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Friday, August 26, 2005

Southward Bound Land Birds

White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)

Asters are springing up in the park's woodlands

Shane and I spent a few hours very early today in Prospect Park. We tallied a nice list of land bird migrants including 14 species of wood-warbler. Besides a large number of common species (starlings and robins topping the list) there was a nice variety of birds moving through the area.

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

It was the first time this “fall” that I’ve observed a significant presence of migrating land birds in Prospect Park. Gray Catbirds and Baltimore Orioles seemed to be just about everywhere. Among the warbler species, American Redstarts were the only individuals seen in abundance. The warbler highlights were a single, male Golden-winged Warbler foraging in a Sweetgum tree at Rick’s Place, two Worm-eating Warblers chasing each other in the underbrush at the same location and a Tennessee Warbler near the stream in the Ravine.

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Small flocks of Cedar Waxwings competed with robins for meals in the park’s Black Cherry trees.

As we were walking north through the Midwood forest we heard a familiar, two-note call. It was a high-pitched, rising “tu-wee”. The sound was reminiscent of a shorebird call. Since we were in a wooded habitat it pretty much ruled out any sandpipers or plovers. Shane asked if I knew what it was and I suddenly remembered Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I first heard the call about five years ago. I was in the woods on the Peninsula so I followed the sound until I located the source. I’m not sure what it is about the quality of the sound but, at that time, I thought the caller would be a sandpiper. I was surprised to find a small, olive-backed Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Ever since that day the call of this uncommon empidonax flycatcher sticks in my head.

Chicken mushroom detail (Laetiporus sulphureus )

Empidonax flycatchers are notoriously difficult to separate visually. The most reliable method is to listen to the males calling in the spring. During the fall migration I generally don't even bother trying to identify an empidonax down to species unless he's talking. I have read that some cannot be identified in the hand 100% by experts! Below is the list of our eastern empids with links to more info.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Cicada Killer with prey on my baseball cap

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Prospect Park, 8/26/2005
Pied-billed Grebe (Upper Pool.)
Double-crested Cormorant (Prospect Lake.)
Green Heron (Upper Pool.)
Wood Duck (4, The Pools.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Ravine.)
American Kestrel (Near Vanderbilt entrance.)
Ring-billed Gull
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Several, including 3 juveniles.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Ravine.)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Calling and sallying in Midwood.)
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher (1, North zoo; 2, Nethermead Arches.)
Eastern Kingbird (Nethermead Arches.)
empidonax sp. (2.)
Warbling Vireo (2.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Several.)
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren (Terrace Bridge.)
Veery (2 or 3.)
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush (Vale of Cashmere.)
Wood Thrush (2 or 3.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing (Several small flocks.)
Blue-winged Warbler (Peninsula.)
Golden-winged Warbler (In Sycamore tree at Rick's Place.)
Tennessee Warbler (Ravine.)
Yellow Warbler (Several.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (3 or 4.)
Magnolia Warbler (Payne Hill.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (A few.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2.)
American Redstart (Abundant.)
Worm-eating Warbler (2, Rick's Place.)
Ovenbird (2, Ravine & near Midwood.)
Northern Waterthrush (3.)
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
Canada Warbler (Several.)
Scarlet Tanager (Terrace Bridge.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Terrace Bridge.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (Common.)
American Goldfinch (Small flock on Butterfly Meadow.)

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

Tree devouring "No Dumping" sign

This tree is in the south end of the Midwood

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