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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Are we there yet?

Japanese Magnolia bud

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday I took a slow bicycle ride around Prospect Park. My route was an indirect meander from the north end of the park, through the woodland trails, along the edges of the meadows and ending at the lake.

Recent wind direction and temperatures were (unfortunately) typical of this time of year. I missed out on the first, very brief south winds and migrant push. Actually, I think it was more of a nudge than a push. I haven’t seen my first Pine Warbler of the season yet and was hoping to locate one today. I did not.

Red-breasted Nuthatch and Black-capped Chickadee tussling

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At the Vale of Cashmere somebody has placed a scattering of shelled sunflower seeds on the five bulky, stone balusters surrounding the pond. White-throated Sparrows, chickadees, titmouse and cardinals (the expected winter suspects) were busy eating or storing the seeds. One selfish cardinal attempted to claim a baluster as his own but unrelenting chickadees were way too fast to be intimidated or chased away. Of the other winter visitors, at least two sapsuckers and one Brown Creeper remain in the park. A flock of boisterous crows near Flatbush Avenue were mobbing some unseen predator. I assumed that it was a Red-tailed Hawk until I heard the shrill, sustained “kee-ya, kee-ya, kee-ya” of a Red-shouldered Hawk. Rather than chase down the hawk I followed him with my ears as he flew towards the north end of the park. During the most recent Christmas Bird Count I believe a record number of Red-shouldered Hawks were recorded within New York City.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The cold temperature and heavy, gray overcast sky overwhelmed most of the subtle signs of spring. Patches of daffodils radiated from isolated pockets at the park’s woodland edges. Phoebes hawking for insects along the edges of the lake and Lullwater were the only apparent avian sign of spring migration. On Prospect Lake an approximate total of fifty Ruddy Ducks and Northern Shovelers remain of the several hundred that overwintered. I checked the Long-eared Owl roost and, after spending 76 days in Brooklyn, he appears to have headed back north.

Daffodil pistil and stamens

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Another migratory observation was of dozens of Song Sparrows now present in the park. There are always some Song Sparrows residing in the park but in recent days their numbers have noticeably jumped. I watched one at the edge of the Lullwater behaving in a way that I’ve never observed. He was sallying, with fluttery wings, a short distance into air, much like a phoebe hawking for insects. I assumed that he was feeding on small clouds of flies that are now visible around the area. When I returned home I read in “The Birder’s Handbook” that he was more likely displaying for a nearby female. Other hormonally transfixed birds were Fox Sparrows performing their sweet, melodic warble from perches along the Lullwater and the Peninsula.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 3/25/2006
Northern Shoveler (Approx. 25, Prospect Lake.)
Ring-necked Duck (11, Upper pool.)
Ruddy Duck (Approx. 25, Prospect Lake.)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Mobbed by crows & calling near Vale of Cashmere.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1 on Ravine nest.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1 female, Vale. 1 male, Peninsula.)
Eastern Phoebe (6, between Lullwater and point.)
American Crow (Approx. 12 mobbing hawk.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
Brown Creeper (Ravine, near Lower pool.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (4, Terrace Bridge.)
Northern Mockingbird (Peninsula Meadow.)
Fox Sparrow (3, Vale of Cashmere. 4, Lullwater.)
Song Sparrow (Common.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle

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


Yojimbot said...

cool pic of the tussel. ur rbnh is molting in the primaries!

Gabriel Willow said...

Great pictures. I saw a nice Pine Warbler by the Boathouse on 3/16.

Rob J. said...

I see the missing feather. I actually didn't realize that I had gotten that photo until I uploaded it to my computer.

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