Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dead Horse Bay - 10/19/14

     My husband and I went for a walk along Dead Horse Bay. As always it was fun exploring the bottles and other things that have since spilled from the once landfill. We had just watched the other evening "How We Got to Now" on PBS about cleanliness, and how the modern sewer system, and the need for cleanliness came about and helped seed new ideas. One segment of the show was how household bleach became popular, and they showed old advertisements and the old amber bottles they came in, and at the time I was telling my husband about how many Clorox glass bottles you can find at Dead Horse Bay. It seemed pretty silly that something used for making our lives cleaner now lies, with many other old glass bottles, along this shoreline for who knows how far into the future, as unclean litter and trash.
     The morning was windy and brisk, clouds cleared a bit for some sun and the beach was also full of many migrant brant geese that will call this place home for the next few months.
Brant geese on the move, there were at lest 100, probably more along the beach today.
Got a glimpse of an adult Northern harrier surveying the grasses and reeds for a meal.

There were many yellow-rumped warblers out today as well. This one perched on one of the many trees decorated with landfill finds. The yellow on its sides kind of help this bird look like it's part of the decor.
a herring gull with lunch.
The brant seemed nervous, and any time someone would walk up the beach they'd take off to move further along the beach.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Channeling My Inner Norton

     Ralph tells Norton on an episode of The Honeymooners, "I don't know why a man of your age watches birds." Norton replies, "Why shouldn't I watch them? They watch me, don't they?" I feel like when I'm out that the birds are doing just that, hang tight long enough and sometimes they get closer than you'd expect.
     In that same episode, Norton records how he just saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker in Central Park. I especially thought of this episode because I got the chance to finally see my very first yellow-bellied sapsucker. Norton also exclaims how they are not supposed to be seen for within 3,000 miles of where they are. If that were true, he better have made a Rare Bird Report, but indeed these sapsuckers are normal to the area, and they do have yellow bellies, and they do suck sap.
     A walk today in Prospect Park after the clouds and rain cleared:
On the third day of warm spring-like temperatures, this squirrel reminds us, like the characters in Game of Thrones that "winter is coming." 
A juvenile mute swan slowly transforms from its "ugly duckling" juvenile plumage to the white adult plumage.
A red-eared slider takes in the last warm days. These invasive turtles though, can totally be seen on warm winter days basking!
Chipmunks are also gearing up, they don't hibernate like bears do, they store food in their burrows, instead of bears which build up fat reserves. Unlike bears, they will wake up to eat food stored in their burrow as well as do their business. 
This (what I am fairly sure to be) a Swainson's Thrush seemed a bit off. Like maybe it flew into something or just had a tussle with another creature. He seemed to walk okay and looked to need a rest, so I shuffled him off to the side of the trail to where there was cover. Normally these birds are so "puffy" which made it hard to ID, but the "buffy" color to its face matches that of a Swainson's.

An American lady, thats really the name of this butterfly.

Male and female wood ducks in a Monet painting?
Autumn, my favorite tree near the upper and lower pools.
And just like Norton, not only did I see one, but two! Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!
Clearly in search of more sap to suck.
I have never seen a sapsucker, just evidence of them... They drill holes in trees, these wells drip sap, as the tree tries to patch up and heal this "wound" that the sapsuckers feed from. They will make a series of wells to tap for sap, and trees then end up looking like this.
Hiding in the reeds, another first, a marsh wren! I ventured into "the vale" in Prospect Park today, I never visited here, but it's like being in a storybook. And funny, that was kind of what Vaux and Olmstead were going for.
A green darner (I think) takes the sun. These insects too, migrate south for the winter, but their offspring will return instead in their place.
A common yellowthroat in one of the ponds in the Vale.
A white-throated sparrow seems to watch me just as intently, and agrees for a more "Autumn Themed" photo.
He gave me one shot.
An osprey, seemingly asking directions for South, too bad when I spotted him he was heading north-east. 
That look of being caught.
A handsome mallard watched with me a pair of red tail hawks over the lake, one of which was being harassed by a peregrine falcon.
An American coot squeaks along the lake.
     I am so happy that my dad showed us "the classics" growing up, Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, The Three-Stooges, and The Honeymooners - he was and still is a comedy guy... Anyway to see the "Sapsucker" episode, thankfully it's right here on youtube. It is the first scene, so you can watch as little or as much as you like-- maybe you too will get to see that bird with a yellow belly, sucking sap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BBG - 10.14.14

     Yesterday I ventured to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, it's been a while since I visited. I spent most of my time in the native flora section, which is as close to natural as you get in a botanic garden. Things aren't as manicured and "perfect" as they are in the rest of the garden. It is also where I had the most variety of birds.
I loved these little house sparrows taking a bath in the kettle pond within the native flora area. This one was trying to stand on another.

White throated sparrows were the most abundant, found them in just about every area I visited, especially where there was leaf litter or mulch to dig in.
Another white throated sparrow.
A robin fed on pokeweed berries. This common weed feeds a lot of migrating birds in the fall! 
A few chipping sparrows were spotted just outside the native flora garden.
Monarchs are still migrating and getting in those final nectar sips!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Jones Beach - Holy Flock!

     I took my chances on a short walk at Jones Beach's Coast Guard Station, and wow, was I just amazed at what I saw! First off, the sky was alive, tree swallows were taking up just about every square foot of the air, I thought one might smack right into my face, they were everywhere and on the move! There is a small island just off the dock and it was filled with over 100 black bellied plovers, also in the mix were gulls, cormorants, ruddy turnstones, and a few other peeps. I turned my head for a short moment as a few of the turnstones flew to where I was perched, and in the moment I was thrilled to see a flock of black skimmers fly in mesmerizing synchronicity. It was absolutely beautiful, and I forgot for a moment that I was sitting on a dock in gull whitewash and guano. I even laid down in it just to continue capturing the flock as they flew by.
     I also had the chance to get some practice IDing those LBJ's (little brown jobs, sparrows), I had three species today, two of which are new to me, so win for me! Enjoy, I took a lot of pictures...
"Sittin' on the dock of the bay..." I think that is what this Eastern phoebe is singing while it hunts...
Just a portion of the beach, filled with American oystercatchers, double crested cormorants, and black bellied plovers.
Had 2 royal terns fly overhead, a lifer for me!
These pictures don't do justice for memorizing this was to watch... a flock of black skimmer adults and juveniles , just gorgeous!

Then they fold up those long wings and mix themselves amongst the plovers. 
Ruddy turnstones parked on the dock behind me.
Canadian geese.
Ruddy turnstone, not shy and walking towards its admirers.
In the winter black bellied plover have no black belly.
98% sure this is a savannah sparrow.
A savannah sparrow mixed in amongst beach scenery.
Pretty darn sure this is a swamp sparrow, like 90% sure.

Northern flickers are so pretty, there were so many along the parkway too!
An autumn common yellowthroat.
Savannah sparrow.
This migration season is so exciting, seeing birds in these large numbers on the move is just such a cool thing to see. This part of Jones beach is super accessible, you can wander as close or far as you want, I highly suggest a visit!