Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another gorgeous summer day in the park! :-)

Today the weather was just absolutely beautiful again - not too hot, hot too humid, sunny, a bit of a breeze, gorgeous.  Jack and I decided to start at the pond, and see how much energy he had after that.  Maybe the zoo, maybe the lake, whatever.

We walked over to the 6th Ave entrance and walked around to the waterfall.  Lots of robins and grackles and sparrows there, that was about it.  On the way back, across the pond we saw a water thrush very briefly, and then a female redstart for quite some time.  She was moving really quickly, going after the insects, so the pictures were not great, but we got a really good look at her.  So nice to see her again!

Going over the bridge, this guy was in the tree right over the path.  I think it's a juvenile red-winged blackbird.  It was making some noise for us, to make sure we spotted it.  I haven't seen the adult male in a while,I wonder what he's up to.

We looked all over the pond for the wood duck, but didn't see him.  I hope I get to see him in his summer costume, but so far he's too shy to let me see him when he's not all decked out.  One of the ducks we saw paddling around looked injured, it was only paddling with one foot.  The other one it was holding close to its body and not moving.  I don't know if ducks sometimes do this when they are not injured, I guess it's possible.

Jack headed home and I headed up to the lake.  I went up to the fountain and around to the right by the boathouse, and out to the point by the little path.  I saw this blue jay who caught something big and juicy, and amazingly stayed still long enough for a picture.  Thanks buddy!

There were a couple of birds that looked little and interesting that might have been migrants coming back through, but they were too flighty for me.    Hahahaha, get it, flighty?  Aaaaaah, yeah, I crack myself up.

Anyway, I saw a redbelly there and was excited to see it, I haven't seen one in a while.  Sadly though the pictures came out crappy.

After that I went to the oven, where I sat for a while and had a wonderful time.  Didn't see anything of note, it was just wonderful sitting in the shade and drinking my DK and seeing nature.

From there, over towards the wooden bridge.  On the way, I saw this redbelly pair!  I wonder if this is the pair that was nesting here.  I think that flicker might have killed their chicks.  So sad.

Also across the stream on the rocks, this robin was....... well, I guess it was lounging.  I don't have any idea why it did this, it just spread its wings out somewhat and ..... basically just lay there for a few minutes.  I've never seen a bird do this before, the closest I've seen was the skimmer being a decoy that time.  After a few minutes the bird got up and I didn't notice any injuries.  But I didn't get a great look at it either.

I spotted a little interesting bird that turned out to be this black and white warbler, and also spotted some waxwings coming through the area.  I sat down on a rock to hopefully get some pictures.  The waxwings were way too fast for me, they didn't stick around at all, they were outta there!  The black and white warbler stayed for a while, it was moving quickly and working its way up and down that section of the stream.

Moving on toward the stone benchlet, I saw this mystery bird.  I don't know what it is, it looked like a warbler of some sort.

I wish I could have gotten better pictures!

There were two water thrushes there, working their way up the stream.  I got a pretty good look at them, but the pictures did not come out well.  Water thrushes have been a problem picture-wise!

I thought about going up to turtle pond, but I was getting kind of annoyed by the people everywhere.  And the castle and turtle pond would definitely be crowded, and I decided I'd be happier heading home.  Back over to the upper lobe, where this cardinal flirted with me for quite some time.  He was quite charming.

Until I found his nest with his chicks, and took pictures.  At that point he made a noise that I didn't know could come out of a cardinal!  It sounded like a blue jay, but louder and more strident.  Amazing!  I backed off a bit and tried to act all casual, and ended up seeing the whole family.  It was great!  I didn't show any tourists even though some of them looked curious.

Also at the upper lobe I saw two black-crowned night herons, this one in the tree - quite high up, I was surprised - and the other on the fallen tree, looking into the water quite intently.  I'm getting so spoiled seeing these so much this spring and summer!  Between the pair at the pond and the pair here, I'll be so over them by the time fall really rolls around.  :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gorgeous summer day in the park! :-)

Today I was free in the afternoon and it was absolutely beautiful.  I left a meeting and took the subway to the pond, where almost immediately I saw a gorgeous black crowned night heron.  I went around towards the waterfall a bit but didn't see any others, and decided not to go all the way because I needed to head up to meet Brooke.  On the way back, the heron had a fish!  Oh, he speared it all right.  It's a huge catch, I have no idea how he's going to eat it.  Maybe this heron can tear it up, maybe it doesn't always swallow everything whole.

