Friday, September 30, 2005

Live Webcam from Botswana

A bad cold and work has kept me indoors this week. I'll try to get out this weekend to see the latest seasonal changes in the park.

I found an amazing live webcam. National Geographic has an infrared camera pointed at an African watering hole. It's interesting even when no animals are on camera as a microphone picks up the sound of crickets chirping, animals walking through the underbrush and other sounds:

-Click here for National Geographic's Wildcam-

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New York City Natural Areas

"New York City Audubon" and "New Yorkers for Parks" have joined forces to protect NYC's green spaces. Called "Natural Areas Initiative" they have created a great booklet that includes a map of the natural areas in the five boroughs. I've added a permanent link to it in the sidebar.

-Click here for more info on Natural Areas Initiative-

The file is in PDF format. To open the file you may need the free Adobe Read. You can download it here:

-Adobe Downloads-

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sparrow time

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)

Photo taken in Prospect Park on Peninsula meadow
(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

There has been a sudden increase in the number and variety of sparrows migrating through the city parks. In the last couple of days Prospect Park has been host to Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. By Halloween the Fox Sparrows will have arrived for their winter respite in New York City.

-Click here for more info on Clay-colored Sparrows-

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Northeast Winds

A cold front moving through New York helped make today one of the most active days of the fall migration. It seemed like all of Prospect Park was bustling with birds. The Peninsula in the park appeared to be the best spot for uncommon birds. Seen by several individuals over the course of a few hours was a Yellow-breasted Chat, a Connecticut Warbler and a Dickcissel.

The chat was located by Shane Blodgett and Mary Eyster in the underbrush near the water beneath the Terrace Bridge. Later, when several people converged next to the weedy, fenced-in area at the east end of the meadow, a Connecticut Warbler was sighted. It was relocated later, after we had left...we'll, when we were trying to leave. Shane caught a glimpse of an unusual sparrow feeding within the mugwort at the west end of the meadow. We waited out the bird for probably thirty minutes until it finally perched on the steel fencing that "protects" the mugwort. It was a Dickcissel, along with some House Sparrows, nibbling on the tops of the grass, smartweed and other seed-bearing plants. This is the same spot that Sean and I found one last year on October 5th.

Mary and I also witness an unusual bird/insect interaction. While we stood at the Sparrow Bowl scanning the sparrows that were present something began flying towards us. A Chestnut-sided Warbler was pursuing a very large, green thing that seemed to have streamers trailing behind its body. The hunter and hunted passed very close to us at eye level then dropped to the ground. I looked through my bins to see the hungry warbler pecking at and attempting to eat a katydid. My mother used to say, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach". In this particular case I'd say his meal is bigger than his head. I tried crawling over to take a photo. The katydid ultimately took off and the warbler began walking towards me. His eyes are definitely much bigger than his stomach if he was checking me out.

Chestnut-sided Warbler and katydid

Sorry about the poor quality but you can see the size comparison
(Photo credit - Rob J)

True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia )

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

-Click here to listen to a katydid-

While standing at the Sparrow Bowl I began lamenting the symbolic passing of summer. Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows foraged along the uncut grass at the edges of the field. Recently arriving on the north winds, many will spend the winter in the park then depart in the spring.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 9/24/2005
-
Northern Shoveler
Cooper's Hawk (Ravine.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Adult and juvenile soaring over Lookout Hill.)
Merlin (Flying over Breeze Hill.)
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2 or 3.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1, Near Nethermead Arches.)
Eastern Phoebe (Several.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Fairly common.)
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1, Peninsula.)
House Wren (2 or 3.)
Winter Wren (1, Peninsula.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Fairly common.)
Hermit Thrush (1, next to Esdale Bridge.)
Wood Thrush (1, next to Esdale Bridge.)
Cedar Waxwing (Several flyovers.)
Nashville Warbler (4.)
Northern Parula (3 or 4.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2.)
Magnolia Warbler (Several.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Common.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (1.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (3.)
Palm Warbler (Common.)
Blackpoll Warbler (2.)
Black-and-white Warbler (4.)
American Redstart (Approx. 8-10.)
Ovenbird (2.)
Connecticut Warbler (Peninsula, weedy area at east end of meadow.)
Common Yellowthroat (Common.)
Wilson's Warbler (1, weedy area at east end of meadow.)
Scarlet Tanager (Common.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting (Approx. 12 between Peninsula Meadow & Sparrow Bowl.)
Dickcissel (Feeding with House Sparrows at West end of Peninsula meadow.)
Chipping Sparrow (Approx. 20, Sparrow Bowl.)
Savannah Sparrow (1, Sparrow Bowl.)
Lincoln's Sparrow (1, Sparrow Bowl.)
Swamp Sparrow (2.)
White-throated Sparrow (Several, Sparrow Bowl.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Approx. 6., Sparrow Bowl.)
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole

Other common birds seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow (1.), American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

An unusual bird at Jone's Beach

Jone's Inlet


The channel and bay where the shearwater has been feeding

I've been trying to write up a detailed report from my notes but the computer gods have conspired against me. I'll get to it eventually this weekend. Shane and I drove out to the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station in search of a reported shearwater. We ran into Tom, Gail, Shai and Pat just after we arrived. Standing on the dunes overlooking the water we quickly found a bird that has alternately been identified as a Manx Shearwater or Audubon's Shearwater. Both seabird species are rarely seen around NYC and vicinity and they are very similar in appearance.

As the morning wore on a sizable group of birders gathered and we all observed the shearwater for a long period of time. By the time Shane and I left it appeared that the general consensus was that the bird was an Audubon's Shearwater.

-Click to learn more about Audubon's Shearwater-

Other highlights at Jone's Beach were King Eider, Caspian Tern, Dickcissel and Clay-colored Sparrow!

-Photos of an Audubon's Shearwater-
-Photos of a Manx Shearwater-

- - - - -

Jone’s Beach Coast Guard Station, 9/21/2005
-
Common Loon
Audubon's Shearwater (Just north of Jone's Inlet channel.)
Great Egret
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
King Eider (Near CGS.)
Osprey
Northern Harrier
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover (Heard only on flyover.)
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern (2, sandbar opposite the CGS.)
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Dickcissel (Near CGS.)
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow (Weedy stretch adjacent the CGS fence.)
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (Juvenile.)
Boat-tailed Grackle
Baltimore Oriole

Other common species seen (or heard):
Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, House Finch, House Sparrow

Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) at Jone's Inlet


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) napping on the rocks

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Asclepias physocarpa

Lantana (Lantana camara)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I was extremely disappointed when a pelagic trip to the Hudson Canyon was cancelled late last night. I'd never been 50 miles out to sea and looked foward to seeing many new seabirds, as well as, marine life. Oh well, what can you do. I woke up late and decided to take a walk to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

During a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last year I photographed a very peculiar looking plant. I searched the ground beneath the plant trying to locate a plaque with its common name. I never found one so I checked Internet sources. Still nothing. Today I found that the same tall plant was again thriving at the borders surrounding the Lily Ponds. My wife and I began talking with a woman named "Sue", who was also fascinated by the plant. She lead us to a small, white plastic identification marker stuck in the soil beneath a stand of the plants. "Asclepias physocarpa" was printed on the marker.

We were intrigued by the plant's translucent green seedpods. I thought that they were filled with air but Sue pointed out that they held thousands of tiny, feathery seeds that carried on the wind like wispy parachutes. When we returned home I learned that it is also known as the "Swan Plant".

Swan Plant (Asclepias physocarpa)



(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn why it's called "Swan Plant"-

As we were standing and chatting in front of a stand of Swan Plants I spotted a patch of bright orange on one of the stalks. A closer look revealed a mass of minute, orange insects. They looked like aphids but had four or five black spikes on their body. I took a series of photos and learned that they are Milkweed Aphids. I guess that Asclepias physocarpa is in the milkweed family.

Milkweed Aphid (Aphis nerii)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

It's a short walk from the Lily Ponds to the Native Flora section. We sat on the low, wooden railing at the edge of one of the kettle ponds and watched the bees and butterflies searching for nectar in patches of fading Cardinal flowers. I thought about my missing Red-tailed Hawks and wondered why they disappeared. I hoped that I'd find them again soon, hunting in the woods of the botanic gardens and Prospect Park as other, migrating hawks are now passing Brooklyn.

