Friday, May 28, 2010

Robins, robins, everywhere

The park today would have been a complete delight if I had a robin fetish!  They were seriously everywhere - more robins than sparrows, grackles, and pigeons put together.

I was happy to see a couple of cardinals and a blue jay.

I did see a couple of waxwings at the stone benchlet, one of the red-bellies by the wooden bridge, and a downy (which I even saw drumming) by Evodia field.  Oh, and a lingering common yellow-throat at the upper lobe, along with one mystery warbler which may have been a female.

I just went around the lake and took the subway back home, didn't go down to the pond.  I was hoping for some water birds, but nobody was out - no herons, no egrets, no cormorants.  I did run into a very nice birder lady who said she saw a green heron at the point a couple of days ago, but we couldn't find it today.

How quickly I have become spoiled!  I remember when seeing a waxwing and 2 types of woodpecker would have been a banner day for me.  Hahahahaha, I think I might be entering my intermediate phase.  :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The pond without binocs

So I went back to the dentist today.  It was supposed to storm this afternoon and I wasn't sure I was going to get to the park afterwards, and the new binocs are so heavy, I ended up leaving them at home.  But after the dentist it was somewhat okay, so I walked around the pond without binocs - frustrating!  I saw the night heron on the far side, and I actually glanced around to see if anyone nearby had binocs.   Hahahaha, no, and I'm lucky it was a no, because I might have been tempted to weasel my way into a look!  I also saw the wood duck and the goslings, and then went to the zoo.  The goslings are very nearly the size of a Mallard now!

After the zoo I came back around the pond to get home, and saw that the wood duck was up on the rock outcropping, so I headed over there just to check it out.  On the way was a cluster of random people with cameras, it turns out Paris Hilton was being interviewed right then and there.  She was quite shiny.  I just kept my face away from the cameras and kept on, but I would have enjoyed a better look at the wood duck.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Slower and smellier.......

Today I just went around the pond, testing my brand new binocs (shiny!) and harness (strappy!)

The harness is much better than a neck strap (um, not looks-wise) but the weight point in the back keeps riding up, so it's not as good as it could be.  I'll try some others that have a larger weight-point, almost like a vest, maybe that will be better.  Also I'm going to hold firmly to the notion that I look like an ultra-hot Bond girl in the harness, not like a possibly delusional lady who got some of the steps wrong in dressing this morning.

Anyway, at the pond I got a much better look at the female red-winged blackbird.  She's really quite something!

The goslings were all present and accounted for, as was the wood duck.  The wood duck is the same size as the goslings, it's hilarious!

No herons, egrets, cormorants, warblers, etc.  I did see a blue jay.

That pond was smelly!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A slow and smelly day in the park

Today was the only option weather-wise for us to go birding this weekend, so we went for it!  We started out at the pond, where we saw ~three~ night herons.  Or possibly two if one of them flew quickly past us in stealth mode.  :-)

Also hanging out on the near shore was this duck, who looks to me like he might be a hybrid.  There was no green really in the head.  Interesting.

The goslings were all still alive, and cute as ever!  We also saw the wood duck, and a female red-winged blackbird.  My first time seeing her!  She was interesting, I saw her first up high in the trees on the Hallett side, then hanging out in the reeds.  Elusive little lady, she did not like the camera.  Maybe she was playing coy with her man, who was there as well.  :-)

Once we left the pond and started walking towards the middle, we saw three crows flying over and cawing, one at a time.  So.... yeah, seeing crows is cool...... but why do they seem upset?  Keep going, but keep an eye on where they were flying from.  There he is!  Red-tailed hawk, flying low and meaning business!  We searched for him where it looked like he would land, but could not find him again.  Great to see a hawk again, it feels like it's been a while!  I never thought I'd say it, but.......... I miss winter, or as I think of it now, hawk season.

Anyway, we made our way up to the fountain, and around the boathouse.  Up the path to check on the beehive - it was quiet but had plenty of bees in it, they just weren't flying around much.  I like this much better than that time I saw it all...... abuzz.    Hahahahaha, couldn't help myself!

Anyway, we checked on captain's bench and the tulip tree, which had a northern parula and a female oriole - Jack's first oriole sighting!  The little tree to the  right of the viewing rock had a Canada warbler, I didn't even try to get a picture.

