Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One last gorgeous fall day

What a day!  It's the last in this series of AMNH walks, and we were once again quite lucky with weather.  Sunny (to start anyway) and quite warm for October, it felt like we should be seeing tons of warblers although it's more towards the season for fancy ducks!  We actually had a bit of both.

We started out with this ruby-crowned kinglet earning its name.  I love seeing the crown!

ruby-crowned kinglet
This yelow-rumped warbler was nearby, for a little while the warbler and the kinglet were in the same tree and we were all getting confused giving directions to two different birds.  :-)  This is obviously a great problem to have while birding!
yellow-rumped warbler
 This is a Cooper's hawk.  It has managed once again to give an appearance so brief that only a terrible picture was possible.  I remember seeing them perched pretty often a couple of years ago, I didn't realize how lucky that was!  Maybe this winter I'll get to see more of them again.
Cooper's hawk
 This kinglet didn't show me its crown but it did come closer for a much clearer picture.
ruby-crowned kinglet
 There were a bunch of chipping sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, and juncos in this field.  The juncos were the slowest, so that's what I got pictures of.  The chipping sparrows remind me of cedar waxwings in their ability to disappear into a tree and then reappear when flying to another tree.  It was amazing!
dark-eyed junco
 Several crows flew by, one at a time, as we made our way up to the reservoir.  A gull went over and checked this one out.
American crow, gull
 At the reservoir, the fancy ducks are just starting to arrive.  A couple of cormorants were there too.
double-crested cormorant
 And a grebe was hanging out with some ruddy ducks!  The ruddy ducks were all tucked in.  I can't wait to see their ridiculous blue bills!  I think they might be my favorite ducks.  Don't tell the other ducks I said so.
pied-billed grebe, ruddy duck
 Two of these choppers did a quite low fly-over, it was somewhat ominous.  Is Obama in town or something?
ominous chopper
 On our way out this yellow-rump was showing off how it earned its name.  Well done!
yellow-rumped warbler

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today was another walk with AMNH, and it was pretty special!  It could have been the day of the kinglet - there were certainly plenty of them around.  It could have been the day of the hermit thrush - they were just about everywhere we looked!  But it turned into the day of the snipe!

On my way to meeting the group I ran into a friendly group of kinglets, who were not shy but were very quick.
ruby-crowned kinglet
 And this sapsucker trying to convince me that its belly is yellow.
yellow-bellied sapsucker
 At the group meeting spot this phoebe came over briefly, before a bunch of kinglets chased it away.  What a great way to start!
eastern phoebe
 We saw many hermit thrushes, this one was the best poser.
hermit thrush
 This Blackpoll warbler was a terrible poser.
Blackpoll warbler
Just one golden-crowned kinglet, who was much prettier in person!
golden-crowned kinglet
 Then we got news of a snipe and went on the best snipe hunt ever.  On the way we saw this hawk.
red-tailed hawk
 And there was the snipe!  Kind of far away and in the shadow, but still - look at that ridiculous beak!  Hahahahaha, I love snipes!
Wilson's snipe
 Eventually we left, because the snipe was after all just sitting there.  It didn't move at all during the time we were there.  Over to maintenance meadow, full of sparrows, and this teasing brown thrasher.
brown thrasher
 Most of the group took off but a few of us went up to the castle to see if the shovelers were still there, and they were.  Not in their finery yet, but still showing off their shoveler beaks.
northern shovelers
 On my way home I went by the upper lobe again and there were mallards diving for food, which I don't see very often.  They dove completely under the water, swam for a few seconds, and came up with a snack.  I took a video, I'll try to figure out how to post it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Prospect Park with AMNH

Back to Prospect Park with Paul guiding the AMNH group, and what a day we had!  The weather was amazing, clear and a perfect temperature.  Quite a difference from the rain we have seen there in the past.......

It was a great walk, going through many different areas of the park, and we saw a wide variety of habitats and birds.  It's so much more wild than Central Park, a great change!

eastern phoebe
There were a bunch of flickers foraging in a little grassy area, I like this shot even though it's blurry, because I can see some of the yellow under the wings.  Goodbye buddy!
northern flicker
This guy was so happy, he kept distracting me from whatever the group was trying to see.  He sounded just like a cartoon.  I guess he was celebrating his epic acorn find.
red-bellied woodpecker

hermit thrush
It was quite a day for kinglets!  I like how this one's golden crown blends with the yellow leaf.
golden-crowned kinglet
Yes, this was a Cooper's hawk.  Or at least that's what Paul claimed.  The whole thing was over quite quickly.  Earlier we had a nice view of a harrier, but I didn't get pictures.  When we saw this one I thought it was the harrier again but it was not!
Cooper's hawk
We saw a red-tailed hawk flying a few times.  Love that!
red-tailed hawk

common yellow-throat

downy woodpecker


yellow-rumped warbler

mute swan
We followed a yellow-rumped warbler to this pine tree, and there was a pine warbler there too!
pine warbler
More kinglets.  Always there were more kinglets!
ruby-crowned kinglet
And wood ducks at the very end of the walk.  A great time!
wood ducks

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Day of the Upper Lobe Kingfisher

So from the title you don't have to work too hard to figure out what I saw today - kingfisher!  At the upper lobe!  Oh, glorious day!

So I went up to meet the AMNH group and got to the upper lobe with 20 minutes or so to spare.  As I was putting on my super-cool birding gear, I saw a heron fly into the upper lobe and saw a large tree crash wildly towards the top.  So I went to the bridge to find the heron, and sure enough, there it was!

great blue heron
 As I was enjoying this gorgeousness, I saw a little flitter of something nearby, which turned out to be this parula.  It was hilarious to see this teeny little snip of a bird next to that huge heron!
northern parula
 I guess I paid too much attention to the parula, the heron wanted to demonstrate how it got its name so it showed me its amazing wingspan.
great blue heron
 I saw something weird out of the corner of my eye, and took a few steps to check it out.  And guess what it was????  Kingfisher!  In Central Park!  I have of course heard stories of such things happening, but never have I witnessed it.  Never, that is, until this very moment.
belted kingfisher
 After a few minutes I lost track of my new favorite bird, and went to meet the group.  It was a great walk, there were birds everywhere!  Of course I was super impatient to get back to the upper lobe to try to find the kingfisher again, but I tried, tried, tried to be cool.  It only partly worked.
ruby-crowned kinglet

northern waterthrush

scarlet tanager

American redstart
 Back at the upper lobe, we did indeed see the kingfisher again!  But it was not a great view, and it did not want to fly around for us.  But at least the group got to see it!  And the blue heron, who stood in the sun and showed us its beak at different angles.  And more migrants were here there and everywhere!
rose-breasted grosbeak

magnolia warbler

field sparrow

northern flicker

indigo bunting
 After Paul reluctantly headed back to work and the group disbanded, I went back to the upper lobe.  And found the kingfisher again!  What an amazing lucky day.
belted kingfisher