Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bronx Zoo Wildlife

Today Jack and I headed up to the Bronx zoo, to check it out in the wonderful weather.  Last time it was winter, and we had a great time, but only half the animals were on display!  And no monorail.  So we were back for more.

I drove because poor Jack has been so super stressed.  Which was totally fine until we were almost there and I saw a hawk flying around!  I wanted so bad to watch it, but ...... that would have been a bad idea.  All I could tell was that it was a hawk not a vulture (from the color underneath).  I hope Jack enjoyed it enough for both of us!

Then coming in from the parking lot, there was a group of chickadees in a couple of trees.  Well, it might be embarrassing, but out came the binocs and camera!  We were off to a great start!  :-)

Then we entered the actual zoo, and decided to head to Tiger Mountain and maybe see the enrichment session.  We started heading over along the river, and I spotted a great white egret on the way.  It was great!  I couldn't see the actual bird, just a reflection of white on the water, so I looked around to see if it was a bird, and there it was!  There was no way to get a picture, but we both clearly saw it.  I felt like such a spotter!

Okay, we left the egret and continued along the river.  The path sort of turned off, and there was a big patch of jewelweed so I said, "Oh, hummingbirds like this!" Jack said, "Well, let's just give it a minute......" We were totally joking, we did not think we'd actually see a hummingbird..... but one came right up!  We laughed and laughed, it was really wonderful.  It turned out that there was a huge expanse of jewelweed all along this path, and we were really super lucky to have seen the hummer.

We saw some of the animals on exhibit, but I think we're sort of over zoos.  I mean, we were really only marginally interested in the exhibit animals, we were much more into looking for wildlife while we were there.  By the way, plenty of chipmunks!  And I did find a redstart high up in the trees.

Then came my best spot ever!  I was hoping to see a perched hawk (you know, like I did at Prospect Park!) so I was looking at all the trees to see if anything was just pretending to be a branch.  And one branch was just a teeny bit suspicious, so I checked it out.  I thought at first that it was a green heron, but looking at the pictures now I think it was a juvenile black crowned night heron!  It was not banded.  Finding that guy felt like a real accomplishment.  :-)

Then above the heron was a mystery warbler.  Or something little and interesting.  A Mystery Interesting Little Bird.  MILB.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Prospect Park, Post-Tornado

So today I went all over Prospect Park with Paul.  We entered at Grand Army Plaza, same place as the group thing.  But it looked pretty different, because the tornado came through here!

There were plenty big branches broken off of trees, several trees snapped off at the base, and about 4 or 5 big trees that were just completely uprooted, with a huge dirtball of roots sticking up.  It was impressive.  We did some clambering around because the trees (or parts thereof) were blocking the path.  I mean, it wasn't really a big deal or a lot of climbing, it's just not what one expects in the park.  I did touch the inner living wood, but not much because I would definitely have gotten splinters.  It's funny how it doesn't feel alive to me the way an animal does.  It's so foreign my touch doesn't even really recognize it as life.

Anyway at one point there was a huge tree across the path, and a little redstart had taken up residence already.  That didn't take long!

Overall the park was pretty quiet.  There were a few pockets of activity, so there would be nothing, nothing, nothing, and then sort of a frenzy.

While we were there we went through the zoo.  It was fine, nothing spectacular.  We did see some waterthrushes in a bird area.  Oh, and it turns out that waterthrushes are not thrushes.  They are warblers.  What????  This is jut mean to beginners.  It's like the whole Broadway / West Broadway thing all over again.

Anyway, we went to I think lookout hill where we saw several hawks flyovers, including a pair (I think of red-tails) flying and a merlin chasing them.  It really looked to me like the merlin whacked the trailing hawk, but when I said that Paul was pretty quiet so I'm not sure he saw it exactly that way........  :-)  Then there was one that was either a Cooper's or a sharp-shinned, I have no idea which and Paul was also unsure.  I only really saw a silhouette.

As we went back towards the water, Paul found us a perched hawk, probably a juvenile red-tail.  We were standing there for a while (I don't remember why, we were probably looking for something else) and Paul said, "Uuuuuummm, hey, is that a hawk?" "Where?" "Right there, right in front of us, sitting right there?" "Oh!  Um, yeah, it is!"  :-)   Hahahahaha!  Luckily he stayed for pictures, because I had to fight with the camera for a while.  But look how gorgeous he is!

