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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Prospect Park after the thunderstorm

Unripe Pokeweed berries (Phytolacca americana)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Tiger Lily (Lilium spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Sometimes I get consumed by sounds. That’s not to say that I have unusually acute hearing or a better than average ability to discern sound sources. I just mean that I frequently find myself absorbed in natural sounds and their sources to the point where my mind blurs the visual canvas. I love music but I don’t wear headphones when I’m outdoors as it disconnects me from my surroundings. When I walk through Prospect Park I’m not just looking for seasonal changes but also listening for them.

Gray Catbird incubating second brood (Dumetella carolinensis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

There are now dozens of young birds learning to survive in this city park. It seems like there are fledgling robins calling out from every habitat. Their barely audible, high-pitched squeals are similar to the ring of Cedar Waxwings. “Gangs” of brown, juvenile starlings make irritating, squawking noises that could drive a mother bird crazy. I located a few fledgling catbirds by their sharp chips as they tried to stay hidden within thorny, multiflora rose shrubs. Two pairs of catbirds, one near the Litchfield Villa and one at Rick’s Place, were back on their nests incubating a second brood. Many of the park’s Black Cherry trees have begun fruiting. A chorus of high, thin whistles from the top of one cherry tree pointed me to a small flock of waxwings.

Within the next few weeks I should begin to hear the rolling rattle of cicadas during the day and the measured ticking of katydids during the night. Today, as I walked passed the north side of the Picnic House, I spotted a large beetle clinging to the stalk of a pokeweed plant. I pushed a leaf aside so I could take a photo and the agitated creature opened his huge pinchers as if to say, “Back off”.

Reddish-brown Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I walked quickly through the Midwood as the sky sudden turned charcoal gray. I heard claps of thunder in the distance and, in the darkness of the forest, a Wood Thrush’s flute-like “ eee-ooh-lay” suddenly took on a haunting quality. An Eastern Wood-Pewee in the same area of the forest seemed aware of the imminent storm and cried out a single, down-slurred “peeyuur“ before heading for cover. I had barely made it into the Nature Center when the clouds burst their seams. While waiting for the rain to subside I used their computers to research the beetle I had photographed earlier. I learned that it was a male Reddish-brown Stag Beetle.

I stood under the green and white striped canopy on the Nature Center’s balcony and watched a family of Barn Swallows frolicking in the rain. For the last few years a pair of these swallows has been building their mud nest on the archway over one of the center’s entrances.

Barn Swallow nest (Hirundo rustica) on Nature Center

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I watched a very peculiar behavior by a catbird at the Butterfly Meadow on Lookout Hill. It appeared to be a recently fledged individual as it still had a lot of yellow at the corners of his bill. He was perched in the sun on a bare oak branch. I’ve observed a number of birds sunbathing in the past but what was odd about this guy was that he was leaning to one side. Occasionally he would straighten up, preen some feathers and then go back to sunning at a slight angle. I guess it was just a comfortable position.

Drunk catbird ?

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On my way back to the east side of the park I spotted a family of chickadees foraging at the top of an oak tree. The juvenile birds trailed behind their parents begging for a handout by chirping loudly and fluttering their wings.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 7/9/2005
Green Heron (Duck Is.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Flying along Lullwater and over Terrace Bridge.)
Ruddy Duck (1, Prospect Lake.)
Laughing Gull (1, Prospect Lake.)
Chimney Swift
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Midwood.)
Warbling Vireo (Peninsula.)
Tree Swallow (Near the pools.)
Barn Swallow (4, in front of boathouse.)
House Wren (At least 2, Peninsula & Lookout Hill.)
Wood Thrush (Midwood.)
Gray Catbird (Common.)
Cedar Waxwing (Peninsula.)
Eastern Towhee (Quaker Cemetery.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (Near boathouse.)

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, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

Photographed near the Maryland Monument
(Photo credit - Rob J)

Great Blue Skimmer female (Libellula vibrans)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Common Burdock (Arctium minus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

American Hornbeam fruits (Carpinus caroliniana)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

White Campion (Silene latifolia)

(Photo credit - Rob J)


jennimi said...

Rob! I found your blog from your post on NYBIRDS. I am a NEW birder and an OLD camper, and only just started my own blog on this site. Your photos are inspiring. I loved "Tern, tern, tern." So cool! Thank you for sharing your experiences and your fantastic images! My boyfriend is a computer trouble shooter, and I am an aspiring librarian, and we share your passion for nature. Wishing you good birding! Your photographs help me learn to identify species, a skill I am only just learning.

jnfr said...

Wonderful report, and excellent pictures as always! That beetle is a real beauty.

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