Monday, April 30, 2018

Spring Migration Weekend

     My schedule is not your typical one, currently weekends for me fall on Monday and Tuesday. While most had Saturday and Sunday off, I was working, tuning in to twitter at the end of the day to see all the birds I missed. It was a birdy weekend, and while I did see my FOY Grey Catbird fly in at work, I had to be patient and wait till today.
     While I heard it was "less birdy" than the weekend, I was not let down, I grew my year list from 154 to 165 species and tacked up a day list of 62 species in Prospect Park. Big miss being the Prothonotary Warbler, even thought I gave over an hour of my time in the area it was seen frequenting-- of course it showed up there as soon as I got home. But tomorrow is another day-- some of todays birds, despite overcast (and COLD) conditions:
I was so happy to run into this little bird, a blue-headed vireo!

They are even more stunning when you don't take a backlit photo!

I often find Easter Towhees, unless it is a male, singing it's head off- these birds are quite secretive, so I was so happy to sped some time watching this female. She is obstructed through eaves and branches-- but honestly, that's just a place they are at their best.

I love her earthy clay tones, she is just as gorgeous as her male counterpart. I can sometimes find them because she's my kinda gal, mostly just calling an upward sounding, "drink!"

While enjoying a close blue-headed vireo, I noticed movement just below it...

A jolly little ovenbird! I sqw quite a few of them today, to the point I got flagged on ebird for inputting my count. 

This warbler spends its time one or close to the ground, foraging among leaves- acting like and looking like a thrush more than a warbler.

It appears that blue-gray gnatcatchers just grow on trees these days...

The best unibrow in the bird world!
Quite a few of these around too. I enjoy the little birds because they are fun to learn and even more fun to photograph. In learning their typical behaviors and how/what they eat makes photographing fun- trying to keep up with them and predict their next action.

Here is one that is damn near impossible to photo, the American Redstart. This one is even blurry but it's in the open, it's low, and mostly clear. This could be as good as it gets for me!

Always a welcome sight, a rusty blackbird on the edge of the upper pool. 

Waiting to see a Prothonotary Warbler at the Ambergill falls, got a feisty yellow warbler and a FOY Ruby-throated hummingbird instead. 

Nice looks at a Northern Waterthrush on the lower pool.

(A worm-eating warbler eating worms)

I was super happy to locate (with some help) one of the two Worm-eating Warblers being reported for the day in Prospect. I really like these guys- while some consider them drab and dull- I think their coloration makes them look brilliant. I love them so much!

An American Goldfinch- this male has some work to do on that plumage...

A lovely (low) surprise! A male rose-breasted grosbeak-- I headed to the Vale in the hopes of seeing orioles (and I did, Baltimore and -singing!- orchard oriole) and someone put out seed as they always do and this guy must have come down to check it out.
I love the heart on his breast!

A house finch partakes in the free give-aways.

A decent look at a great-crested flycatcher by the Maryland Monument in Prospect Park.
Tomorrow is another full day of birding- starting with a walk in Green-Wood Cemetery and then depending on the reports, maybe heading back to Prospect for more! Happy Spring Migration!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

No Thermals Necessary

     I was pretty stoked to spend the day outside in a t-shirt. I have a really cool watch sunburn/tan as a result. The last few days out required mittens, winter hats, and thermal layers.
     Today, there felt to be less birds than the other days. While still attaining a 47 species day list, there were times of walking where it felt pretty sparse. But honestly, with the weather today, I am not complaining about anything, soaking up the sun was surely a highlight of everything today.
     I met a nice bird club member along the way, I never got his name but we shared what we saw, photos of our favorite birds, and recalling moments captured with cameras and our memories. That's also a highlight of birding- there are some really great people out there who care so much about the little feathered creatures I adore so much.
     I still got to add a few birds to my year list, which was also a nice treat!
FOY Northern waterthrush!
A terrible picture but it grabs the essence of why it's not a Louisiana Waterthrush - I think NOWA's are a bit more "sloppy" looking- they are super streaky, from chin to belly. Also their eyebrow stripe is just as creamy in color as their belly. LOWA's just look neat and refined in appearance, their chin is clean and their eyebrow is white.

The sun shining so bright made the common grackles look so beautiful, so I tried to photograph one. And it was carrying around discarded fishing line. While it might make for decent nesting material, it is a threat to wildlife as it often has hooks attached or it ensnares animals.

