Friday, September 24, 2021

Birding with a Toddler at Tilden

     A story every parent in familiar with as all their kids have gone back to in-person learning, a staff member at Kes' daycare tested positive so the place is closed for 10 days. So it's working at home with a toddler and today, on my day off, we went beach birding. I've been wanting to visit Ft. Tilden to see the whimbrels that continue to be reported there, in decent numbers. We packed our running stroller, a few sand toys, and snacks (a very, very important component to birding with a toddler).

    One thing she does, whenever we are seeing something good is she get a little cranky. Well today, she threw some full on tantrums, so I knew things would turn out well.

Everything began fine, saw some sanderlings and even some American Oystercatchers that were super chill. Perhaps migrating through and grabbing a much needed rest, because they barely batted an eye at us. Even at the little kid picking up sand and putting it back down, only to repeat the process over and over about 15 more times.

And then we came upon exactly what I'd been hoping for and then some. A group of 5 whimbrels and an American golden plover.

I gave the kiddo a toy rake and while she played in the sand I snapped as many photos as I could.

I have seen whimbrel before, but far off, in meh conditions, and in New Jersey. That makes these whimbrels a state bird! State bird #311, that is. This whimbrel is also a year bird, #235 for the year.

Speaking of year birds, this American golden plover was year bird #236.

I'm pretty sure this bird is in its juvenile plumage. I could tell it wasn't a black-bellied plover because it has a bigger head, doe-y eyes, and a bit less chunky. I even saw a second bird that flew a few feet behind us, as I walked a cranky kid in my arms while pushing a stroller, and its wing pits were clean. A black-bellied plover would have black in their wing pits.

I was definitely overstaying the time that Kes allotted me. I was just so stoked to get some decent photos with a kid tugging on my legs or grabbing at my camera.

I then went to my snack tactic, as we continued along the beach. It got us far enough to another group of whimbrel. To keep the kiddo happy, she loves a good seat. So we took a seat on a piece of driftwood that gave us a lovely view of these birds.
It was at this point, I should ride the high and get us back. We had traveled barely a 1/4 mile from where we left the car. But it was a long 1/4 mile walk back. 

We bid the whimbrels good bye, and I got my mom work out. Hauling a 22 lb squirming kid, pushing a stroller through the sand, and just taking some breaths and thanking the heavens that the beach was fairly empty. 
Of course back at the parking lot, she was back to her usual good spirits. We both got what we wanted, and I mean, seriously - she got her lifer whimbrels AND American golden plovers!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

September Birding

     I've been looking at birds when I can, my photo game has been weak, so here is a bunch of stuff I, sometimes we, have been seeing. Been birding solo, as a family, or just with the kiddo. Depending on the company I am with, or without really changes up the birding experience. So here is a little bit of everything...

Went with the whole family to Plumb Beach, and we enjoyed some sun, some shells, some fiddler crabs, and some birds, including this young royal tern. And bonus, this was a year bird!

I went to Green-Wood with the (now) toddler and the first bird we spotted was this yellow-bellied flycatcher. The bird was sitting in the middle of the tree, snatching insects that were buzzing about these flowers blooming on this tree.

When I'm out with the kiddo, the bigger birds are much more interesting to her. She waves at them, and "shushes" out loud to make sure we are being quiet. So of course she really enjoyed that the Dell water had this great blue heron and great egret.
We also enjoyed doing some pinecone investigations, we met a cicada, and did some walking. She explores things that she finds. And while her behavior is not conducive to birding it's really fun to see that natural world through her eyes.

This is the great egret we spied, and even later caught up with. We loved seeing this bird twice.

Last week there was also an upland sandpiper that showed up in Far Rockaway, so when it was my chance to get out on my own - this was it.
Here is my best photo of this typically grassland loving sandpiper.
You can see one of its distinguishing features, its very large, prominent eyes. Also, in general, this is a pretty big sandpiper, as far as sandpipers go.
Life bird (#420), state bird (#310), and year bird (#230).

I like this semipalmated plover, that was trying to be a coconut.

After the upland, I decided to donate some blood, visiting Floyd Bennett Field. I enjoyed the small puddle in the community garden best, I got nice looks at a Northern water thrush and two solitary sandpipers.

I think solitary sandpipers are very pretty. I think it's those big dark eyes with that white ring. I also like the speckling on their wings.

I went birding solo yesterday at Green-Wood and was treated to this Olive-sided flycatcher, year bird #233.

And it treated itself to some noms!

I'm wondering if this bird caught a spotted lanternfly, especially with those bright hindwings.

What a sharp looking flycatcher, I don't think I ever got such good views of one before.

It was quite warbler-y, which means I got a lot of images like this...

... and this ...

... and this. But sometimes I lucked out and I got some like...
... this.
A black-throated-green warbler. Out in the open taking a break from its very busy foraging. Migration is fun because the birds are so busy stopping to eat, eat, and eat so they are fairly active through the day getting as much energy as they can so even if you are not an early riser, yesterday all day, it seemed was very good.
The morning started out cool, so I got this magnolia pausing as it soaked up some warm rays to get charged up for another day as it makes it way southward. 
Migrating birds are so laser focused on food, a birder pointed out this Tennessee Warbler (year bird #232) that was foraging within feet of his face, the bird continuously approaching him, capturing insects hiding below and between leaves. Was a pretty little warbler they are, eh?

The chestnut-sided warblers were also being ultra cute, foraging low.
Oddly, one of my favorites I saw yesterday was this northern flicker. Normally these bird lock eyes with you from a mile away an feel threatened and flee. This one foraged within 15 feet of me, looked at me, and kept eating. Either this bird was young or the ants were quite good.

You can really appreciate the details in their plumage when you get to see them without them fleeing.


This is probably my favorite image of the day, and one of the last ones I took, a great crested fly catcher. The sun not in my favor, but it brings out the rich browns in its tail and wings, plus the details in the leaves of the small tree its perched in.
I also really love these big flycatchers, they are so beautiful.... and so easy to tell apart from the others!