Okay, okay, let's get to the point!  We took the dirt path there and came back on the main path.  Along the way there were a female redstart, a magnolia, a blackpoll, and a couple of common yellowthroat.  At the actual point we spotted the ducklings hanging out on the opposite shore.  They were hard to see, I only found them because I was looking at the goose that was a few feet away from them.  :-)

At the bathing station we looked at the robin's nest and saw mama robin feeding her chicks.  So cute!

Then we headed over to the oven.  There was really nothing unusual there - except the smell!  Oh, yes, it smelled actually quite a bit like that bad-smelling, good-birding pool in Cayman.  If that's the general rule....... well, I guess I'll just have to learn to live with that smell!

We strolled over to the wood bridge to check on the red bellied woodpeckers, who flew in and out of their nest a few times.  While we were waiting, a blackburnian came through!  It was way too brief, and I ended up with one sad picture of a branch were a bird used to be, but it was great!

In the trees to the front-left-ish of the log seat were a bunch of waxwings, having some sort of waxwing convention.  They are so cool!

And in an obvious attempt to upstage the blackburnian, a common yellow-throat came through.  Slowly.  He lingered.  He was almost begging me to photograph him.  After all this time, now he wants pictures!  Well two can play at that game, little buddy - no pictures for you!  He left, I'm sure he would have looked dejected if he didn't have such a vivid mask.

Next was the stone benchlet.  Poor Jack wanted to much to leave, but this was on the way, so.......... Anyway, the waxwings came through and we had a nice but brief look at a water thrush.

Okay, okay, time to leave.  This time for sure!  But at the upper lobe, I ask him to wait for me on the bench while I loop around.  But he doesn't want to - he wants to come with!  And he's glad he did, because we saw the cormorant catch a fish and wrestle it into its....... gullet?  Well, somewhere, anyway.

We continued around and spotted a night heron perched in a tree!  Then Jack went ahead to sit on the bench while I lingered, and found another night heron, this one hiding in the fallen tree!  That was a total of at least four and maybe five night herons this trip.  It was wonderful!

We also saw a black and white warbler, and a magnolia.  But the night herons were the stars.  :-)

That is, until we got to the water fountain and filled up our bottle, because there we spotted a gorgeous Wilson's!  I tried and tried to get pictures, poor tired Jack was patient.  And the pictures totally did not come out at all.  Oh well, maybe next year........ time to really head for home!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The day of pretty birds and crappy pictures

Today the park still had lots of birds, but not many wanted pictures!  And, to be honest, not quite as many as yesterday.  I started at the upper lobe on my usual route, where I saw a Canada, some magnolias, and some common yellowthroat.  No egrets or herons or cormorants.  There were a couple of mystery birds that hopefully I will figure out next year.  At the tip of the upper lobe, an oriole flew over and landed briefly in that tree that's across the path.  They are so gorgeous!

I ran into a couple of birders there, including that photographer guy who looks like Apollo.  He said he was just meaning to cross over the park but got stuck there because there were so many birds.  :-)

There was a work crew on the shore on the way to bow bridge, a tree fell or was cut down and I think they were chipping it.  Some of the paths were closed, and it was ~quite~ loud.  I took an alternate route over to the wood bridge, and saw a magnolia, blackpoll, and another Canada.  The tall trees were filled with thrushes, it seemed like everywhere I looked was another one!  A female redstart came over to bathe, looking delicate and sweet.  A pair of cardinals made their appearance, making sure I saw them and paid them proper attention.  Sometimes they are like publicity-hungry minor celebrities, they want their pictures taken so badly!  A downy came through and rustled around in the bramble a bit.  And of course the red-bellies came and went.  I heard chicks!  :-)

From there I went over to the stone benchlet, but just after I got there the noise started again, and it was just too loud.  To the oven!

I took the shore path to the oven.  At that thick bush over the water that I always think should have herons, there actually was a night heron!  It was tucked up under there almost invisible, I would not have seen it if I didn't always look under there just in case.  At last, a heron in the heron bush!

