Friday, July 3, 2015

Sunset Park Surprises

     Before work yesterday, 7/2/15, I decided to check out Bush Terminal Park in Sunset Park. I learned is the park has very set hours, which I suppose makes sense, since it is located off the beaten path, along the New York Harbor and behind many Brooklyn warehouses that begin from the BQE and extend to the Harbor. The park does not open until 8AM sharp. I arrived just after 7 to locked gates. I came hoping to see a surf scoter, and did some stationary watching from the gates of the park and figured I'd wait till 8AM to see if they would open. They did open the gates at 8 and I am glad I waited...
A mourning dove in the morning light posed on the park's entryway. From the gates of the park there were mourning doves, active mockingbirds, going through their repertoire of call from killdeer to car alarms, and osprey, cormorants, and heron flying by.
Entry to the park found me some handsome black-capped night herons. This one if perched above a netted shoreline that is being restored. It is nice to see parks appearing along what was once a very industrial coastline, as the shoreline is restored, plants and wildlife that were once here before Europeans arrived and colonized the area are coming back and comfortably calling these parks home.
Wildlife, just in the shadows of lower Manhattan! Thankfully this night heron does not have to pay outrageous rent for this killer view!
A common tern seems to be part of a dynamic heron-tern duo. Common terns have a nesting colony just across the water at Governor's Island.
I saw no surf scoter (a type of sea duck), but I saw what I originally thought was only 3, but this photo now reveals 4! Four European Goldfinch! They were feeding on thistle seeds, which clued me in to them being some sort of finch.
I used my Peterson Field Guide Application on my phone to ID these birds, I originally thought from afar and on behavior alone they were a goldfinch, of the American variety, perhaps a female or a juvenile male. But binocular revealed these were something else! They are native to Europe, not NY.
I did look them up and ask around, and not surprisingly these are kept as pets, and sometimes even hybridized to create "mule" varieties with canaries, so you'd get exquisite colors and exquisite song. The bird to the upper right reveals a pink leg band, which could be placed on by a breeder, I did not notice leg bands on any others. Especially if they were on the right leg. I love those red faces!
A closer view to really see these little beauties.
This reminds me of a magicians disappearing act, there are three birds one on top of the other, and as you look from the top bird down to the last, it's like they slowly disappear into the thistle they are feeding on.
A closer look at the one facing to the left, and a closer view of his leg band.
Whether these were escaped pets (probably the more likely situation) or a group who got off track and landed in NYC, it was a fun sight to have. It was unexpected and their colors really were like a sudden surprise which gave me a feeling of excitement in seeing something new and unusual.
Keep a look out for a group of 4 European goldfinch around Brooklyn, they seemed to be flying about together, and if there are seeding flowers around, maybe you'll catch a glimpse! This park is rather island-like and secluded, in that is surrounded by water and lots of non-natural buildings, with little to no trees on the street, so maybe they will just stick around in Bush Terminal.

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