Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back to Brooklyn Birding

     After getting my camera repaired by the wonderful people over at phototech, in Manhattan- I was ready to get out and explore closer to home. This post combines last weekend and this weekend because I got a little behind on posting.
     Last Sunday I birded around Prospect with some birding friends, finding the continuing black headed gull. I was able to ID it in flight, which felt pretty good to do- as gulls look so similar in chaotic flight. We also saw the pretty little European Goldfinches, birds over at the feeders, along the lullwater, and on the lake:
A curious Canada Goose on the west side of the lake.
American Goldfinch, winter seems to be the only time I can get a half decent picture as they LOVE the feeder station and come in close and in large groups.
Nomming American goldfinch.
A handsome common grackle. Among other feeder visitors were W.B. nuthatch, chickadee, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, mourning dove, white throated sparrow, and lots of SINGING red-wing blackbird. The singing of the Red-wing blackbird is my favorite sign of spring! 
I also really enjoyed observing the behavior of this female wigeon, she was very possessive of the male mallard she was following behind.
He is not the same species as her, but she totally has an eye for him.
Here she is chasing away another male mallard who got too close. I would expect this out of a male, guarding females nearby to him, but not a female.
Giving an aggressive chase to the other mallard drake.
Head bobbing by the wigeon, before she reunited with her male mallard companion.
And then, synchronized preening!
      Yesterday I went to Green-Wood Cemetery before a lovely brunch with friends. I was hoping to find an American Woodcock as it is just getting to be the right time of year.
I saw a nice cryptic spot, low hanging trees and something felt right about it. I investigated and came up empty handed but did find some promising evidence that they are around...
Woodcock tracks in the snow, plus possible probe holes (it is hard to tell since the snow was melting). I couldn't follow them because they just ended, with the bird possibly just flying off and I didn't locate any in any of the underbrush.
I enjoyed watching the mocking birds though, they were fighting over space, foraging and flashing the white patches on their wings. They were very active, showing a variety of behaviors-- and of course posing for portraits.

I like how this (same mocking bird from above) landed and how its shape fits among the upward curved branches of the tulip tree perfectly. 
Then a large juvenile red tail hawk flew from behind the hill followed by blue jays. The bird seemed to have dropped something from its talons and kept its head low as the jays dive-bombed at his head over and over again. Calling out a predators is a great way to protect yourself, when the element of surprise is ruined, you are safe- the Jays alert birds all around with the noises they make letting everyone know that the gig is up. The hawk has to protect its face and eyes, as dive bombing beaks are not something you want to be hit with.
The array of behaviors by otherwise common birds made up for not seeing any woodcock, and of course spring is on its way-- so there is much to look forward to!