Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Hawk

After having a cold for Christmas Eve and Christmas, I was very ready to go out on a walk today!  We went up to the AMNH to try to see the hummingbird again, but missed it.  A few folks were there with quite impressive cameras, they said they had been seeing the bird, but we decided not to stand around waiting for it.  To the park!

Almost right away once we got into the park I saw this gorgeous Cooper's hawk.

I guess I spotted a grackle too, but my focus was really more on the hawk.........

We went around as much as we could in the ramble (a big section is still closed from storm damage) and spotted a pretty big group of house finches.

What a beauty!  Sadly, we did not find the barred owl.  We headed over to the model boat pond to figure out some tree types from the Central Park Conservancy Tree Walk, and had great views of two red-tailed hawks in that area.  Presumably Pale Male and his lady friend, but I still cannot identify individuals, so I can't say for sure.  These are wise and canny hawks that know how to perch and fly such that the camera is incapable of focusing on them, even though we had great views.  Damn you autofocus!

We went around looking at trees and trying to guess what they were from the CPC brochure but it's very hard to tell them apart in the winter.  It was interesting though and if we stick with it I'm sure we'll be able to tell them apart at some point.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twitching a Hummingbird

Although I don't really think of myself as a twitcher, or a bird-chaser, or a rarity-seeker, I must admit that I was happy to go to the American Museum of Natural History to see this gorgeous hummingbird.  What a treat during winter!  Apparently it is probably a rufous hummingbird, although it is a bit of an open question.  

After spending some time with the hummingbird I went into the park and by Tanner's Spring saw this red-tailed hawk hunting.

It looks like a juvenile from the tail.

This pair of northern shovelers were circling around each other in a very tight little circle.  My guess is that they are pair-bonding.  Duck flirting!  :-)

I found the pet memorial Christmas tree in the ramble, but there were too many people around to get a decent picture.  I love that tree!

Okay, I have seen squirrels beg from tourists many times, but this is ridiculous!  I don't thing the squirrel even wants some of the hawk's pigeon.........

This was a different hawk, an adult.

It's a great day that starts with a hummingbird and includes two perched hawks.  This brown creeper coming right over was a nice way to end the walk!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mystery Bird in Central Park - the Oven

[ Edit: Mystery Solved!  Many birders have chimed in that this is a female red-winged blackbird.  My field guide does not show the face to have any orange-ish tinge around their face so I foolishly passed that page right by.  Although looking at the text, it does mention that some females show a red tinge.  Many thanks to everyone who took a look and responded! ]

I saw this bird in the ramble in Central Park at the oven today.  I have no idea what it is.  I have been through 2 field guides, and have not been able to narrow it down too much.  These pictures have been cropped and some have been sharpened.  No color or contrast has been changed.

It face reminds me of a varied thrush or a blackburnian warbler.  It was about thrush-sized.

Its chest and belly are strongly streaked.

Its back reminds me of a sparrow, although it was larger than a sparrow.

Its beak reminded me of an oriole's beak.

I would love to hear ideas about what this bird might be.  :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Our final walk in this series (I will miss them!) was pretty spectacular.  Before we even got going I enjoyed watching this kinglet

and this yellow-rumped warbler frolicking near the meeting spot.

It was easy to identify the yellow-rumped warbler.  :-)

We saw lots of yellow-bellied sap suckers, this is the only picture I got that's recognizable.  This was the brownest yellow-bellied sap-sucker I've ever seen!  Some of the others are starting to look really quite vivid and crisp.

This black-throated blue warbler was taking a bath and

and putting his handsome feathers back into place while

this beautiful magnolia warbler flitted about in the white flowers.  Only one problem.....

hey, where's your tail?!?!?!?!  Oh, poor Maggie, hope you can make it to the southland.

This blackpoll warbler distracted us, we were quite impressed by its ability to store energy for its journey.  It's a round one all right!

This northern parula was mostly in a tree across the street.....

