Saturday, May 17, 2014

Marathon Checkpoint

     Today was the Brooklyn Half Marathon, my friend Shannon was running it AND completed it, I am so very proud of her. When people run these long distance races there are mile checkpoints, even places to take a quick rest and stretch, places to stop and grab water, and heck, even places to sometimes grab a quick bite of fruit. In a way, migration for birds and other animals works in just the same way. As half marathoners ran through Prospect Park, perhaps the warblers gave them some good stamina vibes, as they too are running their own marathon, and Prospect is their stop for food and water as they reach the final stretch of their own journey.
     Today's birds included: House sparrows, starlings, common grackle, song sparrow, robins, catbirds, mockingbirds, redwing black birds, barn swallows, tree swallows, chimney swifts, veery, merlin/kestrel (being chased by grackles), yellow-rumped warbler, blackpoll warbler, Cape May warbler, magnolia warbler, Northern parula, black-throated blue warbler, common yellowthroat, chestnut sided warbler, wilson's warbler, American redstart, northern oriole, cardinal, Eastern kingbird, summer tanager, cedar waxwing, wood duck, mallard, blue jay, mourning dove, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, and even some unidentifiables - maybe you can help. Phew!
Female Cape May warbler. (I think)
A chipmunk remained still enough for a photo op.
Once you see blackpoll warblers, that's the signal that warbler days around here are numbered. The tail-end of the warbler migration. This one was seen with many other feasting on flying insects on the lullwater.
A chestnut-sided warbler hones in on an insect.
Oh, well hello there, Mr. Wilson. Wilson's warblers were fairly abundant today.
One of my unidentifiables.... Thinking warbling vireo.
This nest already had some chicks in it, super cute.
Bird buffet. Termites have what is called a nuptial flight- where the male and female reproductive termites have become adults. They are winged and fly/drift away from their colony to mate, shed their wings and begin their own colony. Colonies do this essentially all at once, possibly to increase the chances of termites from neighboring colonies to meet and mate to begin anew. It also attracts birds in HUGE numbers, low to the ground for excellent viewing and great behaviors! 
Look who came for lunch....
A male scarlet tanager dined on some of the termites and gave me a great show. How brilliant is that color?! It is really something to see in person, it makes a cardinal look like a joke.

"Make sure you get my good side..."
Most of the termite action I observed took place on Lookout Hill. And if you look out through the trees, you remember that all this is happening in the middle of Brooklyn. I am also waving hi to my friend, Shannon at the finish line in Coney Island for the Brooklyn Half.
Another surprise guest at the termite feast- cedar waxwings! One of my personal faves- this bird is so unreal in their appearance, so beautiful.
A female redstart darts around after termites 
This waxwing gives you a good glimpse of how it got its name- those red waxy looking feathers.
A robin has no shame in cutting the line and going straight to the source of termites...
An eastern kingbird does some fancy air maneuvers to catch flying termites.
Catbird feasting.

A male redstart- always gorgeous.
The half marathon made it a challenge for people to get into the heart of the park, it was kind of nice...
Male wood ducks, no sign of the chicks that I heard were here.
All I wanted to see today was orioles, I had two viewing of them and that made me very happy :)
Catbird with nesting material.
kingbird over the lullwater
No complaints about today- a great day for birds AND running! Congrats to all those who ran and conquered the Brooklyn Half!