Sunday, November 30, 2014

Prospect Park 11-30-14

     Today, with mild temperatures, reaching into the mid 50's, I had to get out for a walk. In the low morning sun, everything was bright and warm. The lake in Prospect is starting to fill up with waterfowl and gulls, it's a very active place. Most of the trees have dropped their leaves and a feel of winter is in the air, well, maybe not so much with the current temperature. I already miss summer, very much, but I look forward to the species winter brings to us from much colder places further north.
     One thing I do look forward to in the winter in Prospect Park is the feeder station on Well House Drive, maintained by the Brooklyn Bird Club. It become a gathering place for many bird species looking to nourish themselves with food that is getting harder to find as we move into December. Feeders when properly maintained and filled can be vital to helping species survive the winter, especially as habitat may be limited.
      Enjoy today's sights from Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY:
A mallard basks in the sun on the lake shore.
Northern shovelers are abundant on the lake from now till spring. They feed by swirling in a group on the water, stirring up invertebrates, plants, and anything else edible. I love their gold eyes keeping a lookout while they submerge their bills. 
Females are easy to tell apart from the males, males have the green heads, females take on a more camouflaged look --BUT in this picture, these are all males! The brown birds are immature males. Male shovelers have golden eyes, females have darker, brown eyes.
American coots are pretty abundant as well.
This juvenile mute swan approached very closely, clearly fed often by people. Normally these birds can be pretty aggressive and normally don't approach people, unless chasing them off their territory or away from their cygnets...
Male and female shovelers- note the difference in eye color.
A female purple finch, the male is where this species gets the "purple" from.... see below.
A female purple finch joins an american goldfinch (right) to feed on thistle seeds at the feeder station. 
The male purple finch. There's the purple that gets them their name.
Foraging white-breasted nuthatch. 
Many species may not go directly to the feeder itself, but species like this white throated sparrow,  mourning doves, nuthatches, and some red winged blackbirds find their niche below, picking up fallen seed from the feeders.
I love the red eyes of the American coot!
Swans feed on aquatic pants, they use their long necks to reach down deep under water to get to those plants.
This swan acquired an oak leaf brooch on its last dip under the surface.
Ducks are not as nice as they appear, this scuffle went on for a while, the mallards made a high pitched whistle that sounded almost like a hawk. At first I thought a hawk in the area caught a duck, but it was 3 or 4 male mallards ganging up on one male, on the right. 
A ruddy duck, a diving duck, paddles from the lake onto the lullwater.