It makes me sad to see. On my walks I try to always pick up some of the trash I find and I dispose of it in receptacles with lids or I put rocks in it (like plastic bags) to weigh them down so they don't just fly out again.

A little love for the overlooked female and immature butter-butts out there.

This guy comes up to me and asks, "are you a birder?"
Part of me always wants to say "no, I wear these binoculars to creep on unsuspecting people in the park." What does one expect as a response to such a question.
Anyway, then he says how he saw a "big ass heron and just had to tell someone."
All while his dog jumped all over me - and didn't think that was not rude or apologize.

I told him that unfortunately there is no species of heron called a "big ass heron," but I reassured him he saw a great blue heron I also told him that he should look out more, they are quite common to see in the park.
I should have also told him he should consider some positive reinforcement training and teach his dog to not jump on strangers in the park...

Anyway, when I think I finally got a good photo of a yellow-throated warbler, I catch one singing its little heart out!
I am so happy I recognized the song of this warbler because it helped me find two today. I also now am noticing that they can really project their voice! They got some pipes!

Also, this bird does great impressions of pine cones.

This raccoon is doing it right.
A perfect, warm, sun-lit nappy spot!

Now, look at how this bird is just so elegant looking in comparison to the first photo of the NOWA. And that is aside from the fact that the first photo is low-qual.

White eyebrows, clean chin- we have a LOWA!

Also, I love this bird just wading through the stream near the Neathermead Arches. This bird also gave me some of the better looks and photos than I have had otherwise even with photographing through a chain-link fence!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

BBC Spring Migration Walk, Seeing Yellow

     It's my last Saturday off until June or so. I like to try and get to one of the migration walks with the BrooklynBird Club and this was my one chance for the spring -- although with having Tuesdays off, I suppose I can start attending those!
     Dennis led a great walk, I stuck it out through 9:30 which was perfect for adding a Northern Parula and Yellow Warbler to my year list, bringing me up to 151 species. I hope they had some other great finds after I departed.
     For the portion of the walk I was on, great excitement came for an early yellow warbler and a yellow throated warbler:
First looks at the yellow warbler on Duck Island. Poking around in the low shrubs and stumps.

Lots of warbler flying around duck island, while this great blue heron soaked up some morning sun. It was another cold morning and I should have left my mittens on.
Palm, pine, yellow-rumped, and one yellow warbler buzzing around the island. Swallows were also over the water, they included barn, tree, and Northern rough-winged.

Then we caught the yellow warbler on the island near LeFrak. So yellow, so over exposed in the morning sun.

Then we went over to the terrace bridge to find not one, but two yellow-throated warblers. From atop the bridge we were treated to eye-level and birds-eye view of birds.

Along with the butter butts and ruby-crowned kinglets, this bird was busy looking for insects.

We also heard them sing and learned it's song is similar to the yellow warbler, but a bit slurred.

I think we were being watched too.

I love a chance to see this birds eye so clearly, iris and pupil. It gave us great looks coming really close to our group.

This bird even made its way under the bridge, clinging to it from below in search of insects. This was a lovely treat, city birds are pretty bold and always seem to get closer than the ones in rural areas. I suppose you'll do whatever it takes to get the food you need,
If you are interested in joining a Brooklyn Bird Club walk, most are free! Check their schedule and jump onboard, there is much to learn from the leaders and those who participate in the walk.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Red, Blue, and Yellow

     Today was a super exciting day, even though the weather was wonky. I wore two layers of pants, 3 layers up top, mittens, and a winter hat -- not your typical attire for April 20th, more like February 20th.
     I began the day at Green-Wood a few birds had been recorded there over the last few days that I was hoping to see and then I went to Prospect Park, for the same reason. I took a lot of pictures, so we'll just get on with it:
Like an over exposed becon-- target bird #1 was found in moments of arriving to Green-Wood.
Summer Tanager.

This bird must have overshot where it intended to go... we are North of its breeding range.
Migration is happening and this is the fun part, sometimes birds come in that over shot, got taken off course, and end up in other places. This bird's beak shows evidence that it may have been eating some fresh buds or leftover winterberries, but it was probably also going after insects that gathered in the sun.

