Saturday, April 27, 2013

Post-brunch park happiness

What a day!  First an amazing brunch at a friend's place, then some of us went for a walk in the park enjoying the gorgeous afternoon.  The walk started off with something I've never seen before, a hawk and an egret circling together above us.  It looks like they are at different altitudes, but it was weird to see them both circling in the same section of the sky.

red-tailed hawk, great egret
 When the sun shone through the egret's feathers, it was really interesting to see how the feathers overlay each other and where the bones are.
great egret
 I'm finally starting to be able to recognize this little vixen.  She has confused me so many times!
red-winged blackbird (female)
 Ovenbird!  My first of the season.  And I got to show it to a little old lady who was delighted to see it, saying it was her first warbler of the season.  It's such a great feeling to find something cool and share it with someone.
 Bat!  Apparently it's been sleeping in this area for a few days, I never would have noticed it without someone pointing it out - looked just like a dead leaf, did not catch my eye at all.  Well done both to the bat and the person who spotted it!
 There were a few warblers around, but the only other real highlight for me was seeing this egret at the upper lobe on my way out.  :-)
great egret

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A gorgeous day in the park

Today was absolutely gorgeous.  Bird-wise it was pretty much the same as Monday, seeing just one or two of each type of bird, with most of that being on the point.  I was happy to find this gnatcatcher myself, I think that's the first time I've spotted one.  However it was pretty resistant to pictures!
blue-grey gnatcatcher
 I did see maybe 4 or 5 yellow-rumps.
yellow-rumped warbler
 BLue-headed vireo showing off its "blue" head.
blue-headed vireo
 There are its spectacles!
blue-headed vireo
 This bird is not in shadow, that's just how black its body is and how brown its head is.
brown-headed cowbird
 How cute is this oriole taking a bath?!?!?  I love her.  She did not look so adorable when she flew off all wet an bedraggled, but I'm sure she got herself looking gorgeous quickly.
Baltimore oriole (female)
 Black-and-white warblers never clash with their surroundings.
black-and-white warbler
 One of the black-crowned night herons was back, but I didn't get to see it fish this time.
black-crowned night heron

palm warbler
 Towhee!  In the sun!  I love how dignified these guys look.
eastern towhee
 The Louisiana waterthrush is still here!  I'm guessing this will be my last time seeing one this year.  But it's very difficult to predict the future!
Louisiana waterthrush

Monday, April 22, 2013

One by one, the warblers come

Another AMNH walk with Paul today.  It was sunny enough, but chilly and windy.  And the wind was not in migration direction.  I want to see warblers so bad!  It's funny, I remember laughing at Paul for being so warbler-crazy, and now just a few years later I'm the same way.  Hahahaha, progress?

On my way up to meet the group I had a preview of what are now regulars.  It was pretty quiet, or am I just impatient so it seems quiet?  Hard to say for sure........

chipping sparrows

brown creeper

white-throated sparrow

ruby-crowned kinglet
Met up with the group and headed to Hernshead because a couple of us saw swallows there on our way up. While we were watching swallows and swifts over the lake this Cooper's hawk came through.  It didn't stick around and circle at all, it just sort of swooped overhead and then it was gone.  There was a peregrine falcon too, but it was (unsurprisingly) too fast for me to get a picture of.
Cooper's hawk
To the ramble!  It was quiet, but ended up being a really nice walk. This guy was building an entire apartment complex.  He was super-busy, and it looks like he's doing a great job. Maybe there will be a nest there!  If I could remember which tree I would check it again later.
red-bellied woodpecker
 This group is only having so-so luck with the towhees, we eventually saw both male and female but the views were brief and I don't think everyone got a look.  Hopefully next week, they are such cool birds!
eastern towhee female 
 Two blue-grey gnatcatchers flitted about, teasing us with almost-excellent views.  They are so teeny and cute!  Here is what they usually look like:
blue-grey gnatcatcher

He didn't sit still very often.
blue-grey gnatcatcher 
 A new arrival!  My first-of-season black-and-white.  Gorgeous bird, nice sighting, he came right over.  Welcome!
black-and-white warbler 
The first warbler I ever saw was a palm warbler and they still have a special place in my heart.  I was in Grand Cayman and it was in its non-breeding (non-yellow) plumage, and I thought it was a sparrow.  Which would be extremely unusual in Cayman, so I sent a picture to a local naturalist who worked at the Mastic Trail and he let me know that it was a palm warbler.  He was so kind to a beginner, I will never forget that.
palm warbler

