Friday, May 26, 2017

Earned Time

     At work it has been so crazy busy (which is really, a good thing) and when it gets that way, I end up working beyond my regular hours (and days of the week). I earned today, a day of freedom for myself to do whatever I wanted. I chose to bird.
     The weather was far more fairer than I had expected-- the sun shined instead of rain. I was planning today to go to Doodletown, but held off because of the rainy forecast. After waking up and seeing the sun, I thought to myself, wtf (f is totally for flock, let's keep this pg-13, at least). Although I was grateful for sleeping in (8am is sleeping in), now I needed alternate plans. It was way too beautiful out for errands and chores!
      While the world was alternate side parking, I took the car to Green-Wood Cemetery:
I began at the Dell Water, where I met two Empid flycatchers. And like 99.9% of Empid Flycatchers, I am having a crazy hard time Identifying and sought advice from others for help. They were not vocalizing or singing, so that made it harder.
So far it seems like this is likely an Eastern Wood-Pewee. 

This bird, looks to possibly be a least flycatcher.

These birds are notoriously hard to identify and some even have a sense of humor about it all... 

A female American redstart foraging in the same tree as the "maybe least flycatcher."

A black-crowned night heron on the lookout for naughty grackles who chased him to this perch.

I love their red eyes and how compact they can make themselves appear.

My favorite part of my visit to Green-Wood was meeting this Eastern Kingbird. The more I spend time observing them, the more I like them. So bold in marking and behavior, and beautiful too. In flight, their maneuvers in the air are those of skill and accuracy.

A red-wing blackbird was creeping near this guy, but that head tilt is crazy adorable.

This guy did everything, it sand, it called, it hawked down to the water, it perched, flared its tail and raised its dark crest. I appreciate chances to observe behavior, hunting down a hard to see rare bird is cool, put that sucker on your list... I would almost prefer to watch interesting behaviors and have an inside look into the life of a bird.

Despite that cute look, this bird is insect catching royalty.

I was very happy to spend some time observing this bird. It was very special to share a small moment together.
After Green-Wood, I headed back home, where my phone suddenly blacked out and went unresponsive. A quick trip to my phone repair guy  (yeah, I have one), and I was able to relax a bit and head out for low tide at Plumb Beach...
Semipalmated plover is not impressed.

A very gorgeous least sandpiper. 
I loved seeing the beach full of peeps, they made their little calls and ran from rock to rock or shell to shell, probing, eating, and foraging.
Last night I went to Plumb to monitor horseshoe crabs with NYC Audubon, and even at night, I saw at least 70-100 little silhouettes on the few sandy spots at a very high tide, we could hear oystercatchers in the night and today, with crabs all over the beach, it was no surprise to see so many sandpipers, plovers, and oystercatchers.

I actually had a high count of spotted sandpipers, which were in not just the marsh but also in the low tide of the bay itself.

This herring gull was busy trying to figure out how to get to the clam meat within the shells. Gulls up and down the beach were busy flying up to drop mollusks and feast on the meat within.

Off to make his first drop...

Pretty stoked to find a tagged crab, will be reporting him tonight. I look forward to finding out where he was tagged originally and possibly where he has been since!

The clapper rails were calling and then one did some walking around!

Clapper rails are often heard more so than seen. About the size of a chicken, they walk under the cover of the marsh grasses.

Not a great picture, but I have never gotten a sense of how big their feet truly are until looking from this angle!

Clapper rails if they are seen will dart from one patch of grass to another- a blue in the marsh, I felt pretty fortunate to get a long good look at this individual.

A lovely little blue heron, I love the color on these small herons.

A group of 9 short-billed dowitchers. The crabs' eggs I'm sure are a special treat for these birds too.
After this view, I decided to start heading back to my car, as rain came down at a steady pace on and off, and I figured it would be beat to keep the camera dry. And then...

Nelson's Sparrow!

These birds are a special sight as they migrate through to continue to where they nest.

Very secretive and often hiding in the grass, I was able to see a few, 3 to be exact. One was the same color as the grass- an adaptation, of course. This one though, showing that white belly was much easier to spot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Everybody's Heard About the Blurd...

