Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Blizzard Birding

Who can resist Central Park in 22" of fresh snow?  Not me!  Or apparently any small child, the park was fairly overrun in places.  It was hilarious.  Anyway, the blizzard is over, the snow is here, it's freezing and sunny, and it's time to go check it out!

I decided to just walk, the subway was definitely not worth it.  I made it over to the pond just fine, although getting down the stairs at the 6th Ave entrance was pretty dicey.  It was really more of a controlled slide.

I was surprised at how many people were out, but it was still gorgeous and felt quite unspoilt.

The wood duck was out!

The pond was much more frozen today than Saturday (which was the day before the blizzard) so the ducks were really concentrated!

I had a few really beautiful hawk fly-overs, but only saw one perched far away (in Hallett) and briefly.

Going along the park road towards the boathouse, I saw a group of 3-4 yellow-bellied sapsuckers.  I don't really know what was happening, but it looked like there were a few disputes of some sort!  They look so gorgeous and vivid now, the coloring is much prettier than in the summer.

Just past the boathouse going into the ramble there was a group of birds that obviously expected to be fed.  Here's a white-throated sparrow hopping.  I loved watching the birds hop on the snow, it was hilarious!

I found this Christmas tree.  It turns out to be a memorial for pets.  I don't know if I can just make ornaments for Tasha, and maybe Fat One, Feisty One and Little One, and they become part of it next year.  Or is there is something else I need to do.  And I don't know if it will be this exact location each year or if they move it.  But I'm completely charmed by this project!

I eventually made it over to the oven (it wasn't easy with the paths like this) and it was jsut quiet, quiet, quiet.  Very few people had been there, I had to step in virgin snow.  I thought I heard something really interesting, but then realized it was the trees moving, with the weight of the snow and them rubbing against each other unusually, it made quite a sound!

On to the feeders.  He is where the action was!  The goldfinches were impressive in their dedication to this feeder.

The chickadees were everywhere!  And quite non-shy.  A few of them came right over, seeing if I brought them any more seed, maybe something different from what the feeders offered.  You know, just to check.  One or two actually flew over to me, face-height, looked at me briefly, and then went on.  Do they actually recognize people who feed them often?  Of course the people claim this, but it seemed a bit of a stretch to me.  This would be an awesome research project!

Anyway, lots of tufted titmice (tit-mouses?) here as well.

And there was one house finch, making a brief shy appearance and refusing to allow the %@## camera to focus on him.  Which is completely consistent - I don't think I have any decent pictures of a house finch at all yet.

On the ground was a song sparrow mixed in with the juncos and various others. Here he is hopping!  :-)

This goldfinch has given himself a snow mustache/beard combo.  He seemed confused about what to do about it.  Hilarious!

There was a showdown between the redbelly and the downy over the coconut feeder.  The redbelly won.

As I as going, I heard a squirrel alarm call, so I found the squirrel and started looking around.  Didn't see anything to be alarmed about, and the birds were all just happy as could be.  Then in came a Cooper's hawk!  Thanks, squirrel!  Because of the snow I couldn't get a decent sight-line for a picture, but it was great to see him.

From there I pretty much started walking back.  Even with the toasty toes and all of my gear, three hours in the snow was enough!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in the Park

Jack and I decided to go to the park for a nice walk today.  It was cold but not unreasonably cold, cloudy but not raining or snowing, altogether a pretty neutral day, weather-wise.  I asked Jack where he wanted to go int he park, and he said, "Where the hawks are!"  I laughed and said that the the subway would probably take way too long so we headed for the pond.

Good decision!  About half way to the bridge, Jack spotted this hawk perched in a tree!  It was low, and Jack had seen it swoop in, so I'm guessing it was hunting.  It posed for us for a few minutes, and then swooped right over us, hopefully to catch a nice fat pigeon for lunch.  We didn't follow it, we kept on.

About half the pond was frozen, so the ducks were fairly concentrated, but we still didn't see the wood duck.  Just mallards.