Once we got down to the water we saw this green heron.  First I spotted it far away, and Paul figured out how to get us closer.  Not by jumping the fence, by looking for a place where the fence had already fallen so we could just casually step across, you know, without noticing.  And we were just in time, he caught a fish!

I know Paul was frustrated, but I thought it was a great day - my first perched hawk in ages, and my favorite heron catching a fish!  Yeah, I think the green heron is still my favorite, since I got the special close-up views in Cayman.

So we were about done and started heading out.  An Italian ices cart passed us, so Paul flagged the lady down and bought an ice.  Apparently they attract warblers, because suddenly there were little lovelies everywhere!  I don't remember what kind, I didn't get any good pictures, but it was fun watching them and watching Paul frantically eat his snack so he could get to the serious business of watching the little birds.  We agreed that next time it was slow, we would get some emergency ice cream to bring the birds out.

Then we were really leaving, but there were still occasional hawk flyovers on the way out!  :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another strange day

Today Jack and I ventured up into the park.  I wanted to check on the ruddy shelduck and then explore the ramble, Jack wanted to see hummingbirds and then walk, walk, walk until his poor back felt better.

We started out at the pond, where there was no ruddy shelduck.  I hope she comes back!  I mean, it really seems like the perfect place for an ornamental duck.  But she might be moving on.  I didn't really look around beyond that, because Jack didn't want to stop very often.  We didn't see the wood duck or cormorants or herons or anything.  I wonder if the herons are gone already, it's been a while since I've seen them.

From there, we just booked it up to the ramble, not stopping for anything!  Well, except for 3 blue jays that were high up in a tree, raising a ruckus.  It's nice to be able to hear a bird and then find it!  :-)  After that, we went straight over to the oven, no stopping.

And the trip as worth it - hummingbirds!  It looks like we have 3 today.  At least one of them is quite territorial.  He has claimed the front patch of jewelweed (the area right by our concrete "seat") and perches in the tree (willow?) there.  When another hummingbird comes over he chases them off, sometimes quickly, sometimes with a hummingbird-style face-off and/or duel.  Then he would go right by to his perch.  I mean sometimes he would visit maybe 2 flowers, but then, right back to the perch.  It was awesome!

There was quite a bit of chasing, obviously.  When we turned to look at the yellow warbler they buzzed us from behind, chattering.  :-)

Oh, did I mention the yellow warbler was in the white flowers if we turned to look the other way?   Yes, looking just as gorgeous as can be!

There were briefly 2 waxwings on the far mudflat.  I guess they are juveniles, their plumage is really different on their backs and chests.  And sort of scruffy looking.

A chickadee briefly stopped by, trying to fool me again.  But I'm wise to its ways now.  I think they know they look larger next to the hummingbirds, and that's why they come here.  Confusing new birders must be some sort of sport.

There was also a song sparrow hanging around the near mud patch, coming out for a brief glimpse now and then. A common yellow throat was doing the same thing, they were just teasing us.

I saw a grosbeak briefly on far mudflat, but just the one, and only that one time.  Funny, last time I was here they seemed much friendlier!

Jack decided his hummingbird time was sufficient and left to walk off his backache.  I left also, to amble about the ramble.  First I headed over to the gill.  It was quiet on the way there, and quiet when I got there, at first.  I was remembering the little warbler I saw here last time and hoping it would resurface.  Instead I got a house wren!  :-)

Over to azalea pond where there was a thrush or some sort.  I don't know what kind.  I can tell that it was not a veery, that's as far as my thrush ID skills have progressed.

While I was there I heard a bird calling and didn't recognize it.  Of course I'm used to not recognizing birds and then finding a robin, but I decided to try to find these birds anyway, since it was so slow.  It took a while but I did find them - flickers!  I had never heard them make that sound before - well that might not be true, it's possibly I heard the call many times but just didn't know it was them!  Anyway, the sound does turn out to be in the voice file of my app, so hopefully I will remember it next time.  It was nice to see them!

Somewhere in there was, of course, a black and white.

Made it to and over the wood bridge while somehow missing birds and all signs of birds.  So quiet!  I went down to the rocks and sat there for a little while.  Quiet, quiet, quiet.  My eye caught some movement and I saw something - it was probably a pigeon, but it looked interesting, so i went over near the rustic shelter (?) but couldn't find it.  I decided to just keep moving, because I was actually pretty chilly.  Those weather people may have overestimated the degrees we would have that afternoon!  I would have been happier with about 5 or maybe even 10 more.

