Monday, April 30, 2012

European Goldfinch in the Ramble

Well, today was weird.  I mean, it was destined to be weird once I took Claratin.  Anyway I headed out to the park, walked through Strawberry Fields which was quite pretty.  Then through the ramble, also quite pretty.  There have been reports of lots of warblers, some quite unusual, but I didn't see them.  The only warblers I saw were yellow-rumped (love!) and lots of waterthrushes.  They were everywhere!

But I did see something unusual, which confused me quite a bit until someone id'd it from a picture.  A European Goldfinch!  Here is the back of the bird, near the top of the picture:

European Goldfinch

Here's the front, showing face pattern that confused me:
European Goldfinch

I loved seeing this guy!
European Goldfinch

Okay, now on to the normal little lovelies.  This yellow-rumped warbler came out into the sun for me, showing off its gorgeous markings.  This one was at the upper lobe.
Yellow-rumped Warbler

This one got the idea, posing for me at the oven.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
This waterthrush was lovely in the sun near azalea pond.

It chased away this swamp sparrow, who didn't go far.
Swamp Sparrow

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A quiet day in the park

It was chilly and windy today, and the park was pretty quiet.  On my way up to meet the AMNH group, I saw a few barn swallows swooping madly over the lake.  I also saw a black-crowned night heron flying in, but I couldn't find where it landed.  It looked like it was about to land, but either it continued on or it was just better at hiding than I was at seeking!
Barn Swallow
 At the group meeting spot, the robin was on her nest.  There are definitely eggs, we saw her turning them.  I couldn't count them, I just got a hint of blue.  :-)
 Soon we spotted our first yellow-rumped warbler!  These are still all over the place, still looking to me like leftover members of miscellaneous 80's rock bands.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
 We saw a few towhees, this one was sitting and singing for us for a few minutes.
Eastern Towhee
 A few goldfinches were singing briefly, then flying away, then flying back, then flying away, then flying back........
American Goldfinch
 A pretty palm warbler, who gave us a great view and then flitted away from my camera.  We heard a blue-winged warbler a few times but never saw it.  Well, most of us never saw it.  One person did, but sadly that person was not me.  Alas!
Palm Warbler
 These turtles were just too pretty to pass up.  I think the big one is a painted turtle, it's nice to see them.  The red-eared sliders have pretty much taken over the park turtle-wise, which is too bad.
 Another yellow-rump, posing pretty on the point.  :-)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
 We saw a few hermit thrushes also.  This one took its cue from the palm warbler, giving us great close-up views that were just too brief for my camera to first find the bird and then focus.  Oh well, it was still great!  Overall a quiet day in the park but still a nice walk.
Hermit Thrush

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jack's Birthday Owl

Happy Birthday to my husband Jack!  After we both got home I described my day seeing the owl in the park, and he said sadly, "I didn't get to see an owl......."

"Baby, I bet he's still there.  We could leave right now, take a cab up there, and walk in, and see that owl."




We finished up his birthday welcome-home snack, and headed out.  And everything went according to plan - cab, walk, owl!  :-)

Great Horned Owl
 Several birders in the park mentioned the owl to us while we were on our way over there, which I was very happy about.  Thanks to everyone who wanted to share!  The light on the owl was incredible, it was just beautiful.
Great Horned Owl
 What a treat to see such a special sight on your birthday!  :-)
Great Horned Owl

A Great Horned Owl in the Ramble

Today was another gorgeous day.  I'm getting seriously spoiled!  I decided to go up through Strawberry Fields, around the upper lobe, and then up to Tanner springs and over to turtle pond or maybe the reservoir.  Strawberry Fields was quite nice, with flickers all around and a red-belly going into a cavity.  I wonder if all of these red-bellies and their cavities and really making nests, or if they are food caches or something.  I mean, I'm seeing a lot of them, and I thought nests were supposed to be harder to find.  Anyway this yellow-rump flirted with me for a bit.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler
 Along the edge of the lake I saw this black-crowned night heron, I got a clear view at first but of course it went into the brush when the camera came out.  I love this shot of it peeking up out of the green, green leaves.
Black-crowned Night Heron
 At the upper lobe bridge I ran into a very experienced birder who was extremely kind to me.  First she found this Louisiana waterthrush..........
Louisiana Waterthruh
 ........ and this green heron!  And another black-crowned night heron, but I was much more excited about the green heron, one of my favorite birds.  Then she asked, quite casually, if I was there to see the great horned owl.  Huh???????  Well, now I had a new plan!  :-)
Green Heron
 Heading over to the owl spot I saw these cardinals courting, it was really cute.  I also saw a Carolina wren, it was pretty but defeated my camera.
Northern Cardinals
 Then I saw a group of birders looking up, right where I was told the owl was.  And there it was!  I actually saw a red-tailed hawk leaving when I arrived, and later someone told me that the hawk had attacked the owl and tried to convince it to leave.  The owl was not particularly impressed.
Great Horned Owl
 My first time seeing this kind of owl.  It was incredible and beautiful!  :-)
Great Horned Owl
 Okay, it looks like it's glaring at me, but it actually seemed fairly content.  Blue-jays were complaining but didn't seem to be able to gather enough numbers to make any difference to the owl.  After a while my camera arm and neck were both tired, so it was time to move on.
Great Horned Owl
 Aha!  The Carolina wren!  To the guy who was reading next to the wren, I'm sorry, I'm not being creepy and randomly taking pictures of strangers.  You're barely even in the shot.........
Carolina Wren
Another yellow-rump, looking like he's going to buzz me.  
Yellow-rumped Warbler
 I sat on some rocks for a few minutes, and a pair of goldfinches came by to bathe.
American Goldfinch, male

