Monday, May 24, 2021

Spring Migration Winding Down

     On Saturday, the kiddo and I met my friend Christine at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to do some birding and general wildlife watching. Compared to one week ago, there was definitely less species diversity but an abundance of the residents and nesting species. We enjoyed a lot of yellow warblers, the occasional flyover glossy ibis, and the nesting osprey among others. 

    I was impressed that the baby made the entire loop around the west pond without a fuss, granted she did take a pretty solid nap. I also got her some reef-safe baby sunscreen and she really likes the tube and held on to it for the entire loop. And of course, all the birders were smitten when she gave them a look and a smile.

    Despite the species diversity there was still plenty to view and enjoy and that we did!

Arrived to singing house wrens. Who were all around the place, just this one was very okay with being out in the open.

Cute as a button.

This robin has a grub and struts with perhaps a little pride?

An awful picture, but I spotted this sparrow and noticed it was different, and it sure was - Lincoln's Sparrow!

A pair of Bay breasted warblers were putting on a show against an overcast sky in the canopy of leaves...

Excited to have remembered the song of the willow flycatcher and identified it correctly. I repeat this same feeling every year when I hear my first willow flycatcher.

The Jamaica Bay WR Special: perching tree swallows.

Little blue gems they are.

I didn't know what this was because it made no sound. It was a willow flycatcher.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Doodletown and Brooklyn Birding This Week

     I decided with my vacation day on Monday to take another stab at Doodletown and Sterling forest on a more sunny day. Plus, on Wednesday, I took a few of my volunteers from work birding as per their request, we visited Green-Wood Cemetery for this. And lastly, today on day one of my weekend, I took to my bike and did a circuit to Plumb and back to Marine Park. It was such a nice day for a bike ride too.

A lot of loud bois at Doodletown, including this American Redstart

Elegant noisy boi, the wood thrush.
For what their song sounds like, I don't ever think I pictured them shouting like this.

I love brown birds that SHINE. Wood thrush, brown thrasher, worm eating warblers are the most gorgeous birds, they just have the warmest, richest tones. 
So beautiful.

The cerulean warblers are up SO DAMN HIGH. SO this one was "lower" and I managed an alright shot.
This blue boi is also just screaming!!!! Like every other bird here.

I went to Sterling Forest and while I heard and did see the Golden-wing warbler, I got no photos. So here instead, is a bull frog sitting on a lily pad.

Not a golden wing, but a blue winged warbler at Sterling, before I left for a long ride home.

I took my aquarium volunteers to Green-Wood on Wednesday, they asked for a birding walk. So we did just that!
We were greeted at the Sylvan water by a GREG, catching some fish.

We also got to see a green heron (pictured), a spotted sandpiper, a northern water thrush, and two Canada Warblers along the Sylvan water. 

On our route back to the main gate, we encountered many male scarlet tanagers. I think this was the highlight, because at one point we had 4 of them flying above us, catching insects, and being very visible. I think that everyone was delighted.
Like, if that isn't a spark bird moment, then I don't know what is.


...And a few of these guys were there too.

This morning I wanted to try for Plumb. The tides were to my liking, but honestly, not a whole lot happening. Aside from some crazy oystercatchers.

I love these birds, always so loud, with their crazy eyes, and that ultra orange carrot-beak. I also really love their cankles. I secretly want to pet their feet.

Scanning the marsh I found a few least sandpipers. This one was quite snoozy, just super round and tucking its head in and out of its feathers. Seeing as to how the beach was full of paired and un-paired horseshoe crabs, this little buddy probably ate well.
I was hoping that the spawning would have attracted more birds, but meh, felt pretty quiet, not even a single egret or heron.

I spied another birder looking at something and then I saw what the something was. I was so excited.
And they are so weird, they are usually super hidey, but sometimes you get one that just doesn't give a heck. And I thought that was this fella.
Then I realized what was going on...

After I put my camera down, I saw the "birder" waving his phone through the air. I thought that clapper was screaming at another clapper in the marsh behind us.
It was screaming at the recording this guy kept playing on his phone. I even made a comment, "oh, is that YOU, playing rail calls?! I thought I was hearing other birds." To give that hint as to his faux paux.
And he replied "yeah, but there are tons of them here." To which I replied, "well, play back isn't cool." To which he shrugged me off.
At this point I felt very guilty for photographing this bird.
I like to earn my birds, not cheat by playing calls. Not to memtion its nesting season. Birds are defending territory, attracting mates, and here is this guy, wasting this birds time and energy when it could be eating, attracting a mate, or actually defending its territory against an actual rain, not a recording of one.

Playback is unethical. Don't do it. And especially don't do it for 10+ minutes as this guy did.
Here is the code of ethics, and this behavior is breaking that first section:
(b) Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger. Be particularly cautious around active nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display sites, and feeding sites. Limit the use of recordings and other audio methods of attracting birds, particularly in heavily birded areas, for species that are rare in the area, and for species that are threatened or endangered. Always exercise caution and restraint when photographing, recording, or otherwise approaching birds.

Needless to say, I left Plumb Beach fairly angry. So I needed to end my birding time on a good note, so I stopped at Marine Park on my bike ride home, rather than biking up and getting grit kicked up in my face along the Flatbush Ave "greenway," if you can call sidewalks that are cracked, broken, and full or grit, silt, mud, and shards of glass, metal, and plastic from car accidents that...

Anyway. I was greeted by hungry cedar waxwings, feasting on these seeds in this tree.

No idea what tree it is in and feasting on, but it allowed me some fun looks as this little buddy stuffed its face.

The closer osprey nest is looking less and less nest-like, but a pair of osprey, different from the ones at the active nest, continue to occupy the space. Is this just a practice round for next spring?