This guy is happy about getting a nice big fish, but he doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to swallow it.  It's gonna be a big job, I wonder how he'll manage it.
black-crowned night heron

OMG, is it possible that my camera is specifically designed for mallards?  Look at these two!  It's ridiculous!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting for warblers

Oh when, oh when will the warblers arrive?  Not today is the basic answer.  Hopefully soon!  They are just trickling in a little bit at a time.  Luckily it was still a beautiful day with lots to see.  I started out with 3 red-tailed hawks circling above.  I love seeing them!  I waas where the oriole's nest was last year, hoping they came back, but I didn't see or hear them.

red-tailed hawk
 I took about four steps and then saw these two turkey vultures circling in a different part of the sky.  Great start!
turkey vulture
 By the pond, the geese left their eggs on their own while they went swimming.
canada goose eggs
 Up to the ramble, where there were still plenty of kinglets around, playing in the branches and teasing my camera.
ruby-crowned kinglet
 A warbler!  Yes, I saw one warbler, this gorgeous palm warbler.  I saw it for about 20 seconds, which is not nearly long enough.  Also, where are your friends, little one?
palm warbler
 At the oven this flicker gave me a nice angle.
northern flicker
 And a cormorant was fishing.  I love their blue eyes!
double-crested cormorant
 Ah, hello cowbird, with your brown head.  I'm onto your wily ways!
brown-headed cowbird
 This towhee was not shy at all, it was fine being out in the open as long as it was in the shade.
eastern towhee
 Some house sparrows are building a nest in the traffic light in the park by Columbus Circle.  There goes Daddy!
house sparrow

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chippies and Flickers everywhere

What a gorgeous day!  The birds apparently thought so too, we saw plenty of them.  There were not as many kinglets as last week, and they were all ruby-crowned.  They were just as fast.  I actually saw this one on the way to meet the group, we saw plenty of others later, but this was the best picture.
ruby-crowned kinglet
 A song sparrow was on the path below the overlook of the meeting spot, it was extremely convenient! Although that water doesn't exactly look pristine.  Bathing there might not help.
song sparrow
 This yellow-rumped warbler - which is NOT too drab - was a treat to see, my first of the season, and I think the only warbler we saw all day.  However it was not interested in posing for pictures.
yellow-rumped warbler
 Someone found a black-crowned night heron, and then so did the red-winged blackbird!  The blackbird was really giving it a hard time, which I've never seen before.  The night heron appeared not to notice.
black-crowned night heron, red-winged blackbird
Then someone found the first of a zillion flickers.  Last week we saw them but only for approximately one second per bird, then they were outta there.  This week we had a much better time with them, it was great!
northern flicker
 It was still a good day for sapsuckers.  This one just chased another one off of this tree, and a robin flew with it for good measure.
yellow-bellied sapsucker
 Brown creeper!  We actually saw several of these, including one that got fairly friendly and came right over.  They blend amazingly well and they are so fast, it was a treat to see several.
brown creeper
 Hello Hairy!  I love this guy.  It looks like an oversized downy, and hearing it peck the sound is much more serious.  Although I have to agree with Paul about this one - possibly the slightest touch dingy.
hairy woodpecker
 Some red-tailed hawks soared over, and there may have been a bit of a scuffle.  It's hard to tell with hawks, but it looked to me like two of them were driving off a third.
red-tailed hawk
 Chippies!  We saw a couple of there here and there, but it was a bonanza at the feeders.  It seemed like everywhere I looked there was another dozen!  I've never seen them in such numbers in the park before.  It was great!
chipping sparrow
 Oh, there were also many many hermit thrushes.  I like it when there is only one thrush in town, they are still really hard for me to tell apart.  Maybe this year will be my year to really learn them.
hermit thrush
 Oh, did you want to see a flicker close up?  Okay, here you go.  There must have been something really delicious on the underside of this branch, this guy was really going for it.
northern flicker
 And a junco crossed the path slowly.
dark-eyed junco
 I don't know if that feeder will work for him, but check out the coloring of this red-winged blackbird!
red-winged blackbird
 And there were still some quite vivid white-throated sparrows around.  The feeders were really quite active!
white-throated sparrow
 Back at the upper lobe, there was quite a bit to see.  A cormorant was fishing, and this great egret was showing off its breeding plumage.  Yes, you are gorgeous!
great egret
 The black-crowned night heron was in a different tree, maybe the blackbird won that battle after all.  A great walk!
black-crowned night heron