Sunday, September 14, 2014

Biking and Birding!

     I picked up a bagel breakfast and got out early on my bike. I ate my bagel in Sheepshead Bay on a pier with envious onlookers. I think they mostly were envious of that smoked salmon lox spread. The morning was cool, cloudy, and windy, with rain threatening later on in the day.
A great black-backed gull gives me the eye, for not sharing my bagel.
Juvenile herring gull on a dilapidated dock.
With Brighton Beach behind them.
     After breakfast, the next stop was Plumb Beach. Tide was high and still coming in, which made there little too see. I still got the pleasure of getting a lifer and enjoying an egret in flight.
I have been seeing a male black scoter at Dead Horse Bay, but another male plus a female-- plus two additional females have been reported at Plumb Beach, and all four were there. A boat came by and spooked this female into flight, after a quick circle, she was back with the male and two females. 
Female black scoters lack the orange knob on the bill and have white cheeks and neck, while males are over all dark.
Here is the male, straightening up out of the water. With the wind, the water was choppy!
The salt marsh that fills up at high tide between the beach and the Belt Parkway.
This was a great surprise, a juvenile Northern harrier, a first for me! 
Great egret fishing at high tide in the marsh. 
This egret flew from place to place, when it finally settled it began catching fish. 

A semipalmated plover is looking a bit frazzled in the wind, and dwarfed by the washed up horseshoe crab.
     Since I didn't get much of a show at Plumb Beach, just a short ride away is the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park. Didn't see too much more there, but as always, a very enjoyable place to walk and explore.
Was greeted by not one but at least 4 monarchs feeding and fluttering around the garden containing butterfly bushes near the bike racks.
2 osprey were constantly circling the area. 
A Canadian goose become much more than a Canadian goose when captured in flight. Geese tend to be the poster child for migration, because of their picturesque "V" formation and their honks of encouragement when in formation. Many Canadian geese do migrate and pass through the area, but some are residents to the area, remaining here, 
Love love love the wings of birds in flight! 
In the world of birding, sparrows casually are sometimes referred to as LBJ's- little brown jobs... and this LBJ has me stumped. I am very sure it is not a song sparrow. It looks close to a savannah sparrow, but has no yellow above the eyes. It also looks like a Lincoln's sparrow, but has no buff color to its breast or a buff colored "mustache" from its beak to under its cheeks, my last guess is perhaps a juvenile swamp sparrow... any ideas? Give your input in the comments!

This is the time of year also when birds are on, or are about to get on the move-- MIGRATION! If you would like to help birds have an easier time on the wing, here are some very simple things you can do --

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Usual

     I have not gotten out for a walk in what has felt like FOREVER! I have been amazingly busy, prepping for the NYC Century Bike tour and riding it (well, 55 miles of it) last Sunday (9/8/14), as well as performing my civic duties (sometimes these civic duties take up 11.5 hours of my day), and in between, doing what has to be done around here. I realized how much I missed being outside, so I rode home furiously today, swapped out my pack with my kindle for a pack with a camera, and hopped on my bike and went to the park. I forgot to even change my shoes- my don't care if they get dirty hiking boots sat at home, while my brand new shoes got dusted in dry soil.
     I saw nothing extraordinary today, but I'm okay with that. I was just so happy to see the usual birds of Prospect Park and was happy to be immersed in the outside world, instead of a cold windowless, monochromatic room.
This squirrel is gearing up for fall, getting his acorns in order. Squirrels are primarily responsible for the dispersal of oak trees, they don't remember every acorn they hide!
This juvenile cardinal blends in rather well with some of the dead leaves.
A black crowned night heron takes on its crepuscular role, as it's name implies with a position in the middle of where the lullwater joins the lake 
A scruffy looking red-bellied woodpecker. Many of the birds rights now are in the process of molting, looking mismatched or just disheveled as they drop and replace feathers. 
Catbirds all over the place, as usual. 
Show-off of a mute swan. 
A different pair of mute swans from the one above, this one seems to have the "she's taken" look. 
Even invasive phragmites weeds can look somewhat picturesque at sunset. Many of the phrag's have been covered in tarps in an effort by the park to monitor and lower the numbers of this invasive reed. Unfortunately it seems people have been playing with (and even on) the tarps, disturbing them and phragmites have begun regrowing in some termed areas.
I rarely get pictures of spotted sandpipers in the park because they are so easily startled, half the time, you don't even know they are there. This one was pretty out in the open along the shore of the peninsula, so we saw each other and I kept my distance and let this guy pace up and down the rocks, foraging, bobbing its little body with each little step of those spindly legs. I love the soft waves of the water behind him.
Kissing its reflection. But more likely picking up little invertebrates to eat.

Friday, August 29, 2014


     I rode my bike down to the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. I was hoping for shore birds, but the tide was (really) high and most I got were 2 great blue herons, a great egret, and yeah, just that. When walking within the shrub and tree filled South West portion of the nature center, the song birds were very active. I also had a few first sightings ever, and one super awesome first sighting of the year:
I was really hoping for this song sparrow to be more like a  salt marsh sparrow...
The large milkweed bug, this is a TRUE BUG, not all insects are bugs, but all bugs are insects-- it's like when you learn about rectangles and squares in math class. You can see the proboscis folded under this bug's body, which it uses to pierce milkweed seed pods to feed.
As opposed to the bug above, this species is the small milkweed bug, creativity runs strong throughout nomenclature...
Morning mallard streches.
"Whatchu want?!" This young mockingbird already has some sort of battle scar, part of his lower mandible has been chipped away.
This male horseshoe crab was very much alive, thankfully I love horseshoe crabs. You know its a guy because its first pair of legs look like boxing gloves.
Be free!
A silver skipper.
One for the life list- a great crested flycatcher! You can almost see his crest.
I think he let me get close because I was attracting SO MANY mosquitoes!  
This common yellowthroat looks like a pom-pom, I adore these little guys!
One of the clearings in the SW portion of the nature center. The goldenrod is gorgeous right now!
A first of something-- I found out when you cannot differentiate between an alder and willow flycatcher it's referred to as a Traill's flycatcher, which is not by any means a species of flycatcher. But I have no idea which one this is, so Traill's it is!
This American redstart was just walking around on the trail, like it's completely normal... 
Great blue heron runs a red light.
This is the first great blue heron I have seen this year (really!). 
I love how the fiddler crab is underwater, but he is poking his eyestalks out above the water.
The American kestrel is the smallest species of falcon in North America. This little guy is perched on an unoccupied osprey nest platform. These little guys are also called sparrow hawks, for their dining on sparrows, but they will also eat insects.
A skipper of some sort. 
Yellow "dots" = aphids
 Round guy- red with black spots = lady bug (not a REAL bug, but a beetle, possibly, also not a lady) aka nymph predator,
Red-orange and black oval guys= milkweed bug nymphs (not yet adults)
 And the grand finale-- my first (confirmed) monarch butterfly of the year! These butterflies are facing (really, really) tough times, so seeing one today was AWESOME- I paparazzi'd out with this guy...