Anyway, I kept going towards the bridge, hoping to see the wood duck, who I did not find.  I did see the other black crowned night heron though!  :-)

Went up to the lake, meeting Brooke along the way.  At the bridge by the upper lobe, we saw this turtle with a ridiculously long neck.  I was too slow to get a picture with its head, this one is nothing but neck.  Amazing!

We also saw this black crowned night heron.  I'm so glad there are so many of these guys in the park!

We made our way around to the oven, along the way a cardinal flew by, teasing us and then not posing.  At the oven we saw a blue joy who also declined pictures.  What's up with these birds?  Don't they want to be famous?

We gave up on the oven and went around to azalea pond, where we saw a mockingbird (Brooke nearly saw it through the binocs, but, not quite) and another cardinal (this one posed but the pics are crappy) and our favorite - this downy woodpecker!  he stayed around for a little while but was moving quite quickly, so he was a challenge.

On the way out we saw a mourning dove with its left wing not folded up properly, I think it must be hurt.  Rightie was fine, but leftie was dragging.  We also saw the heron on the way out, across the way on the rocks, looking like a rock with feet.  :-)

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful time to be in the park!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Central Park: High spirits, Low water

I finally made it back out to the park today!  Yes, it was under 90 degrees and the humidity was under 70 percent, which means it was the nicest day in quite some time.  The summer has really been brutal!  I didn't have too long so I decided to just walk around the lake.

Right after crossing over to the lake, I saw these turtles lined up on the (mostly) submerged log.  They looked so pretty in the sunshine!  I haven't seen that log there before, I don't know if it's new, or if it was already there but underneath the water.  The water is really low right now, I was surprised.

At the bridge I saw this lovely water thrush, who was too fast and in too much shadow to get a good picture of.  Until he came right over and I could get one looking down on him.  Hard to tell, but this is in fact a gorgeous water thrush.  He was hanging out in the upper lobe near the bridge, going from side to side and up to the fallen tree and back.

The water was so low that on the other side of the bridge there was a mud flat!

From there I walked around to the stonelet bench and the wooden bridge, somewhere along there I saw some robins splashing about and on this branch.  There were of course robins of every variety everywhere, I just thought it was a particularly pretty scene.

At the oven this black crowned night heron decided it didn't have to fly away from me.  I tried to convince it I didn't see it, and after a bit it ignored me.

It went down to the water and stuck its beak in and jiggled it about a bit.  I've seen them do this at the pond also, I have no idea what's going on.  Are they trying to attract little fishies?  Are they finding plants of some sort?  What's the deal?

At the point I saw this pair of motley looking cardinals.  The female was really shy at first, but the male convinced her to come pose for me.

When it was his turn he seemed to know he wasn't looking his best.  This was his least motley shot.  Some others were just too embarrassing to put out there.  They actually followed me down the path quite a ways, but I told them firmly that there would be no more pictures until they cleaned themselves up a bit.

I checked on the beehive, it looks good to me.  I mean, there are lots of bees there, anyway.  It was really calm, not a lot of bees flying around, they were all inside.

That's it for today, had to get home to do laundry, plus it was getting hotter and hotter.  It was so wonderful to be back in the park!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Adventures With Paul, Part Two: Breezy Point

We went over to Breezy Point, and this time traffic was easy breezy.  We parked and then started walking.  And walking.  In the sand.

Then, we walked for a while more.

I think on the way we saw a few things, a killdeer flew over, a few catbirds, whatever.

Then we kept walking, and walking some more.

Finally we got to the beach!  There is an area by the dunes that is roped off for piping plovers, so we started looking for them.  First we spotted a couple of oystercatchers, sitting in the sand all tucked in.

As Paul was explaining how hard it was to spot the piping plovers, Jack spotted this one!

We watched it for a while (it was hard to follow) and then Paul spotted this chick! So cute!!!!  :-)

We saw a couple of oystercatchers farther up, and it looked to me like they had a plover with them, and they were guarding it.  Paul pointed out that each oystercatcher had a chick.  Hahahaha, that does make much more sense!

Then we walked down the beach towards the colonies, passing several gulls of various type.  The terns were fishing and a fishing boat was following them looking for fish, that was really cool to see.  Paul warned us that at the colony if we got close to a nest (which is hard not to do, some are right by the path) the terns would warn us off, and we should just be calm.  As he was explaining this, we were watching someone who was not at all calm.  He was in fact spinning around and waving a beach towel over his head, with terns warning him away from all sides.  He looked like he had no idea what was going on, and he finally came towards us, looking like he had just had a harrowing experience.  Hahahaha, it was awesome!