American Goldfinch, female
 On my way out, I stopped by the upper lobe to see the green heron again.  So beautiful!  What a lucky day.
Green Heron

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Day of the Yellow Rump

There are yellow rumps everywhere!  It was hilarious - we didn't have to search high and low for one or two yellow rumps.  We just had to find a small flitty bird, stay put, and look around - there were sure to be a half-dozen or so nearby.

Okay, first I checked on the robin's nest near our meeting spot, and it was there and occupied.  The robin stayed put while I was there, so I didn't get to see any eggs, but I'm guessing that's why she's there...... we shall see!  Someone said they didn't see the nest, but when I turned to find her and show her where it is, the group was leaving.  Whoops!  :-)

Well, we started off with this hawk soaring above the lake.  Nice beginning!  Its legs were hanging down ridiculously, I guess it had a target in mind.  I took Claratin so I was not much use for conversation.  If you are reading this and tried to talk with me, I apologize!  It was nothing personal, it was the Claratin........
Red-tailed Hawk
Then it was our first yellow-rump.  First of many!  :-)  There were 5 or 6 flitting about in the upper lobe where we were looking.
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Fewer woodpeckers today than in the past couple of walks, but I got a nice look at this guy.
Red-bellied Woodpecker
There were several chipping sparrows which were surprisingly difficult to see.  This one finally hopped up and onto a branch.  Thanks buddy!
Chipping Sparrow

This palm warbler had a habit of perching on things that my camera would not focus on.  So frustrating!  Finally it hopped to the ground, but moved so quickly that I still couldn't get a great photo.  Oh well, he was gorgeous, believe me!

This black and white warbler came through quickly, looking quite handsome.

This grackle posed in the light for us, showing off its subtle colors and iridescence.

A surprise at the oven - a sandpiper!  They have been here before but generally not very often.  We were lucky to see this one.
Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

As we headed back towards the museum, another surprise - this female wood duck in a tree!  She was so pretty and I felt bad that we seemed to disturb her a bit.
Wood Duck

More yellow rumps!
Yellow-rumped Warbler, normal view

Yellow-rumped Warbler, lucky person view

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pretty Prospect Park

What a gorgeous day!  I decided to expand my horizons and head to Prospect Park on my own.  I got a pdf map to hopefully prevent myself from getting too lost.  As soon as I arrived, this mute swan greeted me prettily.

Mute Swan

There were several red-winged blackbirds singing and flying around (I only saw the males) and robins everywhere.  As I wandered around aimlessly on a treed lawn, this palm warbler flew right over and posed for me.
Palm Warbler
And then this kinglet!  This was quite a good spot!  :-)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
I walked all around the lake, where the ruddy ducks were diving madly.  Hahahahaha, look at that bright blue beak!!!!  No, that is not photoshopped in there - it really is that color in real life!  I love, love, love ruddy ducks.
Ruddy Duck
Several coots were hanging out with the Canada geese, they are not shy here.  This one came right over to see if I had any tasty morsels for it.
American Coot
I watched these tree swallows for a while, trying to figure out where their "home base" was.  This picture makes me want a better camera.
Tree Swallows
Apparently the swallows were watching me too......  :-)
Tree Swallow
Goldfinches!  The camera refused to focus on the gorgeous bright male, but was happy enough to focus on the female.  I don't know if they are eating something there or if they are making a nest, there were two females and one male there for quite some time.  I got distracted by.......
American Goldfinches
..... this gorgeous hawk flying right over me!  It was nice and low, what a great view!  This picture is about as good as it gets with this camera.  Again, this picture makes me want a better camera......
Red-tailed Hawk
This swan breezed by in classic swan fashion, I loved the way it looked through the reeds.  I think this one is a juvenile, almost grown up now.
Mute Swan
There is a bunch of construction going on, and this snapping turtle was really annoyed it couldn't get to the other side of the fence.  I was hoping it would start biting the fence, but it didn't.  Well, that I could see, anyway.
Snapping Turtle
An egret in a tree!  It struck me as a snowy egret but looking at the picture I'm not convinced, it looks more like a great egret.  So, an egret of indeterminate type.
American black ducks swimming.
American Black Ducks
Their mating is not as romantic as mallards.  There was no chasing exactly, they were just sort of milling about and then the male just sort of jumped onto the female's back.  Also, there was no privacy and sometimes seemed like a group activity.  The female did not complain or try to get away though.  But is it really necessary for them to keep dunking her?  Seems rude.......
American Black Ducks

So Prospect Park is quite different from Central Park.  It's much larger and less crowded, and the demographics (at least today in that section) were quite different.  Lots of men fishing, not many women.  A few kids, mostly concentrated in a couple of small areas.  Not as many places to get sodas and hot dogs.  A great place to explore!