What we did see what tufted titmice and black-capped chickadees, pretty much everywhere!  And blue jays and cardinals, and white-throated sparrows.  Here's a downy that came to flirt with us once we crossed the bridge.

And a tufted titmouse that played by the rocks across the bridge for a surprisingly long time.  Not very shy, this one!

Continuing up the park road on the way to the carousel, we ran into this beauty.  I don't know if it's the same guy as by the pond (I haven't compared the pictures although I probably could) but he was also low and swoopy and probably hunting.

Once we got up to the fountain, I saw another hawk in the trees to the left, so we went to check it out.  He was just hunkered down, way up there, and looked like he meant to stay for a while.

From there, over to the oven, where there was a lot of action, it was actually ridiculous.  Chickadees, titmouses, a nuthatch or two, even a goldfinch bathing.  Of course the light was so terrible that none of the pictures are decent, but it was still a nice experience.  :-)

Then a quick stop by the feeders where this creeper kindly posed for me.

We swung my the maintenance meadow to see if the varied thrush was holding court, but the cold drove us away before we saw it.  Oh well, maybe another day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wintertime at the pond

I had just a little while to walk around the pond today between appointments.  Almost as soon as I got to the pond I saw a Cooper's hawk circling above, it looked injured.  It was flapping a lot more than usual, and its soaring time was quite a bit shorter than usual.  One wing looked wrong, like it had a notch taken out of it.  Some sort of tussle I guess.  It stayed near me for a long time, long enough for me to think I could get a picture.  But as soon as I got the camera out, of course it left.  :-)

Over by the bridge I saw the wood duck!  It's windy out, and it seems to be affecting him.

He got it back under control.

I also saw a red-breasted nuthatch and a tufted titmouse.  And some sort of sparrow, I think a song sparrow.

Then I saw a red-tailed hawk come flying over and land on a building!  I did manage pictures but he's so far off, they're not great.

I felt good about this walk, several birds, including 2 species of hawks!  I hope it keeps up, I think I'll see much more this winter than last winter.  :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Falcons out the window - best sighting yet!

Today we saw the pair of falcons out the window, and got to watch them fly around for a fairly long time.  At one point they flew up Broadway, and went fairly low for them - into pigeon territory.  Trying to pick up some lunch, I'm guessing!  As I was looking for them with my binocs, one of them flew straight towards me into my binoc view!  It was great!  So now that I've had a great look at its face, I can say it was definitely a peregrine falcon.  Pretty exciting to see them out the window!  :-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Costa Rica: We're Outta There!

Up for my last morning in Costa Rica.  Surprise!  It's rainy!  

Another surprise - a bug in our room!  Okay, that's not at all surprising.  But this one is cute!  Some sort of preying mantis / leafbug combo.

As soon as I got onto the patio I saw something disappear into the forest.  A mammal.  I only saw its back half and its tail.

Here is the female cherrie's tanager, in a brief moment of confidence before she disappears again.  Then I pretty much had to go in to shower and pack.  We leave early due to possible construction delays.

The blue crowned mot mot came by again!  This time Brooke got a great view!  This is the best commute to breakfast ever!

This mystery bird was on our way to breakfast.

It looks like a female seedeater of some sort, but I can't tell which one.  They are just too similar for me to tell them apart yet.  Maybe someday!

I saw something significant fly in, and I was hoping to see something cool.......

Like a fiery billed aracari!  Yeah Baby!

It appears to be true that the give their food a little toss and then chomp it.

When it fully realized I was taking pictures it tried to hide behind the branch.  Hahahaa, I love this guy!  I left so it could have its breakfast in peace, which was my intention as well!

Here comes the cloud..... In another minute or two we were just totally socked in.

Our note, which Brooque loved!

We're on the road, and this fruit stand guy is feeding the white-faced monkeys and the anteaters, probably to drum up tourist business.

I saw a lot of stuff but didn't want to stop for anything, since we have to get past that one construction delay.  But then there was a kingfisher!  My favorite!  Yes, I know, I say that quite a bit.  :-)  Anyway we stopped for a minute for this ringed (I think) kingfisher.  Awesome!