Other currently fruiting plants at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

"Asian" Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Wisteria-

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Ohio Buckeye-

- - - - -

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, 9/18/2005
-
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat

Other common birds seen (or heard):
Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, House Sparrow

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Prospect Park field trip for NYC Audubon

Duckweed, reflections & shadows

(Photo credit - Rob J)

This morning I lead a group of birders on a field trip to Prospect Park. The trip was sponsored by the New York City Audubon Society. There were 13 people in the group that I guided to some of my favorite spots in the 526 acre city park.

When we met at Grand Army Plaza a harsh sun in the cloudless sky was cooled by a determined, northeast wind. There were still quite a few songbirds migrating through the woodlands. A few raptors have also begun to move south. At our first stop, at the Rose Garden, I spotted a Merlin rocketing in from the north. She stopped abruptly and perched in the bare branches of a dead tree. Her resting place was above all the other trees and afforded her a sweeping view of the Rose Garden, The Vale of Cashmere and the Long Meadow. Every winter one or two Merlins take up residence in the park, feeding on over-wintering sparrows. I wonder if she plans on staying.

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) at the Vale of Cashmere

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The trees and pools at the Vale of Cashmere were so active with birdlfe that we spent much more time here than I had planned. Water from the three fountains in the pond were spraying onto the walkway and underbrush. Several species of songbirds were seen jockeying for a spot in the water. Among the abundant robins in the area we also tallied Red-eyed Vireo, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Pine Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Oriole. Whew! A Red-tailed Hawk that was missing a couple of tail feathers circled above us.

Devil's Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Just south of the Vale of Cashmere is an area that I call the “Aralia Grove”. It’s a very good spot to see birds on the fall migration due to a small stand of fruiting “Devil’s Walking-sticks” (Aralia spinosa). These small trees trunk's are covered in tiny, prickly thorns, as well as, their compound leaves. Birds like to feed on the aralia’s rings of small, dark berries. We found a few birds in this area, including Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A Norway Rat managed to scale the well protected trunk and was eating the berries.

At an inactive Rick’s Place I couldn’t decide whether to continue the walk through the Ravine or the Midwood. An Eastern Wood-Pewee calling from within the Midwood helped me to decide.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The recently renovated pond next to the Music Pagoda has exploded with fuchsia water-lilies, golden Jewelweed, blue asters, yellow sneezeweed and a profusion of other vibrant fruiting plants and wildflowers. Our group stood on the rustic Binnen Bridge and watched as about six pugnacious Ruby-throated Hummingbirds alternately sipped nectar and attacked competitors.

-Click to see a Ruby-throated Hummingbird video-

The woods on the Peninsula were also fairly active and we added a few more species to our day list. The biggest surprise was finding two Philadelphia Vireo feeding together in a Weeping Willow at the edge of the lake. It’s a rare sighting just locating one of these subtle birds with the lemon chiffon throat.

On Prospect Lake there were three Ruddy Ducks and two Northern Shovelers. I’m not ready to let go of summer. Unfortunately, with the appearance of two waterfowl species that usually arrive in the fall and stay through the winter, I guess I have no choice but to go with the flow.

-Click to see photos of Philadephia Vireo (you'll have to scroll down the page in the new window)-

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 9/11/2005
-
Double-crested Cormorant
Green Heron
Wood Duck (2, Upper Pool.)
Northern Shoveler (2, Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (3, Prospect Lake.)
Osprey (2, flying over Quaker Ridge.)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel (Flying over Nethermead.)
Merlin (Perch in tree above Rose Garden.)
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (approx.6, most at Lily Pond.)
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Midwood.)
Eastern Kingbird (Peninsula.)
empidonax sp. (Several.)
Philadelphia Vireo (2, Willow tree near Peninsula "Thumb".)
Red-eyed Vireo (Many.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
Veery (Several.)
Swainson's Thrush (2 or 3.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing (Common.)
Northern Parula (1.)
Yellow Warbler (2, Peninsula.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (2, Peninsula.)
Magnolia Warbler (Several.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (4 or 5.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (2.)
Pine Warbler (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
Prairie Warbler (West edge of Peninsula Meadow.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (Several.)
American Redstart (Common.)
Ovenbird (3 or 4.)
Northern Waterthrush (2.)
Common Yellowthroat (Fairly common.)
Wilson's Warbler (1, female on the Peninsula.)
Scarlet Tanager (2.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Several.)
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (3 or 4.)

