Saturday, April 30, 2011

Costa Rica: Tragic Camera Settings Day

We made it to Costa Rica today - yay!!!!  :-)  Yes, overnight in Miami sucked, but I was able to rearrange everything and we got picked up at the airport by Lost Iguana and Steve & Beth.  Then came the long ride to the resort, with poor Jack getting sicker with each passing mile.  On the way we stopped for lunch and I found a kiskadee nest with a parent attending to chicks!  :-)

great kiskadee flying with berries to nest
Our room overlooks a really nice landscaped garden area, so I spent some time sitting out there.  A turkey vulture circled nice and low over our garden area, I thought the pictures would be stunning.  But my camera was on crazy settings all day and I didn't notice!  So most of the pictures are unusable crap.  :-(  Oh well, live and learn.  A stripe-throated hermit kept me company.

stripe-throated hermit
 I also saw a clay-colored robin (yes, not a difficult feat), a red-legged honeycreeper (gorgeous!) and a mystery woodcreeper (cool).  Then I headed down to the front desk to figure out kleenex and bug spray, after making sure Jack would be okay for an hour or so on his own.  I saw so much on the way, it was a wonderful introduction!  First, a pair of blue-grey tanagers came through, happy as can be and flirting with me.

blue-grey tanager
 Then a barred antshrike pair, working their way through about ground level, and this Passerini's tanager going after a spider web with considerable gusto.  I don't know if she was after the spider, its victims, or the web for nesting material, but she was definitely after something!  I did see a bunch of nests, some nestled into branches and large leaves, and some hanging.  It was a great time to be there.

female Passerini's tanager attacking spider web with gusto

common tody-flycatcher

female rose-breasted grosbeak

The was an old dead tree that had two nests in it - one for black-cheeked woodpeckers, on for long-tailed flycatchers.  At first I didn't realize they were long-tailed, I thought they were carrying something.  Nope, those ridiculous things are attached!  Hahahaha - awesome!  As I was watching them and assessing the situation I heard what could have been some sort of lawn mower behind me, and turned around to see..... a hummingbird just a couple of feet away, ignoring me and going to town on this flower.  Well hello to you too! I was just in heaven.

long-billed starthroat
On the way back up I saw the barred antshrikes again, including a crest-raising incident!  I don't think they know how lucky they are to have crests.  I would love to be able to raise a crest!
barred antshrike apparently hearing something interesting

barred antshrike with crest raised

I also saw a bananaquit and a black-cowled oriole.  I'm so sad about the camera settings, but I did see most of these birds again.  Except for taking care of poor Jack, it was a great first day here.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marathon day covering the park

Today I woke up early so I decided to go on Starr's walk, and got myself on the train up there.  I was so motivated I got there about a half hour early!   Hahahaha, that doesn't happen often.  So I wandered aruond a bit before joining the group.  While I wandered around I saw a palm warbler, a chipping sparrow distracting me from the palm warbler, a towhee teasing me, a black and white whizzing by and then hopping about, a yellow rumped warbler or seven, and ........ 

this gorgeous flicker, who didn't care one whit if I was that close.  There must be something quite delicious in there!

On my way to join the group the palm popped its head up closeby and tried to make me late.

The group was quite large - I think 27 - and a bit unwieldy.  But right away by the pool she found this beautiful prairie warbler!  My first time seeing one in NY - the only time I've seen one before this was in Cayman.  So lovely! I saw a common yellow throat here and some other folks saw a waterthrush, but my camera was pretty much glued to the prairie warbler.

After this we headed up to the blockhouse, we saw a vivid rosy breasted grosbeak.  He was so much more vivid than the one I saw last year, it was amazing!  Sadly all of the pictures are headless.  The intervening branches were cruel indeed, decapitating that grosbeak over and over.

While I was off finding a different angle the group spotted and was watching a black and white, who saw the wisdom of my ways and flew right over to me.  I mean, it was so close that I couldn't get a picture.  Then the group started towards us, and it was off again.  

I spotted a hermit thrush!  Yes, that was my contribution to the group.  Yes, quite crucial!

Up by some rocks we saw a savannah sparrow.  I don't think I could ID it, but still, I think I might have seen one...... Looks quite a bit like a song sparrow, no spot on the front, streaks weaker on chest.  It was hanging out with a song sparrow and about 4-5 chipping sparrows.

Next was this northern parula.  Looks pretty sleek when stretched out like that! 

By a tree by some benches and I think some restrooms someone called out a blue headed vireo.  This picture is ~not~ good, but that might be what it is.

Hahahahahaha, this raccoon is totally splayed out.  Soaking up the sponge and getting the good sleep!

This towhee was somewhat more cooperative, and allowed a picture.

A Baltimore oriole looking startlingly beautiful.  We were walking towards the stream.

Whelp, gotta go!

Another prairie warbler - what a treat!

A blue winged warbler.  How gorgeous!  This was my first time seeing one.  Okay, I don't love a big group, but we are seeing a lot!

We made it to Harlem Meer, where this eastern kingbird was surveying its domain. At the meer I left the group, and decided to just keep walking.  

