Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waxwings! Ducklings! And a performance-oriented egret.

I didn't really expect to see much bird-wise at the park, but it was such a gorgeous day I wanted to go regardless.  It started out with a great view of waxwings by the pond.  They were eye level and right by me, flitting about in a bush right by the bridge and flirting with each other.  There was a pair passing berries back and forth to each other, it was beyond cute.  :-)

I picked this out just for you!

Waxwings just look like James Bond to me
Then up near the boathouse this egret was hanging out.  I sat by the side of the water and just waited, and it pretty much came right over.  So pretty!

It turns out their eyes are basically those glue-on googlie-eye thingies from elementary school crafts!

Over to the oven, where ducklings emerged!  Mom was quite vigilant, keeping an eye out for danger.

She got worked up a bit when a huge koi came near them, it was duck v. fish.  At least from the duck's point of view.  I'm not sure the fish noticed them at all.  It seemed oblivious, but then again, it's a fish, so it's hard for me to tell, really.......

By the upper lobe, the egret (I think it was the same one although I'm not at all certain) was showing off, giving quite a performance.


what grace........

hahahaha, this picture makes me happy!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Once around the pond

It's a nice day, Jack is not deathly ill, we're not super busy..... To the park!  :-)  We headed over to the pond and started out by the waterfall side - and it's on!  Yay!  There was a big frog, a pair of mallards, a piece of bread, and a bunch of minnows.  The ducks and minnows were all about the bread, the frog was just floating along, doing frog yoga.

Just past that little super-mini-waterfall thingie, there was a black crowned night heron posing for us on the Hallett side.  Hello Gorgeous!

And just past that guy we noticed a bunch of good-sized tadpoles and, looking way up into a tree, the second black-crowned night heron.  I hope they breed here and have chicks!

We checked the woodpecker nest but nobody was home.  At least that we could see.  And just as we turned away, we noticed cedar waxwings flying in to the tree almost next to the nest!  We watched them briefly and then they were off.  We saw them go between trees a few times, but never saw them perched again.  It looked like about a dozen or so, it was great!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A quiet but pretty day

We've had so much rain, and so many dismal days, I think most of us have completely given up on spring - including the birds!  With a beautiful day at last, I thoroughly enjoyed the park.  The birds, however, did not.  Maybe they have already been through, maybe they are just hiding..... but they were not cavorting joyously, that's for sure!

There was someone home at the woodpecker nest, calling, calling, calling.

Hahahahaha, I think this is the most bedraggled black crowned night heron I've seen so far.  And he's just sitting there!  Come on now, you've clearly got some preening to do!

I did see a red-tailed hawk flying over and being chased by a red-winged blackbird.  That was exciting!  The blackbird didn't chase for too long, the hawk flew over for a while.  That was pretty.

Then I saw this guy soaring in circles a bit further west - a Cooper's hawk?  I think it probably is, they are in the park and the shape looks right to me.  Up to the ramble!

This common yellowthroat teased me for a while before posing.  There was a wood duck going arund in the brush there, and several birders looking for a mourning warbler.  I'm not in a stand-around-and-look sort of mood, so, off I go.

I did see a few Canada warblers, I love them!

And this vivid Baltimore oriole bathing at the oven.  There was a female there too, but she was too quick for me.  All in all, a happy sunny day filled with gorgeous scenery punctuated by a few lovely birds.  I'll take that over the drizzle any time!  :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

AMNH Make-Up Day, complete with make-up rain :-)

Today was the make-up day for the Monday that was supposed to be rainy, but was actually only dismal and overcast and perhaps a bit misty.  The forecast was not 100 percent promising, but I geared up and went anyway.  I mean, why not?  On the way I saw a great egret fly over the lake to the south end and stand around for a while, that was a nice start.  By the ladies pavilion I saw a black crowned night heron fly into a tree and stand there for a while, I love them!  They are inherently hilarious.  Then by the upper lobe an oriole was hanging out in the droopy willow branches, but the wind was moving him around so much the pictures came out too blurry.  Not good conditions for pictures today!

I went to meet the group, and we headed back towards the upper lobe and someone refound the oriole, who was just gorgeous.  It seems like they might be nesting nearby, I hope so!

Heading in to the ramble we noticed a cardinal chick crying from a bush *right* by the path (like, someone might hit it accidentally) and the parents were nearby, loudly letting us know they were not entirely happy.  We thought about putting it in a further back shrub but decided to leave it alone.

We saw a few birds, but overall it was pretty quiet.  We saw a bunch of vireos, at first we thought one might be a Philadelphia, but we later concluded it was probably just red-eyed vireos and warbling vireos.  They were pretty high up so we mostly just saw their bellies, but it was really cool seeing so many of them in one tree!

I wandered off and found a female common yellow-throat and took a bunch of pictures that should have been gorgeous but were instead blurs that were vaguely yellowish.  :-)  The group was moving on so I caught back up, just in time to see the waxwings!  They are so cool, and there were a bunch of them up in the tree.  They flew off, and we thought that was it, but more kept materializing and flying off.  It was hilarious!  Every time we thought the tree was really empty this time, 3 or 4 more would fly out.

We headed over to the point, but it started really raining, and we ducked into the boathouse for a few minutes.  It was really funny to me that it rained so much more on the make-up day than on the actual rain day.  :-)  It quieted down in a few minutes and we headed back out.

We headed up to the castle and saw a few swallows swooping over turtle pond.  There were 3 or 4 northern rough-winged swallows, and at least one barn swallow.

And then someone found this green heron!

That was about it for the group.  Heading home I saw a great heron - probably the same one - on my side of the lake, and took what should have been great pictures of it getting a little fish, but sadly autofocus was not my friend today.

I made it home without further downpours, with wet feet and a happy heart.  :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In the park again, at last!

