Sunday, June 16, 2013

Back Home

A chipping sparrow in the golf course parking lot.
     It's Father's Day and I am so thankful for my dad, he fostered my love of animals and let me take what I love and really run with it. One of the things he allowed me to do, as I got older (around the time I was in Middle School) was to go to Eisenhower Park to photograph animals. He would give me his Kodak Advantix camera- the one where you could take panoramas- loaded with film and let me roam the park while he went for a run and we would meet up 40 minutes or so later when he was done. I would just go and take pictures of the horses at the mounted police barn, geese on the pond, squirrels that I would toss peanuts to, and really that was about it. I'd try to look for the hawk that flew around and would get super excited when I saw it. Then my dad would take the film with him to work and drop it off at the photo place and get it developed. There was something really exciting about seeing your photos after having to wait, as opposed to the instant digital world of cameras today. I remember him letting me do this so well, I felt like an explorer and he let me do these really nerdy things. And I loved it!
     So on this Father's Day I found myself in Eisenhower Park picking up my dad's gift - the man really loves golf, so I had to get him the most useful thing for him - a golfing gift card. On my way back to the car I got distracted by a baby cottontail rabbit and decided that a quick walk into the park wouldn't hurt.
     I went to the Veteran's Memorial and down to the pond, where I saw not a single trace of waterfowl, which kind of made me sad. What's pond without at least one goose or mallard? Well, I did still see some cool birds...

The robins were very charismatic. 

The weather has been good to the robins, all the rain we have gotten has brought up all the worms.
Saw a lot of killdeer across from the mounted unit barn.
This leggy bird looks like it belongs on the beach. They are part of the plower family (a type of shore bird) but these guys prefer grasslands/fields.
My hometown, East Meadow, was originally part of a plains ecosystem. The Hempstead Plains are mostly nonexistent. There are very few sparse patches left. Now the area is residential, suburban, typical Long Island.
The name "killdeer." comes from their call: "kill-dee-dee-dee-dee!" or "dee-dee-dee!" Listen here.

Killdeer have an interesting behavior when predators... or tall red headed humans are near. They feign injury by vocalizing and making a wing appear broken, they lay on the ground and tilt their bodies. They will then get up and walk only to do it once more. That's what this guy is doing. They must have a nest or young near by. These birds nest on the ground so this could be useful in luring predators away from their eggs and young.
Of course, once they lure you far enough away, they just fly away.
A seriously handsome bird.




And one scruffy song sparrow singing his little bird heart out.
     Eisenhower Park is definitely changing and has changed so much in the years that I have known it. A lot of things are being built and the park does not have a very natural feel. But, if you look close enough you might have some fun sightings. You would think that by leaving the city you would see more things, but I think Prospect Park in the middle of Brooklyn has more diversity than this suburban park. It was good to be home though. And of course, I visited the park twice today because in typical Father's Day fashion, we had to go hit some golf balls at the driving range. All in all, a very good day.
     For more information on Eisenhower Park, check out their website at: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/parks/wheretogo/active/eisenhower.html