I thought that was a great sighting, until I got to the oven.  On the fallen willow, on the diaganol branch with vines, was this night heron, just out there perched in the sun!  Everyone had a great view, and I felt really lucky.  The water thrush was also there, along with the common yellow-throat, magnolia, and a gorgeous northern parula.  I guess it's the same one I've seen here before, really vivid and beautiful.  I was hoping to see the ducklings there again, but, no joy.  The sandpiper wasn't there either.  I did see a couple of swallows flying over, they are fun to see!

Next, the point, where things were pretty quiet.  I went out on the regular path and came back on the dirt path.  I found a Wilson's and was trying to get a picture when Lingering Photo Guy found me.  It was awkward, he wanted to show me really a lot of pictures.  And he seemed like he had been looking for a rosy-breasted grosbeak for 40 years and not seen one.  It's possible we didn't have the best communication I guess.  Anyway, I never found the Wilson's again so I still don't have any pictures.  There was also a Canada, a couple of magnolias, and a female redstart there.  I looked again for the moorhen, but couldn't find it.

Up to captain's bench!  The beehive had lots of bees inside but not a lot of activity outside.  I definitely prefer it when it's calm.  Not much going on up here, bird-wise.

I walked around towards azalea pond, where I ran into a couple of photographer dudes, including the same one who was just crossing over 2-3 hours ago.  Hahahahaha, I totally understand!  Quote of the Day: "If you see something with a long tail, just get your lens on it and start shooting!"  We chatted for a couple of minutes, then I walked on and a birder lady who has ignored me in the past talked to me and gave me some pointers on where to go.  I mean, in the good way!  :-)

I ended up walking towards the wooden bridge, and along the way saw this gorgeous male redstart come down to bathe.  He hopped down, looked right at me, waited for the camera to be ready, and fanned out his tail.  It was hilarious!  Then he took quite a thorough bath, looked at me again, and flitted off to dry and put himself back together.

I sat for a little while back by the wooden bridge, where this Canada finally allowed a picture!  Oh, I'm so happy to finally have a decent shot of a Canada!

Then a pair of orioles came through, on the move but not super-quick.  Here's the male, I didn't get a picture of the female.  She posed for me, but I had camera aiming trouble and instead got pictures of branches near her.  A magnolia also came through, and what I think is some sort of flycatcher.  It was going too fast for me to be able to really zoom in, so the pictures are not good enough to ID the bird.

Back to the oven, which was definitely missing a night heron.  The water thrush was still there, but not much going on otherwise.  I sat for a few minutes, it's one of my favorite spots to sit and see what cool things come through.

But it was time to go.  I hugged the shore on the way back to the upper lobe to take the subway home, and along the way saw a cute and quick black and white, and this chestnut-sided.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A long, warm, wonderful Thursday in the park

I got to the park early-ish (about 10) because I was supposed to be home for Melissa to come over at 2 for a trade.  But before I even got to Balcony Bridge she had moved it to 3.  Fine, I thought, more time in the park sounds good!  Then at Balcony Bridge I saw an egret fly over pretty low, I hoped it was headed for the upper lobe.

And it was!  It landed and walked on the far (east) side of the upper lobe, then flew over to the west side, where I was, to chase off a night heron!  It was an embarrassment of riches right off the bat.  The night heron hid in the fallen tree.  I continued around the upper lobe and back down the mulch trail, along the way I saw a Wilson's, a Canada, and a black and white warbler.  Also a couple of magnolias and common yellow throat.  There was good activity there, I was wishing for a seat!

I hugged the shoreline to the stream inlet and climbed up it, pretending to be an actual hiker.  I had my outdoorsy-girl pants on, so I looked the part, at least on the bottom half.  :-)  Along the way was a robin's nest, but it didn't have eggs or chicks.

I sat on the stone benchlet for a little while and saw this female rose-breasted grosbeak.  I had no idea what it was.  There were a couple of thrushes in the trees, and one or two warblers that came by.

The wooden bridge was still being built, so I went around by the pond and down to the oven.  As I approached the oven I saw a beautiful male rose-breasted grosbeak, but I was too slow with the camera to get a picture!  Aaaaaarrrrrrggggggghghhhhh!  I hope I manage to see another one and get a decent shot.  He was gorgeous.

The ducklings were there!  That started to cheer me up, but I was still sad.

