Friday, May 8, 2015

A Change of Scenery

     After birding often in Prospect Park, I decided to change it up and head to the Salt Marsh in Marine Park after work today. Lately I have been running into birders left and right, and yesterday and the day before I ran into a friend of mine in Prospect. Today I ran into him again, but at the salt marsh! I couldn't help but laugh, but was very happy to bird with a friend.
     The marsh is slowly coming to life, sprigs of green can be seen creeping up through the grasses, birds are all around, the fiddler crabs scatter back to their burrows as you pass by with a shadow, and the terrapins are just starting to show themselves.
     Enjoy the sights:
A hovering Forster's tern- unlike common terns they lack the dark tips of the wings. This bird was actively hovering and diving into the water after fish. It makes for decent photo ops.

Also, unlike the common tern, take note of the longer tail- much longer than commons.
I thank my friend Daniel for alerting me to clapper rail behavior and calls. These guys were actively calling and not very easy to find. Seeing that guy was after searching for quite a few minutes when he finally came out of the wood-- err, grass work. But you can see aside from the orange bill, he is camouflaged quite well.

A killdeer in a charred portion of the fields of the salt marsh.
A red-winged blackbird sings his "honk-a-tee!" And looking quite handsome in the process.
This young E. cottontail got some audible "awwws" from my friend and I. I mean, you might not be human if this didn't at least make your brain go "squee!"
And this is that moment where you're all like, something dreadfully cute is going to happen-- hold onto your seats, because you might fall out of them if you are overcome by cuteness.... standby....
AND THE CUTENESS, there it is, a little bun nibbling on a golden dandelion in the early evening sun. And then you're like this cannot get cuter, no way, not at all... and then...
little bunny lips! GAH! Has your brain exploded yet? No? Well, I apologize in advance because prepare yourself for...
EXTREME CLOSE-UP. You're welcome.
Eastern cottontails are native and live in Brooklyn in a few of the parks. They do have to be weary, especially a young guy like this because hawks will take them if the hawk is large and the bun is small. They are a joy to see around because even though you know they are here in Brooklyn, you are always so pleasantly surprised to see them.
A greater yellowlegs was working the area by the green bridge the whole time we were there, this angle finally gave me the right light. We got to watch it pull a giant worm from the mud and swallow it down.

Remember tomorrow is Cornell's "Big Day," so get out and submit all that you find to the eBird database. If you are in NYC, the Bronx Zoo is hosting their second annual Birdathon, I will be there bright and early to lead a walk birding the zoo.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birds and Blooms

    What a tiring but fulfilling day. It all began with a 5 mile run in Prospect, then after a shower, birding in Prospect, a stroll though Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and then back to Prospect, because, why not! My legs and feet are tired, but I'm happy.
     While I didn't get photos of every single thing, I still have a lot of photos, so I will let them do the talking:
This mornings wondering began with a walk up and down Lookout Hill, where I got a few firsts of the season, like this oven bird. They are warblers but look and act more like a thrush. They are slightly smaller than a robin, and less loud when foraging through the leaves.
Another first of the season, and a favorite- the common yellowthroat.
Isn't he just so darn cute in that little super hero mask? 
And another first of the season for myself, a magnolia warbler. These guys are always up so darn high. Serious neck soreness tonight after all day out.
Another sweet treat, a red-eyed vireo. Also had the chance to run into some other friendly Brooklyn birders which I always love. It's so nice to put faces to the names of folks you see on eBird or in birding communities.
Next stop, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which was in full bloom!
And enter life bird, Bay-breasted warbler. I was very excited to find him in an oak just outside the rock garden. It is so amazing, the cycles of nature. Last week the maples were blooming and full of birds. This week the oaks are flowering and again, were great for spotting birds either eating the flowers and nectar or catching the insects feeding on the flowers.
Oh yeah, the cherry blossoms were AH-MAY-ZING.
Always handsome, cardinals. But I was secretly hoping every cardinal I saw could possibly be a tanager...
A Brooklyn bun hides away in the native plant garden. Eastern cottontails are plentiful in Prospect Park and clearly are also in the garden.
Male Baltimore orioles squabble over things that orioles squabble about. Perhaps territory, as once one retreated, the one who won, I suppose, calmed down.
They are so dang gorgeous.
A robin bathes in a small stream in the garden.
A very sleepy raccoon.
Back to Prospect. I run by this nest every time I am in Prospect, so I had to pull over on my bike and capture it. It's made not of just natural material, but ribbons and strings. Amazing this bird didn't get entangled in making this nest.