... except for when it was in the street!  

We saw a few song sparrows, looking quite fancy.

Cedar waxwings came through the maintenance meadow while we were there.  When I took this picture, I thought there was only one waxwing.  :-)

Then this red-tailed hawk flew over nice and low.

Later we saw two circling high above, I'm glad we got a couple of low passes first!

There were several eastern phoebes around, not all of them posed as prettily as this one.

We also saw (and heard) quite a few red-bellied woodpeckers.  I remember starting out and thinking that the woodpeckers all looked really similar, and now they look so obviously different.  It's sometimes startling to notice how I see things differently with more experience.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AMNH Walk with photobombs

Today was a great walk, although the first section of the walk the birds did not want pictures at all.  My camera was defeated by numerous kinglets, a northern parula, a mystery warbler, some yellow bellied sap suckers, and many brown creepers.  I finally managed to get a shot of a hermit thrush.

Okay, the contrasting tail is not hugely different than the back, but I can definitely see a difference.  Then this female towhee gave us a nice show, scampering about on the rock.

This gorgeous yellow-bellied sap sucker posed for quite some time.  He's starting to get some red on his chin.  Soon he'll be quite vivid and spiffy!

Then it was the find of the day. This white-crowned sparrow was hanging around near the castle, looking like the master of its domain.

Even when a giant happy squirrel flushed the other sparrows, it held its ground.  Props, white crowned sparrow!  Photobomb number one, giant happy squirrel.

This nashville warbler (or so Paul said, which I have to trust, because I can't tell at all) led me on a merry chase for this picture.

At last, a brown creeper my camera could focus on!  We was loads of these little fellows, but they are so well camouflaged that they actually defeat the auto-focus on my camera.  It's amazing!

This eastern phoebe sat pretty in a tree.  This is the first time I've been able to see that subtle dark stripe behind its eye.

I left the group but got called back when they immediately found a black-throated green warbler and a yellow-rumped warbler nearby.  Yay!  I was busy taking pictures of the gorgeous black-throated green warbler.....

... when the yellow-rumped warbler couldn't take it any longer and horned in on the photo session.  Photobomb number  two, envious yellow-rumped warbler.

The black-throated green left in a huff and I continued taking pictures of the yellow-rumped warbler, whispering promises of fame and glory.  A nearby mourning dove was intrigued and tried to sneak in.

It even looks slightly embarrassed but secretly hopeful!  Photobomb number three, ambitious mourning dove.  The walk was fun from beginning to end!  :-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Barred Owl reappears!

The barred owl was back in the ramble today!  It (she?) was just as beautiful, and it was an absolute pleasure.

First of all, this owl looks completely and totally like a cartoon.

It gives us a glance.

I would like to think it's hunting, but it's probably just trying to figure out how many admirers it has.

It performs a brief Rockettes-inspired routine.  Well done!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

AMNH walk, with hawk and hummingbird

Very early in today's walk we saw this Cooper's hawk eating a pigeon at Tanner Springs.  It took us a while to figure out why it was so quiet -- nothing like a Cooper's hawk to keep the bird chatter down!

From there, we slowly made our way over to Turtle Pond.  Along the way we saw several black and white warblers

A red-eyed vireo

A few red-bellied woodpeckers

This gorgeous pine warbler

And many others that were too shy for my camera.  I'm particularly sad about the black-throated green.  I don't see those very often and they are so gorgeous!  Oh well, another day..........

At Turtle Pond we saw a male common yellow-throated warbler, but he eluded us except for brief glimpses.  This female was not quite as shy, at least at first.  She sure disappeared quickly though!

After admiring the gadwalls we went up to the castle and came down through Shakespeare garden, where this hummingbird made our day extra-special.

After leaving the group I headed down towards Columbus Circle.  My Bonus Bird for the day was this black-crowned night heron.  I haven't seen one of these in a while, so I was really happy to see it!  :-)