Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Quick Break from the Kitchen...

     I volunteered to make a lot of food. I'm Italian, I can't help it, I take after my mother. I also have the day off so, I figured I could totally sneak in some time to see some birds. So after baking an apple pie and sweet potato casserole, and prepping antipasto, I figured I could bird before the roasted squash, my "turkey" cutlets (I don't eat turkey on Thanksgiving, so I make fake ones), and a pumpkin pie.
     I figured to keep it close to home, so I took the car (so that means I did not stick to that close to home thing at all) and went to Bush Terminal Park, as I haven't birded there much and it gets decent waterfowl in the winter and I also went to Bay Ridge, in the hopes of seeing some purple sandpipers, along the Belt Parkway.
     A good showing for some quick outdoor time, zero complaints about these sights...
All was quiet when I walked in to the park, a few Buffleheads and American Wigeon on the water, so I walked to path over past the fields and heard kestrel calls... Angry kestrel calls. The calls were due to the presence of this guy...
A Cooper's Hawk dodges the swoops of this female Kestrel. She was NOT happy that he was in her stomping grounds. And don't let her size fool you, swooping at high speeds with sharp talons and beak, can do a fellow bird in, causing injury.
I don't often get to see Cooper's out in the open, they are usually in trees up high, so this was a treat. Having the Kestrel and Coop in the area explains why I really saw nothing else in the small perching bird department.

I love getting the chance to watch the behaviors the birds exhibit, it's a special treat to see them do their natural thing. And I love watching a little badass like a kestrel hold its ground against a bird that seemed to be 3x's its size. It was also a privilege to observe a Cooper's hawk out in the open.
The Coop eventually flew off, and the female Kestrel settled on the fence of the ball fields, adjacent to where the Coop perched. She gave me some great views. She seems to be proud of her work. Good news for her is that the temps were warm today, I even heard crickets out, so there is some extra little things out for her to eat.
I love how tough she is, yet so delicate, as her feather wisp in the winds off of the harbor. I admire them so much, and they happen to be gorgeous raptors at that.
You can see, in comparison to a chain link, she is not a big bird, a pigeon has more heft to it than a kestrel. They are really amazing little falcons.
eBird flagged me for my report of lesser scaup, but um, here they are, among many bufflehead (middle bird). The best way to tell the difference between lesser and greater scaup are the shape of the head. These birds have a flatter head (the back of their head), while a greater scaup has a "fatter" rounder head shape. The one with the white spot next to its bill is a female scaup.
On my way out, I found the male kestrel. The kestrels are almost always present in this park, lots of open fields with larger grasses to harbor their foods they enjoy, from insects to rodents, to small sparrows.
I admire the male kestrels because they are a sexy raptor, he looks amazing! American Kestrels are easy to tell the sexes apart as they are dimorphic (appear different in color AND size).
In Bay Ridge, I managed to get my purple sandpipers, just two, who seemed to be basking in the sun, very inactive, resting.
Oh, hey! These birds spent a lot of time looking up, probably with an eye out for the resident Peregrine falcons who would surely try to make a snack out of these guys if they could get one.
Also a tough little nugget. These purple sandpipers migrate here, this is their South, as they nest in the far north, the Arctic. So, this is nothing for them, they have the Northernmost winter range of sandpipers, with a winter range of the NE US, into Southern Canada.
This might be my favorite picture I got today, how cool is this little bird that spends its winter on the rocks along NY Harbor, adjacent to the Belt Parkway?