Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend

     Temperatures plummeted on Thanksgiving day, we woke up to temperatures in the teens. We broke from tradition, no turkey trot to run this morning but my husband wanted to do his pre-meal 5 mile run. I convinced him to do it at the beach, while I birded.
     For me, Thanksgiving gave me a 3-day weekend, so I spent yesterday again, birding for a good chunk of the day. I visited Green-Wood Cemetery, the Middle Lot on the Belt Parkway, and Floyd Bennett Field. I birded until afternoon hunger drove me to stop and find lunch.
     The weather this weekend, with exception for today was the first time I had to break out the thermals, the cold-weather boots, multiple layers of pants, and double socks. It's not even officially winter yet, it's surely going to be a cold one!
Upon parking at the West End Lot at Jones Beach, I noticed this very cold Eastern Phoebe, seemingly just trying to be as much in the sun as possible.

It also seemed to cough up something-- didn't really catch what it was. This bird has some small round bits around its mouth. I wonder what in the heck it is easting in this cold.

An American Goldfinch seems to know it's a good day to feast. With the cold, it is very important to feast,

A pine siskin finds some goldenrod to gather seeds from.

An up-close look at that characteristic thin bill of the siskin working out those seeds.
I was truly hoping to see some crossbills, luck was not on my side for seeing them today, but I did get a consolation prize of 3 eastern bluebirds. I was quite happy to see them!

At Green-Wood Cemetery, I visited a few of my favorite spots, including the Sylvan Water, where I saw a blue-jay sized bird zip in aross the water into one of the water-side ornamental trees.
When it popped up, it revealed itself: a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

It came away empty-taloned, and the little white-throated sparrows that popped up after it flew away seemed quite relieved at such a fact.

Any time I was near a water source, the goldfinches were trying to grab a drink. These two were enjoying this unfrozen portion of the water. Another tactic I saw, at the Crescent Water, was they would scale the sides of the rock walls at the waters edge and drink where the wall and water met. The sunlight warming the rock to allow some melt water to form. 

A pine siskin was also grabbing a drink at the Sylvan Water, especially after the sharpie took off in a different direction. 
I was working on my checklist, getting to the blackbird section... as this guy flew in- a Rusty Blackbird. A very pleasant surprise!

It perched up high and in the sun. I have never seen a rusty in such vivid light and so up high.

The Dell Water is always my favorite place. I found myself a seat on the grass and watched birds at the drip and at the feeders. I LOVE Fox sparrows, and they are back for the winter season!

A less-than-usually shy hermit thrush landed close to where I was sitting, allowing me a few photos. Of them, of course, only one is ever okay.

The drip was being hogged by blue jays. They even busted each others chops about who gets water first.
Interesting was the scolding jay outside the pipe, seems to have had the tip of its bill broken off. I wonder how it managed that?

Then the one in the tube, just sat, not making noise, just mouth agape after lopped bill gave him an earful.

And then, nature. At its finest.

Because it got flagged as rare, I have a turkey vulture photo - one of the two soaring together.


Also everywhere. Red-breasted nuthatch. They are fearless, they are tiny, they make the CUTEST noises, and they are just so adorable. I caught myself many times, yesterday, by myself-- just outwardly telling them, "You are so cute!"
And don't deny it. They are damn cute.
On the Belt Parkway, aside from the man who went for a swim in Gravesend Bay and then changed out of his speedo on the rocks.... I saw a number of purple sandpiper on the rocks. A much preferred sight, the sandpipers.
A winter visitor, I look forward to them being here each winter.

An American kestrel making a ruckus, probably upset no sparrows were on the grass to go after. Aside from pipers and kestrel, just the regular bird faces were present in the area.

At Floyd the Harriers were busy, one actively going after the starlings and cowbirds in the old farm area. I even observed it landing on the old straw that coats the ground and attracts potential prey. Mainly the usual suspects, savannah and song sparrows, an eastern phoebe, and brant.

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