Friday, May 30, 2014

Portraits of the Locals

     My husband has been working a lot lately and causes me to have a lot of solo time. On my own I cannot watch TV, movies, or do much that involves sitting. I only do those things when my husband is around, and heck even then, I have a rough time either sitting still or I just pass out cold.
     In my down time today, even though I spent my entire day on my feet in the classroom, I got back on my feet and my bike and took a walk through Prospect Park. The sun hung low in the sky and I'm sure my father would think I'm insane for walking alone in the park, in the evening, by myself. But the times have changed, families were still out, people filled the fields, trails, and the local wildlife was active too, getting in their last meal in last few hours of daylight.
     Unlike the migrants, the locals are fairly used to people to the point they will almost step on your toes. Most of my focus was on them, because I had my bike in tow, which is clunky, noisy, and lacks a kickstand. Unlike the flirty, nervous migrant birds, the local birds seem more used to noise, human activity, and bikes.

A herring gull flies overhead
A handsome robin
A mallard hen lays low with her mate near the edge of the lake.
This one robin got so close at one point, that the camera could not focus on him, because he was practically at my feet!
An old orb web.
I was hoping to see chicks, but I won't complain over the wood duck pair on the upper pond.
A little girl was allowed to chase bird by her parents (grumble), this red winged blackbird showed his displeasure much more than I did.

The multiple branching limbs on this tree growing in the ravine, kind of looked awesome in the evening sunlight.
A black crowned night heron and I make eye contact through the fallen branches.
My trusty bike, a serious emphasis on the trusty part. I love this bike more than most things I own. It could use a kickstand, but we do alright without.
The bull frogs were loud and calling, I met this fella on the peninsula.
Hiding in the abundant duckweed and algae.
When you get the chance, mourning doves are hidden beauties. I love the powder blue around their eyes, and their feathers have a slight irridesence if you catch them just right.
It's how I end my day too, gotta clean off the grit and grime from the day to wake up fresh tomorrow. This starling is doing it right.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day

     While most were barbecuing or at the beach, I spent the latter part of my day walking with my husband at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve. It makes me feel so lucky to have had so many people who have sacrificed their time, their family, and their lives to give us what we all have. The freedom to go for a walk and enjoy what this gorgeous country has to offer. I know I could never do the things that our veterans have done, I don't have that same courage and strength, so this post is dedicated to those who allow us to have the beauty that surrounds us all. Thanks to all those who are serving, have served, and sacrificed themselves for the good of us all.
     Today involved three lifers- AKA birds I have seen for the very first time ever that get a little "x" and listing of the state I saw them in in my trusty field guide that I have had since the 6th grade, bought for me by mother, so I could paint piping plovers in Art Club at Woodland Middle School. And of course I spelt it "Pipping Plovers," on my painting, a typical Plummer spelling-fail move.
A glossy ibis flies over the East Pond- they are here for the summer and a fairly common sight around Jamaica Bay.
At first it appears mulberry-brown, but get a glossy in the right lighting and its name shines through.
A mother Canada goose sits guard over her sleepy and preening goslings. 
I think these are semipalmated sandpipers - the dark legs set it apart from the least sandpiper- another lifer for me :)
The black bellied birds are dunlins- again, a lifer for me.
Alost all nest boxes were occupied by tree swallows- this couple was especially feisty, making for fun flight photos. I love the iridescent blue on their backs.

And another lifer- a brown thrasher - if it looks like a brown mockingbird, its because it is in the same family/ Like th mockingbird, it also has a repertoire of songs that includes the call of other bird species.
This yellow warbler allowed me to snap one photo. So here he is in all his beauty.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Marathon Checkpoint

     Today was the Brooklyn Half Marathon, my friend Shannon was running it AND completed it, I am so very proud of her. When people run these long distance races there are mile checkpoints, even places to take a quick rest and stretch, places to stop and grab water, and heck, even places to sometimes grab a quick bite of fruit. In a way, migration for birds and other animals works in just the same way. As half marathoners ran through Prospect Park, perhaps the warblers gave them some good stamina vibes, as they too are running their own marathon, and Prospect is their stop for food and water as they reach the final stretch of their own journey.
     Today's birds included: House sparrows, starlings, common grackle, song sparrow, robins, catbirds, mockingbirds, redwing black birds, barn swallows, tree swallows, chimney swifts, veery, merlin/kestrel (being chased by grackles), yellow-rumped warbler, blackpoll warbler, Cape May warbler, magnolia warbler, Northern parula, black-throated blue warbler, common yellowthroat, chestnut sided warbler, wilson's warbler, American redstart, northern oriole, cardinal, Eastern kingbird, summer tanager, cedar waxwing, wood duck, mallard, blue jay, mourning dove, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, and even some unidentifiables - maybe you can help. Phew!
Female Cape May warbler. (I think)
A chipmunk remained still enough for a photo op.
Once you see blackpoll warblers, that's the signal that warbler days around here are numbered. The tail-end of the warbler migration. This one was seen with many other feasting on flying insects on the lullwater.
A chestnut-sided warbler hones in on an insect.
Oh, well hello there, Mr. Wilson. Wilson's warblers were fairly abundant today.
One of my unidentifiables.... Thinking warbling vireo.
This nest already had some chicks in it, super cute.
Bird buffet. Termites have what is called a nuptial flight- where the male and female reproductive termites have become adults. They are winged and fly/drift away from their colony to mate, shed their wings and begin their own colony. Colonies do this essentially all at once, possibly to increase the chances of termites from neighboring colonies to meet and mate to begin anew. It also attracts birds in HUGE numbers, low to the ground for excellent viewing and great behaviors! 
Look who came for lunch....
A male scarlet tanager dined on some of the termites and gave me a great show. How brilliant is that color?! It is really something to see in person, it makes a cardinal look like a joke.

"Make sure you get my good side..."
Most of the termite action I observed took place on Lookout Hill. And if you look out through the trees, you remember that all this is happening in the middle of Brooklyn. I am also waving hi to my friend, Shannon at the finish line in Coney Island for the Brooklyn Half.
Another surprise guest at the termite feast- cedar waxwings! One of my personal faves- this bird is so unreal in their appearance, so beautiful.
A female redstart darts around after termites 
This waxwing gives you a good glimpse of how it got its name- those red waxy looking feathers.
A robin has no shame in cutting the line and going straight to the source of termites...
An eastern kingbird does some fancy air maneuvers to catch flying termites.
Catbird feasting.

A male redstart- always gorgeous.
The half marathon made it a challenge for people to get into the heart of the park, it was kind of nice...
Male wood ducks, no sign of the chicks that I heard were here.
All I wanted to see today was orioles, I had two viewing of them and that made me very happy :)
Catbird with nesting material.
kingbird over the lullwater
No complaints about today- a great day for birds AND running! Congrats to all those who ran and conquered the Brooklyn Half!