Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ready for spring!

Today I started at the Pond, where the great egret was hanging out.

Maybe he will take up residence here for the summer!  I hope so, that would be great.  Hahahahaha, get it?  Great?  :-)

The red-headed woodpecker did not come to say hello, so I don't know if the reports of his head turning red are accurate or optimism.  Hopefully I'll see him again soon!

 Once I passed the boathouse (no owls that I could see on the way there) this downy tried to cheer me up, woodpecker-wise.  He was more than cooperative, he was borderline narcissistic!  It was great to have such an up-close view.

It's true there are many many white-throated sparrows still here, but check out how vivid and gorgeous this guy is!  Most of them are looking quite motley at this point.

This goldfinch shares in the molting misery, being half bright and half ...... sort of drab.  No, it's not a shadow, it's not a trick of the light or the camera - that's just what this little lovely looks like right now!

At the feeders I was too slow to capture a really special moment.  On a small tree trunk there was a downy on one side and a hairy on the other side, at the same level, facing each other!  It only lasted a brief second or two, and as I raised the camera, the hairy flew off.  But then it agreed to solo pictures, so I can't complain too much.

Why that feeder is on the ground - explained.

This house finch followed me from the streamlet by the oven over to the feeders.

Here's a mystery sparrow - fox?  Or maybe swamp?

Yeah, probably fox.

There was a pretty song sparrow at azalea pond, but none of the pictures were nearly as pretty as the bird.  :-)

This phoebe was hanging out at the upper lobe.

Gotta go!

Someone told me there was a yellow-rumped warbler on a little bridge towards where the museum bird walks enter the park, and looking for it in vain I managed to spot this brown creeper.

Overall a very nice walk, and I'm quite ready for spring!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Duck lust on turtle pond: A (very) short story

So today I walked around the ramble a bit with a friend who is leaving town soon.  We went sort of randomly to turtle pond, and a pair of mallards were courting.

The female had already flattened out.

So he climbed aboard.

And gave her a peck on the neck.

And pushed her down.

The wind-up.

The strike.

And she's outta there!

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Off they go, a happy couple.

We saw another couple a bit later - a pair of house finches bathing in azalea pond.

Hey, where'd she go?

And this nuthatch was there too, keeping us and the finches company.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Missing some degrees, but still happy

53 I was promised!  Okay, not promised exactly, but that was the predicted temperature this afternoon.  It sounds very close to 46, but I would have been quite a bit happier with 53.  Also, it was much cloudier than expected.

This egret at the pond didn't look too overwhelmed by the weather either.

But it sure brightened my day!  I haven't seen one here in quite some time.  I hope either an egret or heron takes up residence at the pond this year, having the black crowned night herons so nearby was really a joy last year.  :-)

Coming up towards the park road, this blue jay seemed really upset.

Maybe because the wind was messing up its 'do!  I hate it when that happens!

The red-headed woodpecker was not evident.  I mean, I just swung by, I didn't search.  I did check for kestrels, this is where I saw that one, but neither one came by today.

Up to the boathouse, where things were fairly quiet.  There are still lots of white-throated sparrows around, but they are looking a bit more motley.  There are still some very beautiful vivid ones, but not as many.  Out on the point I was enjoying being around some activity - cardinals (looking quite lovely indeed), sparrows, titmouses, white-breasted nuthatches.  Then a red-winged blackbird flew right at me and landed on a tree just about 10 feet in front of me.  I love when they fly towards me!  The angle was bad, so the pictures are crap, but it was lovely in real life.

Over to the oven, where it was pretty quiet.  Then a hawk flew over in ever-higher circles, I couldn't tell where it eventually went.  I think it was a red-tailed hawk based on the shape, but I could not see much color or pattern so that's really just a guess.  My only hawk of the day!  It's funny, some days I see them so much and some days they just seem to all be elsewhere.  I wonder if that's just random, or if there is some pattern to it that I just don't know yet.

The most interesting thing at the oven was this dark-eyed junco bathing.  I love their tails.

As I left the oven, this downy came over quite close and posed.

I love the pattern on the backs of their heads!

I went around the ramble a bit before heading down the park road on the west side.  On the lake (Ladies Pavillion I think) they were filming 30 Rock.  An egret and Alec Baldwin on the same walk - gotta love new York City!

Later in the afternoon I saw a peregrine falcon outside the window!  At first I thought it was a pigeon because we haven't seen a falcon here for quite some time.  But I had a good (albeit too brief) view and I could see that it was much more serious than a pigeon, especially wing-wise, and I could definitely see the markings on its face.  However it left as I raced around frantically looking for the camera.  Sooooooo.......... I went for the camera first.  Before the binocs.  What does that say?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No screech owl for me...... but lots of hawks! :-)

Today I took the subway up to 102 to look for the screech owl.  Someone told me "exactly" where to find her, so I figured, hey, why not take a look around.  Even knowing where to look it's no easy to task to find an owl, and I did not do so well.  But when I was taking a picture of a chickadee, someone asked me if I had seen her.  I said I was looking for her, but no, I didn't even know what tree she was usually in.  The directions I got seemed to apply to about a zillion trees.  She was kind enough to show me her usual spot, which was empty!  Oh well, no owl.  I started walking down towards the reservoir.

