Friday, October 24, 2014

Less Birds, More Work!

     I headed down to Calvert Vaux/Dreier-Offerman (whatever you prefer) Park today to bird along Coney Island Creek. I specifically picked here because I will soon be calling Coney Island, proper, my work home. I will be joining the Wildlife Conservation Society at the New York Aquarium as an outreach coordinator with the education department, bringing various lessons to folks around Brooklyn!
     In finally attaining employment once again, I will probably be hiking, birding, and investigating a bit less than I have been, but I promise to still get out and continue doing Jen things. After two days straight of not venturing out much today I had to get out and it was worth it. Got another lifer, three raptor species (raptors are my favorites), and TONS of brant geese.
A juvenile cooper's hawk flies over the fields chasing birds, including crows, which honestly are comparable in side to this bird.
This brant is giving me the stink eye.
A mallard is clear for landing. 
Great blue heron on the various "wrecks" in Coney Island Creek. 
Red-bellied woodpecker
A yellow-rumped warbler
Song Sparrow
Lots of brant, I love the guy up front stuffing his face... "Everyone, we want to channel our inner swan... BARRY, BARRY- seriously dude, what are you doing?! You're ruining it!"
Savannah sparrow
A new bird for my list- Field sparrow! A very warm, handsome sparrow! 
Another look at the (urban) field sparrow. 
A terrible photo, but as I am trying hard to learn some new sparrows, I like this one because in one picture you have the Savannah (closer, to the right) and the Song (back, left) sparrow, and can see how similar and different they look! 
A female American Kestrel, so tiny, but saw this little lady from quite a ays back as I was leaving, glad I had a chance to say hi!
Most birds of prey look alike, among the sexes, with females just being larger than the males. American Kestrel males are a bit more "colorful" than the females with a bluer head and wings, with a buffy rusty-colored breast.
Mocking birds were holding their own while the kestrel was around.
An Eastern Phoebe grabs a crunchy lunch.


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!