This oriole came over to console me.  Now I'm starting to feel at least somewhat better.

Then after I took pictures of this gorgeous flicker, some guy from Queens and I started talking.  He liked to photograph birds but didn't know much about them, or about how to approach for a decent shot.  He had a great camera though.  No binocs.  He sort of trailed after me when I headed over to the point.

There was a guy out at the point who said he had seen a black-billed cuckoo there just then, but I didn't see it.  A bunch of us were looking, it was fun!  It's now getting to be a nice mix of being on my own, and being connected with this loose group.

I also looked all over for the moorhen, didn't see it either.  Someone reported seeing it just a day or two ago, so I guess it's still here and alive after all! Eventually Queens non-birder guy went back to the oven.  So I headed over to azalea pond.  I walked around azalea pond and the sitting spots by the two benches.  Somewhere along the way this gorgeous tanager came by to say hello.

About this time I notice another message from Melissa.  Today is a no go!  I get no massage today.  :-(  I hope we can reschedule soon.

I went up to captain's bench and the tulip tree to console myself.  On the way back down I went to check on the beehive - it was crazy with activity!  Several bees flying around, and lots of them inside, almost covering the honeycomb.  I don't know if a beehive here is the greatest idea.  It's right next to the path.

Anyway, I went back to the point for a last look for the cuckoo before going back to a spot to sit for a while. My poor neck and shoulders!  On the point, ran into Paul with Ann and another museum guy Andrew.  So obviously I tagged along with him for as long as he let me.   Hahahahaha, I'm such a groupie!

Then I went back to the oven, where there was some sort of flycatcher.  I have no idea which one, and the pictures are not great.  There was also a really pretty northern parula, the colors were just really vivid.  This one is going to get all the girls for sure!

Then I went back to the woodpecker nest, and just after I spotted a tanager that experienced birder guy whose name starts with a M came by.  I showed him the tanager, I was really happy to be able to show someone experienced a bird.  He already knew about the woodpecker nest, and we chatted for a few minutes, it was nice.  He told me about a sandpiper at the oven, which I apparently totally missed even though I have been there twice already today.

A redstart and this chestnut sided came over briefly.

Then another Canada worked its way through, and I managed to get this shot even though these guys are fast and have never consented to pose for me.

OK, OK, back to the oven.  The sand-piper was there and obvious once I looked at the mudflat.  The other times I was here people were sort of blocking that area, so I have an excuse for not seeing it before.  :-)  Also there was the lovely lady with the dark hair and exotic accent, we chatted for a bit.  It seems like about the 4th time you see someone and say hello they start to recognize you.  After that a chat is possible.  Anyway, while we chatted it up a pair of orioles came through, they are so gorgeous!

Now, I'm really leaving.  I head out just walking kind of slowly, it's been a long day here!  There's a tourist guy in front of me who stops to see one squirrel and I was like, oh, great.  But he didn't linger.  And then he stops to see another squirrel, and this one is actually behaving oddly.  Really agitated, chattering and gesturing away at another squirrel further out on the branch who is just hunkered down and still.  I was intrigued, so I watched for a while.  And the agitated squirrel was trying to deliver a baby!

She was in a tree on a low branch right over the path.  She would rest so that the branch was across her belly, helping to push the baby out.  The baby was so low, she was definitely ready to drop.  I actually saw the head come out.  It was pretty intense!  After a while it became clear that my watching was stressing her, so I left.  It seemed like it was taking way too long though, and after watching a squirrel delivery on youtube I think she was having problems.  Maybe stillborn.  Maybe her body's labor process wasn't working properly, maybe the positioning was off, but for some reason that baby just wasn't coming out properly.  I hope she managed to get it out of her body.

On the way out I noticed a black-crowned night heron in the upper lobe.  I love these guys!  Their white hindneck plumes just crack me up.  So fancy!

Anyway, a special ending to quite an eventful day in the park!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The day of the magnolia!

Today there were gorgeous magnolia warblers everywhere.  And I mean everywhere!  I really think I saw at least 10.

I started out at the upper lobe, where I started out the day with this beauty.  There was a black and white there as well, but not so much in the mood for photos today.  Weird, usually that one likes the spotlight.  There were some mystery birds there too, obviously.