The loon was still on the reservoir!  Okay it's not a great shot, but between the wind being easier and the bird being a tiny bit closer, at least it's much better than the last round.......

Such a gorgeous bird.  

Made it to turtle pond, where this egret was stalking something.

Went for it!  :-)

This field sparrow was between the castle and Shakespeare garden.  I found it and identified it all by myself!  :-)  Two life birds in one day.  Yay!  :-)

I was so exhausted I pretty much just headed for the oven, sat for a while, and then to the stone benchlet, where I saw this waterthrush.  I think northern.

At azalea pond this common yellow throat came by, for just long enough for me to snap a picture or two.  Hello masked one, I have missed you! 

Out at the point was a black crowned night heron, a northern parula, several yellow rumped warblers, and this wood duck.  

Made it to the pond, and my feet have not actually fallen off!  The goose had just stood up - look at all of those eggs!  

The red-bellied woodpecker is probably calling out a sweet good-bye to me as I leave the park.  I'm exhausted - what a day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Once around the pond before brunch

It was actually nice today, instead of super-dreary and rainy, like the weather predictions claimed.  So I left early and walked around the pond for almost an hour before brunch.  It was great!

 This was the first robin I've seen this season sitting in a nest.  So cute!

 This hawk gave me a great view as it flew over in circles.

  Turns out there were two of them!  It struck me more as pair bonding than as a dispute, but of course I don't really know.

 A woodpecker peeking out from a cavity in the tree.

 You can see a little of the underside of this turtle - check out how gorgeous and bright!

 The goose left her eggs under a pile of feathers in her "nest" while she gallivanted about.  

 And here's some sort of frog or toad. 

No herons or egrets, several kinds of sparrows, no warblers, no kinglets.  The hawk flyover really made the morning, that and the gorgeous weather!  Now, off to meet the girls for brunch.  :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dismal day

Today the weather was not great (I really hope May is an improvement over this dreary April) but it was getting even worse, so I decided I had better get out anyway.  So off I went, to the pond!  I looked and looked for the black crowned night herons, but I couldn't find them.  Maybe they are just really good hiders, and they defeated me.

I did, however, find this cat.  Inside Hallett.  Looking........ well satisfied.  :-(  I saw this cat in the ramble a couple of times last year, and talked to a park employee.  They know the cat is around, they just have not been able to catch the cat.  Anyone know how to catch a cat?

From there I decided to just continue on, and headed up.  The red-headed woodpecker did not say hello.  He probably was comfy cozy indoors, with more sense than I had!  Near the oven a towhee flew in front of me, perched as gorgeous as can be, and flew off as I raised the camera.

At the stream near the wood bridge was this pretty winter wren, and later was a waterthrush of some sort.

At the upper lobe I looked again for the egret, and instead found this black crowned night heron!  So, the day was not completely without sightings.  I also saw a kinglet here and there, that was about it.  I'm so happy with my outerwear, I send thanks to Merrell every time I wear it.  Thanks Merrell!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Feeling Loony!

Today I decided to see if I could see the loon.  It's been on the reservoir for a few days, who knows if it will stick around for me.  I'm not feeling great but Claratin is my friend.  The wind, however, is not - it was fierce!

Anyway, there were about a gazillion (okay more like 6) cormorants on the reservoir, each one teasing me..... it might be a loon!  No, it's a cormorant.  They were flying around, diving under, confusing me, which was easy due to the Claratin.  I soldiered on, passing a yellow-rumped warbler and a group of about 6 pretty buffleheads. I saw three flying also, 2 females and one male.  That was cool!

I kept on, until finally I spotted it, smack in the middle - the loon!!!!  :-)

The pictures are not great, between the distance and the wind, but you can still pretty much tell that's what it is.

Hello gorgeous!

After seeing that I exited the reservoir pretty quickly.  It's a good thing I had my hat on a strap.  Laugh all you want, I like that hat!  :-)  Down to turtle pond, where I saw...... pretty much nothing.  Up the castle.  Nothing.  Down to the ramble.

This gorgeous egret was hanging out in the upper lobe.  Looks like he needs to do some clean-up after his preening.

The preening however was a success - quite dapper.  There was another yellow-rumped warbler or three there, and a creeper that flirted with me, and a flicker or two.  Not as many flickers as that one day, but still quite a few around.  I actually accidentally flushed one, I was just a step or two away from it.  Um, thanks, Claratin........ I mean really - how do you miss a flicker that close???

Over the gill was this super-cutie blue-gray gnatcatcher!
There's the tail with the white on the outside.  It was so cute and round!  Sadly that was about it for the rest of the ramble.  I didn't wait around, I just wanted to keep moving.

Back at the upper lobe, the egret was really showing off for the tourists, and a cormorant joined the show.  This creeper came right over, though, and demanded his share of attention.

As predicted, I had another chance to photograph a black and white....... Hopefully I'll get another chance yet again!

Heading home, some kids were making a big deal over a turtle, so I looked - and here he was, the big daddy snapping turtle!  He's quite impressive.

Further on there was a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers flying about doing their thing, maybe they will nest too.  I would so love to see some woodpecker chicks!