Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hooded warbler, hooded warbler, hooded warbler!

Oh, and some other cool stuff too.  :-)  Today was another of the lunchtime walks with Paul from AMNH.  I can't say there were birds everywhere, but we ended up seeing quite a bit, including a spectacular hooded warbler.  Yay!  Okay, just to get this out of the way - I do ~not~ have a good picture of the hooded warbler.  :-(  I have a picture where the bird is in the shot, but that's about it.  Ah, well, someday!

We started off going down the little path to the little stram and bridge, where we saw this white-breasted nuthatch along with the usual suspects - robins, house sparrows, starlings.  There was a visiting Famous Birder from I think England, I really wonder if the Brits who come over laugh and laugh over all of the house sparrows.  And maybe round some up to take home, where they are not doing so well.  Oh well.
White-breasted Nuthatch
 Heading down towards the park road someone spotted a blackpoll warbler, what a treat!  I had no idea what it was, although this is one of the ones I learned last year.  Maybe I'm not as intermediate as I think.  :-)
Blackpoll Warbler
 Over to the upper lobe bridge, where we saw this pretty little maggie, and a somewhat distant hummingbird.
Magnolia Warbler
 And this red-eyed vireo!  I'm getting to really love these little guys.  I'm a sucker for a stripey head.
Red-eyed Vireo
 One of the grosbeaks flirted with us, even coming into the sun for a few moments.  No, I did not Photoshop the color of the water.  It looks like that.  It's something about seeds or pollen.  Apparently it's supposed to happen.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 Over towards Tupelo meadow, where this phoebe demonstrated how flycatchers catch flies.  There's a lot of swooping interspersed with perching.  It looks fun!
 A goldfinch is not gold in the fall.  It looked like a weird sparrow, the back looked wrong for any sparrow I know.  Which is appropriate since it is actually a goldfinch!  I love seeing them away from the feeders.  Actually we went by the feeders and there were no goldfinch there.
American Goldfinch
 A yellow-bellied sapsucker!  Looking a bit worse for wear.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
 At the feeders there is a tree with flowers that the thrushes (and some other birds) just love, love, love.  They fly around and crash-land on these clusters of teeny flowers and then they feast!  I don't really know what they are eating (seeds? bugs?) but it seems to be quite their favorite meal.
Swainson's Thrush
 Then we saw a red-bellied woodpecker, and a hairy flew over to join it on the same tree!  I didn't move fast enough to get them facing off, but at least both faces are in this shot.  A sapsucker flew up to the tree in the back/right here.  It was hilarious!
Red-bellied Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker
 Here is the crown jewel of the day - the hooded warbler!  We actually got a good look at him, I just couldn't get a decent shot.  Well, at least you can tell what it is!  :-)  I stayed around trying to locate it again but it moved on to the next spot in its circuit, and waiting around for 30-45 minutes didn't seem like a lot of fun.  Thanks Buddy!
Hooded Warbler
 Back to the upper lobe, where I worked my way around slowly and silently because someone I have not seen before was being professionally videotaped teaching someone how to use binoculars.  At first I thought it was a commercial, but it became clear that it was some sort of "segment."  I made it by without being on camera or disturbing them though, and this brown thrasher posed for me in the sun, so it was all good.
Brown Thrasher

Monday, September 24, 2012

A beautiful but non-birdy day

OK, I think it's possibly that I'm getting spoiled.  I mean, yes, wel all know that I am already spoiled in some ways.  But I mean spoiled in the "seeing lots of birds in Central Park" way.  Today felt like a gorgeous day with not many birds.  However I did see four kinds of woodpeckers and a whole bunch of winter wrens scampering about, both of which are pretty special.

I know what this means.  I'm not a beginner any more.  I'm intermediate.  I can't deny it.  Being a beginner is always filled with such joy and newness everywhere.  Being advanced has its own joy with knowledge and familiarity.  Being intermediate is a long slog.  I will try to refrain from too much complaining!

