Saturday, October 31, 2015

End of October

     The days are getting shorter and colder, birds at the same time are coming in and going out. Shorts have been officially put away and before I know it, outings will be done in snow pants and thermals. That thought makes me shudder, I hate the cold.
     Also this week, the Mets have begun their games in the World Series for the first time in 15 years. I recall in 2000, 15 year old me was pretty stoked, the same exact way I feel now- and of course, always at the same time nervous, like any good, long-time fan would feel. The last time before 2000 the Mets were in the World Series, I was just over a year old, and I don't remember, well anything. Keith Hernandez is usually part of the Mets broadcast team and I'd like to think, now that he is off till next year, before settling in to watch the series, he too is out looking at birds, as he often talks about hawks or birds that he has seen at his feeder during games-- because that is how Keith rolls.
     Anyway, on Monday I had some time to go out after work to Dead Horse Point and the Salt Marsh in Marine Park to enjoy the feathers and foliage. The world was bright with so much color! Enjoy the sights:
A couple of lingering lepidoptera in the area - saw a few clouded sulphurs feeding on any flowers around the entry to Floyd Bennett Field (across the street from the trails to Dead Horse Bay).
Poison ivy might suck, but it sure is beautiful in the fall!
Look but don't touch! those 3 leaflets are not fun for those who have sensitivity to poison ivy- also all parts of the plant are no good for touching, leaves, fruits, and vines.
Not poison Ivy, Virginia Creeper is gorgeous in its autumn red!
Some very vivid sumac against a perfect blue sky. 
"I don't think she can see me..."
Some cute little swamp sparrows feeding in the salt marsh, gave me a quick moment to capture them in a photo. What handsome little things they are!
A greater yellowlegs in the late afternoon sun, among the Brant geese that are moving in for the winter in large numbers. I look forward to some new creatures coming in for the winter, but man, am I going to miss summer and all that comes with it, especially shorts and warm... and baseball.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Throwback! Grand Canyon, Part 2!

     Hey, remember that time we went to the Grand Canyon?! Oh yeah, there are still more pictures that I haven't gotten to!
     We visited the Grand Canyon before driving off toward Vegas. We went back in the hopes of maybe, just maybe catching a glimpse of a California Condor, as they have a small monitored population in the Canyon. We were not lucky enough to see any Condors, but we still had some amazing views from the Bright Angel Area,
     Tim was super awesome, and we came here because he wanted us to be able to see a condor. And I could tell he felt bad that we didn't have more time to look and find a condor. Most women find flowers, cooked dinners, and gifts sweet, but I found it super sweet that he wanted to find a condor for us to see, that is better than any stupid gift ever. Tim, he is pretty kick ass and I was pretty stoked that I got to have a kick ass vacation with a kick ass dude to take in some seriously kick ass views.
Enjoy the kick ass sights:
The rock squirrels in this area were far more fearless, walking up to people. Handouts of food are clearly abundant in the area. Unfortunately when you have none, being pursued by a hungry, human food craving rodent, it puts a little bit of speed into your stride.
Another super creatively named rodent: the cliff chipmunk. Known for living among, you guessed it! Cliffs! They were pretty cute, and also, I imagine, little rodent beggars.
A western scrub jay foraging on pine nuts. The blue on this bird was very brilliant, and they were super skilled in at getting at all those pine nuts.
Condors, where are you?!!
Instead of Condors, I got this life bird, the rock wren! Another cliff, rock, canyon-named animal!
Much bigger than any of the wrens I have seen on the East coast, also, far less shy- but also unlike wrens from our forests, there is little brush to hide within on the rock walls. So this guy was very visible, not shy, and therefore the easiest wren to snap a photo of!
We'll end with a plateau (oh the rocky theme!) fence lizard. A nice chunky specimen at that! This vacation was very memorable, a wonderful experience, and glad I got to enjoy it all with my husband. I give this vacation 5-stars!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

You Just Can't Keep a Girl Down!

