Monday 13 June 2016

More New York

Sunday morning, and we're in midtown Manhattan. Wonderful, and so easy really. Pretty tired we did not challenge ourselves particularly, and enjoyed a leisurely start to the day, not emerging from the hotel until mid-morning. First stop more food, obviously. Remarkably my sister (the one that lives in HK) was also in town, so we met up with her and a family friend for Sunday brunch, which wasn't as massive as I had hoped. Two poached eggs and they forgot the bacon! Oodles of coffee though, so I got through it without too much trouble and then it was off for a bit of a walk - let the fun begin!

I love Central Park. I've been enough times now to know the really good spots for birding, and whilst it was lunchtime rather than dawn, there was still plenty going on. Mrs L had for reason elected to the Guggeheim and was probably glad to get shot of me as I tend to have a meltdown if exposed to museums and art, so I had two hours in which to dash around Strawberry Fields and the Ramble. As is often the way I met other birders pretty quickly, and one of them whose name I have unfortunately forgotten was happy for me to tag along. Unlike many american birders, this lady actually knew what she was talking about and together we saw many excellent things, including one of the first Yellowthroats of the year down by the lake shore. Palm Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Yellow Warbler - all common stuff for Central Park but wonderful for a visiting birder like me - mega after mega after mega!

Late April/early May is an ideal time to birding in New York or other northern states. You won't get all species, as the migration period is staggered for different birds - really you would need to be there for a month to hope to catch everything on the way through, but as you move into May you are approaching the peak I would say. I ended up seeing ten species of Warbler in a matter of hours, as well as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and numerous other species including Vireos, Orioles, Hirundines and Flycatchers. I'm beginning to know some of these birds sufficiently well that it no longer feels like birding a new continent on every visit, but it is still very exciting to catch glimpses of something and gradually piece these together to come to a conclusion. And when that conclusion is something like Northern Parula, well, need I say more? Mrs L has now seen a Parula btw, as there was some enforced birding later in the trip. She was about as impressed as you can probably guess.

not a Parula

So after an intensive 2 hours of craning my neck skywards I met Mrs L (still at this stage Parulaless however) up by the museums which are about level with the Jackie Onassis reservoir, and we went for a cawfee and shared a cookie. In America it is wise to share food, and this cookie was the size of small plate. Then we wandered all the way back down the side of the Park and back to midtown for a rest - tiring all this eating and walking. 

In the evening we had some wonderful mexican food a few blocks away, Salvation Taco. Small portions thankfully, but completely delicious. Almost finger food in some ways, so we made sure to have lots of it. And then on to a trip highlight which was to piano bar in the theatre district, a new experience for me but a very fun one. Many tiny tables, people crammed in, and a truly excellent pianist who could seemingly play anything. Van Morrison merged seamlessly into west end numbers, with a good amount of humourous patter blended in. Beer, nachos, music and lots of good people watching as folk dipped in and out. It was an open mike too, but you'll be pleased to hear that my British sense of decorum was not over-ruled my my American genes and I remained sat in my seat rather than jump up with a rendition from my unique musical catalogue.

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