Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sunday after the rain

I get restless if I'm stuck indoors all day. Thankfully the rain stopped by about 2:00pm so I grabbed my binoculars and headed up to the park. I went directly to the south end. I thought I'd check the lake for any possible waterfowl that may have dropped in during the storm. I also wanted to take a quick look for the owl and then try to locate the Ash-throated Flycatcher.

Northern Shovelers are still the dominant species of duck on the lake, followed by Mallards and Ruddy Duck. There didn't appear to be anyone new among their ranks. The Great Horned Owl seems to have either moved on or just found a new roost. I've only been checking around the south end of the park so it's possible that he just found a quieter spot in one of the other wooded areas (park workers were using a wood chipper near his roost on Friday).

I ran into Janet and Marie near the Terrace Bridge. They were also looking for the flycatcher. We walked along Wellhouse Drive for a while but came up empty. We ran into Dave and Helen, who had seen it yesterday on the Peninsula. Janet and Marie had to leave at that point but I joked that I'd call them in 10 minutes, right after we found the bird. I wasn't that far off the mark.

I think we've found its other feeding spot. At the eastern edge of the Peninsula meadow is a weedy area separated from the rest of the field by a low, metal fence. Behind and to the right of that is a tall, straight Gingko tree. The Ash-throated Flycatcher was snapping up insects in the gingko, as well as, closer to the ground in the weedy area right behind the fence. I spotted another birder at the far end of the meadow and called her over to share in our find. She was very thankful as she had never seen one before.

Sunset over the Long Meadow

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/28/2004
-
Wood Duck (Lullwater.)
Northern Shoveler (~200.)
Ruddy Duck (~75.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1, perched next to lake near West Island.)
Ring-necked Pheasant (Peninsula between upper and lower pools.)
American Coot (approx. 15-20.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Heard calling on Peninsula.)
Downy Woodpecker (Peninsula.)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Feeding in gingkos and low grass at east edge of Peninsula meadow.) [Also seen by Dave, Helen and Judith]
Brown Creeper (Peninsula.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Purple Finch (1, seen from Terrace Bridge.)
American Goldfinch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (Heard calling on Peninsula.), Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A western flycatcher in Prospect Park

A myiarchus genus flycatcher (Dusky-capped, Ash-throated, Brown-crested or Great Crested) that has been seen sporadically in Prospect Park since the 22nd was relocated today. Seven birders had good looks under excellent lighting conditions. Steve Nanz was able to shoot a number of photographs of the bird. Based primarily on well seen dark tail tips and rufous inner webs, it seems certain to be an Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens).

The bird was seen feeding in and around the gingkos next to the Wellhouse, as well as, near lamppost J249 (a little farther down the road). It kept flying off to the north, disappearing for long stretches, then returning to feed along Wellhouse Drive. We never did figure out where it was going so if you do go looking for it you'd probably do well to just be patient and stay along Wellhouse Drive.

Pale undersides and wingbars

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

Check out the bill

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

Note the dark tail tips

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/27/2004
-
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk (4 or 5.)
Merlin (Flying east over Lookout Hill.)
Peregrine Falcon (Flying over the lake.)
American Coot (12.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Belted Kingfisher (Flying and calling over Lookout Hill.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Breeze Hill.)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Near the Wellhouse.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Breeze Hill.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Breeze Hill.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Breeze Hill.)
Cedar Waxwing (Long Meadow.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (Several on Breeze Hill.)
American Goldfinch

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Another predator for Prospect Park

I ran into Peter while on my way to look for the Great Horned Owl that Bob Bains spotted yesterday. Peter said that he searched for it earlier but couldn't find it.

