shakespeare (come on, Goethe is far superior and Poe is beyond any comparison) “a bird so fair and foul I have never seen” sums it up quite fittingly.
I was basically devastated when I saw my last “speciality species” (endemic/near endemic) in Namibia as all of a sudden, I was deprived of a birding reason to return to the most wonderful place on earth (apart from the Great Lakes in May).
So let’s see:
The BRONX sucks.
QUEENS is a hellish borough.
There are no innocents in BROOKLYN.
What about STATEN ISLAND and MANHATTAN?
The things you learn from reading bird blogs…
Mike, I was one of the people in touch with Corey making sure you guys got on the KEWA. I hope this makes up for the extra hassle you had to go through to collect Charlie and Corey that morning at Alley Pond Park after I led them astray when they were supposed to be meeting you at JBWR.
Ps I am a life-long Queens resident, and wasn’t aware of any animosity regarding the Bronx? I never really believed the poem Ogden Nash wrote where he states: “The Bronx? No Thonks!” I (along with several other locals) even participate in one of your Christmas Counts (Pelham). Regarding Queens and Brooklyn, well, that’s another story!
sorry, I couldn’t find the exact spelling of the poem, but seem to remember it was “Thonx!”
Jean, all is forgiven! In fact, now I think I owe you…
As for the borough rivalries, Bronx-Queens relations are actually fairly civil, especially around Pelham and Whitestone (by the way, do you get many owls during that CBC?) But we probably all agree that Staten Island is the worst, right?
re: the owls… it used to be very reliable for several species (Long Eared, Barred, Saw Whet, Great Horned, and sometimes Barn), which is why I started doing the count. Unfortunately, in recent years, the decrease has been very apparent, and nothing is a given anymore. 🙁