Okay, the weather was not ~great~ but it was not raining, so I headed to the park.  I had no idea there was some sort of half-marathon going on that involved lots of people in hats that reminded me of London cops in old-ish movies.  It was.... unexpected.  :-)  It was also pretty crowded, the first non-raining day in a week or so, a whole lotta folks wanted to be in the park!

I headed up the west side drive, and wandered out onto the rock at the ladies pavilion, where I noticed a great egret across the lake, just standing there and looking beautiful.  A bit too far off for decent pictures, sadly.

Up towards the upper lobe, right by the water fountain an oriole flew back and forth across the road a couple of times, and then disappeared on the other side.  I went over there to just check for him, and although it was beautiful, I didn't find him again.  I did manage to find a bunch of house sparrows, but that was about it.

I went up to get a Diet Coke (pollen gets in my throat I guess) and came back down the mulch path.  At the top, several blackpolls were teasing me, posing for gorgeous pictures too briefly for me to get my camera on them.  I did manage to get this one at last!

Female blackpoll warbler
And another oriole came through, singing up a storm, and let me take a picture.  

This black-crowned night heron was casual, just scratching what itches.

black-crowned night heron
Down to the warbler tree, where there was a sizeable group of birders, which I much later found out was someone's guided walk.  There were a few maggies over there, and one was really being almost over-friendly.  He was just coming right up to the group, the picutres didn't come out well, I think I should have had the camera on macro!  But he did back off slightly to let me take these shots.

Check out my stripes!  :-)

A canada blew through that most of the group saw but I totally missed (bad angle) but this female redstart made up for that by staying still long enough for a few pictures!  I couldn't believe it.  Thanks lovely lady!

There was also a common yellow throat skulking about, I caught glimpses now and then.

From there I walked along the water towards the oven.  I just didn't want that much company, so I took off.  Anyway I did see a vireo I was too slow to get a picture of, I think it was a warbling vireo, but I'm not really sure.  I talked with another couple of birders about banding projects, that was interesting.  And this oriole came through and sang, contributing to the conversation.  :-)

The oven didn't feel right so I went out on the point and sat on the rocks near the start of the path, just being alone and looking around.  There was a common yellowthroat down there, and a Canada teasing me without mercy, and a northern waterthrush.  Turns out this is a pretty good spot to sit!

A bit further up a pair of blackpolls were flitting about on the ground (ish), chasing each other around.

Time to go...... This warbling vireo made me wait but did eventually pose.

The black-crowned night heron was there, and as I was leaving so did he, flying to the main part of the lake, buzzing people on the bridge.  It was great!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Swallow Drama on Great Swamp Day

These swallows were flitting about on some exposed branches, so I took some pictures.  Looking at them, I'm wondering..... what's going on here?  I mean, really, how many reasons are there for a bird to land on top of another bird.......  My guess is - eggs!  Everyone wants eggs!  :-)  But, it doesn't look like they are both the same kind of swallow.  That bottom one doesn't look really very blue.

These pictures were taken all in a row, the camera takes about 5 frames per second.

Great Swamp Day! Part 2

The second place was more active, sadly this was not limited to birds.  There were little..... inchworms, I guess...... dropping from the sky on little silky threads.  Constantly.  We were all running into them, it was..... unsavory.  There were also plenty of mosquitoes.  I mean, many.  Several.  Lots.  I was covered in bug spray, but they were unimpressed.  Note to self: This is what Paul means by "possibly a little buggy."  :-)  Luckily the place is absolutely beautiful, and the sightings made the inchworms and bugs worth putting up with!

Starting off we saw this kingbird posing with two orchard orioles, helpfully gathered together on the same branch.  Thanks guys!

Then this barn swallow posed for a close-up.  You can see that this one is much paler than the earlier barn swallow, this one looks like a juvenile.

We worked hard to get a nice view of this blue-winged warbler.  Gorgeous!

I know I must be getting much more used to birding because it now sort of makes sense why it's called "blue-winged warbler" when it's mostly yellow and the wings are not really blue.  I mean, not to a non-birder.  I'm starting to be able to see it.

This yellow warbler found us early and stayed with us almost the whole time we were out.  I mean, I guess it's possible there were several, but I like to think of this guy following us around.  It was hilarious, it seemed like every time we looked for something small and interesting a yellow warbler showed up.  :-)

This crested flycatcher was much prettier in person - the belly looked quite yellow.

A turkey vulture circled in fairly low, letting us get a good look at the difference between black vultures and turkey vultures.

This common yellow-throat teased me without mercy.  This was sadly the best picture I got.

It turns out that eastern bluebirds are gorgeous!  Two of them were flying around, and I might have a new favorite.  Now this bird definitely has blue, even a child would agree!  :-)

A few red-headed woodpeckers came through and I saw them several times, but they were too fast for the camera.

Another orchard oriole came by to say hello.

Another snake!  I think they said it was a garter snake.

Again, the place was beautiful, the path was pretty easy, although it wasn't just a loop, it was more of a network of paths/trails and it was possible to get lost.  Which we took full advantage of, resulting in......

This gorgeous pileated woodpecker!  Yes, that's what it is.  Trust me.  I'll say it again - Damn You Autofocus!  This was to me the find of the day.  Many thanks to the person who spotted it!  :-)

Someone saw a warbler briefly, and as I looked for it, I noticed this rosy-breasted grosbeak overseeing the entire operation.  My best look at this guy ever!  Of course, we never did find that warbler.  It was probably the yellow.  :-)

As we were leaving, walking quickly to catch up to the group that did not take an extra detour, we saw a purple martin overhead.  It did not look like an oversized swallow to me from that angle, the wings had a different shape.  It was really cool to see.

Another fun and tiring day with AMNH - yay!