Friday, April 30, 2010

Central Park: Warbler City!

 What a day today!  I got my chores done in the morning, and about 11 headed to the park.  Yes, yes, I know, all the birders say that's too late.  But, whatever.  7 AM birding is not happening for me right now.  Anyway, after seeing all the reports of wonderful birds everywhere, I decided to go the the south side of the reservoir, Tanner Springs (which I've never been to), then the turtle pond and castle, then the ramble and lake, then the pond.

At the south-western corner of the reservoir, in that little area of trees by the bridle path, there were several yellow-rumped warblers.  Here is one perched.

And here is the yellow rump!  It looks fake, but it's not - it's hilarious and awesome!

And several black and white warblers, who seemed to enjoy being on the trunk of the tree, like they thought maybe if they tried hard enough they could become wood peckers.  :-)  My first sighting of this bird.

Also saw a few oven birds, my first sighting of this bird.

A red bellied wood pecker came through, that was nice, I haven't seen a lot of wood peckers lately.  Also along the shore of the reservoir I saw a yellow warbler briefly, way too briefly to get a picture!  But I am pretty sure that's what it was, there was streaking on the chest, it looked just like the one I saw in Cayman.

From there I tried to find Tanner Springs and it turns out I did.  At least mostly.  There is a concrete area with a drinking fountain and a bunch of benches looking into a bunch of trees.  Again yellow-rumped warblers and black and white warblers.  And Easter towhee that was too elusive for me.  And this mystery warbler, it looks like it could be a golden-cheeked warbler or a black throated green warbler.

I think others have seen the black throated green warbler so that's pretty likely, the pictures are not conclusive.

To the castle!  On the way there I chatted with a birder, she gave me some pointers, that was nice. At Shakespeare Garden, that circle wraparound thing, I saw this northern parula, he was a trickster but I managed this picture!

There was an egret at the turtle pond preening.  Also, obviously, lots of turtles.  It's really enjoyable to watch them from the castle, you get a much better view than from the ground.

Down to the lake!  After a few mis-steps (it's very easy to get turned around, I love my phone!) I made it to the lake.  At the upper lobe this black crowned night heron was hanging out.  There was a water thrush down there too, but it sensed the presence of a camera and made sure to be behind branches and stuff.  The heron didn't care.  It did fly over to a branch along the little trail side of the upper lobe, it looked to me like it chased someone away, but I have no idea who!

Then a cormorant came flying in, and started fishing.  And caught and ate this fish!  It was awesome to see.  It lost it and re-caught it twice, before managing to get it turned the right way to swallow it.  Success!

In the ramble another red-bellied wood pecker came by, they are busy busy busy!  Another black and white warbler also.  And some yellow rumps.

At the oven, this water thrush was still moody and shy.  A pretty swamp sparrow was hanging out there also.

Jack met me on the bridge, and we sat on a bench eating my sandwich and drinking Diet Coke.  A palm warbler and a yellow rumped warbler came by, so Jack could see them.  Then back to the oven.  Some wax wings came down for a quick drink, and the kinglet entertained us for a while.  So Jack got to see many new birds today, it was great.

To the pond!  One of the geese (there is a pair there) is still sitting on what looks more and more like its nest.  I wonder if they'll lay eggs and we'll get a close up view of the whole process!  The red winged blackbird is in his tree.  And a great white egret was there.  We did manage to find the wood duck, after hearing its little peep from the rushes.  And around the corner was a black crowned night heron!  I hope these are all regulars.

It was really a banner day in the park, I was a little reluctant to leave even after about 7 hours strolling around and sitting to watch birds!  Oh, and I definitely need a new backpack.  This one is fine for short-ish walks but is just not cutting it for all-day (or half-day) birding.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Central Park: The pond up to the lake

After the dentist (again.  ugh.) I went over to the Pond at 59th.  Going around along the south shore towards the waterfall I spotted a black-crowned night heron!  He was well hidden up in the brush on the Hallett side, I couldn't see him with my naked eye at all.  Only through binocs.  I think that's my first time spotting a bird with binocs where I saw only brush with my eyes.  Ah, progress!  Anyway, after a little while he came down and had a giant fish!  It really looks too big for him to eat, at least in one gulp.  He was jut sort of carrying it around, I guess he'll figure out a plan.
I turned around and went towards the bridge, and in the main part of the pond saw another one!  I don't think it was the same one, I think I would have noticed that.  Of course I miss stuff frequently, so, who knows.  Anyway this one was just out and sitting on a branch, again on the Hallett side.  Beautiful!

