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Monday, April 10, 2006

Maples and Palms

Honeysuckle and pollen dusted honeybee

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Today was the first time is quite a while that I took a long look around Prospect Park. Over the last month or two some of my posts began, “I took a quick run through Prospect Park”. South wind, warm weather and a cancelled appointment made for a good four hours of birding.

Palm Warbler next to Terrace Bridge

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The pale-green flowers on the park’s Norway Maple trees have begun to open. Arborists are not fond of this introduced species but migrating songbirds seem to find them an oasis of insects. Every Norway Maple that I observed today had at least one Palm Warbler foraging within its branches. Pine Warbler were also seen in good numbers but not nearly as abundant as the palms. A pair of American Hornbeam at the western end of the upper Lullwater was heavy with male flowers. The catkins had attracted a small flock of Pine Warblers and they were furiously feeding near the top of the trees.

American Hornbeam catkins

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At the northern section of the park Hermit Thrushes seemed to be everywhere. In the wooded sections from the Vale of Cashmere to Sullivan Hill, Payne Hill, The Ravine and The Midwood I counted approximately 40-50 of these birds. Another sign of spring was the drumming of woodpeckers. Downy Woodpeckers drummed a rapid staccato, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers we more jazz-oriented with a quiet, tempo changing rapping. Northern Flickers have suddenly become abundant throughout the park. I watched a male flicker perched on a tree stump. He tapped three muted notes and followed it with his loud “wick-er, wick-er, wick-er” call. He stopped and tipped his head from side to side as if he were listening for a reply.

I pedaled around to the south side of Prospect Lake hoping to find a Rusty Blackbird in a swampy cove. One bird picking through the mud accommodated my request to the birding gods. Along the way I spotted my first Green Heron of the season. He was perched in a section of flatten Phragmites a short distance off the path. I park my bike and waited to see if I could observe him catching lunch. Standing like a statue, I had the impression that he was watching me, not the water. I was wrong. Suddenly, he lunged to his right, stabbed down into the water and came up with a Green Frog. He positioned it so it was head first then swallowed it whole. I watched the lump in his throat slowly sliding down towards his crop.

Green Heron having lunch

Mmm, green frog, tastes like chicken.
(Photo credit - Rob J)

The season has begun to kick start my energy level. In another week there should be several more species of songbirds arriving in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. By this time next month my day list of birds should be double what it is now.

Black Cherry buds

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Bradford Pear

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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Prospect Park, 4/10/2006
Great Egret (Behind Three Sisters Island.)
Green Heron (Phragmites south of West Island.)
Wood Duck (Female, Lullwater.)
Northern Shoveler (Several.)
Ring-necked Duck (2, Upper pool.)
Ruddy Duck (Several.)
Cooper's Hawk (Lullwater and later soaring over Boathouse.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1, Bald Cypress at Terrace Bridge. 1, on nest.)
American Coot (Several.)
Ring-billed Gull
Belted Kingfisher (1, various locations along waterway.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1, Payne Hill.)
Hairy Woodpecker (1, Center Drive.)
Northern Flicker (Common.)
Eastern Phoebe (Several.)
Fish Crow (1, flying over Payne Hill.)
Black-capped Chickadee (Fairly common.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1, Terrace Bridge.)
Brown Creeper (1, back of Lily Pond.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Hermit Thrush (Common throughout north end of park.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (1, near skating rink.)
Pine Warbler (Approx. 15-20.)
Palm Warbler (Approx. 40-50.)
Chipping Sparrow (1, Nelly's Lawn. 1, next to Picnic House.)
Field Sparrow (2, small lawn near Lily Pond.)
Swamp Sparrow (1, Ravine. 1, Lullwater.)
White-throated Sparrow (Small flock at Rick's Pl.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Small flock at Rick's Pl.)
Rusty Blackbird (Cove near Three Sisters Is.)
Common Grackle (Common.)
Brown-headed Cowbird (2, near West Is.)

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, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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