Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

December 2016

Vol. 44, No. 6

Musings from the Blind Birder: New York, New York

Martha Steele


Virginia Rail. Photograph by Bob Stymeist.

Bob, Alvin, and I visited New York City in early September 2016 for a Thursday evening event at the Museum of Modern Art. We stayed that night at a nearby hotel in Times Square and then took a morning walk in Central Park, several blocks from the hotel.

The morning was hot and muggy, the sort of morning where you search for every available shady spot to avoid the scorching sun. We were taking in the sounds and sights of this surreal city that truly never seems to stop its hustle and bustle, even in the relatively serene Central Park. As birders, of course we were listening and looking for possible migrants moving through but the intense heat and humidity of the morning were not particularly conducive to birding or, for that matter, any other outdoor activity. Still, we pushed on exploring this 843-acre jewel in the heart of Manhattan.

We had no map and we were just walking the paths, randomly going this way or that when we arrived at a more densely wooded area. A sign indicated that we were entering The Ramble. Bob immediately recalled that this was one of the best birding areas in all of Central Park, especially for spring and fall migrations. It certainly looked the part: the paths narrowed, the denser woodland enveloped us, and we descended into the hilly area. The path soon opened at its base into a small clearing with a short bridge over a stream that emptied into a marshy pond. In the opening were several birders, binoculars around their necks and cameras at the ready. Neither Bob nor I had binoculars, and we looked the typical tourist types.

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