Monday, April 29, 2019

Leading My First Walk

     I've led walks for work, usually groups of school kids. It has never been an issue, it was my job and I was always happy to do it. But for whatever odd reason, leading a bird walk for adults, voluntarily scared me. I'm scared that I'm not good enough, and the bird world of older, know-it-all, usually male types intimidates me. So when my friend Molly said she wanted me to lead a walk for the Feminist Bird Club, which I often attend walks for, I said okay. The club is a welcoming environment, and there are often new birders in attendance who have that spark of excitement for ALL feathered friends. So, I went for it. And I didn't regret it!
     It was such a great experience, and I love birding with others and having them help find things - and that was a relief because I can't find everything. It was a great group and I think I would very much do it again.
     While the rain was zero threat, we had non-stop winds but really delicious sights of birds at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park...
We were greeted by so many snowy egrets plopping themselves among the shore, fishing for a snack.

Including this one, just below where we were standing.

We watched this double crested cormorant with a prized flatfish (maybe a winter flounder?). It dived and dodged the aerial dives of gulls, greedy for an easy meal they didn't have to catch themselves.

Another bird I was happy to see, back in our area, Forster's Tern!

Lesser pointy boi and greater pointy boi.
Lesser (left) yellowlegs and greater (right) yellowlegs. Collectively known as pointy bois.

We saw at least 3 osprey, as one was hunkered down in the active nest. Maybe with eggs? chicks?

And then. As if on cue, I mentioned that the killdeer nest here. And out struts this bird, with much confidence. Meanwhile, one of our group members drops to the floor, because she saw baby killdeer and this parent is like: No. No, you didn't.

Distraction Killdeer says:
"Ya'll didn't see a baby.
Look at me. I'll walk towards you.
Look how dumb I am.

A blurry, but necessary look at baby killdeer.
Fair try, adult killdeer.
Did I mention the steady 30mph wind?

And then, like magic, Merlin.

I took a lot of crappy photos just for submission to iNaturalist, it was the city nature challenge and we logged some plant observations too. I grabbed a bunch of sub par bird photos just to have them to submit to iNaturalist.
I was super happy that the walk allowed me to meet the Flatbush Gardener, Chris in real life. He knows a heck of a lot about plants and iNaturalist. I was so happy he joined us for this walk!

Then before leaving we saw these mute swans get it on and do this grebe-like chest bump, while making a heart with their necks and heads.
I got this prom date photo of them post cloacal kiss.
 And then the bird morning turned into a bird day...
A few of us decided to go out to LI and do more birding. There was a ton of wind there too.
This American Oyster Catcher didn't care.
It was living its best life in this puddle.

A glossy glossy ibis!
The name fits!
Happy to see these birds back in our parts, I do like them quite a lot.

And then.

AKA: Great Horned Owl

Killing mittens. 
Where to put the squirrels or rats or bunnies or skunks or other fuzzy critters.

Future top predator, coming to a park near you.
So next weekend, I am going on my first birding trip with bird friends to bird Cape May. Am I excited? You forking bet I am! Good friends and birds always makes for a great time. I am looking very forward to it and sharing some of what we find.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

It's the Most Warblerful Time of the Year!

     "It's that time of year, huh?" - Tim

Yes. The time where after work I manage to have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to go birding. I will jet for an hour, to see some birds. I might even *GASP* skip breakfast and bird before work.

It's spring migration and it is just so exciting to see little birdie faces that you have not seen in months! Like seeing an old friend, its joyful and brings so much happiness.

A handsome Pine Warbler at the Lower Pool.
Warblers seem to be trickling in, pine and palm are very abundant.

I was so happy to see this wood duck on the shore, it made e forget about the weird guy who told me how I have a memorable face and that I should grab drinks with him. He (seemed like) was trying to talk about birds but didn't really know much, so I conversed with him - I don't mind sharing information. But then he got weird.
Guys, come here, listen in... if you start talking to a female in the park, who is by themselves don't get creepy. You can have a conversation, but don't be a creep.

Anyway, seeing this wood duck after that uncomfortable moment made me feel better.

Then I saw birders... safety in numbers!
Also, that means there is something good!
Prothonotary Warbler!

Even in bad photos it looks SO GOOD.

