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Thursday, November 17, 2005

A short walk in Prospect Park

Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A short walk in Prospect Park in spring-like temperatures yielded little bird activity. I walked along Center Drive checking the Sweetgum and ash trees for goldfinch flocks. It’s usually around this time of year that an occasional Pine Siskin can be found feeding among the American Goldfinches. The wind was blowing hard directly into the trees along the road’s border so I didn’t find any birds at all. Many of the Sweetgum fruits are still pale green and have yet to drop their miniscule seeds. Strong wind has caused all the ash trees to loose their clusters of single blade propellers.

-Click here for photos of Pine Siskins-

Hackberry Nipple Galls

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On a trip to Staten Island on the 5th of this month I noticed something curious. Walking through the woods in Conference House Park it appeared that all the hackberry leaves on the ground were spotted with tiny, green ring-shaped growths. I assumed that they were some type of insect egg. I had all but forgotten about it until I noticed the same thing in Prospect Park. I took some photographs and planned on researching it in the future. Purely by coincidence, while looking up information on oak trees, I stumbled on a photo that looked exactly like my hackberry growths. I learned that it is called “Hackberry Nipple Gall” and is caused by tiny insects called psyllids.

-Click here for more info-

In addition to the wind gusts keeping the bird activity to a minimum a large, adult Cooper’s Hawk and a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk were patrolling the park. I gave up on trying to locate one of our Red-tailed Hawks and began heading home. I ran into a woman on horseback that I’ve spoke with in the past. She mentioned that she hadn’t seen any of the Red-tails lately. No sooner had the words left her lips when one of the hawks flew over Lookout Hill, across Center Drive and into the woods surrounding the cemetery.

Phragmite seed "feather"

(Photo credit - Rob J)

One unexpected observation today was of blooming Witch Hazel shrubs next to the Picnic House.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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Prospect Park, 11/16/2005
Pied-billed Grebe (3, Prospect Lake.)
Great Blue Heron (Upper pool.)
Wood Duck (Lower pool.)
Northern Shoveler (approx. 20.)
Ruddy Duck (approx. 12.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Flying over Rick's Place.)
Cooper's Hawk (Lookout Hill.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Flying over Lookout Hill towards cemetery.)
American Coot (approx. 15-20.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
White-breasted Nuthatch (2 at Breeze Hill feeder.)
Carolina Wren (Peninsula, near point.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2.)
Hermit Thrush (1, Nethermead Meadow.)
Cedar Waxwing (4, flying over Nethermead Meadow.)
Fox Sparrow (1, Peninsula.)
White-throated Sparrow (Common.)
American Goldfinch (Fairly common.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (Fairly common.), Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

Szechuan pepper (Zanthoxylum simulans)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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