When we approached the tree that he was roosting in a day ago I noticed one of our local Red-tailed Hawks in the tree. He appeared to be searching the branches of the tree. Jerking his head from side to side and up and down he eventually flew to an adjacent tree for a different perspective. I've heard that Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls are not the best of friends and I assumed that the hawk was looking to chase the owl off of his territory. He scanned the tree from the new location but didn't seem to find anything. He flew off to the south following close behind was another Red-tailed Hawk. Peter and I also gave up and started walking away. Suddenly Peter got a wide, Cheshire cat grin on his face and pointed up. Perched in the tree, directly above where the Red-tailed Hawk had been was the Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owl

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

This is about the time of year that Great Horned Owls begin breeding and I presume that this individual has dispersed to find his own territory. Right now Prospect Park has at least seven resident Red-tailed Hawks, a couple of overwintering Cooper's Hawks, a Merlin and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. It's hard to believe that there is enough food to go around for all those predators in only 526 acres of urban parkland.

Later, while looking for a reported myiarchus genus flycatcher, I spotted a bright yellow patch feeding at the edge of the phragmites. A Wilson's Warbler is not a bird that I would expect to see on November 23rd but there it was. I wonder if this bird will be able to survive the winter.

Wilson's Warbler

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/23/2004
-
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk (3 or 4 adults.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Horned Owl (1.)
Hairy Woodpecker (1, Lookout Hill.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2, Butterfly Meadow.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Heard 1 or 2 on Wellhouse Dr.)
Cedar Waxwing (Several near lower pool.)
Wilson's Warbler (Male. First spotted feeding in phragmites near lamppost J249.)
Fox Sparrow (1, near lamppost J249.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Near Maryland Monument.)
Purple Finch (1, top of Gingko next to Terrace Bridge.)
American Goldfinch (Several.).

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sweetgums, birds and squirrels

We weren't seeing or hearing many small land birds around today. Perhaps it was due to the presence of a Merlin perched above the lower pool; or the Red-tailed Hawk across the Long Meadow from her; or the other Red-tailed Hawks flying around; or the kestrel flying over Lookout Hill; or the juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched near Center Drive; or the adult Cooper's Hawk eating the pigeon near Breeze Hill; or the Sharp-shinned Hawk flying over the Peninsula. The little birds were definitely playing it safe today.

The sun was never able to burn through the thick, gray blanket of clouds so I couldn't take many photographs. Near Breeze Hill we watched a huge Cooper's Hawk perched with a pigeon in his talons. It would have made a very nice shot. A chipmunk clinging to a log cried out a loud warning to all the other animals. The hawk looked nervous and moved three times before we left the area.

Sweetgum balls in silhouette

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A Sweetgum tree next to the Butterfly Meadow seemed to be the only active spot we located. The gum balls have opened and rained down a sprinkling of tiny seeds. It sounded like snow collecting on dried leaves as they settled on the ground. Goldfinches, Purple Finches, chickadees and titmouses feasted on the sudden windfall. As they tapped the spiky balls with their bills they released an explosion of minute confetti. Some squirrels lapped up the seeds from the paths below the tree. Some squirrels preferred harvesting the whole gum balls and gnawing into them for their seeds.

Seed flurries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A tasty treat

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-click to learn more about Sweetgum Trees-

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/18/2004
-
Pied-billed Grebe (Near Three Sisters Island.)
Double-crested Cormorant (Prospect Park.)
Great Blue Heron (Duck Island.)
Brant (Juvenile. With flock of Canada Goose.)
American Wigeon (6, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (~200. Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (6-8, Prospect Lake.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Flying over Lookout Hill & Peninsula.)
Cooper's Hawk (Juvenile, near Terrace Bridge. Adult in upper Lullwater.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2 adults.)
American Kestrel (Flying over Lookout Hill.)
Merlin (Perched near lower pool.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull (4-6, Prospect Lake.)
Hairy Woodpecker (Calling in Midwood.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (Midwood.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (2.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (4, Terrace Bridge.)
Cedar Waxwing (~12, flying over Long Meadow.)
Fox Sparrow (Ravine.)
White-throated Sparrow (Small flock near West Island.)
Purple Finch (6-8. Feeding in Sweetgums on Center Dr. & Butterfly Meadow.)
American Goldfinch (Approx. 75 in several flocks. Feeding in Sweetgum trees.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose (75, Prospect Lake.), Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee (Several.), Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (Several.), Northern Cardinal

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Big Mama & Splittail

Landing in tree on Payne Hill

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As I walked down the path from the Picnic House towards the Ravine I noticed some movement at the top of a tree on Payne Hill. Splittail was perched at the very top of a sycamore tree, breaking off twigs. I began walking in that direction hoping that he would stick around. He flew off, presumably, towards their nest in the tulip tree. Big Mama then flew into the same tree and began examining some of the bare branches at the tree's peak.

