Monday, April 20, 2015

A Ray of Prothonotary on a Grey Day

     A prothonotary warbler has been seen the last few days in Prospect Park. Part of me wanted to go out before work this morning to get it, but the weather was foul (not fowl) and really not made for walking around in. So when I was on my way home from work and the rain had stopped, I was debating a run or seeing if I could find this warbler. I think I made a great choice, enjoy an all Prothonotary photo shoot. I hope he brings a little light into your day like he did for me!
First glimpse! Snatching insects in the bark.
This bird GLOWS! The yellow is magnificent and those blue-grey wings really make him shine!
These birds don't really spend much time in these parts, so the chance to see one is worth sacrificing a run for. This is a life bird for me and I was so happy to find it, right here in Brooklyn!
A pine warbler joins the foraging fun! The green of the plants and rain soaked world was really great to see, and with this guy shining all around it, made for a beautiful scene. 
Foraging for insects near the edge of the lullwater in Prospect Park, just on the other side of the bridge from the Boathouse.
I loved seeing him fan his tail, to show off the white marking hiding under those feathers.

Very happy to see this bird today, I hope on this ewwie, yucky rainy day that you could still find something good to bring a smile to your face. This guy totally got me pumped, in the bird nerdiest way possible!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Weekender from Rockland to Brooklyn

     This weekend took me beyond Brooklyn and back. There is lots to show, so I will let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy!
Saturday 4.18.15: The husband says we need to go upstate so he can help his dad move furniture, I asked if I could go for a hike, and so I did, around Doodletown and Iona Island in Bear Mountain State Park.
The day was warm and summer-like. I got to wear shorts and a t-shirt. A vastly different wardrobe from what I was wearing only a month ago. The Doodletown Brook is lovely to walk along and cooled the air nearby, making it refreshing to walk along in the mid-70's temperatures.
This little gem, a six spotted tiger beetle, caught my eye with that metallic green. These little 1/2 inch insects move quickly and catch smaller insects to eat. You can see the small, sic white spots that give him his name. It's nice to see insects again,  I'm excited o see butterflies too, very soon!
I then next headed down to Iona Island, found a pair of geese on the roadside, taking a dip into the marsh that runs along the road.
Was happy to see not one, but two pileated woodpecker. These birds resemble the Woody Woodpecher cartoon best. They have a red crest, large bill, and are themselves quite large, compared to the other woodpeckers in the area. Very beautiful, very cool to see!
A turkey vulture takes a close pass overhead.
Just before reaching the car I came upon two muskrats swimming in the marsh. Smaller than beavers, muskrats are also rodents, but don't have the large flat beaver tail, theirs more resembles that of a rat, but is slightly flattened. 
Sunday 4.19.15: The nice weather continues, a bit cooler, but sun is shining. Green-Wood Cemetery was my choice to avoid the Sunday crowds in Prospect-- although I kind of regret not going to Prospect as there was some good stuff there this afternoon. Oops! Here, a double crested cormorant shows off his double crests. 
I love double crested cormorants for the two things that are highlighted in this photo-- Those ice blue eyes, not much to explain- they are gorgeous! I also am a huge fan of reptiles, and the feathers on their wings really make them look reptilian and scaly, I love it!
An American Robin just over 5th avenue in Sunset Park.
The mockingbirds were doing a great job with their songs covering many different species of birds within the park, sometimes I had to be careful, thinking I heard a different bird, only for it to be a mockingbird singing through it repertoire.
The solar powered creatures are back, a red-eared slider warms up in the sun. Not a native turtle, the sliders are introduced, they live many years, too often beyond the interest of humans who buy them as cute babies. They grow large and require more care than most are prepaid for. So often, they are dumped, where they often do well, but outcompete native turtles.
A savannah sparrow on Sylvan Water was lovely to see, many sparrows were foraging along where the edges of the trees and shrubs met the grassy shore line.
A sweet sighting of a field sparrow on the shores of Sylvan. 
The male white throated sparrows are actively singing and looking quite handsome. Just in the last three photos you can see how varied these little brown birds are, and by looking just a bit more closer a sparrow becomes more than "just a sparrow."
A hermit thrush above the Dell Water. Related to robins, these birds forage too, on the ground looking for yummy things to eat.
This was not there last week- it appears some bee houses were installed on the Dell Water. I hope they help to do their bee job, pollinating the lovely landscape in and around Green-Wood. 
Bees make me cry and run like a wuss-- this is with use of the 300mm zoom, cropped :) You can't pay me enough money to get closer to these suckers...
This great egret has chosen alternative forms of energy, instead of hunting fish and frogs, the sun gives this one all the energy it needs...
Pretty! The blooms are awesome right now!
I think I found the goose that they modeled Scrooge McDuck after, clearly this bird only eats grass around the fanciest real-estate in Green-Wood!
A common snapping turtle lurks in the Dell Water.
The great egret from earlier catches a frog for dinner. These birds are lightening quick and are able to catch quick little frogs and fish.
(insert "gulp" sound here)
After that meal, its back to hunting-- but looking absolutely stunning while doing so!
Magnolia, I think. Gorgeous, whatever it is, that's for sure!
Another Mocker, mocking his heart out! Did a great kingfisher and kestrel call!
Palm warblers foraged among the graves, adding a burst of color to the grey headstones.
Spring! Yay!!!! :-D (Like, honestly, I am SO HAPPY winter is over!)

