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A Pelagic Prelude
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2008


Sunday morning I went out with Jess to get coffee and walk the dogs and do the crossword. I was contimplating how I was going to get out on the water again to look for birds in Hudson Canyon, and my plan was to go to the marina in Belmar, NJ later that day. When we got back I checked my email, and presto, a new and exciting bird. One of the rarities I had hoped for, Black-Throated Gray Warbler, had shown up in Central Park, a long way from it's regular territory on the West Coast. Within five minutes we were in the car and on our way. I texted Peter Dorosh, and we picked him up as well. In an hour we were parking by 81st Street, and hoping that the bird would be there. It was now an hour and a half since the posting, plenty of time for the bird to decide to go elsewhere, or even just move to a spot we couldn't find. We saw a couple with expensive binoculars as soon as we entered the park, and they pointed us to Tanners Springs, a little pool of water that attracts birds and that is favored by photographers in Central Park. We got there and there were four photographers with "big rigs" set up around the pool, cameras with monster 400, 500 or 600mm lenses set up on tripods with flashes and accessories. This was a good sign. We joined the dozen or so birders waiting, and soon had a bird coming down from the canopy that looked right. Sure enough, the Black-Throated Gray flitted into a shrub by the pool, then onto a branch (placed there by photographers for this purpose), and finally onto the ground to drink, about ten feet away. The cameras and flashes were firing like it was a celebrity sighting, which I supose it was. We got good long looks and I got a few good shots, before it flew back up into the big trees and out of sight. Peter and I smiled and headed back to Brooklyn, agreed that it was the easiest way to see a "hard" bird you could ask for.