I hugged the shore until the stream entrance, where I was hoping to catch a robin feeding chicks.  That didn't happen, but this blackpoll came to visit.  I got a great view, this is the first time I've seen the beautiful coloration in the wings and body.  Previously I only saw it briefly or obscured and thought it was all black and white.  He's gorgeous!

Then, cluing me in about what day it was, a magnolia came over to bathe.  It splashed around for quite some time before going to dry off and preen.  I continued hugging the shore and saw the cormorant on his standing rock, just..... you know..... chillin'.

At the spot by Bow Bridge I saw a mystery sparrow.  Didn't get great pictures but I might be able to narrow it down at least.  To the oven!

At the oven there were a couple of magnolias climbing on leafy tendrils of some sort, showing off their acrobatic prowess.

There was also this pretty northern parula, trying to distract me from all of the magnolias!

From there I went towards the point, and went up to Captain's bench.  There was a brief view of a black throated blue, no good photos.

So I went to the rocks off the path on the way back down, and saw the cat again!  It really is a beautiful cat, but it's so weird to see it in the park.  The park guys don't really seem to be very determined to catch it.

Turning around I noticed several bees going into a hole in a tree so I checked it out, and found this beehive!  I wonder if bee-eaters ever come to NY.  If they do, this might be a good spot to find them.

I went out the dirt path to the point, looking for the moorhen.  No joy, I haven't seen it and I've looked several times, nobody has mentioned it...... I think that bird is gone, gone, gone.  Hopefully got back on its way.  I don't know what predators it would have here in the park.  Is the coyote even still around?  I don't know, but I doubt it.

Anyway, I saw some photo-graphers set up so I tore myself away from a magnolia (of course) to check it out. This mourning warbler was there!  It didn't stay long. I found it again briefly and then lost it, I enlisted Stephen to help find it but we both came up empty.  I mean, empty of mourning warblers.  There were still magnolias a-plenty!  And a beautiful Canada, and still common yellow-throats everywhere.

Moving along, I checked out the bathing spot on the point, and saw this grackle feeding its chick.  So funny, the chick is pretty huge!  I saw what I think must have been one of these chicks at the oven, and didn't know what it was.  No iridescence and the eye is dark.

Exited the point and went along the path to the robin's nest, where she had I guess just finished feeding her chicks.  This one chick didn't think the meal should be quite finished yet.  :-)

That's it for the ramble, time to head to the pond!  My foot was starting to hurt, these shoes are not going to be good for long walks.  :-(

I saw the wood duck at the pond, with his Mallard lady love, paddling about as if they didn't have a care in the world.  Which probably means they don't have a duckling in the world.  :-(  I didn't really give up hope until the flew away, and I didn't hear anything from the reeds when I went over there.  I'm so disappointed, I wanted to watch wood duck - mallard hybrids grow up in the pond!  Actually I haven't seen any ducklings here at all.  Maybe the coyote is still around after all.......

This spotted sandpiper was hanging out in the mud flat, never seen a sandpiper here before, it was great!

The geese were on the move.  :-)

A blackpoll warbler came to visit me here too, it was weird, it just hopped down onto the rock really fairly close to me.  It seemed to not notice that I was there at first, then it looked at me, cocked its head, and took off.

There was one night heron hiding across the way in the thick reeds, it was cool to see it back there!

That's all for today.  Home with aching feet and a camera filled to the brim with magnolia pictures!  :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Feels like home

Back in the park today!  Feels like home to me now.  I got a fairly early start, for me.  Left the house at 10.  Took the subway up to 86th to hit the SW corner of the reservoir, where apparently things were hopping yesterday!  On my way over there I heard a lot of interesting birds and did stop at this one big tree, where I saw a flycatcher or gnatcatcher of some sort.  I was looking for him again (grey, crest, I think there was a wingbar) when non-binoc-birder guy came over and we chatted for a few minutes.  It's still weird to be one of the young ones in birding.  He was younger than me (he looked maybe 30) but the demographics of this hobby have clumped us into the same group.  It's fun!  Anyway, to the reservoir!

