Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More migration gorgeousness

Well it's a good sign when I get to see a Canada warbler on my way to meet the group!  I was this one by the southern end of the lake, where it teased me for a while before I remembered I was actually on a schedule and should get going.  I had time to run around the upper lobe and I saw several little guys, but I have no idea what they were because of the sneezing.  Time for allergy medicine!  It turns out that if you sneeze and then get out allergy medicine and water and Kleenex such that your hands are full and you are juggling items, the birds think it's funny to come right over and flit about.  It was maddening!

Canada warbler
 Met up with the group, and we went back to the upper lobe where there were birds a-plenty.  We finally got a good look at a red-eyed vireo.
red-eyed vireo
 There was a warbling vireo there also.  Guess what it was doing!
warbling vireo
 We saw this black-crowned night heron flying around over the lake, and it landed near us.  They are hilarious looking.
black-crowned night heron
 Oriole!  We have seen this guy here a few times, we sort of wondered if they were nesting nearby.  Later I found their nest!
Baltimore oriole
 Ah, warbler time.  I love this picture of the black-and-white, it almost makes up for the Blackburnian defeating my camera at every angle.
black-and-white warbler
 This is not a Canada (as I first thought) but is a "weakly marked" Magnolia.
magnolia warbler
 Black-throated green!  Look at how gorgeous!
black-throated green warbler
 This scarlet tanager is showing off its acrobatic skills in addition to its brilliant coloring.
scarlet tanager
 As promised, Baltimore oriole with nest.  Sadly the group had just left, but hopefully the nest will be going strong next week.
Baltimore oriole with nest

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Back at Bashakill

Today was another AMNH trip to Bashakill, and I was excited to get back there.  This was my first repeat trip with the museum, and it was really interesting to see it from a different perspective.  I could see how much I have learned in the last year, both about birding and about being outdoors in general.  No, I still cannot identify poison ivy.  But I do have clothes that are super-functional and comfortable, so I wore long pants and hiking boots this time.  Anyway, the place was just as gorgeous as I remembered, and if anything we saw even more birds this time.

When we got off the bus, we heard a chorus of little lovelies who wanted to be heard and not seen.  There was a bunch of flitting and an oriole that just would not stay put long enough for a nice picture, along with one of the regulars of the day, a least flycatcher.  Then we saw this warbling vireo, which sounds kind of like an American robin sped up and just a little crazier.

warbling vireo
 Pretty quickly after heading off on the path we found this great blue heron. I was all proud of myself for spotting it, but either there are several there or this guy really gets around - we saw him flying about a few times, it seemed like he was checking in on our group every once in a while like a good host.
great blue heron
 There he goes now!
great blue heron
 A veery!  I love these guys.  They always seem to have a soft personality that matches their coloring.
Another star of the day - yellow warbler!  We saw several of these and heard many many more.  It's a great day when you get to say, "Oh, it's just another yellow warbler."
yellow warbler
 This kingbird looked like it was starting a nest.  Good luck buddy!
eastern kingbird
 This redstart came right over and stayed quite close to us for a good bit of time, I was surprised.  I guess he's just not impressed with the city folk.
American redstart
 We did not see a pileated woodpecker, but we saw its work.  Holy moly, those guys are serious!
tree after a pileated woodpecker visited
 This little lady was really hard to get a good look at.  Come one out, you're gorgeous!
common yellow-throat female 
 "Eagle!  Bald eagle!  Flying! ......... Two of them!"  This is about the best thing you can hear the guide say on a bird walk.  We all abandoned whatever we were looking at (probably a yellow warbler but it's hard to say for sure) and ran over, and it was true - two adult bald eagles, soaring over the trees, in front of a mountain covered in forest.  They were gorgeous!  We jostled and ooh-ed and aah-ed until the eagles tired of putting on a show for us and left.  What a sight!
bald eagle
 Here she is, the female version of the red-winged blackbird.  She is a pretty little vixen who enjoys confusing birders.  It is now my policy when confused by a bird -  I am not making this up - to check if it's another female red-winged blackbird confusing me yet again.
red-winged blackbird, female
 There were of course snakes on this trip, at least 2 garter snakes and this water snake.  I even spotted one of the snakes!  There was a moving thing near the path, and as I checked out the movement I saw the tip of a snake tail disappear.  Paul found it but it was another garter snake, and he had already picked up another one, so he didn't particularly want this one.  The water snake he did not pick up, explaining, "They will bite you.  And they will draw blood if they do bite you."  This one was just under a little footbridge we crossed, looking like it couldn't care less if a bunch of New Yorkers took pictures of it.
water snake
 There was a mystery mammal, quite possibly a raccoon, sleeping at the base of a bush across the water from us.  We were hoping it would wake up so we could see what it was, but it was extremely dedicated to sleeping.
mystery mammal
 Eagles!  At the end of the path, there were again scoped set up on the eagle nest and the osprey nest.  In this picture, there is an adult eagle (with the white head) on a branch, and to its right is a juvie in the nest, by the trunk of the tree.
bald eagle
Here it is from my phone, through the scope.  Missed the juvie though!  I should really get one of the iphone-scope adapters for trips like this, it would be so much easier.  
bald eagle
 There were tree swallows there too, just a few, by their boxes.
tree swallow
 After our walk we enjoyed a wine tasting and having lunch at the winery, with great live music!  We also discovered that there is a pizza place nearby that delivers, giving us ideas for possibilities for next year's trip.  :-)  It was a great day, and a quiet bus ride back to the city!  :-)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In the swing of spring