 As I walked I noticed a hawk fly in near the pool.  And chase away another hawk which I had totally missed!  They both flew off, and I caught up with this one.  Yay!

And then I kept walking, and at about 97th this one was perched right above the park road.  I mean, really, right above it.
Meanwhile this one flew circles all around, and the one perched just completely ignored it.  This one eventually flew uptown.
At the reservoir this pair of double crested cormorants was swimming around in formation for quite some time.  It was great to see them!

 This pair of northern shovelers was in sync,

 Down to the upper lobe, where yet another hawk was perched, right up at the tip of the upper lobe.  Gorgeous!

 At maintenance meadow I saw this red breasted nuthatch.  Not a good shot (the light was horrible) but it's been so seldom that I've seen them, I took a zillion pictures anyway!  :-)

At the oven, the turtles were displaying courtship behavior.  Here is a male in front of a female trying to court her.  And then another male came over trying to horn in the action, and the first male get upset, and there was a turtle fight.  The female rolled, with a turtle-style eye roll.
This one isn't even getting involved, just looking pretty in the sun.

A pair of downies came over and was apparently having some sort of dispute.  At least that's my guess.  They chased each other around a lot.  And at a couple of points there was just a falling whirlwind of downies that broke apart just before reaching the ground.

 They eventually left together, still chasing each other around.  I guess they didn't resolve whatever.  It looked like they were both female to me, or at least I didn't see any red, and I was looking for it!  I saw them mate here once last year, so I was hoping for a repeat performance.  Not this time!

 This time the male is courting the female and not getting interrupted.  I have no idea if it's the same turtles.

By the stream near stone benchlet I saw this eastern phoebe!  I'm pretty sure.  Everyone is reporting them excitedly, so, it's likely.

Time to head home.  Walking down the park road I saw yet another hawk (it was sort of ridiculous) and found it perched by Strawberry Fields.  What a great ending to this long but owl-free walk!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Owls - 0. Kestrels - 1. Hawks - about 4?

Today I walked up the west side quickly, towards the tree that used to contain the two long-eared owls.  Sadly, the tree only contained a bunch of robins and blue jays today.  Yes, yes, they are very pretty birds.  But let's be honest - long-eared owls they are not!  Oh well.  A couple of other birders were there looking too, we were all disappointed not to see them.  Maybe they'll turn up in another tree, and I did some looking, but not seriously.  I had limited time, and there was more to explore!  :-)

As soon as I got over to the lake, I saw a hawk circling above.  And then another!  They were close together briefly, but they diverged pretty quickly.  I was watching through a veil of branches, so I didn't see any interaction, really.  It was definitely a pick-me-up after that empty owl tree!

Up to the upper lobe, nothing of note.  Actually not a lot not of note either.  Some mallards and geese on the water.  Some sparrows around, a few titmice (titmouses?) etc.  At the feeders, the goldfinches are looking somewhat motley.  Mid-molt birds are hilarious!

Heading from there over to the oven, at that little streamlet before the oven there was a lot of activity.  It was this idyllic woodland scene with lots of birds singing, splashing around, flitting about.  I stood enjoying that for a while.

This hairy woodpecker posed and gave me several different views.  I love the plus sign on the back of their heads!

This titmouse stayed uncharacteristically still long enough for a picture.

This house finch knew I was looking at it.  It didn't stay in one place for long.

As I was leaving the area, this fox sparrow jumped up on a log and looked at me, posed for my camera for a bit, and then hopped off with a coy backward glance.

Not a lot going on at the oven - it was all at the little streamlet!  So, over to see if Pale Male and his new girlfriend are making hawklets today.  I didn't have much time, so I didn't have much hope.  But while I was there I did see both of them fly in, and perch, one on the nest, the other on a nearby building's window rail.

Then after a couple of minutes the one on the nest took off, the perched one stayed there until I left a few moments later.  It was great to see them!

From there I headed down to the Carousel to see if the woodpecker was feeling social.  I did not see the woodpecker, but I did see some squirrels flirting.  And then a kestrel flew in!  Here it is from the back.

And from the side.

And again.  Yes, I'm quite excited, it's my first real kestrel sighting!  :-)

From there, down to the pond where I did see and hear a Carolina wren but was too slow to get a picture.  But then a hawk was flying over, which was quite consoling indeed!  And then another one!

They both landed on the plaza, and then I lost one while I was watching the other one perched.  After a couple of minutes they were both flying overhead again, and then one landed on the plaza again.  At least one of them looked like an adult red-tailed hawk (it showed me its tail as it flew).  I hope they nest here, that would be so wonderful!  It was quite a nice ending to my walk.