Things were quiet at the upper lobe, but this rose-breasted grosbeak came out for a little while.  I love this look, halfway between the juvenile and adult plumage.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 I did see a couple of maggies, but they were really few and far between.  I know fall migration is more spread out than spring, but still, it seem pretty light this year so far.
Magnolia Warbler
 Wrens!  It was a winter wren bonanza of winter wrens along the streamlet.  Which I think may be called the gill.  It was so great to see these teeny pretty wrens scampering about!  I saw one wren briefly at the upper lobe, but these guys were all over.
Winter Wren
 Someone very kind pointed out this black-throated blue near the wrens, and I'm very glad she did.  Thank you whoever you were!
Black-throated Blue Warbler
 At the oven, there was one hummingbird.  Then two.  I stretched out in the sun because I was kind of chilly and it was empty, and had a wonderful 10-15 minutes warming up.  During that time 3-4 hummingbirds buzzed me from both sides, storming the oven!  It was hilarious!  There was also a maggie in the conifer, beautiful but backlit.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
 Hairy woodpecker!  Look at that beak!  A hairy looks basically just like a downy except bigger and with a larger beak.  I see downies all the time, but not many hairys.  So, can you really tell them apart in a picture just from the beak size?
Hairy Woodpecker
 Yes.  Yes you can.
Downy Woodpecker
 At the upper lobe again heading home, where this white-throated sparrow was my good-bye bird.  Nice to see them again, they should be getting fancier soon!  :-)
White-throated Sparrow

Friday, September 21, 2012

The day the grosbeaks were everywhere

What a strange day!  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I went off to the park to gallivant about for a while.  It was not particularly birdy.  Except for the grosbeaks.  They were everywhere, and not hiding!  Oh, and brown thrashers.  Also pretty much everywhere.  Skulky though.  At the upper lobe, I saw this lovely black-and-white, who actually flew almost into me, he was so close.  I had to back up to get a picture.  
Black-and-white Warbler
There was also a mystery flycather, who was backlit the whole time until........
Mystery Flycatcher
And this red-eyed vireo.  Then there was a grosbeak interlude.  By the jewelweed on the path towards the streamlet, there were some grosbeaks hanging out with serious photographers, and one hummingbird who was much shier than the grosbeaks were.   My picture of this incident is, of course, of a red-eyed vireo.
Red-eyed Vireo
 Overy by azalea pond I found a Cooper's hawk, which I haven't seen in quite some time.  Yay!  It had something that it considers tasty, we could not agree on what it was.
Cooper's Hawk
 At the oven this hummingbird posed like a boxer.  Which was appropriate, there are many hummingbird fights each day now!
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
 Also a pair of red-breasted nuthatches were hanging around in the pine tree there.
Red-breasted Nuthatch
 And, of course, grosbeaks!
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 It was a long and mostly warbler-free day.  Until I found a few of them on my way back to the upper lobe.  This common yellowthroat caught my eye.
Common Yellowthroat
 A maggie, my only one of the day.
Magnolia Warbler
 I am a little in love with redstarts when they fan their tail.  They've got serious style!
American Redstart
 A bit later this wood thrush was feasting.
Wood Thrush
 This picture is a bit blurry but I still love it!
Red-eyed Vireo
 It's a bit sad that this is the best picture I got of a brown thrasher today.  I mean, I saw a zillion of them.  Sometimes even perched like this but in much better light!  Sadly they are much faster than I am.  Oh well!  For a not-so-birdy day I felt like I got to see a lot.  :-)
Brown Thrasher

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gorgeous fall day in the park

Today I was planning something I usually didn't do - going to the park hoping to see one specific bird that had been reported.  OK, I was really hoping for 2 - a whippoorwill and a bittern!  Both very secretive and hard to find, but I figured, well, why not?  So off I went.

The park was not too bird-y, although there were lots of thrushes.  At the upper lobe I waited around for a while and did see this pretty hummingbird, along with a little maggie and red-eyed vireo.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
This flicker came by, seemed willing to accept my presence until I took a step in any direction, and then got flustered.
Northern Flicker

This handsome rose-breasted grosbeak is getting into his finery, he posed for a minute to make sure I got the full benefit of his new colors.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

And I was very exited to see this brown thrasher!  Turned out to be one of many.  I remember a day last year that was just filled with thrashers everywhere, and today did not match that day, but it was still surprising to see so many of them.
Brown Thrasher

On my way to the streamlet this house wren made me smile.
House Wren

I saw this northern parula from a distance, although in this photo it looks like he wants to be closer!
Northern Parula

At the mudflat was a northern waterthrush, even coming onto a branch in the sun for me.  Thanks buddy!
Northern Waterthrush

Then I was close to the location reported for the whippoorwill, and I managed to get directions to it.  Luckily someone was there looking at it, otherwise I'm not sure I would have found it, even knowing the small area to look in.  But find it I did, through the method of following another birder's directions!  I stayed until another guy came up and gave him directions, made sure he saw the bird, and then figured my duty was done.  Next, to the castle!

