USA - New York........10th to 21st May 2017
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 venue for sightseeing and Christmas shopping. However, New York State is a fantastic birdwatching region, including excellent sites in and around the amazing NY City and other parts of the state. Our May tour encompasses Central Park, Jamaica Bay, the Lower Hudson River Valley, Washington County Grasslands and Saratoga National Park (famed for the Battle of Saratoga - War of Independence). Spring birding is absolutely top notch for migration and breeding species in this extremely large state, which lies in the centre of the “Atlantic Migration Flyway”, with Central Park rated one of USA’s premier birding sites. Common resident species and regular spring visitors include Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robin, Blue Jay, Hermit & Wood Thrushes, Black-capped Chickadee, Scarlet Tanager, American Goldfinch, Song Sparrow and Northern Cardinal. In springtime, a top day in Central Park can produce 20 species of gorgeous American wood warblers, including Ovenbird, Blackburnian, Cape May, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided and Canada Warblers. A visit to specific sites in the Hudson Valley should reveal breeding Bald eagle, Warbling Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Louisiana Waterthrush, Cerulean, Hooded, Kentucky and Golden-winged Warblers. The diversity of other species we should encounter is phenomenal, from Blue-winged Teal, Ospreys, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Willets at Jamaica Bay; to Barred Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Pileated Woodpecker and Orchard Oriole in Saratoga and Northern Harriers, Upland Sandpipers, Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks in Washington County Grasslands. Wetlands are favoured by migrating shorebirds, such as Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Least and Spotted Sandpipers - A Birding Bonanza in the “Big Apple”. While staying in the city there are of course options to visit New York’s star attractions – Times Square, Broadway, Grand Central Station and the Lincoln Centre!
Days 1-2: Flight to New York on Day 1and then visit Central Park along with a little sightseeing. We should see Red-bellied Woodpecker, Cardinal, American Robin, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse and high numbers of migrants. With peak migration in process the range of birdlife can include thrushes, flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles a good variety of American wood warblers (over 20 species). On Day 2 we'll spend the whole morning in Central Park and one other city location and then after lunch an option to go sightseeing or continue birding at other sites around the city. Central Park is outstanding for wildlife, when one realises that this is a park within a major world city. The landscaping is quite amazing and well designed. The variety of trees is phenomenal, with many species of oak, maple, birch, cedar, elm, pine and a whole variety of others.
Day 3: On Day 3 we will use the Metro to travel out of the city to Jamaica Bay, a very highly rated birdwatching area and regarded as one of the most significant wildlife refuges in the USA and a birder’s paradise, with over 325 bird species recorded. Jamaica Bay’s diverse ecosystems include an open expanse of bay, salt marsh, freshwater & brackish ponds and woodland. The reserve has about 70 breeding bird species, including Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue, Green & Tricoloured Herons, Glossy Ibis, Clapper Rail, Osprey, American Oystercatcher, Willet, American Woodcock, Forster’s Tern, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Gray Catbird, White-eyed Vireo, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Marsh Wren and Boat-tailed Grackle. Spring migration can be fantastic with large numbers of wildfowl, shorebirds and songbirds passing through the reserve. Regular migrants include Black Brant, Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Black-bellied (Grey) & Semipalmated Plovers, Stilt & Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Canada & Blackburnian Warblers and White-throated Sparrows.
Day 4: A further visit to Central Park to look for more warblers and other migrants. In the afternoon we may visit Prospect Park or another of New York's top birding sites, which sometimes have different species to Central Park.
Day 5 - 6: Today we leave New York City behind and travel north to the Hudson River Valley, a good area for breeding American wood warblers. Species present include Cerulean, Blackburnian, Hooded, Worm-eating Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers. We’ll also be looking for Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Scarlet Tanager, vireos and flycatchers.
Days 7 - 9: For this period we visit Saratoga NP and Washington County Grasslands. We will walk the trails of Saratoga Historical Park looking for some of the wonderful birdlife – Eastern Bluebirds, wood warblers, vireos, woodpeckers, flycatchers, tanagers and orioles are all present. At the interpretive centre we’ll enjoy a lecture about the ‘War of Independence’ and the famous Battle of Saratoga and also visit the monument and battlefield. A visit to Washington County Grasslands should reveal a number of special birds that make this their summer home, including Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink and Eastern Bluebird.
Day 10: We'll return to New York City and after lunch re-visit Central Park or have an optional afternoon at leisure or sightseeing.
Days 11-12: After a final visit to Central Park or sightseeing on Day 11, we'll transfer to JFK Airport to catch our flight back to the UK, where we arrive on Day 12.
Tour ref: AA1741
Single Room Supplement: £695
Leader: Gerry Griffiths & Peter Scholes
Max. Group: 11 plus 2 Leaders
Economy class scheduled return flights (UK-New York-UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy, all meals, all ground transportation in USA and services of leaders.
Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.