Not a bird of the North East, these birds during spring often overshoot their breeding range. This bird will eventually turn around and head down to the South East where they nest in tree hollows in wetlands and near lakes.

Speaking of tree hollows this one was very busy looking into the hollows of this tree!

Another target achieved in my post-work outing, a vesper sparrow!
With that eye-ring and streaky upper chest, among the chipping sparrows this was an easy bird to pick out of the crowd.

A chipping sparrow for comparison. 
A typical warbler photo.

... a black and white warbler photo, to be precise.

Look. Another terrible photo.
But no one cares.
Because it is so damn cute.

Some lucky shots for this guy!
That prothonotary knows how to engage its crowd.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Birds Bring Joy

     I Love Birds. This is no surprise to those who know me best. I am instantly your best pal the moment you say, "I like birds." So, since I love birds, they bring me so much joy. I spend a lot of time in the field with a big dopey smile on my face and saying "hi" to birds, sometimes even giving a little wave. I even talk to them. Don't judge.
     Anyway, yesterday I had the joy of observing field sparrows in the fields at Floyd Bennett and today seeing some spring migrants among others. It was pretty great, the warm temperatures definitely help!
     Here are some pictures of those birbs...
I had the luck to be surrounded by a few singing field sparrows.
Geeze, is their song so beautiful!
Hear there here, on Cornell's All About Birds site.

One would call and you would hear at least one or two others answer with their song.
Gosh, Field Sparrows are mighty cute.

Today I rode my bike to Prospect Park. The common grackles always catch my eye, especially when the light makes them into a rainbow of color.

A dark-eyed junco fishes a centipede out of the leaf litter on the lullwater. After a night of rain, as the sun came out and warmed up the air, the birds become more active.

A mallard drake taking a rest next to his hen-- keeping an eye out, always.

This hen is letting him keep his eyes out while she catches a snooze. Even her eyelids have little feathers on them!

I am 90% certain that this winter wren is molting.
Other than illness or other negative things, I can't imagine why this bird would otherwise look so worn and scruffy.

Despite being scruffy. I still love them so!

LOWA, is that you?!

It is!
I was very happy to see my FOY Louisiana Waterthrush.
I think living not-so-close to Prospect, the way I used to, it is going to hurt during warbler season.

You ever get caught at a HAWKward moment... like when you step out of the bath and 35 camera lenses and binoculars are pointed at you.
Well, thankfully no.
But for this red-tail, yes.

This red tail was super low, after its bath in the ravine so many on lookers got to enjoy this treat.

What a feeling!
... Now I'm dancing for my life!

Trying to make up for that first pic...
But for real, this is a great example of a mature red tail, look at those brick-red tail feathers!

Everyone needs a good bath every so often, even those big "bad" birds.
I think raptors are the best birds.

I always find a bullfrog in the mud of the lower pool. Always.

I swear there was a yellow-rumped warbler there.
As we get into warbler season get ready for more of these...

And these.
Lots of pine warbler (above) today!

And these... where the best photos come out clear in the crap light- but blurry when they move into clear view and good light.
This little nugget is a palm warbler. Red cap, tail twerk, yellow - that's a palm warbler.

Speaking of tail twerk, the eastern phoebe is also known for that tail pumping. Heard a lot of them today, yelling their buzzy "FEE-BEEE!"

I also made a 311 call.
People, keep your dogs on a leash. This dog was off leash, behind the fences to keep people and dogs out, in an area where waterfowl nest. It's owner called and it was white noise to this dog.
Off leash hours are before 9am and after 9pm, in designated areas. This area, the Lullwater is 24 hrs on-leash.
If you see unleashed dogs where they are not supposed to be or causing harm to wildlife, please call 311 in NYC, they need to know this is all too often happening.

While making that call, I watched the wood ducks it flushed from the shore line who looked to be courting.

Gosh, the females are so sneaky pretty. Yellow eyeliner, a sneaky purple feather and blue wings.
I can't wait to see ducklings. We'll be there soon!

On April 26th I am doing a walk for the Feminist Bird Club, and helping our group participate in the City Nature Challenge. I am terribly nervous but also excited. I never led a bird walk for adults before! I hope the folks joining me will find joy in all that we see!