Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brooklyn is for Lifers! Cassin's Kingbird!

     I admit it, I have been not out as much as I used to, but that will happen when you finally find employment! I will also admit, I have been out birding a few times and for got to blog about it. So a few highlights of what I had seen...
Kaiser Park is right in Coney Island, right where I now work, so I am trying out pre-work birding... Ring billed gull
These brant were born this year and have made their first migration to the area. Welcome!
It was a gloomy morning, but the rays of light were perfect!
I thought this was at first a peregrine, but now me thinks Merlin.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner, for this gull.
Last week I went out (in the COLD!) to Plumb Beach, got to see a few sanderlings, like this guy. Cute, right?
Found this one sanderling, who was going about his life with one leg! Amazing to watch him hop around, foraging, and then flying when he needed to really move.
Quite a few Dunlin feeding in the mix too.
     Today had taken me to a brand new location I somehow never explored, Floyd Bennett Field. This place is huge, and honestly, I had my phone out a lot mapping where I was to avoid getting myself lost. It has some unique habitat that isn't available in many other spaces around Brooklyn, specifically the vast grasslands that make up the interior of the fields, between the runways of the past. I had a Brooklyn first for myself, Eastern bluebirds, which very much favor those open grassy habitats. Although according to eBird, they shouldn't be hanging around much longer. I also had another first for myself, but its a second for New York State, Cassin's Kingbird. A native to the Southwestern US, this guy wandered way off course and has been hanging around at Floyd Bennett. I knew the bird was here, and had no intention of seeking it out- which tends to always work out for me.
     Brooklyn has proven to be a place where I have seen birds that I have never ever seen before elsewhere and also apparently a good place to see birds that I would normally have to go out of state for, or in the case of the wheatear, out of the country for. Enjoy!
I don't have gigantic, huge lens like some birders do, so this is a pretty well cropped photo with one of the few Eastern bluebirds I observed today.
Made eye contact with a chickadee, foraging on the phragmites. There are a series of nature trails to walk on the Northern parts of the field, that's where I found this little guy. 
The trails are heavily invaded by phragmites reeds...
Some of the trails lead out to a basin where you can see the drawbridge that is on the Belt Parkway. Much of the beach was worked by gaggles of brant.
A ring-billed gull takes off in the surf, produced by a passing boat.
I walked the runways to get back to my car, past the (vary loud) model airplane area, and a Mockingbird greeted me on my walk.
The shrubs along the runway were full of berries attracting cedar waxwings (seen here, note the waxy red on the wing- hence the name) and American Robins, which will stay for the winter and still be here in the spring.
Sometimes nature is so majestic, like this gluttonous waxwing shoving a berry down its throat.

As I headed back to my car, I ran into a birder who told me I should check out the community garden to see the Kingbird--- just as my phone died and I no longer had a map. So let the adventure begin...
The fields, and much of the areas along the waterways out towards Queens are managed by the National Park Service, as a part of the Jamaica Bay ecosystem. It is unfortunate to have (frequent) sightings like this. Feral cats are a huge issue for birds and other wildlife, I love cats, have one myself, but allowing cats to reproduce and freely roam, has had some major impacts on wildlife!
And cue, Cassin's Kingbird!
I have seen kingbirds, in the Western states, and kiskadees, a relative that frequents Central America, but it's a nice treat to see a Western species of kingbird here in the East!
I think this one gets the "photo of the day." Late afternoon sun on those wings spread wide!
This bird was moving a lot, and it did look to be nabbing insects, that actually were buzzing a bit today! One thing that did upset me is that many folks were watching, with large cameras - that make mine look like amateur hour. I know those lenses get a much closer look than mine (I crop/edit my photos, FYI ) and they got fairly close, and would pursue. I moved too, but minding your distance is important to allowing these birds to act naturally without stressing out, eventually he did leave the area, and I took that as a cue to leave him be, but folks with their equipment followed in search.
One last look through the trees at this handsome little bird!