Another AMNH walk today, this time with migrating birds!  It was a great walk with quite a bit of variety.

There were several warblers right at the start of the walk, including this redstart.
American redstart
 At the upper lobe it was pretty quiet, but we did see this blue jay sitting in the nest we saw last week.  Maybe we will see chicks soon!
blue jay
 Heading towards tupelo meadow we saw this Blackburnian!  It was so high up there, the pictures are not great, but what a treat to see.
Blackburnian warbler

Blackburnian warbler
 This white-crowned sparrow and white-throated sparrow were very obliging, posing for pictures that show their differences easily.  Thanks guys!
white-crowned sparrow and white-throated sparrow
Even though it was mostly about migrants today, I never get tired of woodpeckers.  This guy wanted some attention!
downy woodpecker
 I still have no good pictures of a parula, in spite of many opportunities.  Do they have some sort of anti-autofocus device?  This one is fuzzy but at least you can tell it's a gorgeous parula.
northern parula
 Only one brief black-and-white today, I wonder if they are mostly gone already.
black-and-white warbler
blackpoll warbler

I remember seeing several types of thrush, but I don't know which kind this one is.  Last year I startd to be able to tell them apart much more easily, but I've apparently lost the knack.
mystery thrush
This Wilson's warbler was bathing at the little stream on the point, making quite a show of his post-bath preening.
Wilson's warbler
I had to work so hard for this picture!  This little guy was positively maddening!  
common yellowthroat
I didn't have to work for this one at all, just had to wait while the ovenbird crossed the path in no particular hurry.  
There were a few maggies, none really posing, all being gorgeous.
magnolia warbler
I don't much car for grackles (it's their song that really turns me off) but even I have to admit that this one is spectacular.
Another woodpecker!  I love how unimpressed with people they are in the park.
red-bellied woodpecker

As I was leaving, the egret made a beautiful walk across the top of the upper lobe.
great egret
And this oriole zoomed through and zipped about briefly.  
Baltimore oriole

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What a beautiful day! Shame about the birds.......

What a day.  Perfect weather for a walk in the park looking at tons of lovely migrants!  Sadly it was not to be.  The migrants were still stalled out south of here (or passed us by altogether!) We did spot a few things though, starting with this wedding!

wedding in Central Park
The geese have eggs at the lake, which I got a terrible picture of.  I can't even tell how many eggs are there, but I definitely see eggs!
canada goose with eggs
 There were three black-crowned night herons at the upper lobe, including this one looking quite debonair out in the sun.
black-crowned night heron
 We tried and tried to see warblers but the trees by the upper lobe would only show us this blue jay nest.  Still, it's the first blue jay nest I've seen, so it was cool!  I hope the nest is successful and we get to see chicks and feeding and stuff over the next few weeks.
blue jay nest
 It was actually a ~great~ day to see hawks soaring, we saw either several hawks or the same one several times, soaring over us.  There are several hawk nests near-ish by with chicks, so it's a good time of year to see the parents hunting.  Gotta feed those kiddies!
red-tailed hawk
 This raccoon looked almost like a koala, it was hilarious and cute.  :-)
 This was the biggest bullfrog I've ever seen.  I mean, this dude must be some sort of giant in the frog world.
 Woodpecker!  I love these little guys.
downy woodpecker
 A brown-headed cowbird tosses a glance over his shoulder at us.  Doesn't really look too flirty though does he?  Looks more irritated than flattered by our attentions.
brown-headed cowbird
 A migrant at last!  Just as we were about to finish up, someone found a catbird.  Yay!