USA - New York State........19th to 25th September 2020
The mention of New York does not immediately bring to mind one of the top birding areas in the USA, perhaps the thinking behind that is a belief that New York is a top venue for sightseeing only. However, New York State is also a fantastic birdwatching region, including excellent sites not only in the City but also the whole state. Our September tour encompasses Central Park and Jamaica Bay.
Autumn Birding or as the Americans say, ‘Fall Birding’ is absolutely “top notch” for migrants and also resident species in this extensive state, which lies in the centre of the “Atlantic Migration Flyway”. Central Park is rated one of USA’s premier birding sites, where Common resident species and regular passage migrants include, a great selection of American wood warbler species, Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Robin, Blue Jay, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Common Grackle, vireos, American Goldfinch and Northern Cardinal. In Autumn, a top day in Central Park could produce 20 species of American wood warblers, including Ovenbird, Black-and-White, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Magnolia, Cape May, Yellow-rumped and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Another top feature in Autumn is the raptor migration, with sites such as Central Park’s Belvedere Castle, providing an excellent vantage point to view migrating hawks. On a top September day, observation could produce thousands of Broad-winged Hawks and many American Kestrels, Ospreys, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks and Peregrines are also possible.
At Jamaica Bay we should encounter Ospreys, egrets, migrating shorebirds, terns and wildfowl. We’ll enjoy an evening river cruise and experience an illuminated Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty – a marvellous experience and super way to end a day. We’ll also visit “Ground Zero”, Grand Central Station and Times Square! A very tasty ‘Big Apple’ birding experience.
Day 1: A morning flight to New York’s JFK Airport. On arrival we’ll be met by our New York Guide and then transfer by road to our Manhattan Hotel. We will drop off our luggage and have a chance to freshen-up, although it is unlikely that our rooms will be ready or available at this time-of-day. An early lunch/brunch will be followed by our first taste of Central Park birding. Central Park is a fantastic birdwatching location and full of surprises, no telling what we may discover on our first exploration. A number of resident species should be encountered, which could include Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Common Grackle and Northern Cardinal. We might expect to see a number of the fantastic Parulidae family (American wood warblers), which could perhaps include Cape May, Black-and-White, Yellow-rumped, and Magnolia Warblers. Other migrants could include vireos, thrushes, orioles and sparrows.
Day 2: Today We will spend a morning and early afternoon in Central Park. Checking for newly arrived migrants in a variety of locations within the park. The Ramble, the Point, Strawberry Fields and North Woods are just a few of the hotspots for migration and we will certainly be spending time at these areas, particularly “The Ramble” which is arguably “Number One Site”. We will hope for new species such as Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Blue Warblers and Common Yellowthroat. We should not forget Jackie Onassis Lake, where Double Crested Cormorants are regular and often at this time of year a number of duck species are possible – Buffleheads are regular. Shorebirds that often occur are Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. In mid-afternoon we’ll return to the hotel, freshen-up and then by the Metro and Bus, we’ll head for the pier. After an early dinner, we will join our tour boat for an evening Hudson River Cruise, which will allow us to witness the spectacle of an illuminated Statue of Liberty and Manhattan.
Day 3: Jamaica Bay is our planned venue today. This superb wetland reserve supports an array of birdlife. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species. In fact, it’s a birder's paradise, with over 330 bird species sighted at the refuge during the last 25 years and is therefore, one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the north-eastern United States. Birding is excellent year-round and in Autumn (Fall), is great for migrating shorebirds particularly at the East and West Pools. Blackbellied & Semipalmated Plovers, Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Willet can occur in large numbers. However, shorebirds are not the only highlight, for the lush reserve habitats of North and South Gardens will support migrating warblers, thrushes and vireos. There are also other bird specialties of the refuge, including Fish Crow, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Little Blue & Tricolored Herons, American Black Duck, Osprey and Swamp Sparrow. On our return journey by the Metro, we will stop en route to visit ‘Ground Zero’.
Days 4-5: During these two days, much time will be spent birding Central Park, spending a period watching raptors migrating and looking for species such as Ruby-crowned & Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatches, Indigo Bunting and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. However, we may well visit other sites such as Prospect or Riverside Parks and another site to view hawk migration. We’ll be searching for species we have missed previously and hoping for additions to our wood warbler list. One of the rarer warblers that does sometimes occur at this time of year is Connecticut Warbler. Northern Parula, Mourning and Bay-breasted Warblers would also be good species for the list.
Days 6-7: On Day 6, after a final morning’s birding in Central Park, we’ll have an early lunch, then collect our luggage and drive to JFK for the early evening flight back to the UK, where we arrive on the morning of Day 7 – 25th September.
Tour ref: AA2040
Main Tour Cost: £2,995
Single Room Supplement: £840
Leaders: Gerry Griffiths & Peter Scholes
Max. Group: 10 plus 2 Leaders
Economy class scheduled return flights (UK-New York-UK), en suite accommodation (based on double occupancy), all meals (beginning with lunch on Day 1 and ending with Lunch on Day 6), transfers & transportation in New York and services of leader and guide.
Travel insurance, ESTA, drinks and items of a personal nature.