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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Overdue north wind arrives

Autumn Olive berries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Autumn's northwest winds finally kicked in. Shane an I were already at Floyd Bennett Field when the sun started peeking over the horizon. While it was still fairly dark we could see the silhouettes and hear the calls of a great deal of birds moving south. The most easily recognized were the flocks of robins. Lots of Yellow-rumped warblers were also seen moving south, as well as, within every shrub, tree or patch or grass we encountered. Another passerine heard flying overhead, and new for me for the season, was American Pipit. Migrating sparrows were plentiful and we ended the day with 11 species. One highlight was a Vesper Sparrow on the cricket field at Floyd Bennett Field.

Unidentified mushroom

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At Fort Tilden we flushed a meadowlark near the beach. Later in the morning we saw two more fluttering over the fields.

The highlight of the day was watching virtual streams of raptors flying south along the coast. From outside the western edge of Fort Tilden we observed a near contant flow of Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Merlins and kestrels. We also counted 4 or 5 Northern Harriers.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

(Photo credit - Rob J)

After lunch we made a brief run to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, stopping first at Big Egg Marsh. At first it seemed pretty lifeless near the small patch east of the ballfields. The wind was gusting very hard at that point so we made a cursory look around the grass. Suddenly, from a few yards in front of us, an American Bittern burst from the grass and began flying towards the west. I'm not sure about Shane's reaction, but it scared the chill right out of me.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge we continued to observe a fair number of accipiters. Some were following the shoreline of the South Marsh, staying out of the wind by flying only a couple of feet above the beach. We also spotted a single Turkey Vulture over the north end of the East Pond.

Waterfowl abundance and variety have continued to rise on the two ponds. The East Pond has completed its seasonal transition from a habitat of festering mudflats crawling with flocks of shorebirds to an overflowing lake brimming with hundreds of waterfowl.

Looking north on East Pond 10/21

Looking north on East Pond 8/19

(Photo credit - Rob J)

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Floyd Bennett Field, Fort Tilden, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 10/21/2006
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Black Scoter
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Pectoral Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

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

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