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Saturday, March 12, 2005

A snowy morning at Floyd Bennett Field

Early morning at "Ecology Village"

(Photo credit - Rob J)

An early morning trip to Floyd Bennett Field wasn't very productive bird-wise but the fresh snow and mild weather made for some great scenery.

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We counted more Horned Larks this morning than on any other day this winter. There was a flock of 8 near the baseball field, 25 next to the visitors center and 20 near the cricket field. We wanted to be sure that we weren't counting the same flock twice. A quick drive back to the visitors center found the flock of 25 still feeding at the edge of the parking lot.

Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I found the larks choice of grass interesting. There are acres of continuous grass fields at Floyd Bennett but they weren't feeding in those areas. I guess they prefer a different type of seed or the food is less plentiful in the main fields. In any case, both of the large flocks were feeding on small clumps of grass growing up through cracks in the concrete or asphalt. We watched as they used their bills like a shovel to remove the accumulated snow then fed on tiny, rice-like seeds. A Killdeer at the edge of the flock near the cricket field seemed out of place.

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As we walked the paths through the area known as the North 40 we checked bare patches in the snow for woodcock. I flushed the first one from a section of exposed leaf litter next to the trail. It was a windless spot warmed by full sunshine. We decided to check all similar snow free areas. The next woodcock we found took off vertically, like a helicopter, then twittered away deep into the phragmites. We never got close to the third one before he flew off into the tangled underbrush. Near the end of one trail we noticed fresh woodcock tracks in the snow and followed them. As they emerged from the underbrush, they made a sharp left turn and followed along the trail. The small, "Y" shaped imprints turned right onto a main trail and headed towards a bare patch beneath a shrub. Falling snow obscured the tracks for a few feet but they picked up again, crossed the trail and disappeared into the underbrush. I was hoping we'd find the bird at the end of the tracks. I imagined that he was watching us the whole time from within the maze of reeds, vines and grass, snickering to himself.

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Floyd Bennett Field, 3/12/2005
Red-throated Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-breasted Merganser
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Woodcock (3.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Flicker
Horned Lark (53.)
Black-capped Chickadee
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow (Heard singing in the North 40.)
White-throated Sparrow
Common Grackle
House Finch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow


Joao Soares said...

Very beautiful photos!!!
I´m a portuguese biologist and I edit a blog in Nature issues.
Prends me visitez

Rurality said...

Love the larks! We see them very very rarely here in Alabama... have to go to northern AL at that.

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