Love birds... or love doves? They were preening each other and being, dare I say it, lovey-dovey.
And of course, the black-and-white warblers are the only warblers who don't mind getting close for a (quick) photo-op. I'm not complaining, but I wish others too would be so bold. Love these guys!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Post Work Walk 5.4.15

     After work today I found myself furiously pedaling my bike home to get some quality birding time. I made it to Prospect, met up with some wonderful people and had some good sights. Sights included first of the year/season black-throated blue warbler, yellow warbler, veery, and Northern waterthrush. I also got a lifer, a solitary sandpiper, a very lovely, leggy thing. I could tell upon first sight it was no spotted sandpiper, which is rounder with shorter legs. So that was pretty exciting for me as well.
     As far as photographs went today, the show stopper was a very not shy black-and-white warbler. Sometimes those little birds can be quite bold.

     Also, don't forget, May 9th is the Global Big Day- log your sightings into eBird. On that day I will be leading a walk at the Bronx Zoo Birdathon, maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Remember to Set the Bar Low.

     I had high expectations for this morning, and I did what I always try not to do- go out looking for birds with high hopes. I have my own personal mantra, that if I set the bar low, I will never be disappointed, if anything, I will always be pleased and satisfied. I should have done that this morning.
     Seeing reports around NYC of some lovely new migrants appearing in our area, I was hungry to go out before work today. I even woke up early, ate breakfast on the steps of the boat house (in super warp speed), and trekked about on the lookout for warblers, orioles, and any other new faces.
     As I walked around, running into other birders, everyone had the same reaction of seeing the usual birds, nothing out of the (recent) ordinary. I'm not at all complaining, I had a wonderful and fulfilling morning observing the world - I would have regretted not going out. But despite the no-show(s) of what I was hoping for, I still had some wonderful moments. Enjoy!
A modest mourning dove, foraging among the leaf litter.
I walked the lullwater because in the past, I've had some lovely warblers show up. I guess I couldn't complain when this guy a black-capped night heron landed in front of me on a fallen branch over the water.

The swans are quite aggressive lately. These birds are usually, for mute swans, rather tame. But since they are nesting they have been quite nasty, especially to the other waterfowl.
If you ever have tried to photograph a kinglet, you should only be so lucky to get at least a floofy butt shot. These birds flit and flicker about, never staying still for even half a second.
A picturesque Northern Parula forages on an impressively huge cherry tree over the Children's play area near the Vale. The parula was one bird I was hoping to see, so seeing this and another in this tree, I was happy with. Then another bird I hoped to see, an oriole was muuuuuuuch higher up, foraging on the flowers. The Baltimore oriole and this parula both looked equally gorgeous swarmed by fluffy white flowers.
Usually the park is filled with catbirds, I would think by now. I only saw 3 today, I like them a lot- despite how common they are. They sing beautifully and also do a very good "mew" call, like any cat or catbird would.
Happy to find a hairy woodpecker. Note how the beak is nearly as long as the head? That means hairy woodpecker, downy's have a much smaller beak that is about half the size of their head.
I think this might be my favorite capture- a catbird singing his song on a blooming tree on a beautiful morning.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bonding Over Birding

     Once life takes us past our days spent in an educational institution, as an adult, finding people to welcome into your life as friends can be tough. And naturalist activities, like birding, have introduced me to many folks. As of late, I have been happy making new connections with people over a similar interest.
     Today took me to Prospect where I met my friend and her friend. I was happy her friend tagged along with us to bird, I hope we got him hooked! We had so much fun, sharing lots of stories and laughs.
     We saw lots of birds like black-crowned night heron, green heron, wood duck, belted kingfisher, black-and-white warbler, palm warblers (with their tell-tale "tail-twerk"), and hermit thrush among many others.
Enjoy a few sights, but more importantly, grab a friend- get out- and explore!
"THIS IS MY TRAIL!" At least that's how this American robin made it seem as he marched with a purpose over to the two hermit thrushes that lurked nearby.
Happy to see not one...
...but TWO painted turtles basking with this group of red-eared sliders. The painted turtles are native, to tell the two apart: Painted turtles lack that red mark on the sides of their heads, have a darker carapace (top shell) with red markings along the margins and the yellow plastron.
Awful photo, but this is my first of the year Northern Parula, which in real life is a gorgeous little thing with wings.
This male wood duck was calling his little whistle call. Everyone thinks that ducks quack, to that I say false... check out the wood duck call, it's so cute and so less harsh than the well-known "quack" of a mallard.
     Before I leave you, please check out my friends contribution to a local Brooklyn Paper - and check out some of the places he suggests, great places to visit!