Big Mama looking for twigs

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I spent my lunch hour in the woods near their nest and listened to their frequent calls. They spent a lot of time soaring and circling over their nest woods. The wind was blowing from the northwest and created a nice updraft for them at the edge of Payne Hill. They looked as though they were enjoying themselves. Spying on them through the thin leaf cover I watched as they would slowly drift into the wind towards the edge of the Long Meadow. Once they were above the edge of Payne Hill they would make a tight left turn and let the wind quickly carry them above the Midwood and the zoo. Like seals riding waves on the ocean, the hawks continued the circular rollercoaster for 20 minutes.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/16/2004
-
Red-tailed Hawk (2, Payne Hill. Working on nest.)
Ring-billed Gull
Hairy Woodpecker (Midwood.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1, Payne Hill.)
Brown Creeper (2, Payne Hill.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Fairly common.)
Pine Siskin (Feeding in Sweetgum at Nethermead Arches, within goldfinch flock.)
American Goldfinch (Common.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Wallkill River NWR

American Tree Sparrow

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Dave Klang and I took a trip up to Wallkill River NWR today. I haven't been to Wallkill River NWR since February 2002. Over the last couple of years efforts have been underway to restore the habitat and remove many of the invasive plants, such as Purple Loosestrife. What I remember as a singular sprawling wet meadow now has a huge shallow lake. We spoke with a refuge naturalist who told us that the restoration was underway with a partnership from "Ducks Unlimited". The water level is manually controlled and allowed flooding sections to create a nice winter waterfowl habitat.

-click to learn more about Purple Loosestrife-

Wallkill River NWR

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The southern border of the Liberty Loop Trail is still primarily grassland but the habitat near Oil City Road is very different. Where I once watched groups of Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls coursing over tall grass I now scanned large flocks of waterfowl. A tight formation of a few hundred Green-winged Teals nervously climbed, dove and circled the water before settled down near the Canada Geese. A stealthy Great Blue Heron moved almost imperceptably in the tall grass at the edge of the lake.

Great Blue Heron

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As we walked along the trail that borders the lake and meadow we encountered a few four legged residents. Well fed Woodcucks waddled through short grass at the edge of the footpath. A pair of muskrats busy eating grass didn't notice me and allowed me to get a nice portrait. Anxious White-tailed Deer tried to hide in the tall grass as distant shotgun blasts reminded us that it was open season outside of the refuge. Near the northeast corner of the rectangular path I spotted a skunk foraging in the leaf litter below a sycamore tree. For a moment I considered getting closer for a photograph but realized that it might not be worth the possible "reward".

Red-tailed Hawk

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The whole time that we were walking the loop trail several Red-tailed Hawks were soaring above us. I counted four adults and two juveniles. I thought about the diet of our urban hawks compared to these "country" birds and wondered if muskrat was any healthier than Norway rat.

-click to learn more about the Wallkill River NWR-

- - - - -

Wallkill River NWR (Oil City Rd), 11/14/2004
-
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey
American Coot
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
Northern Cardinal
American Tree Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Mammals:

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Woodchuck (Marmota monax)
Common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Staten Island birding reports

Here is the weekly report from the Staten Island birding listserv:

Subject: WESTERN GREBE, weekend reports
From: SINaturaList@si.rr.com
Date: 11/14/04 6:41 PM

Date: Nov.11, Noon
Wolfe's Pond
Ron A and John Stonick
 
Mallards
Blacks
Merganser RB (F)
Buffleheads (2)
N.Shovelers M and F at least 6
Ringed Neck Duck
Scaup Greater and Lesser about 60
pied grebe
BB Gulls many
Herring Gulls many
Ring Billed Gulls several
GB Heron flying toward the wooded end
Muskrat (poss. 2) swimming toward us. It submerged about 5ft. from shore when a radio controlled 18 in. boat cruised nearby.
 
