The city parks are an absolute oasis for wildlife, I am always excited to see something new because the potential for it is definitely there. I decided that after work on Friday I'd ride my bike over to Prospect Park and see what was going on, especially with birds on the move for migration. I wish Prospect had more places to safely secure my bike as I have to walk it around the entire time with me and nothing is more conducive to wildlife watching than my bike clinking and clanking along with me, or falling over as I try to rest it on a tree (I should invest in a kickstand). So my bike, myself, and my camera did the best and quietest as we could to see what we could see. First stop was the lake and right off the bat I thought I saw a pair of scaup (lesser and greater look the same to me from afar). I grabbed some "meh" photos only to reveal they were actually ring-neck ducks, which is a new bird for me (yay!). The Northern shovelers are going nowhere fast, heck they barely lift their heads to acknowledge anything, they were so busy feeding on whatever is tasty in that lake. Ruddy ducks were plentiful as well, also spotted a cormorant and a pair of pied billed grebes.
I also walked my bike up the hill that goes up by the war memorial for the Maryland soldiers from the Revolutionary War - we're talking the Battle of Brooklyn (I'm sure all these areas have real names, but for now its the hill that stands above the Maryland Memorial). I walked the paved and dirt paths to find some woodpeckers foraging and lots of felled trees from the hurricane last fall. I really wanted to spot an owl, but I'm really awful at finding owls, unless they are sitting on the beach. All I did find was a gorgeous view of the Verazzano Bridge with an overcast sunset through the leafless trees and a man sitting alone off the trail smoking, and so after finding the latter I continued then down the hill with my bike. Did I mention that down the hill meant stairs? So I carried my bike down the hill via some old paved stairs. Good thing I was still wearing my helmet. Sidenote: I have been on my own birding/walking the side trails in Prospect Park and I have learned that people sitting in the forest doing nothing isn't always a good thing... one time some young men tried to have me come over to them when I was watching a kingfisher, yeah... no. I've also seen things in the park, not worth mentioning, so when it feels fishy, I take my own personal cue to leave.
The overcast greyishness of the late afternoon/early evening made getting photos of critters a challenge. I am still learning how to use this camera and how to "edit" my photos without any fancy programs, so enjoy! I do love that these city birds are so much more used to tighter quarters, like any real New Yorker, I was literally surprised by a downy woodpecker who foraged about 8 feet up a tree and allowed me to stand nearby to watch her and take her pictures from a very short distance away.
|Brooklyn is always full of interesting people, including the woman who sat at the lake with a box - not a small bakery box - like, a giant cardboard box filled with bread giving it out to the birds. I disagree with feeding birds copious amounts of bread. first off, it's garbage for birds. Bread feeding is also suspected to be a factor in causing a condition known as angel wing, which prevents birds from flying and it could really shorten their lifespan. The reasons go on and on - all I have to say is bread is bad, and sadly, people will continue to do this thinking that they are doing good on behalf of the birds. Learn more about bread and why over feeding of it to waterfowl is bad here via the Wildlife Center of Virginia's Dave McRuer DVM's explanation on the consequences of feeding waterfowl in the park.|
|This Canada Goose was marked with a neck collar. These collars are put on by researchers studying these birds, bands come in all sorts of colors and mean different things, the USGS explains more here.|
|I also am always amazed at how this little nothing of an animal has the power to chisel away bark and not get a concussion.|
|A pied-billed grebe who later on had a friend swimming alongside.|