Anyway, right off the bat I saw what I was hoping for - a tern feeding its chick!  In this shot, the tern is bringing a tasty morsel for its chick.

The chick is ready for the fish!  And so is that other tern to their left, who has noticed the incident.

The chick takes the fish, and the other tern indicates a keen desire to share.

I don't think so!

The tern chicks did some posing for me.  They don't seem very afraid of humans.  The parents are a little afraid though.  A tern left this nest when we got closeby, so we got a glimpse of the eggs.  I got warned several times by the terns.

There were also skimmers nesting there, a group beyond the terns and a group on the other side of the path.  Check out this guy's beak!  So crazy looking, and actually quite different from what I was expecting.

This skimmer (who looks pretty badly injured in the eye area) showed us its eggs briefly.

And here's a skimmer with its chick!  :-)

Here's a picture of my favorite thing of the day.  I guess we hung around this skimmer's nest for too long.  It went a little ways from its nest and started flailing about on the sand.  It looked like it was faking an injury to lure us away from the nest!  It was incredible, the behavior looked ~just~ like what the bird did on the David Attenborough video.

Just before we left three chicks posed in gorgeous light for us.  Thanks little chickies!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adventures With Paul, Part One: Jamaica Bay

Today we went birding with Paul, branching out from the park.  Our plan was to go to Breezy Point first, then Jamaica Bay.  But the traffic dictated that we do that in reverse order.

At Jamaica bay, we went around the west pond.  Right from the beginning we saw lots of these lovely tree swallows.

We also saw a willow flycatcher (???) briefly, I hoped it was hunting and would come back, but it moved on.

This osprey gave us a nice low flyover, showing off its beautiful markings.  I love that circle!  (wrist circle?)

Once we could see the water, the shorebird bonanza started.  It was quite something!  Ibis in the grass, ibis flying, a song sparrow in the grass nearby serenading us, egrets seemingly all around.  A heron flying over that we decided was probably a little blue heron.

At one point we saw this willet fly over and found it on the shoreline, and then noticed the sandpiper (spotted?) near it.

There was an osprey box that we saw from several points.  At each viewing point, it added another osprey!  Here it is at full house status, 5 osprey, no waiting.  :-)

We saw a few least terns, they fly so differently from the other terns I have seen, it's remarkable.  They are quite frenetic and just look like they are being buffeted all over by every little bit of wind.  In this picture you can see the least tern towards the right side in the water, and to its left a couple of common terns. What a size difference!  No wonder it's called the least tern!  I still think the name's a bit rude though.

Here's the only shot I got of a skimmer flying, it actually did skim briefly, but I didn't get a shot of that.

Here's my first yellow crowned night heron, I'm very happy to finally see this guy!

We didn't get a close-up view, but we did see him a couple of times including a flyover.

Here's a yellow legs that generously allowed a sandpiper (least?) to share its picture.

This Eastern black swallowtail butterfly first attracted our attention by fluttering by, then landed just to our left, spreading its wings and just begging to be photographed.  So, um, okay little fella, here's your fame and glory.

I love this shot, it totally looks like the ibis is an underling asking a harsh superior for something, and a bit nervous about what the goose might say.

There was one area on the shoreline where the birds seemed to congregate.  There were loads of geese, a bunch of cormorants, a black-crowned night heron, a few oystercatchers, a couple of great white egrets, and a few miscellaneous gulls and ducks.  Amazing!

Just past there, we passed this pair of egrets - a great white and a snowy - posing so that we could see their differences.  The snowy looks like some sort of dwarf species, so funny.  I don't know why they are so close together, I thought that was a little odd.

Of course it's hard to pass a wooded area with Paul, he'll try to find every last bird in there.  And so he did!  This female common yellow-throat teased him for a while, but then did agree to show herself, albeit partially and briefly.

Next was this waxwing, who apparently knew Jack was coming, and made an appearance.  Thanks waxwing!

This tree swallow showed us who the boxes are for.

The yellow warbler was reluctant, but Paul eventually spotted it and coaxed it to come out long enough for just one picture.  Luckily I had the camera pointed at the right spot, because he was outta there!

Next, more shorebirds.  There was a flock of glossy ibis in the water, taking turns showing us their beaks.  Then they all took off at once!  We have no idea what triggered that.  The black-crowned night heron and snowy egret are not quite so easily moved.  Hahaha, actually they left right after.  :-)

On the way back, Paul found a white-eyed vireo and an american redstart, but they declined the photo op.  Oh well, maybe someday.

It was a great time, we're so glad we went!