Other common 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, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin (Abundant.), European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

When I was little I used to call these "Monkey Cigars"
(Photo credit - Rob J)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Alley Pond Park & JBWR

This is a brief report from today's visit to Alley Pond Park and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It seemed like a lot of folks (some from as far away as Rochester) were booked on the cancelled pelagic trip out of Brooklyn. Many converged on some of the local birding spots. Spotting seabirds would have been a nice change but there were still some good highlights from around the city to report.

Several of us started early at Alley Pond Park in search of the reported Connecticut Warbler. It took about 90 minutes of searching but he finally made an appearance near the stand of conifers he has been frequenting. There was a fairly decent showing of other warblers in the park with a noticeable increase in parulas. Also, a Worm-eating Warbler was seen at “Eric’s Mugwort Meadow”.

Small Mayfly (Baetidae)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At Jamaica Bay we ran into Jean, Dominic and Gary from Rochester and birded the South Garden with them for a couple of hours. Swarms of Small Mayflies have emerged and the warblers and flycatchers were feasting on the fleeting windfall. Two nice sightings here were Bay-breasted and Cape May Warblers. I also tallied my first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall season.

A shrinking East Pond

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At the ever-shrinking East Pond the wide expanse of shoreline has attracted about six American Golden-Plover. A Caspian Tern was roosting among a flock of, mostly, Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls. Also, Tom Burke pointed out a Wilson's Phalarope. The phalarope entertained us with his unique style of crouched, neck-extended feeding. When feeding in the deeper water he would practically submerge his entire body as he speared insects off the surface of the pond.

Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia)



(Photo credit - Rob J)

A Baird’s Sandpiper, seen earlier by Isaac, Seth A. and Seth W., was relocated on the east shore of the pond. Finally, a seemingly ever present Buff-breasted Sandpiper strolled along the shoreline of the pond, indifferent to our presence.

- - - - -

Alley Pond Park & JBWR, 9/10/2005
-
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron (JBWR, East Pond.)
Glossy Ibis
Gadwall (JBWR, East Pond.)
American Wigeon (JBWR, East Pond.)
Northern Shoveler (JBWR, East Pond.)
Green-winged Teal (JBWR, East Pond.)
Osprey (Both.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (JBWR, over East Pond.)
Cooper's Hawk (JBWR, over East Pond.)
Peregrine Falcon (JBWR, East Pond.)
Black-bellied Plover (JBWR, East Pond.)
American Golden-Plover (JBWR. approx. 4-6, East Pond.
Semipalmated Plover (JBWR, East Pond.)
Killdeer (JBWR, East Pond.)
American Oystercatcher (JBWR, East Pond.)
Greater Yellowlegs (JBWR, East Pond.)
Lesser Yellowlegs (JBWR, East Pond.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
Western Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
Least Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
White-rumped Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
Baird's Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (JBWR, East Pond.)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher (Calling while flying over East Pond.)
Wilson's Phalarope (JBWR, East Pond.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern (JBWR, East Pond.)
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Alley Pond Park.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Alley Pond Park.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (Alley Pond Park.)
empidonax sp. (Several.)
White-eyed Vireo (JBWR, South Garden.)
Warbling Vireo (Alley Pond Park.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Both.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Alley Pond & JBWR.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (JBWR, South Garden.)
Veery
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher (JBWR, South Garden.)
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula (Alley Pond Park.)
Yellow Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Magnolia Warbler (Both.)
Cape May Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Prairie Warbler (JBWR, near main entrance.)
Bay-breasted Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Blackpoll Warbler (JBWR, South Garden.)
Black-and-white Warbler (Alley Pond Park.)
American Redstart (Both.)
Worm-eating Warbler (Alley Pond Park, “Eric’s Mugwort Meadow”.)
Ovenbird (Both.)
Northern Waterthrush (JBWR, South Garden.)
Connecticut Warbler (Alley Pond Park.)
Common Yellowthroat (Both.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (JBWR, South Garden.)
Eastern Towhee
Red-winged Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole (JBWR, South Garden.)