On the way there, in the field to the right of the ramble shed, I saw this common yellowthroat in the grass.  Like, in the middle of the field, not close to the bushes!  It was funny, just a bunch of robins and this teeny fellow.
Common Yellowthroat

And, of course, thrushes all around, getting those delicious berries.
Swainson's Thrush

And a red-breasted nuthatch came by!
Red-breasted Nuthatch

I went to the end of turtle pond by the statue and on the way saw this mystery flycatcher hunting, hopefully eating up lots of mosquitos.  I love this picture even though it is not helpful in figuring out what kind of flycatcher it is.  :-)
Mystery Flycatcher

I searched as well as I could, but I could not find that bittern.  I headed up to the castle, seeing this pretty black-and-white along the way.
Black-and-white Warbler

Up at the castle I looked again for the bittern, and I saw something heron-like and brownish fly into a specific spot on the island.  I did not get my camera on the bird, and I could not find it after it landed. But I'm sure I saw something fly in there.......... Well, that's about as close as I got to the bittern.  I also didn't see any migrating raptors.  One red-tailed hawk soared over me for a while, which consoled my in my bittern failure.  I was sorely in need of cheering up.  To the oven!

The oven did not disappoint.  Several hummingbirds, several swordfights, lots of photo ops.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A common yellowthroat female and 4 or 5 rose-breasted grosbeaks rounded things out nicely.  This female is showing off her yellow armpits.  Who doesn't want fancy armpits?
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Female)

I decided to get one more look at that whippoorwill but it was more crowded, there were several photographers including one grumpy man.  I heard a little of what he had to say and decided to leave.  On my way out, a pretty mystery warbler brightened my day and this juvenile black-crowned night heron felt like it completed my walk.  What a day!  :-)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Juvenile)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Post AMNH Walk, more gorgeousness

After the group headed to the museum, I headed to turtle pond, grabbing a hot dog and a Diet Coke along the way.  And a waffle, that was the first time I saw the waffle cart with no line!  I impressed the guy by knowing that in Belgium they are an afternoon treat, not a breakfast item.  It was delicious (sweeter than I expected) but I could not eat more than half of it!  Time to walk it off.  :-)

Sitting on the rock at the end was uneventful, so I headed up the path to the castle.  First this common yellowthroat scampered along the edge of the bushes.  A black-and-white came through but did not slow down enough for my camera.
Common Yellowthroat
 This warbling vireo played up in the trees.
Warbling Vireo
 An eastern kingbird came by briefly.  I was hoping it would stay nearby and hunt, but it moved on.  I love watching their hawking flights.
Eastern Kingbird
 To the oven!  Where I saw this osprey, probably migrating, fly over.  I thought for a second I saw a bunch more hawks, but it turned out they were swifts.  
 This grosbeak was posing right in front of us!  She even flitted up to a bare branch, and then back down to the tops of the jewelweed again.  Thanks lovely lady!
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
 Of course I'm really here for the hummingbirds.  There were 5-6 here, getting into hummingbird spats and chasing each other around.  I got buzzed a few times.  It was awesome!
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
 A red-breasted nuthatch came by, investigated that one branch, and left.
Red-breasted Nuthatch
 Taking a break from hummingbird sword-fights.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
 A magnolia warbler's vulnerable underbelly.  It was directly above me, but I didn't want to get up to get a better angle.
Magnolia Warbler
 A flicker came by and gave me a great view - sometimes picking a spot and sitting quietly and moving slowly is the best way to see shy birds.
Northern Flicker
 This yellow warbler is the first one I've seen this season.  Hello Handsome!
Yellow Warbler
 Heading over to the upper lobe to meet Jack, I saw this green heron at azalea pond.  I mean, I saw it because I noticed 3 other birders watching it.  If not for that I probably would have passed right by it.
Green Heron
 Hahahaha, grumpy night heron!
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron