Friday, April 21, 2006

Spring accelerates

Litchfield Villa flower garden

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On birding days Sean has begun to ride his bicycle into Prospect Park. I’ll meet him with my bike and cover most of the park pretty quickly. This morning I met him near the north end of the Lower Pool, where a Prothonotary Warbler had been seen yesterday. We spent a long time in the Ravine which, essentially, was inactive. I didn’t check in on the Ravine hawk nest as, being with my bicycle, made it impractical to visit the “viewing spot”. I also figured that she was still incubating her eggs. Next week I’ll begin spending more time monitoring her progress.

We never relocated the Prothonotary Warbler and decided to ride up to the Vale of Cashmere. From there we’d work our way south.

In general, I would characterize the park’s migrant activity as pretty much unchanged. The same variety and abundance of songbirds were present as the previous week. The one exception was the Peninsula woodlands. A fairly large flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers seemed to have dropped in overnight. Among the yellow-rumps were a small number of Palm Warblers. One Palm Warbler had us confused by his song. Typically, their song is a weak, buzzy trill. I’ve often referred to it as a “wimpy” song. While in the woods we heard what we assumed was the loud, dry trill of a Worm-eating Warbler. Searching the trees nearby we eventually found a Palm Warbler that was vocalizing. Very strange, perhaps he was the “red-headed stepchild” from a Worm-eating Warbler family.

New, Red-tailed Hawk?

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Early in the day, as we were riding passed the Rose Garden, we spotted a young Red-tailed Hawk perched on a low branch. He was small and slim so I assumed that he was a male bird. Fearless and self assured he appeared unfazed by our presence. He was likely an urban raised hawk as “wild” Red-tailed Hawks usually don’t allow close approach. His head was much paler than that of any other juvenile red-tail that I’ve observed in the park. In the back of my mind (and probably many Central Park birder’s when they read this) I considered that he may be one of Pale Male’s offspring.

Sean and I postulated that he might be the new lord over the north end of Prospect Park. When Big Mama and Split-tail appeared in 2002 there was only one pair of Red-tailed Hawks nesting in the park. That pair ultimately became the holders of the south park territory. When the Green-Wood Cemetery territory became available Big Mama and her new beau established that area as their domain. Next year, when this new, pale-faced hawk develops the namesake red tail perhaps he’ll take a mate and start the cycle over again.

Weeping Higan Cherry at Vale of Cashmere

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for Cherry Blossom info-

While the bird migration seems to have stalled briefly, there has been a recent proliferation of spring botanicals.

Red Maple samaras (Acer rubrum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Red Maples, the earliest of the flowering trees, have already developed their winged samaras. The elms have dropped their green keys, sprinkling the earth with soft, pale green confetti. Like streamers, creamy yellow catkins now sway in the breeze on all the oaks. These are an important flowering tree in which songbirds forage for insects as they travel north. Other trees flowering now are Paper Birch and Eastern Redbud. As Brooklyn’s exotic magnolias have reached their peak bloom the native Cucumber Magnolia has just begun to unfurl their large buds. On the ground, blue violets are sprouting up throughout the shaded woods. Many of the cherry trees have reached their peak and the Callery Pears have given up they tiny, white petals to form drifts with the elm keys at the base of curbs. In the Ravine I discovered an unfamiliar wildflower. At home I learned that the delicate, white flowers clustered on racemes were Foam Flowers.

When the bulk of the songbirds finally arrive they’ll find an oasis of plants and insects to help them on their journey.

Oak catkins (Quercus spp.)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Paper Birch catkins (Betula papyrifera)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis )

(Photo credit - photographer)

Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Magnolias, Drugs and Medicines-

Common violets (Viola papilionacea)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Click image for larger view
(Photo credit - Rob J)

Unknown holly (Ilex spp.)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 4/21/2006
-
Great Egret
Red-tailed Hawk (Juvenile near Rose Garden.)
American Kestrel
American Coot
Laughing Gull (1, flying over Nethermead.)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Belted Kingfisher (Ravine.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (Near Boathouse.)
Tree Swallow (Several over Prospect Lake.)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1, Upper pool.)
Barn Swallow (Several over Prospect Lake.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (3.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Fairly common.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Common.)
Pine Warbler (1, Ravine.)
Palm Warbler (Several on Peninsula.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (Ravine.)
Eastern Towhee (Several.)
Chipping Sparrow (2, Nelly's Lawn. 8, Nethermead Meadow.)
Field Sparrow (Peninsula.)
Savannah Sparrow (Nethermead Meadow.)
Swamp Sparrow (3 or 4.)
White-throated Sparrow
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch (1, Nelly's Lawn.)

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

Street lamp and Callery Pear

(Photo credit - Rob J)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your beautiful photographs!

Glenn Phillips said...

Rob -
Gorgeous photos. The last is a Wintergreen Barberry, Berberis julianae (unless the nomencalture has changed recently).
-Glenn

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