Saturday, March 13, 2004

Prospect Park with Big Dave

The bright sunshine and clear, blue sky was a bit deceptive as the temperature was a chilly 19 degrees this morning. As Dave and I stood below the nest strong wind gusts caused the bare tree branches above us to crack and creak. We were a little concerned about getting clobbered by falling branches. The recently seen isolated pockets of butterflies and small, swirling clouds of flies appeared to be hunkered down somewhere and out of sight. On Payne Hill my first Eastern Phoebe of the season was also looking for them. The only flocks of land birds observed were in the lee of Payne Hill along the rise of the Midwood.

It's possible that the female Red-tailed Hawk of the Ravine nest has laid an egg. Like a giant pendulum her nest swayed dramatically from side to side in this morning's powerful gusts. Unfazed by the roller coaster ride she remained firmly in place on her nest at the top of the pine tree.

Big Mama and Split-tail were staying out of the wind and were perched in the relatively calm air of the forested Midwood. We watched Big Mama methodically stripping the bark from her perch in a tuliptree. We figured that the long, stringy fibers were probably going to be used as insulation for her nest. I guess they've been using that spot for a while as the top half of the four foot long branch was almost completely devoid of its outer covering. After a few minutes of tugging and tearing she carried a billfull of the threadlike bedding up to the nest.

Despite today's blustery weather, now that I've seen my first migrating phoebe it really feels like spring has arrived.
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Prospect Park, 3/13/2004
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Ring-necked Duck (2, Upper pond.)
Bufflehead (1, Upper pond.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Eastern Phoebe (Payne Hill.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2, Payne Hill.)
Northern Mockingbird (Litchfield Villa.)
Fox Sparrow (Rick's Place.)
White-throated Sparrow (Rick's Place.)
Rusty Blackbird (1, Between upper and lower ponds.)
American Goldfinch (Approx. 10, Rick's Place.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (Payne Hill.), Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (Payne Hill.), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (Rick's Place.), Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

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