So I went around the other way toward the stone benchlet, and to my complete surprise saw somethng that might have been a vireo!  It did not stick around long enough for a good look.  But that was okay, because then I saw somethng that might have been a redstart!  And then something that might have been a veery.  These birds went through really quickly!

Then a water thrush, that one I was sure of.  I mean, I don't know what kind of waterthrush, but at least I know waterthrush!  Hey, it's a step.

Then I got an okay look at a sparrow that might have been a song sparrow, but really didn't seem quite like it to me.  But I don't really have other candidates, or a picture.  Oh well.

OK, it's super quiet again, time to leave for sure this time.  Didn't see anything on the way out.

Until I was on the sidewalk about to go into the subway  and saw a dot in the sky.  Alert!  Alert!  Dot in the sky!  I dug out my binocs to check it out, and it looked like maybe about a dozen or so migrating hawks way up there?  Or maybe I was being overly optimistic?  I called Jack to check them out from the roof, but he couldn't find them.

Once I got home I went up to the roof to check it out, and I saw something a few times but I'm really not sure what it was.  It looked like 6-8 large birds sort of circling around by the museum ish.  They were just so far away!  And they didn't come my way, they just sort of vanished.  So they might have been gulls heading to the reservoir.  Or wherever else gulls head to.  But there's at least a chance they were migrating hawks!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What a strange day

As I headed into the park today in my normal spot by 77th, walking down the road I saw some interesting teeny birds that normally contain just sparrows.  They were sleeker than sparrows and their bellies were buffy, whiter than a sparrow.  I took a look but didn't see much and couldn't get a picture, they were moving too fast.  I saw a geryish bird, the back was primarily grey, and there was a pretty strong eye stripe.  Not like the warbling vireo, it was strong.  I think they might have been Tenessee warblers?  There were at least two.

I went up the upper lobe mulch path and it was quiet, quiet, quiet.  I stood in front of that one spot ..... you know, with the tree...... for a while, and eventually saw a grosbeak!  I was too slow for a picture though.  While waiting for it to return, I saw this thrush, a maggie, and a downy that came through.  Didn't see the grosbeak again though!

Over to the maintenance meadow, where I saw a thrush of some sort.  As usual when I'm alone, I have no idea what kind.  Maybe next year.  :-)  Then a dog came charging through the meadow straight at me, sort of growling.  A minute or so later the owner showed up and managed to get the dog to go over to him.  The thrush was of course gone.  The guy was throwing squeaky toys for the dog to fetch.  There was a common yellow throat and cardinals everywhere, but I needed to leave.

Off to the oven!  On the way there I went by the gill, where I saw a little lovely that I think must have been a chestnut sided warbler.

He was moving fast.  The chest and belly looked buffy to me, the top of the head had yellow, and so did the back and wings.  From what I could tell.

Also on the way were a pretty maggie, a cute black and white, and a water thrush.  Then I met up with the nice woman with the eastern (?) European accent who feeds the cardinals.  I like her, even though it's not always easy to communicate.  She pointed out a black throated blue, I pointed out a maggie, she pointed out this ovenbird, and I pointed out a downy.  Satisfied, I left her, thinking I had done pretty well and held my own.

Then she called after me, pointing out a wren!  OK, she wins.  :-)

I finally made it to the oven where there were hummingbirds!  Today only about 3.  Hahahahaha I lvoe being so spoiled that I can say "only 3" hummingbirds!

There were also several grosbeak, not quite as shy as last time I was here.

I also saw this mystery finch, or at least it looks like a finch to me.

There was also this flycatcher zooming around and showing off.  Every time it flew off to capture a tasty morsel all the birders there would say "OOOoooooOOOOooooo" along its path.  It must have thought it was in a movie with its own sound track!

The common yellow throat (I think of it as the same one) was again in the reeds, and a maggie came by for a little bit.

It's so wonderful to be able to just come to this spot and see so much!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday morning walk

I decided to walk up to the meeting point of the walk this morning.  I thought 25 minutes would be plenty of time, but really I barely made it.  I mean, if we had actually started on time, which we did not.  I still prefer to be early though, so if I'm walking I should remember to leave 40 minutes.

Anyway, walking up to the upper lobe bridge there was a group of waxwings on a tree, but sadly a chain saw started and flushed most of them.  There were still a few there though!

