Sunday, October 15, 2023

Birding between the rain

     Every weekend has some rain in it. Either a total wash-out, or a full day lost to a decent showing of wet weather for a full day. This has been a trend in our area for the last SIX WEEKS, as you can imagine, it makes things challenging. I especially am a fair-weather birder. Birding in my time, quiet time, or time with friends who are not 3-years old, and I like doing it all when the weather is dry. It also makes parenting hard too, a weekend goal is to get the kid out of the house, a simple trip like the playground or library counts. But on rainy days it's harder to swing. Today I got to go birding AND go to the playground. A bonus was a stop into the newly re-opened Salt Marsh Nature Center, where there is a kids room, that the kiddo absolutely loved -- so much, we got kicked out at closing time.

    Thankfully this weekend, we got one fair-weather day of the two. And, in my new fashion, of being behind on pictures-- some pictures from two previous outings in addition to todays!

Last week, at Green-wood Cemetery, arrived to this very, not-caring, Great Blue Heron.
I love these dagger-faced waders.

A Green-wood specialty, Northern Mockingbird. This one was singing a quiet little song to itself.

A Nashville Warbler in the shadows, finding some snacks between the leaves.

Got a chance to see the Western Kingbird, they were alright.

Also got a chance to see the great cormorant, the white patch under its chin was fairly prominent, this bird looks like a youngster.

Friday, before work, I did a little birding at Marine Park.
The place was FILLED with yellow-rumped warblers.

All the rumps are switching from insects to winter berries for the bulk of their diet.

Chain-link Song Sparrow.

Does this Northern Mockingbird have some evidence of snacking on berries, maybe getting into the ripening pokeweed berries, as evidenced by the purple flecks on its head.

A young Double Crested Cormorant in the morning sun.

When everyone is making alarm calls, but nowhere to be seen, you take a look around and find what's causing the ruckus.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk (and also, two American Kestrels) was patrolling an open area.

This hawk was identified originally for me as a Sharp-shinned Hawk because the blue jay dive bombing it originally was nearly the same size as the hawk. Sharpies are quite small.

Another Sharpie look is their look. They have great big eyes in comparison to the rest of its face.
I also got to see the bird fly, with bent wrists and their head lined up to those wrists.

About those eyes... Forward facing, the better to gauge its approach for the kill.

I was honestly pretty jazzed that this bird, well knowing of my presence decided to take a stab at hunting and then perch even closer to where I was observing from. And then it stayed there.

I love looking at birds... and I LOVE when birds look back at me.

I bid the bird the best- as it continued to hunt, and fail. Hope it got something to eat, enough yellow-rumps and sparrows to go around!

Nearby, a Great Egret roosted in a tree at eye level, with little care about the tiny hawk.

I love a back-lit egret. Angelic, fluffy cloud shit, right there.

A female Downy Woodpecker, meanwhile, kept a touch lower of a profile as she searched for insects.

Today I headed to Floyd Bennett Field, I wanted to stay close to home and had my mind on sparrows. This is not a sparrow, but a common yellowthroat, a warbler who I never mind running into.
I headed to the beach grass nursery - and while I was there, people were finding more exotic sparrows up near Green-wood. Honestly, while I wish I saw those Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows, I was very, very content and thankful to bird in some peace and quiet surrounded by hordes of the usuals, who I love very much.

Swamped with swamp sparrows! These little maple brown nuggets were everywhere. They are very skulky, so when one stops for 3 seconds, you grab a pic. 
The beachgrass nursery is bordered by a fence, which honestly was my tactic, to catch birds perching on that as they moved back and forth. So here are a lot of birds on fences...

A gorgeous Savannah Sparrow. A lot of these also, they vary in their amount of yellow on them, each one its own degree of beautiful.

Common yellowthroat matching the goldenrods and yellowing grasses.

Arguably the cutest sparrow, field sparrows were numerous. Rather than seeing 1 or 3, I saw closer to 9. At one point, three sat together on the fence.

The combo of the pink beak, cinnamon cheeks, and the white eye-ring, just adds up to adorable.

In the sparrow mix also were Ruby-crowned Kinglets (pictured/ and Golden-crowned Kinglets.

