Saturday, February 15, 2014

A good day for birding!

Prospect Park: the lake is almost totally frozen over, except for one small area. Don't try walking on it, leave that up to the waterfowl.
     I had an early, cold, but fantastic walk in Prospect Park. I saw two new birds that I can check off in my field guide, the fox and tree sparrow. Saw some fast-paced, peregrine falcon action on the lake. Heard the red-winged blackbirds singing, which gives me hope that spring is coming. Then got caught walking home in some gently falling snow.
     I made two friends today on my walk, Giselle, who ID'd birds and watched waterfowl with me on the lake, and Rob who is President of the Brooklyn Bird Club.
     Enjoy the sights, snow, and snapshots:
New bird for me- American Tree Sparrow. The spot on the chest gave it away for me.
Another new one for me - the fox sparrow. If you're wondering what this fox says, look here.
I find sparrows a challenge because they from are are all brown birds of the same size and shape. They have noticeable differences, but you have to observe carefully their specific field markings.

These geese were on the southern end of the lake that is frozen. They flew over to the only area of the lake that did have open, fresh water available.
A white throated sparrow talks with his beak full. White throated sparrows do have a white throat, but are not to be confused with the white crowned sparrow. Whole also happens to have white visible on the top of its head.
A female hooded merganser leads two males. This is the only available freshwater for the waterfowl, it is very crowded but a very valuable resource.
Ring-billed and herring gulls splash and bathe. Ring-bills are smaller with a dark ring around their bill. The herring gull has the red spot on their bill and is larger in size (look to the top left).
A male Northern shoveler.
A female ruddy duck just chugging along.
ring-billed gull looking gorgeous in flight.
A younger ring-billed gull, shows off all those flight feather.
Crows were opportunistically feeding on a gull who lost the battle against this harsh winter.
The gulls on the lake got restless and all took flight.
Because a peregrine falcon crashed their party.
These falcons feed on birds. They are fast flyers and in a stoop (dive) can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. Their bodies are adapted allowing them to do very amazing things.
Appropriately blurry, as this bird was on the move.
Absolutely gorgeous! 
An American black duck appears to give a sigh of relief as the falcon moves on to other places.
An American coot shows off its lovely lobed feet.
A group of male ruddy ducks. Easily distinguished by their white cheeks, and later in spring, by their blue bill.
A female mallard fluffs up for warmth as the snow begins to fall.
A male mallard collects snow.
A mute swan, who is clearly ready for their close-up.
Stay warm, Mr. Merganser- the falling snow signals my departure home.