We hung out on the bridge for a little while.  I saw a common yellow throat on the rocks and greenery on big side of lake on road side of bridge, but he hopped back before I could show anyone.

We headed up the mulch path and there was a maggie on the path, posing for us!   :-)

The maggie posed for us over and over in the sun.  Sadly this camera does not do all that well with birds in the sun.  I need to figure this out.  It's incredibly frustrating!

Anyway, I saw a song sparrow on high rock on mulch path - it was moving quickly so I didn't even try to tell  people about it.  I also saw a grosbeak in tree, briefly - at least someone else saw this one, I was starting to feel like they would all start looking at me as the girl who cried bird.  :-)

A couple of blue jays flew in, and someone didn't believe me that they were blue jays.  That was a little annoying, but this guy turned out to be hilarious.  He would spot something, inevitably a robin or blue jay or cardinal.  He wanted so bad for the birds to be something special, when really it was all just robins and blue jays and cardinals!  After about 4 or 5 times it got hilarious and just wanted him to never stop.  :-)

There was a swainson's (they said) thrush in a tree.  I got a good look at it and could tell that it was a thrush, but I still can't much tell them apart.

We started to head over to the maintenance meadow, there was nothing interesting on the way.  Most of the group headed towards the restrooms, I followed the other 2 assistants to the meadow.  When we entered I noticed what I thought was a thrush in the dirt under some trees and told them, it turned out to be an ovenbird.  Then they told me that an ovenbird is not a thrush but a warbler!  I thought it was a kind of thrush.  I also thought thrushes were a subset of warblers.  Looks like I have some more figuring out to do!  I was happy that I finally found a bird that experienced people definitely saw, and enjoyed.  :-)

Today was definitely the day of the maggie - they were everywhere!  There were so many that I even got this sweet picture containing ~two~ maggies!

Later a maggie flew down into the grass, looking exactly like an extremely fancy peep in an easter basket.  It was so cute and funny!

There was also this common yellow throat, who was mostly in the reeds but came out into the grass briefly, not wanting to be outdone by the maggie.  I don't know though, it doesn't really look like a peep in an easter basket to me.  The grass is all wrong, and he's not really nestled in.

Then we headed over to azalea pond where was saw - you guessed it - maggies!  There was also a black and white.

At the gill we saw this cute but nervous swainson's thrush hanging out in the water.  It's definitely keeping its eye on us!

In the trees there we saw a mystery bird, probably a warbling vireo.  I saw it a few times but only quite briefly.  I saw the head once and did see the eyestripe for sure.  Also on the branches there were a few common yellow throats.  I saw one female, one male with a nice mask, and one with just one cheek of mask quite dark, and only on one side.  He looked freaky.

Some of the group saw an oven bird, I did not.  I was on the fringe.

Time to head out.  As I was leaving, by the wood bridge there was a water thrush and another pretty black and white.  I love seeing one last bird (or two) after I decide I'm done!

Gorgeous Fall Day in Central Park

Today I wanted to see if the ruddy shelduck was still at the pond, so I walked up to the 6th Ave entrance to check things out.

Before I was even fully suited up I saw this cormorant by entrance, in the little teeny section!  I've never seen them there before..... looks like it's going to be a good day!

There were some warblers across the way at Hallett, but I couldn't really identify them except for the black and white.

Making my way around the pond, I saw a common yellow throat male in the little patch of greenery just before the bridge.  He was hopping around completely unconcerned with the tourists there.  He had pretty much a full mask, looking spiffy!

In the upper section, there was the ruddy shelduck!  I'm so happy she's still here.  Yes, turns out it's probably female because there is no ring around the neck.  She was much less shy today.

Hopefully she hangs out for a good long time!

I looked up and saw a hawk or something fly over.  It was low enough for pictures but I was confused by it, something was different.  I noticed a strong black band across the tail  and on its wings (at least tips).  Also the tail was quite broad. Looking at the sheet and talking to Paul about the hawks, this was probably one of the  broad-winged hawks.  Cool!  It held its wings more pointy than it shows on the sheet though.

I didn't see the wood duck at all, and haven't seen any night herons in a while.

I booked it up to the ramble, going through the fountain and around the boathouse.

On the point I saw a few little lovelies.  There was definitely this maggie, and there might or might not have been a canada.  I thought I saw a necklace but I'm not sure if that was this bird or a different bird, it's possible it was this one with a branch faking me out.