Another lovely Savannah Sparrow in a juniper.

A swamp sparrow in a sumac.

Serious autumnal vibes.

A Song Sparrow to send us off.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

September wrap

     By mid-September I was mentally toasted. Navigating the DOE, arranging for where the kiddo goes and when, putting everything together, while working and getting education programs off the ground, it took a toll on me. The rain also didn't help. Birding is my re-set and not getting out a bunch, it kinda sucked.

    For the few times I did get out, it was great. Last weekend and the Monday that followed, especially so. Also, it seems that everything for school arrangements have fallen into place, thankful for the people who are able to help me make it happen.

    So, here are some birds.

A few weeks back I went to Green-Wood with a friend, I liked seeing this little song sparrow peer out between the weeds.

A lovely red-eyed vireo. Migration has been and continues on with many birds passing through and making the most of the green spaces around the city.

One shrub in particular had many birds coming and going including this scarlet tanager.

And this fall blackpoll warbler.

Love the prairie warbler among the crabapples.

My friend and I also then stumbled upon this American Kestrel who sat, peered around and dove after some things - likely insects.

A male kestrel by the looks of that colorful plumage!

Then it landed perfectly atop a monuments hand... showing us its false eye spots on the back of its head.

My kiddo kiiiiinda gets a little jealous sometimes when I leave the house....
"Mama you go look at birds??"
And sometimes she gets sad that I'm not taking her.
So, I promised her a nature walk, so off we went to Green-Wood!
And then she got to see a little blue heron!

Green-Wood is my favorite place to take her for a nature walk because there are no playgrounds, its relatively safe (the roads are still worthy of keeping eyes on because there are cars), and she actually explores, uses her imagination, and looks at birds.
She stared at this heron for like a solid 7 minutes, for a 3 year old, that's amazing.

The kiddo also somehow let me grab some pictures of this confusing warbler that gave me some pause, it's a Wilson's warbler.

I usually owe her a solid nature walk once every two months, so until the next time!

This past Sunday I got a mama time walk, it was needed and it refreshed my state - birds are healing!
The palm warblers are like yellow confetti, they are all over the ground, little sprinkles of color.

I enjoy a newer section of Green-Wood Cemetery - I call it the four seasons, because it has a winter walk, spring, summer, and autumn named paths. And I always find a little something nice in there. On this day it was a Blue Grosbeak.
Here it is checking out a Cooper's Hawk who had just flushed a whole butt load of flickers.

These little native plantings attract nice little things, like a blue grosbeak.

Also visiting the four seasons, a red-eyed vireo, who gave a few poses.

This one screams school picture day.

This one screams, field guide plate, showing red eyes.

This one is super stealthy.

A beted kingfisher that let me take their picture! And then caught a fish!

This young Northern Parula practically fell in front of me, so close, I wasn't sure if my camera would focus!
Fall migration is kinda fun because of the very young naïve birds who just pop out and stare at you for far longer than they ever should.

And then, I needed to get home but was very distracted....

This male American kestrel was hunting the sparrows and palm warblers, with no luck, but just sat and staked out the birds in the area.

He's a little rough, but I still think he's cute!

The most perfect bird.

I took Monday off, it was my 10-year lifeaversary. 10 years since my bike crash that landed me in the hospital with memory loss, broken bones, and hearing difficulty.
My ear still rings to this day.
A huge part of my healing involved birds.

So thinking I may not have time for birds, I squeezed in an hour in Prospect Park and this young Cooper's Hawk really stepped it up.

This hawk swooped into the ravine, below me and just sat at the waters edge. So despite it being so dark from the leaves of the canopy, the bird sat out in the open and I tried being so still to get some semi okay pictures.

I went to the vale and saw more birds, but they were fast and hidey... but this leucistic squirrel who has a bit of a following just walked right next to me.
I saw a leucistic squirrel in Prospect a number of years ago in a completely different area of the park, fun to see the genes are out there.

Also not a bird, but chipping in a spotlight, I couldn't resist a chipmunk shot!
Here's to a better October with more clarity, routine, and hopefully, birds!