Sunday, July 31, 2005

Prospect Park today

Garden Phlox

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Green Bottle Fly

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I miss my hawks. At this time of year I would usually be following the fledglings as they learned to master their hunting skills. When they’d get hungry I would occasionally hear them making a whistled, whining sound. They’d fly around the park looking for the adults with the hope, I presume, that mom or dad would give them some food. The other night I had a dream that I stumbled upon a hidden hawk nest in the park. Two young hawks were walking up an angled, stairway-like branch. One of the adults was at the top tempting them with a fresh mouse. I needed to get into the park for a walk.

I spent three or four hours walking around Prospect Park. It had been about 3 weeks since my last long stroll around the park. When I was near Payne Hill I heard a young Red-tailed Hawk making a whining call from the vicinity of the Ravine. I started running towards the sound but as I did it began receding towards the Midwood. It was likely one of the offspring from the Ravine pine tree pair. I really wanted to find the bird and continued walking toward the Midwood.

The "usual" breeding birds were present in fairly large numbers but I found one unexpected species on my way to the Midwood. I had just walked over the Boulder Bridge and was heading towards the ridge overlooking the forest. As I approached an intersection in the foot paths I heard the hollow, "kowp, kowp, kowp, kowp, kowp" of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. It surprised me because I've never heard one in the park at this time of year. I started to imitate him with the hope that he'd come out into the open. He eventually came into view near the top of a large oak tree. I continued my lame imitation when I heard a second one directly above me! He (or she) joined the first one and they continued foraging together in the treetops overlooking the Ravine stream. I suppose they are now breeding in the park.

Another Limax maximus

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I scanned the treetops in the Midwood but didn’t find the hawk. A Great Crested Flycatcher made a “wheep” call near the south end of the forest. Wild Blackberries have begun to ripen throughout the park. Black cherries still need another couple of weeks to ripen, but that didn’t stop some waxwings and robins from eating them.

Unripe cherries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wild Blackberries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The wrought iron fence surrounding the Maryland Monument created a convenient perch for some dragonflies. Ten Blue Dashers looked like blimps on mooring masts as they each rested on their own iron spike.

Female Blue Dasher

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Male Blue Dasher

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As I returned towards the west side of the park I heard the calling Red-tailed Hawk again. This time he was somewhere behind the fences protecting the woods of Quaker Ridge. I scanned the trees for a few minutes then gave up and continued towards home. I made a final stop at an annual Cicada Killer colony on the Long Meadow. I stood in the center of a wasp jet-way watching the huge insects flying figure eight patterns around their burrows. These enormous insects paralyze their victims, drag them into their burrow and lay an egg on the living cicada. The resulting scenario is something like the plot from a George Romero film. Yum.

Cicada Killer with prey

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Down into the burrow

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 7/31/2005
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Red-tailed Hawk (Juvenile heard calling from Payne Hill and Quaker Ridge.)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (2, foraging in trees adjacent to Boulder Bridge.)
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Great Crested Flycatcher (Calling in Midwood.)
Eastern Kingbird (Several.)
Warbling Vireo (Near Nethermead Arches.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren (Butterfly Meadow.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing (Butterfly Meadow.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
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

Thistle down

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Japanese Beetle on Elderberry

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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