A couple of weeks ago I went to Prospect Park with Peter Dorosh, Mary Eyster and Tom Stephenson, and we heard a Connecticut Warbler sing it's song, which was enough for me to mark it as "seen" on my year list. Still, I wanted to really see the bird, and I've been trolling Prospect and other venues hoping to find one walking around. The trouble with this bird is that it walks on the ground instead of flitting from tree to tree, so even if you're just a few feet from it you can still miss it completely.
As it turns out, the best way to see a bird is still to have someone else spot it and tell you where it is. So this morning while I was out looking in Prospect for a Connecticut that had been seen the previous day, I checked my email and saw that the one that had been seen in Central Park was still there. I drove over and was there in an hour, but it turned out there was no rush. In the Pinetum area of Central Park, on a lawn by a maintenance area, was a first year Connecticut. What a weird bird! It was ambling around as it picked up insects off the ground and out of the air. I've seen several Oporornis warblers this year, including Kentucky and Mourning, and they also walk on the ground, but this bird just sort of waddled, almost like an armadillo, and moved very slowly across the lawn in meandering loops. As we stood there it clambered over to us, seemingly never noticing our prescence, and actually got within about five feet of me. Another birder there told me he once had a Kentucky Warbler walk between his legs. I was there for about forty five minutes, and it just continued to waddle. At one point it did come out of the grass and climbed up on some rusting machinery, but then it worked its way back down and onto the lawn again. Watching all this just confirmed why it's so tricky to spot one of these birds...if there had been any ground cover, it would have been invisible. It makes me wonder how many are in the parks right now, unhurredly collecting insects before flying south, completely unnoticed.