Saturday, April 23, 2005

Brooklyn Bird Club Field Trip

Azaleas

(Photo credit - Rob J)
Photographed in the Lullwater near the Nature Center

I had been watching the weather reports over the last two days and assumed that today’s trip would be cancelled. I was scheduled to lead a tour of Prospect Park for the Brooklyn Bird Club but “scheduled“ thunderstorms seemed to have other ideas. I was pleasantly surprised to wake to grey, but dry conditions. Six birders donned their rain-gear and met me at Grand Army Plaza. Despite terrible light conditions we managed to spot several migrants new for the park’s year list. We also had great views of one more southern species ”overshoot“.

The north end of the park down to the Ravine was fairly quiet, bird-wise. The juvenile male Red-tailed Hawk who has taken up resident was perched atop a pine on Nellie’s Lawn. As we were watching he took off flying in our direction. He passed low over our heads and through a flurry of white, cherry petal snow drifting down on us.

In the Ravine we located a Louisiana Waterthrush foraging along the stream’s edge. A short distance downstream an Indigo Bunting flew nervously towards the water. I suppose he wanted to bathe and drink but was spooked by other birds in the area and flew off.

We ran into Bill near the Lily Pond who informed us that there was a lot of bird activity on the Peninsula. Up to that point we had encountered only very few Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. As we approached the Peninsula we spotted Peter up ahead waving at us to come quickly. Knowing Peter, it was something very interesting. In a cluster of Black Cherry trees near the entrance to the woods was a female Summer Tanager. A rare but regular migrant, their breeding range is south of New York City. This individual was yet another example of a bird that overshot its range. I wonder why we’re seeing so many overshoots this season.

-Click here for more about Summer Tanagers-

By about 10:30a it was beginning to lightly drizzle. We decided to call it a day and I walked back towards my end of the park with a woman named Nhu.

Nhu is a relatively new birder so I gave her some birding advice as we headed north and out of the park. I told her, sort of half-joking, that there’s always one last bird and that I make sure to turn around and check the park before I leave. At the entrance to the Ravine I was going to turn left, towards Fifth Street, and she would continue straight to Grand Army Plaza. At that junction I noticed some sparrows on the edge of the sidewalk ahead of us. I put my bins on them. Between two twitchy Song Sparrows was a chunky sparrow with a distinct eye-ring. I began getting excited and explained to Nhu that this was a very special bird to see in the park. Two people walked passed and flushed a mixed flock of sparrows that was larger than I had anticipated. In addition to the song and Vesper Sparrows were chipping, savannah, White-throated Sparrows and one Dark-eyed Junco. The Vesper Sparrow broke from the flock and flew through a chain-link fence at the edge of Payne Hill, its flashing, white outer tail feathers helped to confirm its identification. We stood against the fence and watched it forage for seeds. It lingered there for long enough that I could point out to Nhu the bird’s unique eye-ring, streaked breast, finely streaked crown, white submoustacial stripe, rusty shoulders and white outer tail feathers. She seemed pleased but I was downright delighted by the chance find.

Like I said, ”There’s always one last bird“.

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Prospect Park, 4/23/2005
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Common Loon (Prospect Lake.)
Double-crested Cormorant (Prospect Lake.)
Wood Duck (3, flying over Nellie's Lawn.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1 juvenile, 1 adult.)
Spotted Sandpiper (Edge of lake on Peninsula.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Flicker
Blue-headed Vireo (Peninsula.)
Tree Swallow (A few over the lake.)
Barn Swallow (Several over the lake.)
House Wren (Heard singing in Ravine.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Fairly common.)
Hermit Thrush (1, Ravine.)
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Parula (Ravine.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Abundant.)
Pine Warbler (1, Behind Upper Pool.)
Prairie Warbler (Heard singing on Peninsula.)
Palm Warbler (Common.)
Black-and-white Warbler (Several.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (Ravine, at edges of stream.)
Summer Tanager (Peninsula, female.)
Indigo Bunting (Ravine at edge of Ambergill.)
Eastern Towhee (Ravine.)
Chipping Sparrow (1, Peninsula. ~6, Payne Hill.)
Vesper Sparrow (Payne Hill and sidewalk at edge of Long Meadow.)
Savannah Sparrow (Payne Hill and sidewalk at edge of Long Meadow.)
Swamp Sparrow (Peninsula.)
White-throated Sparrow (1 fairly large flock on Payne Hill.)
Dark-eyed Junco (2, Payne Hill.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird (Several.)
House Finch (Singing in Pines near Grand Army Plaza.)

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

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