Ron Armitage

----------------------------------

DATE: Sat, Nov 13, 2004
PLACES: Great Kills Pk, Wolfe's Pond Pk
OBSERVERS: Eva Scripps-Callahan, Barbara Saunders, Dennis Guiney
REPORTED BY: Eva Scripps-Callahan
 
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
N. Cardinal
Great Blue Heron
A. Black Duck
Greater Scaup
Carolina Wren (h)
Northern Shoveler
Belted Kingfisher
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Mallard
Red-throated Loon
DC Cormorant
Brant
White-throated Sparrow

----------------------------------

Date:11/13/04 and 11/14/04
Locations: Conference House, Mt. Loretto, Great Kills, Wolfe's Pond
Observers: Seth Ian Wollney, with Dr. Veit at [Conference House Park], and Rich McGovern for GKP, Mt L. and [Conference House Park] (afternoon)
Reporter: Seth Ian Wollney

Out of 56 species, 16 sps were waterfowl. Highlights were pine siskin, and purple finch heard by Veit at [Conference House Park]. Also at [Conference House Park] were a good number of fox sparrows. Red-breasted mergs, bufflehead, rt loons and horned grebe have been hanging out at the Mud Flats in good numbers. A single dunlin was found at the Flats as well. Far off shore two northern gannets where seen flying over the bay. The am. coot and 3 hooded merganser that have been at Mt. Loretto were seen again today, along with a single male ringed-neck duck. The bird of the day was found in the afternoon at the Conference House!! An immature goshawk perched in a tree over the road, and afforded Rich and I great views!!

Today, 11/14/04, there was a single n. gannet seen from Crooke's Point. A juv. red-headed woodpecker was seen by my-self and five others this afternoon at Mt. Loretto...hopefully this bird will stick around for a while.

----------------------------------

[Conference House Park] this morning:
1 red-shouldered hawk
 
Mt. Loretto:
1 Tree Sparrow
2 bluebirds

Richard R. Veit
Professor and Chairman, Biology Department
CSI/CUNY

----------------------------------

The WESTERN GREBE picked up from last year, resurfacing about 800 feet offshore at Wolf'es Pond Park. Access is from Cornelia Ave off Hylan Boulevard.
 
Also noted is a juvenile RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Mount Loretto Preserve, in a cluster of trees at the end of the road leading from Brown's Pond.
 
Peter Dorosh
Brooklyn Bird Club

Saturday, November 13, 2004

A cold day in Prospect Park

Gingko Leaves

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Who pulled the plug on autumn? I awoke at 6:15am and looked out my window onto wind driven sleet. My Internet weather software claimed that there was a wind-chill of 25 degrees. I wanted to believe that there was a bug in the program but knew that it was correct. I went back to sleep.

My friend Bob reported to me yesterday that he spotted a Brewer's Blackbird near the edge of the lake. This bird is normally found in the central and western part the country, could Prospect Park be host to a second avian "Wrong Way Corrigan" of the year? By 9:00am the rain had stopped and I walked to the park. I followed a route that began near the Picnic House and headed southeast, ultimately circling the lake in a clockwise direction.

-click to learn about Brewer's Blackbirds-

The sun had come out and the sky was crystal clear but 25 mph wind gusts had most bird life hunkered down. I looked for birds in the leeward sides of hills, woods, buildings and lake islands. Many of the park's ash tree are loaded down with seeds. I spotted several Purple Finches trying to feed on the seeds near the Terrace Bridge. The wind was keeping most on them on the ground below the tree. Using Duck Island as a wind break, a flock of Canada Goose fed on the grass at a picnic area. A juvenile Brant was among the flock and seemed quite tame, allowing me a close photograph. Nearby our resident Wood Duck ("Woody") rested on the wall at the edge of the lake. A female Mallard "groupie" stayed close to him. Most of the American Coots on the lake remained in the protected waters behind Duck Island.