Just before leaving had a nice flyover by this young red tailed hawk.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Playful Break on the Beach

     Got back from teaching with my coworker, and just in time for lunch. With temperatures reading in the low 70's an outdoor beach lunch was in order. There was some wind, and some sand in my lunch, but a little sand in the GI tract never hurt no one. It felt awesome to go barefoot on the sand and even at one point, needing to shed the zip-up.
     The laughing gulls are back, they make themselves known with their laughing call, that gives them their name. A couple of winter stragglers still linger, but fewer and fewer are present. I think it's safe to say that winter and snow is finally done, bring on the warmth!
A common loon swims along the shore, in full breeding season plumage, looking sleek and gorgeous. This is a bird that will soon head North to reproduce and give that eerie loon call.
A ring billed gull in the surf.
Gulls frozen in flight take on a whole different feel from what we usually associate them with. I am pretty sure for most people, gulls are just a step up from pigeons (which I also love and adore), but freeze them in flight and they can seem angelic, playful, and very beautiful.
A gull catches some wind to give him some lift. The laughing gulls look so slick with that black head on a sleek white body.
An immature ring billed gull, looking more like a phoenix caught in such a pose. 
A couple of folks were tossing tidbits into the air and the laughing gulls hovered and caught them on the wing, making for some fun captures. They were also really good at catching!
Who's gonna get it?! One of the guys watching on the boardwalk of course gave a few "mine, mine, mine's." Disney nailed it on that anthropomorphism of gulls. 
I hope you can see gulls in a slightly different light, they are lovely things with interesting behaviors and so many differences between each bird, depending on species, age, and the time of year. Get out and enjoy some gulls and the amazing weather!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

     I don't normally wake up at 6:30AM on the weekend, but when I do, it's because spring is calling. I headed out for a 7:15AM walk today with the Brooklyn Bird Club to see what has arrived so far in Prospect Park. The Brooklyn Bird Club is a great group, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to bird, already birds, or anyone who wants to get outdoors and explore more. The people who gather in these outings are friendly and willing to share their knowledge, it also is just a nice way to meet people who enjoy a similar hobby. I always find the crowd very interesting a good mix of people of varying ages and abilities- I highly recommend checking them out and joining if you're in the area!
     I used my "BirdLog" app to keep track of my sightings throughout the walk, I logged 46 species- others were seen, but I did not see them myself - like the brown thrasher and eastern towhee.
     Anyway, the walk was great- the sun was out, the temperature was comfy, and with good company and lots of eyes, I was very satisfied with this early adventure! Enjoy the sights!

Upon entering the park to meet the group, I was greeted by grackles. They seem like a "blackbird" to the untrained and unknowing eye, but I do love the blue and purple sheen their feathers give in just the right light. This ordinary "blackbird" becomes something a bit more special and a bit more beautiful. With soft ground a lot of birds were foraging for insects and seed.
Love is in the air, a male and female wood duck take a morning swim together. Wood ducks nested and bred in the park last year and these, unlike most ducks, nest in tree hollows. Their babies have a daring start to life, as they need to leap down (comparable to base-jumping) from their tree to reach the ground, all so they can swim around with their mother.
The wood duck may be one of my favorites, he is just so snazzy in his plumage and it looks really great in the early morning light. I've found wood ducks to usually be very shy, but this guy in particular came right up to the shoreline we were standing on! Maybe they just wanted to show off, who knows!
I also never noticed on the males those little feathery whisps towards their tail- everything about this animal is just so perfect, he is supremely handsome! If you have never experienced a wood duck in person, please I urge you to see one in person, they are absolutely spectacular.
Lots of pine warblers today, these guys are some the first warblers to arrive to the NY area, as this is not their final destination. They still have a ways to travel, Northward. This is simply a pit stop to catch and eat some insects as they awaken from their winter slumber, before continuing their trip. 
A very Brooklyn Osprey.
This and another osprey were both hunting over the lake, sometimes even diving in, as they are fish eaters.
Swallows are coming back to the area, today we saw three species, one of which I had never seen before. We saw barn, tree, and Norther rough-winged (pictured). It's a terrible picture with the sun not in our favor here... but it isn't often you get to see a swallow perched and still, especially a life bird.
A final pine warbler, warm, in the late morning sun. I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the richness of life that spring brings with it!