Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's Cold.

     The last week has been bitterly cold. I don't like it. But I don't let the cold hold me back from doing things. I managed to bike through the cold to work last week and birding isn't so bad either-- you just have to have gear that makes you comfortable in it all- thankfully I think I have mastered having a birding wardrobe that keeps me happy in winter.
     Today I went to Floyd Bennett Field and the Marine Park Salt Marsh. There was a white fronted goose seen yesterday (and today) and I was not able to secure it. Instead I saw other things and wasn't stuck inside all day-- so that is a win in my book!
Ring-billed gulls, hunkered down in the snow on the shore at Floyd Bennett Field.

At the community gardens, White-throated Sparrow (this guy), song sparrow, and cardinals were foraging in the grassy patches.

I went to Marine Park hoping to see the white fronted goose. After much bush-whacking, having my eyes poked by shrubs and grasses, losing my lens cap (and having to back track to find it), and falling on my ass- I figured that I'd get to where it (maybe) was last seen and it wouldn't be there. So I turned around and enjoyed other things- like a double northern harrier flyover and a song sparrow feeding on seeds in the snow.

I enjoyed this little bird - so...

I enjoyed watching this guy topple over to grab seeds. Birds are extra floofy in the winter - not because they are fat (birds can't afford fat- that would literally weigh them down-- and flight is important), but by puffing out their feathers, they can keep a layer of warm air between them and the cold. It's why poofy jackets are very comfy in the cold.

In getting back to the green bridge, the tide began to rise, so water began to appear between the ice, and therefore birds appeared too.
A nice surprise was this black-bellied plover.

The snow didn't seem to stop this bird.

And, success- looks like this plover caught itself a polychete worm! Yum!!

And of course, then the gulls saw and got jealous. The plover managed to wolf if down and fly off with just the tail end of the worm hanging out its mouth.

You know it's cold when the brackish/salt water freezes!!

One of two grebe species I saw today. I saw a horned grebe at Floyd, and this one, a pied-billed grebe at the marsh. 

Not a bird.
I saw a lot of mantis oothecas, and while many will make it through to sporing, when they will hatch-- these oothecas could be a very vital source of food for birds later in the winter.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

CBC 2017

     It's that time of year- time for the Christmas Bird Count! I once again joined the Prospect Park North team and we tallied up 48 species including some oddballs like a house wren, a grey catbird, and an Eastern Towhee. Many birds from Prospect were also considered saves-- meaning no one else birding Kings County had those birds in their territories they covered.

For History of the CBC:
For "Raw Results" of the Kings Co. Tallies:

For 8 hours of being out, I kept to a smaller lens, my 70 x 300mm. I would have been much more sore today with anything bigger. Weather was cold, with snow on the ground from the previous day. It was really quite beautiful, scenery-wise. By later, the day did warm up and was a bit more comfortable, but it took a few hours to get there.
Here are a few "captures" of the day...
The rose garden, early. Quite frigid with fresh, powdery snow - but even as a winter hater, it was pretty darn lovely.

We spotted many a hornets nest from last summer. And it was explained to us by team leader, and naturalist, Paul how these nests host over wintering insects and how they can also attract birds, looking for an easy meal.

Literally, on cue, a red-bellied woodpecker creeps up the branch and just digs in as if it overheard us and thought, "WOW, great idea!"

This bird was not shy about getting in there to grab some goodies.


Seeds put out by an anonymous bird fan in the Vale of Cashmere attracted in Blue Jay, Cardinal, White-throated and song sparrow, as well as a few house sparrows. Earlier in the day we spotted a grey catbird here, before the seeds were present.

A mourning dove, whom was foraging in the compost piles behind the zoo, and potentially warming up on the heat the decomposing matter creates.

A downy woodpecker was foraging on these sweet gum seed balls. Also, nearby this area, in the Midwood we saw the parks one and only black-capped chickadee for the count (crazy!).

A brown creeper, creepin'.

The days junk bird- great blue herons, they were active, we saw 2, but then saw those (presumed) same birds flying from one waterway to the next.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December Lagging.

     December hits and it's like there is not enough time in the day-- between holidays, work, and everyday life, it has been busy!
     While today was our first snow of the oncoming winter, I did go out, and it was slim pickings in terms of birds. Scenery was beautiful and I got to try out my new Arctic Muck Boots.
     I have been going out birding since my last post-- so might as well just toss a bunch of those on here and call it a day. I am looking forward to next Saturday, as it is the Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count and I will be remaining loyal to the North Prospect Team.
     Tomorrow I won't be birding, but I will be working and helping people learn about the impact of ocean plastics on cephalopod predators including sea birds like Albatross. We will dissect boluses to reveal the contents of what these birds are feeding on - this activity and more will be available at the American Museum of Natural History's Milstein Science Series, free with regular admission.
     Anyway. Birds!

Met a very flashy adult Cooper's Hawk at Floyd Bennett Field in late November.

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This was a lovely treat because I mostly always see juvenile birds- it was nice to see a mature adult.

Also enjoyed some kestrels hunting crickets and grasshoppers.

Blurry- but even into late November, insects were still available. I also noticed a few clouded sulfur butterflies, probably desperately looking for nectar and a way to move south.

Always guaranteed a kestrel at the fields.
Went to Prospect Park last weekend, mostly enjoying waterfowl--like this Ruddy duck.

A female American wigeon swimming among the last bits of autumn color.

A great blue heron on the Lullwater.

Nothing super crazy, just some of the regulars to fulfill my need to go out and enjoy nature in the little bits of spare time that I have!