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

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sailing in Rockaway Inlet

This is a belated posting from last Sunday. We spent the day sailing with my friend Ron and his wife. I'll follow-up with more details later.

Sail, wind, sky and clouds

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Ron at the helm

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Looking north towards Coney Island

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Trump Parc Red-tailed Hawks

Here's a website that I think you'll really enjoy:

http://www.yolton.com/hawks.html

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Warblers at Alley Pond Park

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

female Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca )

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

I grew up in the borough of Queens but, somehow, never managed to take the time to do any exploring or birding in Alley Pond Park. Eric Miller's sighting of a Connecticut Warbler yesterday motivated Shane and I to drive out to that city park in northeastern Queens. I almost didn't make it thanks to my wife's thoughtfulness. I forgot to tell her that I was waking up before sunrise and she turned off the alarm clock as she climbed into bed. I was still sleeping when Shane called and woke me. I probably set a personal record in the time it took me to dress, grab my bins, glasses & camera and bolt out the door. Unfortunately, I forgot to put a fresh battery in my camera so today's photos are compliments of my friend Steve.

Shane had spoken with Al Ott and gotten directions to the park, as well as, a description of where the warbler was observed. The borders of the park are located within a tangle of highway loops and off-ramps. The entrance to the park is directly beneath the highway overpass and easily overlooked. I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively unspoiled condition of what is labeled as the “Upper Alley Woods”. In Prospect Park much of the woodlands are in desperate need of restoration from soil erosion, compaction and, general abuse by park patrons.

The area where the connecticut was seen is only a short walk from the parking lot. It was at a small, mugwort choked meadow near a stretch of conifers and bordered by a pond on the south side and some fruiting Aralia spinosa (Devil's Walkingstick) on the north. There are also several mature oaks and a chestnut surrounding it. We arrived between 6:45am and 7:00am. The sun was just warming the tops of the trees and a mixed flock of warblers were engaged in a full blown feeding frenzy. Within only 20 minutes we counted 15 species of wood-warbler. Al Ott arrived a bit later as the activity was slowing and some of the birds had moved down to the understory.

At a stretch of conifers we spotted a pair of Ovenbirds casually strolling along the padded, dark floor of pine needles. Later, a Northern Waterthrush was seen in the same spot. Each time I glimpsed a bird walking on the ground I hoped it would be the Connecticut Warbler. Unlike most warblers, walking is their preferred method of foraging.

Patches of Jewelweed were in full blossom in time for migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We tallied several of the speedy little guys buzzing around the area. At one point, Al and I watched a pair circling each other in close formation above a field. It looked like a courtship display but was more likely some form of aggression.

By late morning we met Eric and several other birders searching for the Connecticut Warbler. At a second mugwort field (“Eric’s Mugwort Meadow”) we spotted a pair of Wilson’s Warblers and a couple of unidentified (by me, anyway) empidonax flycatchers. We circled the area two more times before throwing in the towel and heading back to Brooklyn.

All told we tallied 19 species of warbler on a morning that seemed more like mid-May than early-September.

-Click to learn about Alley Pond Park-

-Click to learn more about Alley Pond Park-

-Click to go to the Environmental Center in Alley Pond Park-

-Here's a cool satellite image of Alley Pond Park-

- - - - -

Alley Pond Park, 9/3/2005
-
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (5 or 6.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Heard calling near "Eric's Mugwort Meadow".)
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
empidonax sp.
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2 or 3.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1.)
Veery
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing

Blue-winged Warbler (1.)
Tennessee Warbler (1.)
Nashville Warbler (3 or 4)
Northern Parula (1.)
Yellow Warbler (2.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Several.)
Magnolia Warbler (Several.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (2 or 3.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (2.)
Blackburnian Warbler (2, possibly 3.)
Prairie Warbler (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (1.)
American Redstart (Several.)
Worm-eating Warbler (1.)
Ovenbird (2.)
Northern Waterthrush (1.)
Common Yellowthroat (Several.)
Wilson's Warbler (1 male, 1 female in "Eric's Mugwort Meadow".)
Canada Warbler (2.)

Scarlet Tanager (1.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2 seen, a few only heard.)
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole (1 heard.)

Other species seen (or heard):
Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

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