It was quieter than I was hoping for, although I did see a Canada warbler and a magnolia at the bridge, and a couple others I couldn't identify.  Actually I couldn't identify the Canada, but some other guys there did.  I saw a Wilson's there also, my best look at a Wilson's yet!  They were not so interested in that, though.  They were all ~so~ high up in the trees, I decided the pain wasn't worth it.  I tried to take pictures, but only ended up with a couple of shots of some thrush, I guess probably a wood thrush.  I saw lots of thrushes high up in trees hopping around and hanging out, which I have not seen before, I've only seen them on the ground or briefly in a tree fairly low.  So I guess these are some sort of wood thrush, but I have no idea how to tell them apart.  I'm not even trying, leaving that for next year!

On to turtle pond.  On the way there I heard some more little lovelies and saw a female yellow-rump, I love them!  This time I did ~not~ get lost going to the turtle pond.  But only because I checked my phone's google maps quite often.  I get really turned around in that section still!  But, made it to the turtle pond. Where I saw these 7 goslings!  So cute.  Shame I couldn't get a decent picture.

Saw a couple of unidentified warbler type birds there.  They are so fast, it's maddening!  At the castle I saw a pair of yellow-rumps and a magnolia.  None wanted pictures today. Maybe tomorrow.  it's funny how they somehow sense when the camera is turned on!  Went around the circle above that garden (Shakespeare garden?) and then headed to the restrooms.

Going back to get to the ramble I passed someone looking at something with binocs, and he waved over another birder (who he wasn't with) so I went over to check it out.  He was looking at this hanging nest made by a house sparrow.  Usually they just nest in cavities but this one build himself a hanging basket, weaver-style!  He said they are related to the weavers.  So cool!  He said he has seen a couple in bushes, pretty protected, but this one was just out there hanging from a low branch directly over the path.  I hope it survives the next storm!

OK.  To the ramble.  Entering the upper lobe, I saw...... a housecat!  A black and white housecat - that did ~not~ look skinny or mangy - came from the north across the path, hopped over the fence, and made itself cozy in the upper lobe vegetation.  I found a park employee, he said the cat's been around for a while and they haven't been able to catch it.  He didn't really seem inclined to make any attempt.  He did say he'd call it in.  Oh well, I did what I could.  I guess we'll have fewer ducklings soon.

In fact the next thing I saw was ducklings, 7 of them being watched over by Mama Duck.  These look older than the ones I saw at the oven.  But still cute!

On the mulch path I saw a few "regulars" - black and white, common yellow throat.  And a mystery warbler!  yellow underneath, slate/blue on top.  Throat yellow.  That's all I know.  I saw him a few times, chased him, gathered others to chase him with me.  We found others - black-throated blue, in the beautiful sunshine!  Magnolia showing off for us!  But we never got a really good look at this guy.  One of the birders said she thought she saw some streaking (I saw no streaking) and maybe it was a Cape May.  I think she was extremely optimistic.  But, we also were following several birds, so we could well have been looking at different birds entirely.

There was a black-crowned night heron in the fallen tree, that was nice to see.  Catbirds frequently around, and this gorgeous northern parula.  I'm so glad I got a good picture of him!

From there, I went to check out the red-belly nest.  It was active again today, and I really though I heard chicks!  Not every time the parents went in, though.  So, maybe I'm being extremely optimistic myself.  :-)

While I was there, a beautiful Baltimore oriole came by briefly, really just trying to distract me.  As did a male northern cardinal.  And, as usual, another mystery warbler!  I don't even remember what this one looked like. There was also a female redstart filtting about, showing me her tail and then scooting out of camera range.

The catbirds are still everywhere, and still just a little shy.  I was happy to see this one fairly closeby.

To the oven!  I wanted to find that green heron someone accidentally found there Saturday.  I saw a mystery fly-catcher in the tree before the ravine, and saw a couple of semi-interesting things.  No green heron.  Ran into Stephen Chang, said hello, chatted, and he was on his way.  A few minutes later he came running over to collect me, saying there was a hatch-out and the mourning warbler was there and I should go see it.  Um, okay!  I followed him over.

Waiting for the mourning warbler to make an appearance with about 15 other birders, I saw this gorgeous chestnut sided warbler.

Eventually after a lot of waiting, changing position, looking, waiting, jostling about, waiting..... the mourning warbler appeared!  I found out later that this is a fairly big deal, bird wise.  I'm apparently very lucky to be seeing one so early in my birding.