There was also a common yellowthroat male and female pair, and of course a black and white!

That was all on the little dirt path out there, I didn't see anything else really so I headed over to the oven.

Guess who was there?  That's right - hummingbirds!  It seemed like at least 6 hummingbirds to me.  They were feeding of course, but also chasing, chattering at each other, and buzzing us once in a while.  They seem to be getting territorial.  A hummingbird will decide that a particular flower patch is its territory, and chase off other hummingbirds that come in to feed.  They completely ignore the bees, maybe they eat different things from the flower?

While there I saw a hawk flyover.  First there was one pretty low, took a look and saw another behind it, then another behind it, then further back suddenly they were everywhere!  There were at least a dozen, mostly too high to see with just eyes.  Paul said it was probably broadwing hawk migration.   It was amazing!  A guy with a camera to take pictures of the hummingbirds asked me what I was looking at, but he didn't try to see them, maybe he didn't have binocs.  I tried to point them out when they got low, but he never saw one.

Then I noticed that on my other side in the little patch of greenery was this lovely yellow warbler!  He was hopping around and generally being gorgeous in the white flowers.

There was also this beautiful common yellow throat, and of course a black and white.  It was such a magical time.  I sat in one spot.  If I looked left I saw the hummingbirds.  If I looked right I saw the warblers.  If I looked up I saw the migrating hawks.  Incredible!

Oh, and did I forget to mention the common yellowthroat peeking out of the jewelweed once in a while?

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I left for an appointment.

When I got back, the hummingbirds were still there!

There was more perching today.  Or maybe I am getting better at seeing it.  They are hard to follow!

I also saw what looked a bit like a himmingbird duel.  Instead of a straight chase they circled each other closely and went at each other a bit.  Hilarious!

There was one with a little ruby patch on its throat.  I was hoping to get the right angle to see the flash and I did, twice!  I got a picture of it once, but sadly...the picture is quite blurry.

The common yellow throat male came out of the reeds to pose a couple of times.  He's quick, this one!  

Then these muscovy ducks came by.  I heard someone say they were muscovy ducks anyway.  I looked it up, and it's definitely possible.  I don't know if other ducks get that red around their eyes and bills.  

There was a grosbeak pair that gave me tantalizing glimpses, and eventually one agreed to pause briefly on a branch to let me try to take a picture.

Now it was really time to go.  I crossed the upper lobe bridge and decided to walk down the lake, taking my time a little.  It was pretty quiet, after all it was about 5 or so at this point.  But along the way there was a sweet little black and white making sure to draw my eye, telling me goodbye for today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wet and wild (?) in Prospect Park

Today was the day Paul took a group through Prospect Park.  I was really looking forward to it, the park is gorgeous and I always have fun and learn a lot with Paul.  Sadly there was a pretty good chance of rain, so I was a little ....... concerned.  I did the best I could prep-wise and headed out.

The group was about 10-12 people, which is a bigger group than I like.  Really I think about 3-4 people is good.  But I'm good at getting to the edge, so, it's fine.  There was a visiting ornithology grad student there who was studying hummingbird bills, it was interesting to talk to her.

At the entrance there were 2 osprey circling over for a bit, what a great start!  Getting into the park it was pretty quiet, and then almost right away it started to rain.  Uh oh!  The camera goes into the bag.  So, no pictures.  :-(  I did actually pull it out later, but the lighting was so low that the pics were crappy anyway.  Oh well.

I pulled on my rain jacket and hat, and we all just sort of slogged through the rain.  It was pretty funny.  I'm glad it was fairly warm and the rain was gentle, otherwise I might have just bailed.  But I was fine even though it was a bit damp.  We tried to stay on paths where we could be under the trees.  :-)

So, here are my impressions.

First of all, I need to stop telling people that I am a beginner.  I am, of course, entitled to claim beginner status for a couple more months, but it's just confusing to people.  On this trip one lady asked me what book I recommend for beginners.  I started chuckling, which I think was unsettling for her, but it was hilarious!  And another lady asked me to id a bird for her, and then Paul had to correct me, which was beautiful.

Second of all, even with a group, if you're not feeling it, just go on ahead or lag behind or something.  It's fine.

Third, with fast birds, it's somewhat useless to call someone over to look at it if you have to raise your voice.  Like, at all.  By the time they respond and get there, that bird is gone.  If you see a common yellowthroat in a tree, just tell the folks right next to you, don't even try to get the rest of the group.

