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Monday, October 16, 2006

Autumn in Prospect Park

Nethermead colors

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Female Northern Flicker

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday I pedalled a few laps around Prospect Park in the late afternoon before stopping to check on some of the recent seasonal changes.

Despite a clear sky and bright sunshine a cold wind sweeping in from the northwest created a classic, crisp autumn afternoon. The annual kaleidoscope of changing leaves has already passed their peak in upstate New York but is just beginning here in the city. Asters, goldenrod, snakeroot and other low wildflowers spotlight edges of meadows and woodland openings. Pink smartweed, and other long grass that escaped the lawn mower blade, attract mixed flocks of migrating sparrows. Near Nelly’s Lawn I discovered a flock that contained Chipping Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos. Some of the white-throats and juncos will likely remain through the winter.

Asters and bee

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As I was passing the Midwood I heard the sharp alarm squeals of a squirrel. Once I located the source of the call I started to scan adjacent trees for the hawk that was, in all likelihood, causing the squirrel’s agitation. I started walking up the bridle path and, a few yards into the forest, a Red-tailed Hawk flew over my head travelling south. I got a clear impression of a hawk with faded head feathers, very different from the typical, hooded appearance of a red-tail. It was definitely Ralph. Once the leaves drop it will become much easier to find him, Alice and their offspring.

One my way home I decided to stop at the small wildflower meadow next to the baseball fields. It’s usually a good spot to find sparrows and I was hoping to locate a bird or two. As I was walking slowly along the edge of the black, steel fence that encloses the meadow, something on the ground caught my eye. At the base of the fence and a few inches away from the sidewalk was a sleeping warbler. I squatted down to get a better look and to check it for any obvious injuries. It was a Blackpoll Warbler and he must have been really tired as he just gave me a passing glance then tucked his head back into his feathers. I picked him up to see if he was alright. He wasn't crazy about that idea and squirmed in my hand. I gently put him down and he hopped back over to the same spot in the sun and went back to sleep. I was afraid that he might get stepped on or run over by a bicycle so I gave him a couple of light nudges on his rump. He glared at me then hopped through one of the holes in the fence, continued for a few feet into the meadow then tucked his head into his feathers and went back to sleep.

Tired Blackpoll Warbler (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Blackpoll Warblers make one of the longest migrations of the wood-warblers. Part of their southbound trip is about 3,000 km over water which requires flying non-stop for nearly 88 hours. Perhaps the bird I found was exhausted and had just stopped to rest and refuel. I hope he makes it.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 10/15/2006
Wood Duck (9, back of upper pool.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1 adult, Midwood.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1.)
Northern Flicker (Common.)
Eastern Phoebe (2 or 3.)
Blue-headed Vireo (1.)
Winter Wren (1, Midwood.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Common.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Common.)
Hermit Thrush (3-6.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Parula (2.)
Magnolia Warbler (1.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (2.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (2.)
Palm Warbler (6-10.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Ovenbird (1.)
Common Yellowthroat (4-6.)
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow (Approx. 30.)
Field Sparrow (3, Nelly's Lawn. 1, Nethermead Meadow.)
Savannah Sparrow (2, Nethermead.)
Song Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Swamp Sparrow (1.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Fairly common.)

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

Natural Velcro?

(Photo credit - Rob J)


(Photo credit - Rob J)


Anonymous said...

Yesterday (Monday) morning on my way to work I was surprised to see a colorful little dead bird on the sidewalk (16th Street near Prospect Park West) which I thought might be somebody's escaped pet. Thanks to your great website I now know it was a migrating blackpol warbler. Hope it was not the one you saw in the park.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Anon is not funny.

Rob, I just wanted to thank you for stopping by RoD. You cleared up much of the debate and have me excited to cheat a peak soon of another hawk in the city.

PParkNeighbor said...

Hello - I am Anon who posted the comment about seeing the dead warbler - just wanted to clear up what seems to be a misunderstanding - Adorable G wrote "Anon is not funny" - I didn't mean to be - the post was simply true and I meant it to be read as sincerely complimentary to the website, not malicious or nasty - yikes - no more blog comments from me!

Rob J. said...

I didn't understand her reference, anyway, so don't worry about it. I've just been forced to turn on moderation and forbid anonymous comments. Some knuckleheads just don't get it and try to post spam or inappropriate comments on this blog. Obviously, you don't fall into either category.

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