You know what feels great, standing on a trail, hearing a clapper rail, turning around and seeing said clapper rail.
This felt SO much better than what happened at Plumb. I earned this bird with some patience and had the privilege to enjoy it as it went about its business with a heck of a lot less disturbance from me, the viewer.

It even did some picking and feeding before burrowing in to a mound of dead grass. Such good stuff.
Now do birders cause disturbance to birds? There is no doubt that looking at birds likely does intrude on their space - which is why it is so important that we do absolutely as much as we can to not go out of our way to disturb them in ways that cause them to drastically change their behavior and disturb them to the point where they become stressed, loose opportunities to feed, or find a mate/raise young.
So if you're looking at birds, truly also get to know their behaviors, know when you are pressing on to hard, learn when to back off and not get too greedy. We do this because we love birds, right?! Let's make sure we show them some love with limiting actions (play back, approaching nesting birds) and increasing others (blowing them kisses, and waving hello to be polite - does no one else do this?!) that we take around them.

A snowy egret before heading home, with a much better feeling to continue the day on with.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Good (Bird) Day

     On Friday, I had the day to myself so I made the most of it. Fully cleaned the parrot's cage, cleaned the whole first floor of the house, even took Kestrel on a bike ride after daycare, played at the park, and spent the entire morning birding. Like I could not have had a more perfect day, got some me time, got some mama-baby time, and I accomplished things. 

    I was hoping to see the Western grebe off of Coney Island Creek but had no luck, but the remainder of the day more than made up for it. I Visited Calvert Vaux Park and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and it was sunny, comfortable, and not yet too buggy - fantastic birding conditions. And the birds, they were spectacular!

What is it about birds that have bold blocks of color. They are just knockouts.
This red-headed woodpecker made up more than I could have asked for in missing the Grebe, at Calvert Vaux. I've seen red headed woodpeckers before, but never so close and never so handsome.
These birds show up loosely in our area one here and there. Their range is kinda funny, they definitely breed upstate and winter south of here, but this part of NY isn't really considered part of their regular range as it doesn't quite have the habitat they require.
Anyway. Really happy to see this bird.

While spying the woodpecker, a few warblers spied me, including this black and white- giving you a good look at those black and white under trail feathers- that only black and white warblers have, among warblers. 
There also were a decent abundance of indigo buntings singing in just the very small patch I was in, between Vaux and the Six-Diamonds Ballfields.

This black-throated blue warbler was doing it's buzzy "Beer-beer-beer-beer!" call and I waved goodbye as I thought about where to go next. I was looking at tides and considering Plumb, then didn't quite want to go at high tide (which was approaching at the time), then thought about Floyd and maybe the North 40, I ultimately decided on Jamaica Bay.

So Jamaica Bay was a really good choice. It was crawling with birders and also, therefore, birds. I overhead one birder reporting to another about the "loads of blackburnian's" in the wooded area and I spent most of my time in that part of the West Pond. 
A magnolia warbler was a sign of good things to come.

Breeding season makes birds that are normally skulky quite bold. Like this eastern towhee, so caught up in his own hormones, he can't help but jump up into the open and belt out in song.

So happy to see a gorgeous blackburnian warbler. Did I mention how I LOVE orange birds??
Blackburnian warblers, orioles, they set my heart afire.

And not to be dismissed, American redstarts are also flashy with that orange. This one was busy sitting still and singing.

They usually don't sit still, but those little bird breeding season hormones make you do some funny things.

Then a bird flew in not far above me. It was chunky, so I knew it wasn't a warbler. It was a very handsome rose-breasted grosbeak, making his squeaky sneaker sound.

This is the male, the females look absolutely different in brown, but they too are quite beautiful with a bold white eye brow and brown speckled, buff-colored belly.

No matter male or female, they always have that large beak, perfects for eating fruits and seeds, plus a few insects too.

So happy to see my favorite little warbler, Canada Warbler! So cute, round, and that perfect little necklace!

Walking a long the trail, you had to stop, constantly. Birds were everywhere, this one was calling loudly. When we looked at one another, I knew exactly who it was, a white-eyed vireo.

I think that they may be my favorite type of vireo. Those white eyes are just jaw-dropping.
After a while of walking this portion of the trail, the trees end and it opens up to the marsh grasses and shrubs. What I saw on the walk to that point was so good, I decided to double back, and glad I did, I saw additional birds and new species I didn't see on my walk in.

The Wildlife Refuge is perfect for cuckoos, the tent caterpillars they love live here in large numbers. This cuckoo flew in right where I was walking and gave some excellent looks at this very beautiful bird. I enjoy cuckoos for that elongated look and long tails, they are just so different from most of the other birds around. I enjoy them immensely.

I also enjoy immensely when they sit in the open for a good little while.

You could see it eyeing the branches for something worth its while, this tree had nothing to offer so it did eventually continue its search elsewhere.

I did take a short walk out to see who was on the pond, and got some views of my first of the year least terns, plus a clapper rail who crossed my path (literally ran across the path I was walking, I could have died at how much joy that brought me), but I also enjoyed this little moment.
Yellow warblers nest here and are quite plentiful, the the point that you can find them without binoculars.
And this little female was just out collecting some spider silk as she is likely beginning to nest and spider silk is just such a perfect material for your little nest.

Perhaps at this point, my mom hormones kicked in, because I just felt so much love for this little bird. I was so appreciative to share this little moment with her, watching her work hard to find the perfect materials to make her nest comfy for her future family. And damn, that just tugged on my heart strings.
It was perhaps partially the result of my craving some time to take the kiddo to the park and play on the playground and watch all the kids play and use the slides and ladders. Because by time I saw this, I decided it was time to go home, clean my nest, and get my baby bird for some fun time.