Saturday, January 01, 2005

The year begins

Today was the warmest first day of the year since I began keeping a journal. The mild, windless day approached 60 degrees. Last week's brief cold snap seemed to have either starved the park's lingering warblers and Ash-throated Flycatchers or forced them to move on to more productive habitats. I hope they survive.

Prospect Lake still has enough ice that thousands of gulls have been attracted to the park. The vast majority of birds are Ring-billed Gulls. A sudden liftoff of most of the gulls looked like a tornado moving over the lake. I scanned the sky for hawks or falcons but it was difficult to locate anything through the mass of black, white and gray.

Spooked gulls over Prospect Lake

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I ran into Peter and we stood at the edge of the lake scanning for unusual gulls, reminiscing the previous year's birds and optimistically planning for the new year.

On my way out of the park I heard the high-pitched whinning of several Cedar Waxwings. A flock of nine were feeding on the red berries in a small tree next to the 5th Street entrance. They stayed just long enough for me to take a couple of photos then flew out of the park in a northwestern direction.

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) near Litchfield Mansion

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-click to learn more about Cedar Waxwings-

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Prospect Park, 1/1/2005
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Wood Duck (1, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (Several hundred.)
Bufflehead (3, Upper Pool; 1, Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (15, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1 adult.)
American Coot (~20.)
Ring-billed Gull (~2,000.)
Great Black-backed Gull (19, Prospect Lake.)
Hairy Woodpecker (Midwood.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Lullwater.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2, Lullwater.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1, Upper Lullwater.)
Cedar Waxwing (9, feeding in Hawthorn tree near 5th Street.)
Fox Sparrow (6, Lullwater.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (~30, Lullwater.)
American Goldfinch (Several in Midwood.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan (3, Prospect Lake.), American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (Feeding in Pagoda tree in Nethermead.), Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay (2, Midwood.), Black-capped Chickadee (4, Lullwater.), Tufted Titmouse (4, Lullwater.), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird (4.), House Sparrow

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