Anyway, it was beautiful.  But way too fast and shy.  I did get pictures, but they basically suck.  But given that I probably won't get any more, I'm posting them anyway!  :-)

To the point!  I thought it might be quiet here since the hatch-out was very close by.  And it was pretty quiet, but at the water-spout thing I saw an oriole (it was totally oriole day today), a black-throated blue (briefly), a black-and-white (actually I saw 3-4 of these today, here and there), and this pair of waxwings.  I love waxwings!  They look cool in a David Bowie kind of way.  There was also a magnolia flitting about, but too shy for good photos.  Oh, and I ran into Dubai Guy, who told me my mystery hopper is probably a female common yellow-throat.  He was over the moon about the mourning warbler, and was searching for a blackpoll.

On the way out I saw a robin's nest with the robins feeding their chicks!  I couldn't get a good shot of the chicks though, the nest was too high up.  And on the main path someone was watching a different nest, also with chicks.  So cute!

Back to the oven.  A group of 4 orioles flew through and bathed, a whirlwind of gorgeousness!  I didn't know which way to look!  What a joy.

Then I saw this guy across the way, and asked the birder next to me if it was an indigo bunting. He said it was a blue grosbeak, and was delighted to have seen it!  When I looked at the bird I did see some rusty color on its back/wings, but I don't see wingbars in the picture.  So maybe an indigo bunting, maybe a blue grosbeak.  either way quite a treat for me!

There was a mama duck with one duckling there.  I hope the other one is still around somewhere, may it was with papa duck who was a little further back and hard to see.

Time to head home!  On my way out of the ramble I ran into a couple who were visiting birders, and I took them to the red-belly nest (we were all of 15 feet away from the viewing spot).  One of them was peeking out, so we had a great look at it!

OK, really done now, exhausted and happy.  :-)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Today was the field trip with AMNH to Brigantine.  It was wonderful!  Well, it started out way too early.  But other than that, wonderful!

When we got to the museum we saw a few little lovelies in the tree by the drive where the bus was.  I don't even remember which ones.  But it was a great start!  On the bus I saw geese, cormorants, hawks, turkey vultures, and egrets out the window on the way there.  And when we got into some sort of turn-around situation (I have no idea) when we were almost there, some swallows of some sort.

Once we got there, a chipping sparrow at the very tippity top of an evergreen tree gave us a rousing welcome.  So cute!  At the entrance they have a bunch of boxes for purple martins, I only saw one not flying about wildly.  The picture sucked.  Oh well!  They are apparently basically overgrown swallows (that's how Paul described them anyway).  They are so fast, I don't know how people manage to get pictures of them in flight!

There were also some glossy ibis flying overhead, about a dozen of them.  It was really cool to see them flying. Yes, yes, I saw that in Cayman, but this time they weren't flying specifically away from me!

Once we headed out into the .... park?  reserve?  whatever ....... we saw laughing gulls pretty much everywhere, and crows right off the bat.  Possibly fish crows, but I can't tell them apart.  Someone claimed a boat-tailed crow, but I'm not sure about that one either.

We heard a common yellow throat at the water's edge, some people saw another warbler but I don't even remember what kind.  I didn't see it, I had gone a bit ahead to avoid the cluster.  I did see a marsh wren, but it flew off before I could get a picture.  That little guy was maddening!  He would pop up, catch my eye, and then duck down into the brush again.  It was too fast to follow.  It seemed like there were a pair, fetching nesting material and building a nest in the grass by the water's edge.

There was also this belted kingfisher perched, I'm so happy I got to see this guy!!!!  I hope to someday get a really good close-up view of one.

And this glossy ibis, being sure to turn, showing off its impressive beak to great advantage.  I'm not sure who is trying to steal the ibis's spotlight here, it might be an egret or a tern or a gull........

We saw this willet, which I suspect has a role in many birding jokes.  We actually saw about a zillion willets, including some display flights, which were great!  They are beautiful in flight, you would never match up their pictures in flight with their pictures on the ground.  All that gorgeousness just hides under a don't-see-me exterior, like when I walk around NY with my don't-look-at-me shirt on when I go out.  Except theirs is built in!

