Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mandarin duck in Central Park lake

So walking around on Feb. 27th at the lake I saw what I later realized was a mandarin duck. Must be an escapee from somewhere. When I walked around the trees for a better angle he took off to a secret undisclosed location. Hope he's okay!

Central Park after the snow

The snow is over! So, I went walking around the park. Again, mostly just to look at the pretty snow, not so much for birding. But when I got to the lake, I saw this [edit: Mandarin] duck! So gorgeous. I actually texted poor Jack who stayed home feeling a bit under the weather. [Note: I only realized this was a Mandarin duck a few weeks later, going back through the pictures.] I lost him when I walked around some trees for a better angle, and very soon all of the ducks flew off to a secret undisclosed location.

Over the fountain I saw this Cooper's hawk perched and looking around. Again I wished for the big camera. Eventually I will learn this lesson. I told a couple of serious looking photo- graphers about the hawk, that turned out to be a mistake. I should only tell people who have binoculars about birds, even hawks. Eventually I will learn this lesson also. Anyway I continued on to the pond, where - I saw the wood duck again! Mixing it up with the mallards, shamelessly begging for bread, it was awesome! Also there again was the mystery duck I saw mating with a mallard male a few days ago. In the last picture you can see how she's bigger than the mallard females, which makes me think she's really a different kind of duck, not a color morph.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Central Park in the snow

I went walking around Central Park in the snow today, not really to see birds, just to enjoy the snow. I wandered around until I came to the bridge across the pond.

I crossed the bridge and came down the stairs to walk around the east side of the pond, and came across two ducks doing what I thought was some sort of display. I paused to watch, it was a male and a female, bobbing their heads way up and way down in counter- point to each other. Then I realized it was not a confron- tation at all, when the female turned around and fanned out her tail feathers and the male mounted her. Oh, my! Yes, ducks mating on the pond in the snow. Then I realized that although the male was a mallard, the female was not. She was a lighter tan, larger than a female mallard (the same size as the male mallard), and didn't have the same coloration pattern. I don't know what kind of duck she is, I am guessing a female northern pintail. These pictures are her from different angles, hopefully someday I'll figure out the mystery duck. Continuing around the pond I saw perched in a tree a hawk being harassed by crows! I had been hearing the crows for quite some time, it's embarrassing how long it took me to spot them. There were 3 or 4 crows around the hawk, who seemed pretty stoic about the whole thing. Great sightings for a snow day, I wish I had brought the big camera!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Central Park

Jack and I went walking in Central Park today. We started going around the bottom of the reservoir, where we saw a bufflehead! I love buffleheads! We just saw one male. This time the pictures are much better, he didn't dive as much and as quickly. We saw him fly a couple of times, how beautiful! But no pics of that.

Then we made our way over to the feeders, where we saw this red bellied wood- pecker. On one of the feeders we saw this different wood- pecker and a finch of some sort have a face-off bird style. I'm not sure if this is a gold finch or if it's a color morph of the house finch. We saw loads of these house finches there (as in the last pic) and this was the only one that looked golden at all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Harlem Hawk Walk 2010

We went on the 5th Annual Hawk Walk and it was great! We started out at the guide's apartment, looking from his roof, seeing hawks all over the place. Perched on building, just waiting for a camera with a good enough zoom. Flying by, far and occasionally near, scaring the pigeons. He decided to take us over to the river to look for eagles, a long shot, but you never know. On the way we saw this pretty house finch, then at the river saw this canvasback.

Also saw many more flying hawks. Although some of them might have been the same ones. It's quite difficult to tell even for experts. Anyway here's my best shot of a flying hawk. At Jackie Robinson park we saw two hawks who were swooshing from tree to tree, letting us get just a couple of shots each time. They were gorgeous! Jack got this hilarious picture of the hawk and squirrel. When we left the squirrel was still intact, I think the hawk got tired of the paparazzi. A great time, and many thanks to James for organizing and leading it! :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Central Park Red Tailed Hawk

Went walking around the park. At balcony bridge saw a bunch of birds - downy woodpecker, European starling, several robins and sparrows. No great pictures. Walked all around the ramble, no hawks, not much activity at the feeders, it was weird. Then I decided to walk home staying mostly in the west side of the park. I went off the path across the lawn near the sheep meadow and the baseball diamonds, mostly to get away from some people who were walking my direction and my pace and annoying me with their conversation. I paused on the grass to check the trees, and a hawk flew right by me and settled down on a low branch in a tree not too far off! So I went over to take a look and some shots, when I went to get a shot of the front of the hawk it flew off across the path to another little lawn with pine trees trying to get a squirrel! It did not get one, and it settled into a tree over there. When I was making my way over there it flew off and I lost it. I hope it got a squirrel on its next pass!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Croton Point Park: Bald Eagles!

Well after reading a couple of reports about wonderful bald eagle sightings at Croton Point Park, Jack and I rented a car and went up there. You know, just to check it out. And, let's get right to it - a beautiful adult bald eagle flew right above us! Later a juvenile did too, twice! It was really quite something. It was also freezing and super windy. But I digress. The first picture is the adult, the second the juvenile.

We also saw a downy wood-pecker, this red bellied wood-pecker, and then went to the feeders by the nature center. There we saw lots of sparrows (of course) along with mourning doves, dark eyed juncos and two European starlings. There was this little sparrow, either white-crowned or white-throated, in with all of the house sparrows. All in all, worth the trip!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jack and I went to the park, seeing what we could see on this cold non-snowy day. At the reservoir, we did not see the wood duck. We did see this pair of hooded mergansers, and I saw a bufflehead, but it was diving too much and too far out to get a picture.

We walked all over the ramble and saw this juvenile Cooper's hawk hunting! We followed it as it made several (failed) passes at squirrels. It was awesome! Then someone tipped us off that there was another one a couple of paths over, so we went over there, and saw this gorgeous adult Cooper's hawk. We got distracted by the raccoon and didn't see the hawk leave. Then as we made our way out of the park, I spotted this red-tailed hawk! It was hopping between branches a lot and then flew off after a very short time, so this is our best picture. It was wonderful!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Central Park: Red Tailed Hawk

Went to the zoo with a good friend, then walked through the park afterwards. Not long after exiting the zoo, found a gorgeous Cooper's hawk! Sadly after I climbed a large hill, it flew off before I could get a single picture. How rude! I need to start taking a couple long-distance shots before going over to the hawks. Anyway, then found this gorgeous red-tailed hawk along that southern border of the lake, with all the benches. By balcony bridge, I paused for a moment to look for woodpeckers. Didn't see any, but this hooded merganser flew in just then. It then hid under the bridge so this was the only shot I got. :-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Central Park: Cooper's hawk!

It was still cold today (not as bad, about 30) but nice and sunny so I suited up and went to the park to see what I could find.
I started by the reservoir where there were lots of gulls and Canada geese, and a few hooded mergansers. So pretty! Then as I was wandering down to the ramble I passed an area that apparently sometimes has owls, but I didn't know and didn't really look all that closely. Oh well, maybe next time, I would love to see an owl!

Anyway, on to the ramble where I found an alarmed squirrel calling away but could not find a hawk. Kept on going and ran into this gorgeous Cooper's Hawk! It was near the feeders. Didn't see much at the feeders, there was a lot of work going on in the park, and not a lot of bird activity that I could see. Headed over the the AMNH and on the way saw what I think of as the museum falcon, managed to at least get a silhouette picture. Still can't really identify it.