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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Prospect Park with members of the New York City Audubon Society

My legs and feet are really tired. Sometimes I get so excited about sharing my knowledge of Prospect Park birds with others that I try to find them every species residing in or passing through the park. I don't realize how much I've walked until I get home and sit down to write my report. It is a good tired, though, knowing that the members of New York City Audubon that attended today's trip went home happy with the day's observations. We ended the day having seen 49 species and I added two more as I walked home from Grand Army Plaza after leaving the group.

Like yesterday's weather, it was cold and damp with overcast skies threatening to ruin our outing. The rain gods spared us, though, and we had several nice highlights to report.

(Photo Credit - Sean Sime)

I brought the group up to see Big Mama and Split-tail's nest. The ever-growing structure has made seeing a hawk on the nest difficult but we could discern the top of someone's head. I started to make excuses that one sometimes needs to wait for a long time in order to see interesting interactions at the nest. I didn't want people to get bored so suggested that we move on. We had just begun to leave when someone spotted the other adult soaring in the air above the nest. He landed on a branch a short distance above the nest and used his bill to snap off a twig. I guess he didn't like the small piece of wood because he quickly dropped it. He stepped a little further along his perch and snapped off a larger twig. That one seemed to fit his needs and he brought it over to the nest. Big Mama stood and backed up to the edge of the nest to allow her mate to perform a structural update. She then flew off towards the Long Meadow and perched in a tree over the foot path. Split-tail settled down on the eggs.

A small flock of Ring-necked Ducks remains on the upper pond and people seemed pleased to be able to observe these normally shy waterfowl up close. A pair of Bufflehead were also still present.

Near the Boathouse we spotted a Belted Kingfisher and a small flock of waterfowl circling very high in the sky. I misidentified the flock and was corrected by the more experienced waterfowl birders in the group. The passing flock were Northern Pintails, which is a good sighting as they are not seen very often in Prospect Park.

We heard the warbling trill of our first Pine Warbler of the day as we were entering the stretch of trees along the narrow Lullwater. It wasn't until we were adjacent to the Terrace Bridge that we actually observed one. It was a brilliant, yellow male singing from a perch in a pine tree. There were also a few ruby and golden-crowned kinglets in this area, as well as, a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches. We continued our walk onto the Peninsula where we had very good looks at three more Pine Warblers and two Yellow-rumped Warblers.

The number of Tree Swallows flying over Prospect Lake has increased considerably since my previous day in the park. On the "Thumb" of the Peninsula a flock of approximately thirty swallows gathered on the spindly branches of a small paper birch and other saplings at the edge of the water. The small, blue and white birds were alternately perching in chattering, feisty groups then taking flight at once, soaring low over the water. Back and forth, this activity continued even as we stood a few yards away scanning the lake for waterfowl. The gull numbers on the lake has dropped off with the small remaining group taking flight when a Red-tailed Hawk plummeted towards Three Sisters Island from a very high altitude.

On our way back to Grand Army Plaza we passed by the Upper pond one last time. A quick scan here yielded a Great Egret standing like a statue on the north side of the water. The Belted Kingfisher flew by us again as we walked slowly north along the Long Meadow. Near the north end of the meadow a stand of magnolia trees have begun flowering and as we exited the park at Grand Army Plaza I noticed a few small cherry saplings covered in tiny, red blossoms. We've had so much precipitation already this year that I can't wait to see the explosion of "May flowers" that the seasonal "April showers" are going to bring.
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Prospect Park, 4/3/2004
Pied-billed Grebe (1, Lullwater.)
Great Egret (Upper pond.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Three Sisters Island.)
Wood Duck (Drake, Lullwater.)
Northern Shoveler (Several, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Pintail (~6, flying over Boathouse.)
Ring-necked Duck (5, Upper pond. 2, Prospect Lake.)
Bufflehead (2, Upper pond.)
Ruddy Duck (~60, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (3.)
American Coot (4, Lullwater.)
Ring-billed Gull
Belted Kingfisher (Near Boathouse.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Lullwater.)
Northern Flicker (Several.)
Eastern Phoebe (~10.)
Tree Swallow (~30, Peninsula "Thumb" and Prospect Lake.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2, Lullwater.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (3.)
Brown Creeper (2.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (3.)
Hermit Thrush (1, Payne Hill.)
Northern Mockingbird (Meadowport Arch.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (2, Peninsula.)
Pine Warbler (2, Lullwater. 3, Peninsula.)
Fox Sparrow (Several.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle (Abundant on Peninsula.)
Brown-headed Cowbird (4, Peninsula meadow.)
American Goldfinch (2, Rick's Place.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan (2.), Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (Quaker Ridge.), Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee (Heard in Lullwater.), Tufted Titmouse (2, 3rd Street entrance.), American Robin (Abundant.), European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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