The wood duck and his Mallard lady love were hanging out on the other side of the bridge in the small muddy section, the wood duck chasing off male mallards who came over.  You know, just to see what was up.

Also on that side was this toad, the first one I've seen here this year.

On the island by the bridge one of the geese was sitting pretty, right where it looked like maybe they were trying to make some sort of nest.  I really wonder if they're just going to nest there, that would be amazing, there is such a close-up clear view from the bridge!

Up to the lake.  I walked along the trail south of sheep's meadow but didn't see anything of note.

At the oven the water thrush was still there, and still fairly elusive.  While I waited for him the cormorant came over and posed for me briefly.

 After a while the water thrush came almost to the near side!  He was more than half way across anyway.  Definitely my best look yet at him.

Then a waxwing or two came over for a drink.

The kinglet was still in his bush.  He didn't show me his crown today.

Heading to Bow Bridge I saw the cormorant standing under a tree doing some preening, looking quite dapper.

Then saw this robin sitting in a nest, right along the path.

It was a good day for me, although it's frustrating to see so many posts about so many different birds that I just can't seem to find.  Oh well, for a post-dentist visit, this was wonderful!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Central Park: Not as Dismal

Well the rain finally stopped, so I was off to the park!  I was going to try to see the bird that everyone is excited about by the castle.  When I first got to the park I got a bit sneezy so I stopped in a field and climbed onto a rock to have a dry place to sit down.  I took a Claratin, sat for a few minutes, rearranged everything, and then finally noticed that I had a view of this robin's nest.  She was sitting for a few minutes, then rushing out and doing some foraging, then coming back.  She really could have used some preening, not that you can tell here!

I went to the castle but someone was filming something, and I felt too awkward just hanging out to see this bird, especially because apparently it's hard to spot, so my odds were not good regardless.  I did see something small and possibly yellow fly away, so, there you go.  And there I went, to the turtle pond!

Saw this cormorant, I like these birds more and more, the more I see them.

Saw a few red-winged blackbirds, hopefully someday I'll get a decent picture of one in flight, they are really quite something.

Then this cardinal came by briefly, just to say hello, really.

I went over to the lake and saw this kinglet again.  Or at least I think of him as the same one.

What kind?  Ruby crowned!

The water thrush was there.  Another birder, a visitor from I think England, was there trying to get a picture.  We climbed way down into the oven, it was not easy, quite squishy and slippery.  I did get a closer view of the water thrush, but the pictures ....... well, they suck.  Oh well, maybe someday.

As I was leaving the park, walking around the southern shore of the lake, I saw a raccoon swimming across the lake!  It looked like it didn't particularly enjoy swimming, and was pretty bedraggled when it got out.  It sort of went into one tree, and made an odd disturbing sound, then ran off to find another tree.  It was not a happy encounter.

That's it for today.  Mostly I was just happy to be in the park again!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Connecticut Birding

So we went to Connecticut for a weekend in a luxury hotel, filled with room service and maybe a bubble bath ot seven.  And of course birding along the way!  We ended up being delayed quite a bit, and went to this park for shorebirds.

There were yellowlegs all over the place.

And osprey!  They actually have an osprey cam, the ospreys have eggs now.  We saw one fishing and one was on the nest the whole time.

I think they may have switched places but I can't be sure.  As you can see they were far away, and my poor binocs just couldn't quite handle it.  It was great to see them!

There were a few green wing teals about, again too far off to get a good picture.

We went up to the viewing tower and saw this wild turkey!

The red winged blackbird was actually at a different park, it was cool to see him, although the rest of the park was a wash.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Warbler at Turtle Pond

UPDATE:  This bird is an American Goldfinch, a beautiful male in breeding plumage.  Thanks to everyone who emailed me to identify it, and thanks to everyone who came to look at the picture, whether you emailed me or not!  I thought it was a warbler because of the yellow, and I clearly got too excited.  :-)    

 In other news, I saw two double-crested cormorants on the lake.  This is the best picture I got, although I had several sightings.  Including one when I was leaving of one of them in the upper lobe, fishing and then taking off from the water and flying away, which I didn't think they could do!  I thought they had to dry off first, that the water in their feathers/wings made them too heavy.  But apparently they can fly (at least for a decent while) just out of the water.

