May is, appropriately, the season for the May Apple in the Central Park Ramble, also the Virginia Bluebell. And May is the time the warblers, at least this year with its late spring, arrive species-by-species, with the males in the vanguard. On May 1 I counted four warblers, led by the easy-to-spot Black and White. The highlight of May 2 was watching three species in full song: Prairie, Black-throated Blue and Northern Waterthrush. Today the Park was alive with the song of the Northern Parula, which I pronounce by accenting the first syllable while the consensus seems to have settled on the second. Just like I say “Plover” rhymes with “hover,” while others prefer “clover.” The other new treats were close and prolonged views of the Magnolia and Black-throated Green, both quiet. You do wonder about warbler names: have I ever seen a Magnolia in such a tree? and where is the “green” on the Black-throated Green? So far, I’m up to 14 warbler species, with many obvious, and some less so, to come. Interestingly, the flood of Yellow-Rumps that usually precede the warbler wave by a week showed up just today.
In other bird news, today I saw my first Chimney Swift of the year. From my birding in the ‘60s I associate Chimney Swifts with Memorial Day and the end of spring. Great Crested Flycatchers, too. Maybe this fellow was early. Or maybe it’s climate change.
May 6 was cool and gray, and both birds and birders, despite its being Sunday, were sparse. I saw 10 warbler species, but for most it was a single example. The newcomer was the Chestnut-sided: there were a couple and they were singing. High in an oak I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and an Indigo Bunting, but the wave, if there is to be one, is still to come.