     I don't like being defeated, and since Thursday, my body has had to surrender to my achilles tendon in my left leg. I stretch before and after my runs, I ran 5 miles on Wednesday, no problem. Thursday rolled around and every step ached and stairs were almost painful, I figured it would pass. I made sure not to run and bike, give my aching ankle a rest, especially since I had a 5 mile race coming up on Sunday. The run will definitely not happen, I am admitting defeat and making sure I don't further hurt myself.
     But, you can't keep a Jen down. I refuse to be upset about something and dwell on things, instead I come up with solutions, look ahead at what can come out of things, and keep positive. So when I refuse to be kept within the confines of my house, I say poo-poo to that! Green-Wood Cemetery is explorable by car, and so with my trusty, rusty, and scratched up car, we birded and spent minimal time on my bummed ankle.
     During my adventure today I met Steve, who runs and runs free Brooklyn Parrot tours, focused on our world famous Quaker Parrot colonies. He and another were in the middle of doing some filming of the parrots, and I too, wished there were more parrots around. We both agreed that predatory birds were pretty prominent today. I enjoyed meeting him and would consider going on a tour to focus on some parrot shots, because if you know me well, you know I adore parrots.
     Despite the grey and cold, I was still satisfied with the things I ran into and things that I felt practically fell out of the sky onto me. Enjoy:
A very unfazed Great Blue Heron. This immature bird may be the same one I ran into the last time I was here, just going about its business without a second (or first) glance in my direction.
Heron reflections.
So many hermit thrush, everywhere. If you see movement, it always seemed to be a hermit thrush as they move through in hordes on their migration South.
On the Crescent Water, I saw this really pretty tree, and I saw phoebe hawking off the branches of it, chasing after insects. So I decided to wait and see if anything would land on this tree for a nice fall photo op. Then, with zero sound, a Cooper's Hawk swooped in and landed, as if it was trying to nab a bird, sitting within the branches. It's adaptive means of flying between branches really shined as this bird landed and didn't seem to disturb a single leaf! We caught sight of each other, some blue jays began to call and before I knew it, he was off into some other trees across the way. A very cool moment that I throughly enjoyed being present for.
Eastern phoebe catching the last of the insects.
There were lots of Canada Geese on all the water features (with exception of the Dell Water). This one goose was not like the others...
Even the way it stands and walks, its posture alone suggests something has gone awry.
Often Canada Geese hybridize with domestic geese varieties, and that is the case for this bird. It seems more plump than the average Canada Goose, its breast is more broad, it stands more upright and it seems heavier in the rear, instead of the more sleek look the Canada Goose possesses. Often we don't think of Canada Geese as sleek, but when you look at one in comparison to the cumbersome-looking domestic breeds, sleek is a fitting descriptive term for them.
The flock didn't seem to care that this guy was among them. This one bird came up and followed my hybrid friend up to shore. I also love the orange-yellow legs of the hybrid, normally their legs and feet are black. A fun bird to see, something a little out of the ordinary.
Kinglets crack me up. They are just little feather-balls of floor, but man, this Golden Crowned really gives off some serious attitude. And honestly, for the little things that they are, they flit around like they own the place. They are such fun and flashy little birds to watch and observe.
Some individuals had some very impressive gold crowns, this one had a bit of orange hidden in the middle/under the gold.
This fella had some orange on the sides and behind the gold crest. Super flashy, I bet he is popular with the ladies.
Surprise! Another hermit thrush! They are always pretty to look at, despite being overly plentiful.
Stopped to see some quaker parrots before leaving, went to the field adjacent to the main gate as they sometimes are grazing among the bushes there. Instead I saw (surprise!) a hermit thrush, and then something swooped after it. I thought it was another Cooper's Hawk, but with pointed wings and a call that was not hawk OR kestrel (often seen on this field) it was a merlin!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Brooklyn Birds 10.16.15-10.17.15

     Yesterday I visited Calvert Vaux park yesterday with my birding bud, Daniel. We got around to seeing a few birds, plus a nice white crowned sparrow. We also found an (unfortunate) surprise that made me both sad and already yearning for summer.
     Today I woke up with a massive cold and dragged myself out to Prospect Park. I had some wonderful close birds, but froze the whole time. Temperatures hanging in the 50's is really not my thing.
Enjoy the sights...

From Vaux:
Mourning Dove
Mystery bird, I am calling this an orange crowned warbler, white eyebrow and stripe through the eye.
Better view of the eye markings that make me say orange crowned. It was one of the guesses we tossed around yesterday, but I'd say for sure now, OC.
White crowned sparrow on the ball fields among white throated and field sparrows.
At one point I looked down and was excited, yet saddened by what I found. A ringneck snake, possibly run over - it was very dead and appeared flattened, and had lesions where guts came out from.
These small snakes are beauties in disguise, feeding mainly on worms, slugs, and the stray amphibian. This snake is full grown and it saddened me to find it in such condition.
At the same time, it gives me a little bit of happiness knowing there are herps living here in Brooklyn and makes me yearn for summer, I'd love to find one alive and well. Rest easy, little dude.

From Prospect:
First close bird, a hose wren, basking in the sun.
Part of me was worried, because it let me get rather close and house wrens are not usually like that. He was fine and did eventually hide itself away.
White crowned sparrow atop the Lakeside Green Roof.
The rare and elusive song sparrow. 
Happily ran into 2 rusty blackbirds foraging near the Quaker Cemetery.
Had 2 black-throated green warblers foraging rather close, sometimes only just a few feet away from my feet. They hung out low and on the ground, going after any insects that were around.
The lack of shyness in these birds gave a fun chance to get some nice shots.

Little warbler baroo head tilt. How cute!
Much more flirty, but just as close, I also had two black-thraoted blue males doing the same as the black-throated greens.
Into the ravine, I looked up and this dude was like 10 feet away from my face. A not shy red tail hawk.
Clearly just ate, evidence of dins on that hooked beak.
The killing tools, also showing evidence of its last catch.

Before leaving, 2 American Wigeons swimming with some mallards on the boathouse pond were also a nice little bonus before saying goodbye and trading in my binoculars for the couch and a nap... and lots of tissues.