Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oh Behave!

     Animal behavior is really interesting, mostly because it's interesting to watch, but more so, decoding what the animal is thinking and what their goal and motivation is with that behavior is really rewarding. Sometimes you think you're familiar with an animals' repertoire and what they do, but sometimes they surprise you with something you have never seen or read about before, which makes it even more fun.
     Animals in the city are not nearly as shy as the same ones I encounter in the suburbs or in rural areas. So sometimes it is surprising how close they will carry on their normal behavior, even the smallest little creatures, without, what appears as, much worry.
     I took a walk in Green-Wood Cemetery today and had some great bird behavior to observe. My walking motivation was my great grandparents who are buried there. My mother and I visited my grandmother last week, and we spoke about the location of my great grandparents on my father's side, and how my Gma would go there and make my uncle prune the bush planted in front of the headstone. I figured I'd find their burial site and bird along the way and back and also send some photos so Gma can see them, since she probably will not be trekking around Green-Wood anytime soon.
     It was a gorgeous crisp day, with lots to take in, enjoy!
The welcoming committee, the quakers.
I tried a filter thingy. I don't know if I like it.
White throated sparrow.
A golden crowned kinglet. This bird is literally the size of a McDonald's nugget, but had the bravery of something much larger. Approached very close!
I do love his side-swept crown. If I could pick him up, I'd gently smooth it back for him and then let him go on his way.
I'm always amazed by bird legs. Hollow bones make up those spindly things that hold up this little creature that probably weights a couple of grams - like 4, maybe.
Full Autumn Glory.
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk
     I found a great blue heron on the Valley Water. This heron in particular seemed to have an identity crisis as it would get into the water, appearing more cormorant-like than heron. It would then grab a fish and then go back to it's raft. I watched him do this a few times. I'm not sure if he is walking along the bottom of the pond, not sure of it's depth, but there is probably enough roots and shoots to walk over from the lilies. He was successful in catching food twice while I watched.

Song sparrow with an angelic glow.
Same heron took a tree up to roost and rest in.
Pretty sure this is a swamp sparrow. If the lines were more crisp and clean, then I'd say Lincoln's, but I'm sticking with swamp.
And the quakers are there to wish you safe travels before you leave.

Great Grandpa Orlando and Great Grandma Frances, who passed right before I was born. Next time I'll bring scissors to prune that juniper bush.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sparrow, Junco, Nuthatch... SQUIRREL!

     Yesterday a rare bird (lapland longspur) was reported in Prospect Park so I figured I'm not doing much, why not! Of course I did not see that longspur, but I saw many other lovelies, including a squirrel that was out of the ordinary.
A mallard drake cuts across water reflecting the changing leaves above. 
The tiny, ruby crowned kinglet.
See where I am? I can't tell you how many dogs are just running by...
The longspur was last seen around on of the ballfields. Birding is tough around the ballfields, understandably people in the area are exercising, or playing- I get that. But the number of off leash dogs was mind blowing. Not only are unleashed dogs dangerous for wildlife, it is also dangerous for the dog. Dogs were also all over the fields.
After some disappointment over the ball field, I found this little guy- a leucistic (not-so) grey squirrel!
Why is this not albino? Well, the eyes are a giveaway, albino animals lack all dark pigment, meaning the eyes appear red. Leucistic animals are white, with dark/blue eyes. Speaking of eyes, you better keep a lookout, squirrel...
This coloration, while gorgeous is a disadvantage, this squirrel is an easy target as it lacks camouflage.

Dark eyed juncos are everywhere, and will stay through the winter.
Lots of hermit thrush around the park. 
A hen (left) and drake (right) wood ducks.
This duck is the perfect duck for autumn.

Rockland County Finds 10-27-14

     Today I drove my husband up to work and had a doctor's appointment myself, up in Westchester. Good news, hearing in my left ear is continuing to improve (I had some significant hearing loss due to my bicycle accident last year, and knocked an ear bone out of place!) and should still improve a bit more. So in driving up, i decided to make a day of it, cross over to Rockland, hawk watch at the Hook and if there was time (there was 30 minutes), a walk over at Rockland Lake, before picking Tim up and heading back to Brooklyn.
     The raptors were far today, but in binoculars we had lots of red tails, a few sharp shinned hawks, a handful of Cooper's hawks, 2 Northern harriers, a few bald eagles, both mature and juvenile. a peregrine falcon, a handsome kestrel, and 2 golden eagles. I did not get photos of the far off...
     My 30 minutes at dockland lake rewarded me with a photogenic killdeer, lots of creepers (the only kind I want near me when I'm in the park on my own), Northern shovelers, and beautiful foliage.
The scenery going up Hook Mountain.
A red tail hawk eyeing the decoy owl that is propped up on the top of Hook Mtn. 
A Turkey Vulture with the Tappan Zee behind it's left wing and Piermont Pier above them both.
A worn out looking American lady takes the sun next to a shard of green glass. These butterflies tend to be brighter in the spring, and individuals that were hatched and pupated up here and are present now as they migrate to the Southern states are paler than those you would spot in the spring/summer.
Rockland Lake
This killdeer flew in so noisily, made a few lower-in-volume calls, and waded around this little area of shore line. I knew it was a killdeer before I saw it because of it KILLDEER-KILLDEER-KILLDEER call (listen to them all here).

Part of the plover family, a type of shore bird, you are just as likely to find this species in the middle of grassy fields where they nest, raise their young, and feed.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Less Birds, More Work!

     I headed down to Calvert Vaux/Dreier-Offerman (whatever you prefer) Park today to bird along Coney Island Creek. I specifically picked here because I will soon be calling Coney Island, proper, my work home. I will be joining the Wildlife Conservation Society at the New York Aquarium as an outreach coordinator with the education department, bringing various lessons to folks around Brooklyn!
     In finally attaining employment once again, I will probably be hiking, birding, and investigating a bit less than I have been, but I promise to still get out and continue doing Jen things. After two days straight of not venturing out much today I had to get out and it was worth it. Got another lifer, three raptor species (raptors are my favorites), and TONS of brant geese.
A juvenile cooper's hawk flies over the fields chasing birds, including crows, which honestly are comparable in side to this bird.
This brant is giving me the stink eye.
A mallard is clear for landing. 
Great blue heron on the various "wrecks" in Coney Island Creek. 
Red-bellied woodpecker
A yellow-rumped warbler
Song Sparrow
Lots of brant, I love the guy up front stuffing his face... "Everyone, we want to channel our inner swan... BARRY, BARRY- seriously dude, what are you doing?! You're ruining it!"
Savannah sparrow
A new bird for my list- Field sparrow! A very warm, handsome sparrow! 
Another look at the (urban) field sparrow. 
A terrible photo, but as I am trying hard to learn some new sparrows, I like this one because in one picture you have the Savannah (closer, to the right) and the Song (back, left) sparrow, and can see how similar and different they look! 
A female American Kestrel, so tiny, but saw this little lady from quite a ays back as I was leaving, glad I had a chance to say hi!
Most birds of prey look alike, among the sexes, with females just being larger than the males. American Kestrel males are a bit more "colorful" than the females with a bluer head and wings, with a buffy rusty-colored breast.
Mocking birds were holding their own while the kestrel was around.
An Eastern Phoebe grabs a crunchy lunch.