Fourth, Prospect Park is absolutely gorgeous, and the rain if anything added to that.  It was light rain, and just looked like seeing the park's beauty through a magic curtain.  I wish we could have found a little gazebo or some dry area and just watched the rain.  It was that pretty!  I mean, ideally the gazebo would have hot chocolate, but that almost never happens.

Okay, so what did we see that was special.  There were about a zillion black and white warblers, they were everywhere!

I accidentally found a grosbeak (I was supposed to be looking for something else but I don't remember what) and later a bit further ahead we saw the same one with its friend.  Two grosbeaks just sitting there in a tree for us to look at for a long time!  That was great.

We saw a maggie and Paul taught me how to look at the tail to ID it.  That's good, because I have a hard time with them.

At one point we were on the path looking over at some trees and there were just a whole mess of warbles and one lone vireo flitting about.  We were watching them and trying to figure out which one was where because they kept changing places, when a hawk (probably Cooper's) flew by.  That was cool!  This was when Paul tried to tell me how to tell a vireo from a warbler, but none of it matched what I have seen, so I'm not to the point that I can tell those differences yet.

There was a point we were looking over the water at something and a black crowned night heron flew across the water.  :-)  We couldn't see it after it landed.  I tried to get a better angle when we were further around, but never did see it again.  So that was both awesome and frustrating!

At the end there was one tree with I think 5 redstarts in it, along with one or two other warblers, entertaining each other and us.  This included a yellow warbler, who is still special to me because it was my first warbler ever, in Cayman.  :-)

We also saw a smattering of various thrushes and woodpeckers, and there were cardinals everywhere.  Seriously - everywhere!  I think I saw more cardinals than house sparrows, who have not overrun this park like they have Central Park. There were chimney swifts flying above, Paul tried to tell me how to tell them apart from swallows but I can't tell yet.

I was so glad the Q was running to 57th and running express.  I was damp when I got home, but it was a great day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hummingbirds, Part Two

Today I wanted to take Jack over to the Oven to see if the hummingbirds would come back!  It was so special and wonderful, I hoped he would be able to have that experience also.

We took a cab (we have not had good subway luck on the weekends), crossed over, and everything was quiet.  Quiet, quiet, quiet.  I went fairly slowly over the bridge, just looking around, no waterthrush, no flickers showing me their wings, no warblers teasing me and zipping around.  We decided to just sort of book it over to the oven and hang out there, rather than taking our time looking for little lovelies along the way.

So we started to book it, but got interrupted when a little band of merry makers stopped us in our tracks.  There were 2 redstarts flying at eye level on the path right in front of us, chasing a big juicy morsel that was giving them a run for their money!  In the tree right there were a common yellowthroat, a mystery warbler, and a black and white.  It was quite something!

We continued on, and saw a birder looking intently at someone at azalea pond, it turned out to be another redstrart, this one a beautiful male.

After that we headed right down to the oven, and asked the birders there if the hummers had been there.  They said yes, and that he would be back probably.  He.  As in one.  Well, one hummingbird is not the same as the 5-ish I saw yesterday, but still would be great!  We sat on the concrete "seat" and waited.

Something was rustling in the jewelweed (yes, that's right, I learned the name of a flower!) so I went to check it out.  A bird hopped up and I got a brief glimpse of a rosy throat or chest surrounded by a buffy lower chest or belly.  In a few minutes of looking I saw what seemed like it might be a very fancy somewhat large sparrow with a stripey head.  But I didn't get a good look.

Also there was what I think was a veery in the underbrush.  I can't really tell the thrushes apart with confidence, but I think it was a veery.  Partly because there was one here yesterday.

As you can see, I did not get a particularly good look.
But I didn't care, because then a hummingbird came!  We were absolutely thrilled.

There were a pair of them coming around every 10-15 minutes, making the rounds, and then headed off to flowers unknown.

It was so wonderful to see them!

We saw them perch a few times, and this time I was (barely) quick enough to get a photo.

At some point a grosbeak showed itself, which explained a lot!

The grosbeaks (there were a pair) each briefly sat visible in (different) trees.  This is the female, I didn't get a picture of the male, but I did get a good look at his fancy rosy throat.

There was also this mystery bird.  I'm guessing it's some sort of  warbler.

Eventually we left the oven, after giving up on the hummingbirds coming by for another tour.  On the way out, we saw a beautiful canada!

