Saturday, February 9, 2013

The day after "Nemo"

     Everyone was really flipping out over this storm - I got sent home early from work, my job cancelled my program for today, everyone was in full on snow freak-out mode. I grew up on Long Island and I remembered the big snow we got in '93, or was it '94? That was a long time ago. I remember the blizzard of '96, that was, as a kid, crazy awesome fun time! But then I went to Oswego, NY for my undergrad, and woah, now THAT was snow. We got close to 5ft my freshman year, first weekend of spring semester. Before that, I never saw anything like the snow they had there. So this "Nemo" guy, was nothing compared to that lake effect snow. But, this storm did make for a pretty day in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
     My husband and I took a stroll through the park, and walked some of the trails, trying to avoid the crowds of sledders. The lake was kind of frozen, it seemed more like a layer of slush, but it was solid enough that it pushed the waterfowl into small pockets of water on the lake. There were tons of gulls and mallards, but in the mix we also saw some Northern shovelers, female hooded mergansers, American coots (the birds, not those crazy Brooklyn people), a female bufflehead, ruddy ducks, and I think I spotted a female scaup. The mute swan family was there as well, they are probably the nicest wild swans I have ever seen - as in, they are not aggressive towards people who are in close proximity of them and their family.

     After taking a picture of the swans, two Cooper's hawks zipped by in pursuit of a pigeon who was equally as fast. It was pretty awesome. Oh, and we took our real camera, and then realized all the memory cards were at home - but good thing we all have technology and iPhones have pretty decent cameras.
     The best part of the walk was finding an Eastern Towhee and having a conversation. Actually, I don't know if we were having a conversation, but I have an app on my phone (the best app ever) which acts as a bird field guide, but it doesn't just write out the birds' songs and calls - like a towhee would sing: "drink-your-teaa!" The app also plays them and I LOVE this feature, because it can sometimes allow you to interact with wild birds. I played the towhee call (which goes: "chewink") while he was foraging, kicking leaves and soil out from under a low lying branch. After a few calls played from my phone he started to respond but continued to do his thing, it was really neat, it never gets old and I get really excited every time.
Snowy trails in Prospect Park

A cute log trellis along the lake, near the Audubon Boat House
The little black and grey bird is an American Coot, they have the coolest feet. Unlike the mallards, who have webbed feet, the coots have lobed feet.
Here is an American coot from our trip to New Orleans, but you can see their neat feet!
     We circled almost the entire lake in Prospect, before we left, we saw a Canadian Goose - a bird that people tend to have a love/hate relationship with - people feed them (that's the love part) but really get angry when they poop everywhere, especially their nice grassy fields (that's the hate part). Anyway, I like them just fine. This one goose came up out of the water on one and a half legs, its right foot was totally gone, and who knows why, but the sad thing for a lot of waterfowl is human-caused injury. The lake and many other areas where water meets land is popular for fishing and not everyone is aware of the impact of just leaving some fishing line, or a hook, or a lead weight behind. Birds easily get tangled in fishing line and lines that get wrapped around the legs can cause serious injury and even loss of limbs. I don't know if that is exactly what happened to this goose, but it very well could be the reason it no longer has a foot. It is sad and heart breaking to see wildlife injured due to the carelessness of people. So please, be aware of the things you may accidentally leave behind or how you discard things, you are preventing injuries and even death to our wild friends.
This Canadian Goose had its right leg, but had no foot, so getting around is a bit tougher for him/her. Injuries happen to wildlife for many reasons, but with lots of people around, many of them are due to us.