Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Prospect Park

I guess we're experiencing the late-winter doldrums. Except for three, small oases of bird activity the park was pretty parched. This winter's unusual deep freeze has even limited the expected winter waterfowl on the lake. A flock of over 300 Canada Geese stopped at the lake only briefly as the size of the opening in the water is still constrained by the ice.

There doesn't appear to be any new construction on either of the Red-tailed Hawk nests. I located the north zoo woods pair perched side by side in a conifer overlooking Nelly's Lawn. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker seemed agitated by their presence and "mewed" continuously while hopping around the trunk below them.

As I stood at the edge of the lake scanning waterfowl the large gathering of gulls suddenly lifted off the ice and began circling like a giant feathered tornado. I searched the sky and spotted an immature Red-tailed Hawk soaring high above the flock. Just to the north, an adult pair slowly rode the thermals above Lookout Hill. The larger of the two then broke formation and started flapping hard towards the young bird over the lake. It took a few minutes but eventually the adult hawk ascended to a short distance above the immature bird. It folded its wings back and dove headlong into the other bird. For five minutes it continued its attack, climbing and diving, climbing and diving. With each dive it pushed the young hawk further south and away from the park. Was this an unsuspecting interloper or one of last year's offspring finally being driven off so that its parents can begin the breeding cycle? There have been a couple of young red-tails hanging around since last year, I wonder why they were allowed to stay for so long.

Also of interest today was a Common Merganser on Prospect Lake and 5 Rusty Blackbirds in the Lullwater behind the rink.
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Prospect Park, 2/17/2004
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Pied-billed Grebe (Prospect Lake.)
American Wigeon (5, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (Abundant.)
Common Merganser (Male, Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (17, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (4 adults, 1 immature.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull (approx. 2000, Prospect Lake.)
Great Black-backed Gull (27, Prospect Lake.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2, Vale of Cashmere.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2, Vale of Cashmere.)
Brown Creeper (Vale of Cashmere.)
American Tree Sparrow (1, upper Lullwater.)
Fox Sparrow (6, Vale of Cashmere; 4, upper Lullwater.)
White-throated Sparrow (Abundant.)
Dark-eyed Junco (20, Breeze Hill feeder.)
Red-winged Blackbird (Breeze Hill feeder.)
Rusty Blackbird (5, upper Lullwater.)
American Goldfinch (Vale of Cashmere.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose (300), Mute Swan (3), American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull (200+), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (5), Downy Woodpecker (3), Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee (2), Tufted Titmouse (5), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (2), Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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