A young Brant

(Photo credit - Rob J)

"Woody" the Wood Duck

(Photo credit - Rob J)

American Coot

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The spot where Bob saw the Brewer's Blackbird was taking a direct hit from the wind. The gusts blasting across the lake made it hard for any birds to stay in that spot. A flock of Purple Finches clinging to the ground nibbled on ash seeds blanketing the area. Behind the trees at a muddy cove a male Rusty Blackbird foraged for insects. There was no sign of the other blackbird. I was tempted to think that Bob mistook a rusty for a brewer's but he is a very experienced birder and described a much different individual to me. It was too cold for me on that side of the lake so I continued around toward Wellhouse Drive.

The toxic Common Nightshade (Solanum ptychanthum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

In the warm, calm air below Lookout Hill at lamppost J249 I spotted a Common Yellowthroat in the tangled underbrush. Sections of the fencing there is covered by fruiting Common Nightshade and pokeweed. Hermit Thrushes are still fairly common in the park and one fed on the pokeweed berries at this spot. Farther up the road I ran into Rusty and we birded the very active wildflower hill next to the Terrace Bridge. Along that small rise and in the adjacent area I tallied Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch. A Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead scattering some of the birds.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

(Photo credit - Rob J)

After Rusty departed I walked up towards Rick's Place and Payne Hill to check on the Red-tailed Hawk nest. Neither hawk was working on the nest and I couldn't tell if there had been any changes since my last visit. The "Blue Jay that cried hawk" was still in the area tormenting me and his fellow birds. What does that silly bird get from his predator mimicry? As I crossed the Long Meadow on my way home I spotted another Red-tailed Hawk over the field. Despite her large size she was getting buffeted about by the wind. She dove down into the trees near the Picnic House but I was unable to locate her.

Big Mama & Split-tail's nest

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 11/13/2004
-
Pied-billed Grebe (3, near skating rink. 1, near Three Sisters Is.)
Brant (Immature with Canada Goose flock near Duck Is.)
Wood Duck (3.)
American Wigeon (1, upper pool.)
Northern Shoveler (approx. 200 on Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (approx. 50 on Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2, juvenile. 3, adult.)
American Coot (10-12, near Duck Island.)
Ring-billed Gull
White-breasted Nuthatch (Near Wellhouse.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (3, Ravine.)
Hermit Thrush (8-10, various locations.)
Common Yellowthroat (female, lamppost J249.)
Fox Sparrow (3, near Terrace Bridge.)
Swamp Sparrow (Hillside near Terrace Bridge.)
White-throated Sparrow (Common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Fairly common.)
Rusty Blackbird (South side of lake near Three Sisters.)
Purple Finch (25, near Three Sisters. Several near Terrace Bridge.)
American Goldfinch (Fairly common.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (Payne Hill.), Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (approx. 10.), Tufted Titmouse (4 or 5.), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Here is the latest Rare Bird Alert report.
---
RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* November 12, 2004
* 04.11.12

- Transcript
hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
number: 212-979-3070

to report sightings call:
- Tom Burke (212) 297-4804 on weekdays
- Tony Lauro (631) 734-4126 for Long Island

compiler: Tom Burke
coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

transcriber: Andrew Guthrie

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings! This is the New York City RBA for Friday, November 12th at 6 p.m.

The highlights of today's tape are CALLIOPE and SELASPHOROUS HUMMINGBIRDS, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, SNOWY OWL, TUNDRA SWAN and a possible PACIFIC LOON.

A hummingbird visiting a Larchmont yard from Thursday through Sunday morning was fortunately photographed and as a result subsequently identified as a young male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD. It has not been seen since Sunday morning.