A wind swept chipping sparrow.
At the Sylvan water I ran into some familiar faces (human ones) and as we sat and chatted the place was just swarming with birds. Many instances of birds taking a quick turn before flying into you. For us this was perfect, for those with a bird phobia, this was a Hitchcock movie.

A nice sight to be had in Brooklyn, a Blue Grosbeak.
Target bird #2.

This one is a nicer blue than the one last year in Prospect Park- very handsome!

Blue in nature is an amazing color, this bird must be outlandish in the ultraviolet spectrum.

And while we stood and chatted birds, an early Swainson's Thrush walked by.

Prepare yourself for birds in Cherry Trees....
Up first, a handsome yellow-rumped warbler.

The yellow-rumped's look super great right now in their breeding plumage.

There was a 4th-- a small group of great blue herons flying through and over the Sylvan water.

A Palm Warbler wants you to look at him...

So does this Indigo Bunting.
Target Bird #3.

And so does this red-eyed vireo... 

You best be looking.

Indigo bunting finds a new perch for you to better look at him.

The vireo and bunting are normal birds to see here, but they are early. Did they catch the worm? Probably not- they don't really eat worms.

Also an early bird (that also doesn't eat worms), an Eastern Kingbird. 1 or two hanging out at Sylvan water.

... And in case you were wondering, their eyes really are red.
Red-eyed Vireo.

My friend Marc and I walked to the Dell Water, heard lots of singing and beautiful house finches. Both male and females. This one is a male.

A regular Romeo...

Some of the house finches were so brilliant they had us questioning if they were house finches. But alas, they are.

Palm warbler is still making sure you are looking at him!
But for real, if you are into blooming trees, you should go to Green-Wood, things are just coming into or are at full bloom. The magnolias are nearly there, the cherries look great and some of the smaller fruit trees have beautiful, vivid buds on them.

On the Crescent Water we added a Louisiana Water Thrush and Black-and-White Warbler to our day list.

Walked back to Sylvan water for some last looks, the amazing thing about it being SO BIRDY is that there were lots of close passes by ravens (that's a raven), and red tail hawks-- the hawks even making passes trying to catch little birds-- or unassuming photographers.

One of the two Eastern Kingbirds on the tree I always expect to see them on. It droops into the water at the edge, isn't super tall, and is a great place to launch and catch insects from.

Next stop was Prospect Park. Alternate side ended, I could park my car grab "lunch" (a potato roll and banana?) and go!
Lots more handsome yellow-rumped warblers here. This one showing us why it is also sometimes called "butter butt." 

A great egret with the water ripples reflecting back onto it. I love these birds, so damn beautiful. Crazy they were once almost hunted to extinction. Migratory bird act has since protected migratory birds greatly until the guy some other people voted to be our president decided that corporations would not be held accountable for killing birds due to their own activity... you know, like oil spills. But that's getting us off topic -- but if you want to read more, you should here.

Woah, except I think this blue-grey gnatcatcher heard the news, and this bird is not too pleased.

I was pleased though to get a couple of decent shots of a bird that moves, always, is super small, usually up high, and moves (always).

Despite their "angry eyebrows," I love these little birds- a sign of spring, migration, and dare I say.... cute?

yeah-- they're pretty cute!

A half blurry picture of a Louisiana Waterthrush. 

A tree fell over the lower pool, and it's like the best thing ever. It's blooming, it's full of insects, and the birds are all over. Including this (target bird #4) Prairie Warbler!

And after watching this guy for a few minutes I just happened to take a look at twitter to see that a bird I was looking for was over in an area I just passed, so naturally I walked back there as fast as I could...

And there it was, a yellow-throated warbler. Target Bird #5.

I love bold colors, deep contrast, and I think that's why birds like this one and the yellow-rumped warblers appeal to me.

Yellow-throated warblers are well known for their party tricks and catching insects-- see the gnat at its beak tip? 
But truly known for their party tricks.

This bird was so active catching insects all around. I was perched on a bridge so I had eye level, bird eye views, and sometimes this bird too just perched up on the bridge. Had really great sights of this individual, this was some of the best looks I have ever had of a yellow-throated warbler so I am very pleased in having seen this bird!

And one for the road, the ruddy ducks are in their beautiful breeding plumage. Blue bills, auburn backs- they are gorg!