Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

     I don't normally wake up at 6:30AM on the weekend, but when I do, it's because spring is calling. I headed out for a 7:15AM walk today with the Brooklyn Bird Club to see what has arrived so far in Prospect Park. The Brooklyn Bird Club is a great group, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to bird, already birds, or anyone who wants to get outdoors and explore more. The people who gather in these outings are friendly and willing to share their knowledge, it also is just a nice way to meet people who enjoy a similar hobby. I always find the crowd very interesting a good mix of people of varying ages and abilities- I highly recommend checking them out and joining if you're in the area!
     I used my "BirdLog" app to keep track of my sightings throughout the walk, I logged 46 species- others were seen, but I did not see them myself - like the brown thrasher and eastern towhee.
     Anyway, the walk was great- the sun was out, the temperature was comfy, and with good company and lots of eyes, I was very satisfied with this early adventure! Enjoy the sights!

Upon entering the park to meet the group, I was greeted by grackles. They seem like a "blackbird" to the untrained and unknowing eye, but I do love the blue and purple sheen their feathers give in just the right light. This ordinary "blackbird" becomes something a bit more special and a bit more beautiful. With soft ground a lot of birds were foraging for insects and seed.
Love is in the air, a male and female wood duck take a morning swim together. Wood ducks nested and bred in the park last year and these, unlike most ducks, nest in tree hollows. Their babies have a daring start to life, as they need to leap down (comparable to base-jumping) from their tree to reach the ground, all so they can swim around with their mother.
The wood duck may be one of my favorites, he is just so snazzy in his plumage and it looks really great in the early morning light. I've found wood ducks to usually be very shy, but this guy in particular came right up to the shoreline we were standing on! Maybe they just wanted to show off, who knows!
I also never noticed on the males those little feathery whisps towards their tail- everything about this animal is just so perfect, he is supremely handsome! If you have never experienced a wood duck in person, please I urge you to see one in person, they are absolutely spectacular.
Lots of pine warblers today, these guys are some the first warblers to arrive to the NY area, as this is not their final destination. They still have a ways to travel, Northward. This is simply a pit stop to catch and eat some insects as they awaken from their winter slumber, before continuing their trip. 
A very Brooklyn Osprey.
This and another osprey were both hunting over the lake, sometimes even diving in, as they are fish eaters.
Swallows are coming back to the area, today we saw three species, one of which I had never seen before. We saw barn, tree, and Norther rough-winged (pictured). It's a terrible picture with the sun not in our favor here... but it isn't often you get to see a swallow perched and still, especially a life bird.
A final pine warbler, warm, in the late morning sun. I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the richness of life that spring brings with it!