Roadside hawk!  Luckily I had my camera out.  We did not stop.

We did stop at the ocean overlook, where we saw pelicans, ground doves, and great kiskadees.  And another hummingbird!  I think another rufous-tailed.  Beautiful!  It rubbed its beak on this branch like it was scratching or cleaning it.There were warblers here too of course, but I was really more focused on the hummingbird.  However, true to form, the hummingbird deftly eluded the camera using clever lighting, and the yellow warbler posed shamelessly.  :-)

And as we drove off, a pelican in the tree!  I've never seen that before.  I mean, except on video.

Macaws flew over!  I've learned quite a bit, I recognized them right away.  It's by no means a good picture, but it's incredible that it exists!  I had the camera out and turned on, and just pointed and clicked.......

Typical view from the road.  Just taken through the window as we drove.

It was gorgeous, and I hope to return someday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Costa Rica: Zipline day!

Another morning, another wake-up call from the birds!  This morning I saw hummingbirds again (as I frequently do) and managed to get bad pictures (which I'm usually too slow for).  I think this one is a purple-crowned fairy, and I think I've been seeing a lot of this guy.

The blue-crowned mot mot came by again!  Here is my song:

Thank you Mr. Mot Mot,
I like you a lot lot
I would like to see you
     All day long
You came by in the morning
Without any warning
I've still never heard you
    Sing your song

Vaguely goes to the tune of that "picking up the field mice, and boppin' them on the head" song.

Anyway, what a treat to see him again!

I tried to go hiking, and it started raining ~literally~ the moment I stepped out the door.  I waited a few minutes and it cleared up, so, off I went!  It waited until I got a bit up the road before the skies opened.  All I really saw was this hermit thrush.  Well, that's not totally true, I saw a mixed flock of 6-8 warblers, a few kinds.  It's funny, I would be so excited to see that in NY, and here, I was just like, oh, yeah, whatever.

Here's the black-hooded ant shrike again, I ended up seeing him quite a bit.  Wish I could have found the female!

Back at the patio, the wood creepers came by again.

And here's the mystery guy, the one I think must be that common tody-flycatcher.

Yellow warblers are shameless!

On the way down the road to the canopy tour, the driver spotted him - our first sloth!

Starting the tour, we passed a highway of leaf-cutter ants.  It was pretty cool!  They made a really long trail between a tree that they were taking leaf cutting from, and their nest.  Ants were going toward the tree empty and coming back with a leaf cutting.  It was hard to see the ants, it just looked like a trail of green leaf parts.  :-)

I saw this black-collared puffbird, such a cutie!

Here's an anteater sleeping.  They are nocturnal and sleep up in the trees.

And here he is - my first real owl!  A big, beautiful crested owl!  Dark morph.

He clearly saw me.  Oh well.

This is apparently a female blue-capped manakin.

And here's a broad-winged hawk!  Another amazing picture done in by autofocus.  You just know that if there were a little gorgeous bird perched on that little branchlet, the camera would completely ignore it.  It's maddening!

Sloth number two!  Clearly a three-toed.  :-)

We also saw an agouti but I was too slow to get a picture.  Plus I got distracted by the hummingbird taking a bath!  I love it here.  Sadly, I was also too slow for that hummingbird.  However...

...back at the center, waiting for a cab to town, this little rufous-tailed hummingbird kept us entertained.  :-)

I couldn't believe how long he stayed so low, I guess he really enjoyed those flowers!

Look at the brilliant colors.  Gorgeous! Just ridiculously beautiful.

Mystery guy!  The yellow-throated ephonia.

Lunch, then across to the beach waiting for our ride.  Where I saw.........

Mystery sandpiper number one.  A guy saw me interested in the bird and tried to sell me a tour.

And number two.  Quite a bit smaller.  Like, really, pretty small.

Frigates!  They remind Brooke of the batman signal.

There were also a zillion swallows, I have no idea what kind, and the pictures just show vaguely swallow-shaped blurs.  :-)