We also saw a great blue heron, our only one of the day, and too far away for my taste.  He mostly just stood there, although he did fly a short distance to stand directly next to a nearby egret.  It's funny to see the different birds jockey for position.

There was a bald eagle there!  We saw it flying for a little bit, then it was sitting on the edge of the water, presumably ready to pounce on any fish foolish enough to come by.  Nice to know we can see them somewhere without it being super freezing!  :-)  Paul set up the scope on him, and I tried to hook up the scope to my camera, but that failed.  I remember doing it with binocs with my little guy in Africa, when Melissa and I had beach day.  I might fiddle around with all the cameras and the binocs and see if I can get something going.

We saw a bunch of dunlins here and there.  

Jack and I saw this least sandpiper fly in and land on this mud.  It was extremely hard to spot on the mud, but everyone saw it, I think.  I will admit that some of my pictures did not contain the bird at all, just mud.  :-)

These American black ducks were hanging out.  There were very few ducks there.  

We saw some horseshoe crabs in the water, that's always cool.  These dunlin were hanging out near them.  Apparently the birds all come to eat the horseshoe crab eggs.  

We saw these Forster's terns quite a bit.  To me they look like fighter pilots, so sleek and serious!  The gulls look like they are just bumbling around when you see them next to the terns.  

We saw a bunch of skimmers, but they were too far off to get a decent picture.  Their beaks are so cool!  We saw them fly, but I don't think they were skimming.  They were close to the water but not really on it, at least that's what it looked like to me.  

The black bellied plovers were cool looking.  With that pattern, it really was hard to tell what I was looking at, if they were far away.  It's so interesting to see the different strategies for camouflage, with some trying to blend, blend, blend and some trying to look like a different shape.  

Someone spotted a falcon on a tower, which I could only see as a shape.  I mean, I could see that ~something~ was on the tower.  It's very possible I would be happier with more powerful binocs.

Then there were terrapins!   Hahahahahaha, that was awesome, go Terps!  There was also this group of cormorants hanging out, I've never seen that many together at once.  They were too far away for me to even ID them though, let alone appreciate them properly.

Then one of my happiest sights of the day - ruddy turnstones!  Finally I know what these guys are!  I remember seeing them in Cayman and looking through my app trying to figure out what kind of sandpiper they were and finding nothing.  Well now I know!  We saw several of them, but didn't see them fly at all.  It's a shame, they are so much prettier in flight than on the ground.

This picture theo-retically has semi-palmated sandpipers in with the dunlin, but it's hard for me to tell.  The ones that are hiding their beaks are the ones that I think are the semi-palmated sandpipers.  It's really a bad angle, they just were not very cooperative.  But on that one, you can see the beak a bit.  That plus Paul pointing at them (I think he was pointing at them) and saying "semi-palmated sandpipers" lead me to believe that's what the are......  it's nice to go with a pro!  :-)

Oh, and we saw this oyster catcher!  So funny, it looks so much like the other shore birds to me.  Willets, whimberel, oyster catcher.....   I'm not so good at telling them apart yet.  

We saw a few whimberels.  The first one someone spotted in the grass and we stopped the bus to look.  It was hard to see, but later we saw some others that were not so shy.  

The place was full of platforms for osprey, and they took full advantage.  We saw them flying. We saw them sitting around on their nests.  It was great!  It was an osprey heavy day.  :-)  I have a special fondness for osprey after seeing them in Cayman.  "That was no gull!"  I'm starting to be able to ID them.

These are semi palmated plovers.  I don't know what semi palmated means.  But these are fancier looking than the semi-palmated sandpipers, that's for sure!  :-)  They look more formal to me.  I mean, not quite penguin formal, but getting there.

We walked along their forest trail but it was not active.  I spotted something that was probably a magnolia (at least that's what Paul eventually found in that tree) and someone found a brown thrasher, but that was about it.  

The last stop was a yellow-legs.  I didn't get out for that one.  I took a few shots through the bus window, but they were not stellar.  

On the way back, lots of turkey vultures!  And a few egrets, it's hilarious to me to be driving down the highway with all the noise and traffic and pollution and look over and see an egret right there.  

It was a great day.  I like shorebirds, much easier to spot and photograph than the little lovelies that are coming through!