A Selasphorous RUFOUS/ALLEN'S type HUMMINGBIRD appeared last Friday at the same feeder that has hosted a Selasphorous hummer in two of the past three years. This feeder is at 615 Narrow River Road in the town of Orient at the end of the North Fork. The feeders this hummer is using are hanging in the front of the house and can be viewed from the roadway. Good photos could be useful in identifying this bird; please be respectful of the local residents when visiting there.

Certainly the most unusual, even bizarre, report of the week comes from Central Park where some birders on Great Hill Tuesday morning identified a flock of 25 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS soaring overhead. Fifteen minutes later this sighting was followed by another flock of 200, much higher and farther off, that was also identified as this species, though it is not clear how Snow Geese were actually eliminated as a possibility. Per the Bull books on New York State Birds, the maximum number of White Pelicans mentioned together in the state is six.

Two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were found last Saturday at Silver Lake Park in North White Plains, Westchester County, where they were at the north, vegetated end of the lake. They were at the same site Monday afternoon but have not been seen there since.

Out east, two SNOWY OWLS have shown up, one at Old Inlet on Fire Island since Sunday. This area can be reached by walking west about a mile along the National Seashore beach from Smith Point Park in Shirley. The other SNOWY OWL was found at Nappeague Wednesday along the ocean beach just west of the end of the Nappeague Lane beach access.

Also out east, six TUNDRA SWANS appeared briefly Saturday on Maratooka Lake on the east side of New Suffolk Avenue in Mattituck, and a drake EURASIAN WIGEON showed up there Thursday. On Sunday two TUNDRA SWANS also arrived at Hook Pond in Easthampton and 25 ROYAL TERNS were still at nearby Georgica Pond. A BALD EAGLE was at Nappeague Sunday. Six RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, four adults, continue at Barcelona Neck in Sag Harbor, and another RED-HEADED was at Cedar Point on Sunday. Fifteen RUSTY BLACKBIRDS visited Preston Pond in Calverton recently.

A possible PACIFIC LOON was seen with about thirty RED-THROATED LOONS off Great Kills Park on Staten Island last Saturday, but unfortunately was far enough out that its identification could not be confirmed with certainty.

The good flights Monday and Tuesday brought some PINE SISKEN flocks to the Jones Beach West End, along with an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER Monday and sixteen EASTERN BLUEBIRDS Tuesday, and the occasional NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL is also appearing there, thus time for a reminder that roosting owls are in a precarious position, and we as birders should make every effort not to disturb them, as their survival depends on their ability to remain concealed. Three NORTHERN GOSHAWKS flew by the Fire Island hawk watch site on Tuesday.

The Monday flight brought thousands of COMMON GRACKLES and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, plus lots of ROBINS and WAXWINGS, over Central Park. Some COMMON LOONS and seasonal ducks and hawks have also been present, and an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER appeared Monday, along with a BLUE-HEADED VIREO and eight EASTERN BLUEBIRDS. Eight WARBLER species in the park included NASHVILLE, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and BLACK-AND-WHITE Monday, PALM, OVENBIRD and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT Sunday and Monday in the Conservatory Garden.

Monday also produced two EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, RUSTY BLACKBIRD flocks and a BALTIMORE ORIOLE, and some PINE SISKENS have been visiting the Ramble feeders.

Prospect Park highlights have featured WOOD DUCK, 200 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, a MAGNOLIA WARBLER Wednesday and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, WILSON'S WARBLER Monday, and a good selection of late fall migrants. A possible BREWER'S BLACKBIRD on the south side of the lake today needs follow-up confirmation.

An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye Wednesday.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at 631-734-4126, or on weekdays call Tom Burke at 212-297-4804.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York, www.linnaeansociety.org, and the National Audubon Society.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Staten Island birding reports

I recently subscribed to a Staten Island Nature listserve. I like to keep updated on happening there but sometimes it seems like they are the "forgotten" borough. This is the first weekend report that I've received. I'll try to periodically add their sightings here:

Subject: Staten Island Weekend Reports
Date: 11/7/04 3:06 PM

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Date: 11/6/04
Observers: Seth Ian Wollney, Michael Shanley The Third
Report: Seth Ian Wollney
Locations: Miller Field, Mt. Loretto, Wolfe's Pond, Great Kills

red-throated loon
bufflehead
double-creasted cormorant
3 gull sps
AMERICAN PIPIT (10, at Miller Field)
brant
american crow
american goldfinch
house finch
house sparrow
mourning dove
starling
coopers hawk
mockingbird
common grackle
common loon
american wigeon
g. scaup
cardinal
tufted titmouse
killdeer
hooded merganser
black duck
sharpie
northern shovler
green winged teal
canada goose
de junco
gold-crowned kinglet
red-breasted merganser (30 or so off Wolfe's Pond Beach)
red-tailed hawk
downy woodpecker
black-capped chickadee
blue jay
yellow-rumped warbler
swamp sparrow
song sparrow

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Date: 11/7/04
Observer(s): Seth Ian Wollney, Michael Shanley the Third (Moravian, and Salt Flats)
Locations: Great Kills, Moravian Cem., Wolfe's Pond, Mt. Loretto

In all I had 56 species for the day, 16 species of waterfowl!!!

mockingbird
yellow-rumped warbler
3 gull sps
carolina wren
american goldfinch
de junco
house finch
black skimmer (3 seen from Crooke's Point flying across the bay)
common loon
bufflehead
downy woodpecker
cardinal
brown thrasher (in brambles at Crooke's Point)
white-throated sparrow
mallard
mourning dove
bc chickadee
red-tail hawk
brown creeper
white-breasted nuthatch
blue jay
tufted titmouse (many at Moravian)
ruby-crowned kinglet
golden-crowned kinglet
PINE SISKIN (feeding on sweet gum balls with AMGO at Moravian)
gadwall
red-throated loon (dozen or so off Salt Flats at GKP, et al.)
greater yellowlegs (2 @ Salt Flats)
dc cormorant
red-breasted merganser
dunlin (3)
semipalmated plover (1)
starling
rock pigeon
HORNED GREBE (8-10 between Salt Flats, and Oakwood Treatment Plant)
killdeer
brant
black duck
house sparrow
canada goose
american wigeon
g. scaup
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Wolfe's Pond)
northern shovler
great blue heron
song sparrow
northern harrier
sharp-shinned hawk
belted kingfisher
HOODED MERGANSER
AMERICAN COOT (Mt. Loretto)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Purple Gallinule final word?

There had been some rumors circulating that the vagrant Purple Gallinule that was in the park had been killed by a predator. I eventually tracked down the story to the local birder who found some of its feathers. In an e-mail Joe Borker wrote:

...the feathers that I found between the skating rink and the phags. After I left you, I came across a large number of secondaries, inner primaries, body and tail feathers. I think that a four footed animal (dog, raccoon not a raptor) got hold of the victim between the outstretched wing and body. I did not find a body, but from the amount of feathers the bird was probably not going to survive. All the feathers had the bluish and/or yellow sheen that makes a gallinule or moorhen come to mind. The tail feathers were narrow, similar in feel to what in passerines would indicate a young bird, but I don't know if that holds true in rails. Some of the body feathers were in clumps with flesh attached, but not that many. The bird wasn't eaten there, so maybe it escaped. At first I thought of the gallinule but the feathers have a gray undertone some by the time I left the park I was thinking moorhen. I did watch my email hoping the gallinule was seen after Sunday so as you can see I was didn't totally rule out the gallinule. Has the gallinule been seen since then?

Joe sent me some of the feathers so I could examine them. I could see some blue-green iridescence under sunlight. When I scanned them with a white background they looked very muddy and uniform. I then placed a black board behind them which made the blue-green really stand out. For relative sizing, the largest feather is 4 3/4" long. Also, I've noticed that a feral cat has been hanging around the skating rink with one kitten. So, unfortunately, after an 11 day run in Brooklyn, I think that our gallinule may have met with an untimely death. Joe has suggested that we bring the feathers to the American Museum of Natural History to compare with other gallinule specimens. I think I know what we will find but I'll bring my camera for documentation.

Gallinule feathers? Probably

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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