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!

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