     In the world of birding today, it is SO EASY to find things thanks to social media. When a rare bird shows up, Twitter literally tweets about birds and their locations. I will say, finding something on your own, is far more rewarding-- but to get a bird on your life or year list, I praise the world of Twitter.
     I also curse Twitter, as tweets come in about birds while I am at work. It's pure torture when it is something you REALLY want to see. It makes me look forward to retirement in however million years that may be.
     Today's bird of the day is a Swainson's warbler, showing up in the Midwood of Prospect Park. The first official record for Kings County with questionable records last in the 1950's. And honestly who knows how many times this bird was missed because... well, you'll see...
Do you se it? No?
Low light, underbrush, and a typically skulky, brown bird will make it hard, let's just zoom in...
A blurd! A Swainson's warbler, good enough as an ID photo for eBird. This bird breeds well South of New York- so the birding world goes ape $#!t crazy when one shows up. Thankfully he stuck around so I could finish up work like a responsible adult and go to see him... a brown bird, on a brown ground under brown logs and brown twigs.
Its loud, ringing song- clear despite the view is what gave him up, and how it was originally found.
After a few decent views through binoculars and now dirty shins and knees, sometimes getting low gave the best views, I decided to enjoy the park before dinner.

A Swainson's Thrush behind the lower pool. These aren't the Swainson's you are looking for.
Maybe you are, but probably not today.

A punk rock wood duck.

A raccoon floof ball in a tree going up the Maryland Monument steps.

Glad my friend Molly hung up on me, as I was on the phone spying these guys.. and glad I was able to snap some pictures! I originally thought I saw blue grosbeak, but upon inspection, especially of that far less heavy beak- I found 3 indigo buntings! I love how he is hiding under the leaf, but still needing to spy my way,

The look before dropping down and disappearing into the butterfly meadow.

A robin in the last light over the meadow.

An Eastern kingbird gives us a little bitty peek of the rouge crest that males sport.

A grainy, low-light photo of a Canada Warbler... One day I will get a crisp photo of this beautiful species.

A blurry Eastern cottontail, I mostly took this picture for my sister, who really likes bunnies.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Brooklyn Birdathon 2017

     This year I participated, along with my friend, Molly in the Brooklyn Birdathon. Our Team, Celebirdy Sightings sighted and heard 72 species of bird. I did have to peel out at around 3pm to rest, have a few drinks, then go to Green-Wood Cemetery for a night time program.
     It was a really fun day, I think next year, I would make a plan and schedule out a few places to tackle, as we birded Prospect park from 6:30am till 1pm. Then went to Green-Wood after a quick lunch break. I cut out after Green-Wood and the remainder of the team went to Drier-Offerman. I was hoping that a nocturnal walk in Green-Wood might help our team, but alas, there were no night time birds to amp up our list.
     My favorite sight and life bird, was seeing a Kentucky Warbler. Due to overcast skies, photos were really hard to take so I got some okay glimpses of mostly still or well lit birds.
     On Tuesday, 5/23 I am presenting some of my photos at photo night for the Brooklyn Bird Club Meeting at the Brooklyn Public Library. I admit I have never attended a meeting and this sounded like a good chance to meet more members and get a bit more involved in this community. I am terrified, haha!
     Anyway, this birdathon benefitted the Wild Bird Fund- so really the point of this was not just to be competitive and fun, but to also raise some $$$ for the WBF. I donated- you should too!
     Anyway- some sights from the Birdathon:
Some were getting a little frisky, and we creepily watched... because I've never seen squirrels do it-- have you?!

The face you make when you realize you're being watched during private time...

Glad we watched those squirrels getting randy, because this guy came in and landed right above them- a ruby-throated hummingbird!

The way the birdathon worked is that to count a bird at least 2 people from the team need to see/hear the bird-- so there was a lot of "DID YOU SEE IT?!" "No! Where is it!?" and then ensued the task of trying to explain where a bird is in a fully leaved tree.... 
Noticed a lot of house wren, out in the open, calling, displaying. Sighted more house wrens than we heard house wrens!

When you realize.... you've been spotted.

A green heron, vocalizing along the lullwater with their odd throaty call.

Where we met additional members of our team- at the dog beach. Where some red-wing blackbirds joined us too, helping us to spy wood ducks and spotted sandpiper.

After walking to the vale, midwood, and ravine-- we went to Green-Wood Cemetery. At the Dell Water there was a bit of ruffled feathers among these two male Baltimore Orioles.

Pinning his opponent down...

Lots of kicking and flapping... seemed like it was a struggle of who could pin down the other.

A karate-like kick and grab of the beak... once it was over, one ran off, while the other flew up-- perhaps to whoever was watching. Maybe a female? Who knows!

Double vision

A pair of great egrets-- perhaps wooing one another at the Dell Water.
To fellow birders of Brooklyn and visitors to Prospect Park- I will share the one not so good story of the day, being a fellow birder and friend was robbed of their phone when threatened with a knife in the Midwood. A reminder to never let your guard down-- and account and description can be found on Peter's Blog for Prospect Park. If you see him, call 911!