Thursday, October 19, 2017

Happy 150th Birthday Prospect Park!

     After work today, I decided to go birding in Prospect Park- what a fitting day to go as it is the 150th anniversary of the park first opening!
     Prospect Park has become a very important component of my life in Brooklyn. I had enjoyed birding before Brooklyn, working for Audubon, naturally, birding was a thing I did... but the first time I saw a swallow-tailed kite soar above Prospect Park-- my love for birding was re-kindled and burned stronger than ever. The wildlife in this urban oasis fascinated me, I was addicted and I found myself wondering this park whenever I had nothing better to do. The park allowed me to meet a wonderful network of Brooklyn birders, many of whom I consider friends and enjoy running into in the field, Prospect has become the patch I am dedicated to birding during the Christmas Bird Count. I love this park and feel rather at home within it.
     So I enjoyed a sunset over the upper pool and the wildlife that crossed my path as I stood in solitude under the towering trees, mostly oak and sweet gum- with their changing leaves, exaggerated by the low sun... this is what I saw...
A bullfrog with an autumn leaf.

A fun little bird! A winter wren!

Imagine a cotton ball, with two toothpicks and a few plucky feathers stuck out the back end... that's a winter wren!

Their tiny little tails are so funny. this little thing was quite loud as it "chip-chipped" around some fallen logs. their singing voice is quite amazing for what that tiny body can produce, in volume and length.

Enjoyed some views of the gorgeous wood ducks.

And then, as the sun sank...

Someone is not ready to get out of bed. I sat waiting for this raccoon to stir, and to my luck- it did! But just when I thought I got all the cuteness possible...


They have such young looking faces-- and to cram in that hole together-- it makes me think they are not a monstrously large, older raccoon.

And TONGUE. What a great end to my little bit of time I had out.
I bet these guys are hoping there is some leftover 150th Birthday Cake somewhere in the park for them...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sparrow Season

     The leaves turn brown and so do the birds- it's sparrow season! Those LBJ's are fun to try identifying and seeing the differences between species in the field is a fun way to learn them. Of course there are some who get confusing, but these birds tend to be low (so no neck pain) but can often be skulky, diving spontaneously into thick grasses and shrubs the moment you make eye contact.
     In the last week I have been to Prospect and Calvert-Vaux Parks, and came up empty handed for Vesper sparrows, but was able to see quite a few other species...
At Calvert Vaux I had the chance to see lots of Savannah Sparrows on its baseball fields, as well as song and chipping. Near Coney Island Creek some of the shrubs had seeds that this swamp sparrow was feasting on.

I think swamp sparrows are pretty handsome with that mahogany brown tone they have on their wings.

For the sake of variety-- I also saw a juvenile little blue heron at Calvert Vaux-- which look not at all like a mature adult. But it was next to a great egret and was dwarfed in size when put side-by-side. 
At Prospect Park today (and last week) I went looking for a previously reported Vesper sparrow and mostly came up with Chipping Sparrows.

And today... also a lot of song sparrows.

I looked at every. single. song. sparrow...

--I was hoping to spy a Lincoln's Sparrow.

BUT... I did get to see the CUTEST sparrow-- one of two I saw around the LeFrak Center and Green Roof.

With a little rouge on the cheek, a pink bill, and eye ring- these birds are pretty adorable. They are also petite next to the song sparrows.
I may also have an affinity for them because our plumage matches.

For the sake of variety...
When you finally think you are about to get a nice, crisp shot of a Ruby-crowned kinglet.... you get a nice, crisp shot of it's back side.

A palm warbler shows off how it has mastered camouflage.

More and more white-throated sparrows in the park. 

Still not a Lincoln's Sparrow.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

North Carolina Wildlife

     Tim and I had a wonderful trip down to North Carolina, primarily to visit family. We had a lovely time with Tim's and my family, meeting some of our youngest family members for the first time.
     In our free time, we went for a walk, napped, and went for more walks. I also got an amazing pedicure with my mother and sister-in-law-- I am a sucker for a leg and foot massage, so I'll admit-- it was really awesome.
     Anyway- on the wildlife front, not too many new birds for the year list, but a nice one was an Eastern Bluebird. But I also got to see some other wildlife, which was a nice treat and one of the best critters was right in my mother-in-law's yard!
A common buckeye in the flowers growing along the pond in the yard.

I was standing under a tree and looked at the branch next to me a found this!

A smooth green snake!
What a cutie!!!

I see you!

This was a really fun treat- I LOVE snakes!

1 of 2 muscovy ducks at Falls Lake Recreation area.

2 of 2 muscovy ducks... these are a domestic duck that was not uncommon at all.

Went for a walk at Lynn Lake and saw a good number of birds, including but not limited to some killdeer.

Lots of turtles, including this painted turtle, some cooter species, and the invasive red eared sliders.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

East Pond Adventures

     I made a call on Facebook for anyone to join me on birding the East Pond at Jamaica Bay WR and got one bite from a member of the Feminist Bird Club. We met early and donned our boots for a mucky morning on the pond. We both got looks at a few good birds- many that confused us because, shore birds- they are tough.
     Also, ducks are back. Which means only one thing...

     So I had to jog my memory on what the heck I was looking at, Gadwall, Blue & Green-wing Teals, American Wigeon, Ruddy ducks, all among hundreds of Northern Shoveler.
    Anyway, there were still enough shorebirds around to give me a headache...
Phoebes (like the one above), cedar waxwings, and a solitary blue-headed vireo (see what I did there?) were some of my parking lot birds.

At the East Pond, we were immediately greeted by one of MANY Northern shovelers.

Birds that drove me nuts.
Back droopy-billed bird, is a dunlin, 3 middle birds are white-rumped sandpipers, bird in front of middle white-rump is a semi-palmated sandpiper and the back to us, a pectoral sandpiper. Oy.

White-rumped Sandpiper


White-rumped Sandpiper

Green-winged teal.

Pectoral Sandpiper.

A lot of common yellowthroat out there!

Also a lot of palm warbler. A chain-link palm is probably one of the best looks I have gotten at a palm this fall...

Urban palm warbler.

A single semipalmated plover.

A good day for swamp sparrows!

Also a good day to see the continuing American Avocet at the pond- more north on the pond.

That bill seems so unreal-- like how does it not break?!

A few Forster's terns out actively hunting.

One last white-rumped sandpiper for the road.