Saturday, August 14, 2010

The pool, loch, and meer and a gorgeous summer day

What a gorgeous day!  We decided to go up to the north end of the park, to avoid the crowds that would be by the lake and pond on a gorgeous summer Saturday.  We tried to take the 2/3 to 110th but that failed, and we ended up getting out at 96th and walking over.  From there, we headed up to the pool.

There was a little stand of trees right when we got to the pool that had several starlings.  They look really different in their winter plumage!  These ones might have been a little in between, because their heads were dark dark dark not spotted at all.  Anyway, I got to see them from many different angles, and they were definitely starlings (hahahaha, as definite as I can be anyway) and this explains a mystery bird from the Audubon sanctuary.  It was a starling!  It just reminds me how new I am, that one of the birds I see most often can still surprise me.  :-)

In the same stand there was also something small and dark and interesting looking, but I didn't get a look at it really, Jack called me over to look at a robin and a grackle.  Gotta love going out with someone who make me feel like an expert!  :-)  We went around the pool to the left, where it looked interesting, and a dragonfly landed on Jack's hat.  That hat gets a lotta love!

Then there was a mystery bird, I didn't get a picture of it.  It was about robin sized, mostly grey, grey throat, yellow (but not bright yellow) belly.  I didn't get a good look at the beak.  Maybe a great crested flycatcher?  It's possible I guess.

Then continuing around saw this beautiful little Eastern kingbird.  He was quite busy catching his lunch, that is until the sparrows came in and tried to land on his branch.  He would have none of that!  It was hilarious watching him chase them off.  These insects are mine, mine, mine!

Continuing around we saw this little guy, I'm guessing he's a warbler of some sort?  He made a quick meal of that dragonfly and then posed for me, quite pleased with himself.

I don't think it was a kingbird, because of the yellow (it didn't come through very strongly in the photo but it was clear).  Maybe a flycatcher?  The bill looks all dark to me.  Maybe a juvenile?

Anyway, we kept on and went up the loch.  The first thing we saw was a big nasty rat!  At first just the tail, be then we saw it running along like it belongs there.  Yo, it's not the sewer!  Ugh.

Shortly after that we saw a beautiful female American redstart who was kind enough to give us a nice view but drew the line at pictures.  I guess she didn't feel that she looked her best.  She looked quite lovely to me though!  Made up for the big nasty rat.

We took a wrong turn and ended up at the baseball fields, and backtracked along the same section of the stream again.  This time an oriole blew through!  Oh, he was beautiful, but in much too much of a hurry to bother with a quick pose for me.  He just flitted off.

Walking along after our detour, someone saw that we had binocs and asked us to look at something and tell him and his family whether it was a raccoon or a porcupine.  I have never heard someone say they saw a porcupine in the park, but this dude says he has seen them!  Although maybe he saw really big rats and interpreted them in the best possible way.  This particular animal was a sleepy raccoon.  I mean, seriously - how can this possibly be comfortable??!?

While we were looking, this downy came down (haha, see what I did there?) to the tree right next to where we were standing.  I told them that there was a woodpecker ~right~ ~there~ but they only had eyes for the raccoon.  Jack was letting them all take a turn with his binocs.

Then this flicker came in on the tree just to the left of the raccoon - gorgeous!

Then this blue jay (yes, I know, but IRL it really looked like a blue jay that was just a little grey, and definitely sounded like a blue jay, plus you can sort of see its tail) came by to say hello.

We kept on and decided to sit down by the water and see who wanted to come visit.  We saw a few post-bath grackles.  Hahahahahaa, it's not a pretty sight!

And another big nasty rat, I got a picture this time.  It's kind of disturbing.  Maybe I don't want to actually notice all of the wildlife in the parks........

At the meer we saw what I thought was a few swallows flying around in a most impressive fashion.  Jack thought he saw them perched but it turned out those were sparrows.  :-)  The only birds I saw perched that looked remotely like them were the kingbirds.  It was definitely a kingbird heavy day!  So, the question is - did I see the kingbirds flying around like that and mistake them for swallows?  Or did I just never find the swallows perched?

Walking around the meer I saw a downy and it just looked odd to me, so I climbed up some really steep rocks to try to get a look at it.  My poor knees!  Anyway, I did get a look at it, and it looked completely normal.  Oh well.

Then found another sleepy raccoon, this one at least looks like it is somewhat more comfy that the first one.

That was about it.  There was a ~really~ loud inflatable carnival of some sort over by the conservatory garden, so we skipped that, went back to the west side, and cabbed it home, fairly exhausted.  It was great!  :-)

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