At the oven, I saw a water thrush of some sort.  He was very elusive, but I did see him about 4 times in the course of the afternoon.  No pictures.  It was actually pretty maddening.  I would see him for about 30 seconds, get a pretty decent look, bring the camera up, and....... he was gone!  I would wait about 10-15 minutes, see him for about 30 seconds....... you can see how this could go on for quite some time.  When I was leaving, I saw a group of 4-5 cedar waxwings come down to get a drink, here's a cute pic of one.   

It was a beautiful day and I was sorry to leave the park, but I had plans!  I will have to remember that sometimes plans that start before 7:00 are a bad idea, if the weather is good.  :-)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coney Island: Laughing Gull

Today I went to Coney Island with a friend.  We went to the aquarium and then walked along the boardwalk and got awesome hot dogs at Nathan's.  Along the boardwalk I saw several laughing gulls, including this one perched on the street lamp.

This one was in the parking lot by Nathan's.

After hearing them, I understand how they got their name!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A hawk at last, and downies mating!

Today I spent most of the afternoon in central Park. I started at the pond, where I saw this raccoon being entirely too friendly with the humans. It was on the near shore, and didn't seem bothered at all by the tourists etc. There was another across on the far shore, I saw it briefly and then it hid and hopefully rested like a normal healthy raccoon. On the mud flat past the bridge was the wood duck hanging out with his lady love. Up by the rink, I saw a dark-eyed junco, palm warbler, kinglet, and red-bellied wood-pecker. No good pictures though!

 On the path south of Sheep's Meadow I saw this Eastern Towhee, possibly the same one I saw a few days back! I was so happy to see him again!

 Also visiting the path were a flicker and a male cardinal. This time I went by the mineral springs, where this female cardinal was busy gathering nesting materials. I managed to see her during a brief rest on the hedge. She was singing and so was a nearby male, he came nearby but not super close. 

Then up to the lake, where I was watching a kinglet but got distracted by a hawk cry. It sounded more serious than a jay, so I checked it out just in case. I saw the hawk perched briefly, then it flew down the lake shore, so I went walking (with incentive) and managed to find it perched again. At last! I have missed seeing them perched! On to the area by Bow Bridge, where I saw a kinglet and a couple of chipping sparrows. Another red-bellied wood-pecker also visited there briefly. Then on to the oven. There I saw a pair of double crested cormorants, sunning themselves and swimming away from the fascinated people in the rowboats.

 Then a female downy came over, and then a male downy came over. Then the male flew over to the female and sort of ....... landed on her.

 I took these pictures of them mating, turns out they can mate while facing away from each other.

 Then this red-bellied wood-pecker hung out for a while, not minding posing for the cameras, and another joined it briefly. I don't know how to tell male from female but I was hoping they would mate as well, but alas, it was not to be. 

This pair of blue jays came over, surprisingly quietly. 

Then on through the ramble and back to the oven, where I watched this kinglet for what felt like hours until I finally got this picture! It was a great afternoon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today was not quite as cloudy, and we went to the park again. We started at the pond, where we saw a double-crested cormorant again, perched and then later swimming/ fishing. The wood duck and his mallard female were hanging out under the bridge, and once we got to the far side of the bridge on the eastern shore, they came over to see if we had any bread for them. It was just us and the pair of ducks, so it was a wonderful sighting! We also saw what I think was a palm warbler on the Hallett side, hard to ID them that far away. Continuing on, Jack went on back home, and I went towards the lake. Just across the street a female downy came over, she was a little too far away to get a good picture, but it was great to see her in that area! On the trail south of Sheep's Meadow I saw two Eastern Towhees, my first time seeing them! While I was trying to get a decent picture of a towhee a downy came over to say hello. I mean came ~right~ over. Gorgeous! I got up to the lake and went to the area right on the far side of Bow Bridge, where I saw a hermit thrush. Finally a pretty picture of a hermit thrush! Hawks are much easier to take pictures of. These little birds are way too fast. Then a kinglet came through, I don't know which kind, and this poor picture was the best I could do. Then a palm warbler, this one came out sort of okay! Then on to willow rock. I had just settled in to wait for cool birds to come over when a group of birders came over, they had been tracking a water thrush. I helped them find it again, and we saw two water thrushes, and there was quite a discussion whether they were Louisiana or Northern. The only one I got a decent picture of was the one that everyone pretty much agreed was Louisiana. Also a grackle with pretty coloring posed in the sunlight briefly, I tried to capture how pretty they are in the right light. Then back to the area by bow bridge, where I saw a pair of ruby-crowned kinglets - one flashed his crown! It was wonderful, but they are much faster than I am, and I got no good pictures. All in all, a good day!