We also saw a teeny little wren, looking at the book it looked most like a winter wren to me.  Teeny.  Seriously.  And secretive. Jack spotted it, I would have walked right by.  Sadly the light was so low that none of the pictures came out at all!

We saw a couple of water thrushes here and there, not as many as yesterday, but still present.

There was also a thrush of some sort in a tree but I have no idea which one.  It's possible I should start working on telling them apart.........

As we were leaving a downy came to wish us farewell at the upper lobe.  Thanks Buddy!

The Day of the Hummingbirds!

Entering the park, I was hoping to see more birds today.  Yesterday was nice in that we did eventually see great birds, but it was not a lot in terms of numbers.  As I was walking across to Bow Bridge I saw something intriguing, so I checked out those trees.

It was a cute little black and white who was so fast and active that it was really hard to get a picture of him!  Very strange for B&W's, they have posed for me so often, but this guy was just not interested at all.  There was also a redstart, and a few others that were just too fast to identify.  On the bridge looking across on the left there were a pair of flickers flying slowly and I got to see under their wings clearly for the first time.  That little bit of yellow on the edge is just the beginning!  There was so much yellow, I couldn't believe it.  It was wonderful!

All along that area, there were lots and lots of little birds zipping around and across and just teasing me, I wasn't able to even get binocs on them, let alone a camera.  It really started to seem almost like they were doing it on purpose!  I would start to search for one and get distracted by another zipping around, and they would just disappear.

From Bank Rock bridge I saw two water thrushes, there was one on the little mud flat who then flew to the other side, and then this guy came out of the brush and visited the same mud flat.  There were water thrushes everywhere today!

It really seemed like a day to just find a spot and wait for these hyper birds to fly by, so I reluctantly ignored all the zippers-byers and made my way to the rocks on the way to the wood bridge.  I waited about 10 minutes, but - nothing!  Well, that's not entirely true, there was another black and white somewhere in there. And another water thrush, of course.  And a couple of redstarts.  Those were along the way though, once I was actually sitting on the rocks, zilch.  From a zillion to nearly zero!  Tried the stone benchlet, and that didn't seem promising either. I decided to just go to willow rock.

On the way there I saw two little lovelies briefly, from the picture I'm guessing parulas, but I'm not sure.  I tried to get a better look at them but they were too fast.

Luckily another black and white came over to the tree right next to me, apparently as some sort of bird consolation prize.  This one definitely wanted picture, hanging out basically next to me at eye level for a while.  Thanks Buddy!

Once at the rocks, I saw a pair of redstarts (one yellow, one orange) but they didn't hang around.  Still it seemed quite promising so I sat on the concrete "seat" and saw this yoga turtle.  He has clearly been practicing for a while, he clearly knows his stuff.  The younger turtles nearby just ignored him, but I hope he starts a class.  I would love to see that!  :-)

I hung out for a while, waiting, hoping a hummingbird would come by, but considering it unlikely.  And then, there he was, a gorgeous teeny hummingbird!  It was quite brief.  But wonderful.  Then he came back with a friend!  A pair of hummingbirds!  Again, quite brief.

Then the song sparrow came out to say hello.

And the water thrush made an appearance, getting a snack.

And then it seemed like hummingbirds were everywhere!  There were at least three of them, and I think more like 5-7.  They would come around for a few minutes at a time, and then disappear for 5 or 10 minutes.

Sometimes they chased each other around, once they pretty much buzzed us, chattering.  :-)  I saw one perched twice, but was not able to get pictures.  Once because it was just too fast, and once because I couldn't get the camera to focus on the bird.  It thought the bird was just a little something in the way of the background plants, which it insisted on focusing on.

It was really a special time, hanging out for about an hour and a half with these hummingbirds, and eventually a few other birders.

In between visits we also saw this mockingbird (I think).  And a mystery yellow guy popped up briefly but we didn't get a decent look at it.  And a few redstarts were flitting about once in a while, but so quick and elusive that I didn't get any pictures!  Again at least one yellow and one orange.  Maybe the same ones I saw when I got there, but I really don't know.

And this veery.  Also the water thrush flew over towards that little fence on the right and sat on the tree for a few minutes.  But the camera defeated me again and refused to focus on it.  That's really my biggest problem right now with the camera, getting it to focus ~on~ ~the~ ~bird~.

But really, who cares about any of that.  Hummingbirds!  What a special day!