Friday, October 27, 2006

Lots of Red-tailed Hawks


(Photo credit - Rob J)

On October 30th of last year I posted a report where I mentioned that my “jinx” bird is a Golden Eagle. This is the time of year that Golden Eagles can be found migrating south. With that in mind Sean, Shane and I drove north to the Franklin Mountain hawkwatch. Sean and I left Brooklyn at 4am and planned to meet Shane at the watch.

The Franklin Mt. hawkwatch is situated near the top of a ridge that is part of the expansive Appalachian chain. It faces northwest and has great views of the Susquehanna River valley and surrounding hills of Otsego and Delaware Counties. Raptors in the mid-Atlantic part of the country take advantage of its unique topography. Travelling south from Canada across the Allegheny Plateau they are channeled into the sinuous ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Range. They conserve energy on their long trip by soaring on northwest winds deflected up off of the face of the ridges. Tremendous numbers of Red-tailed Hawks pass the hawkwatch every year.

Franklin Mountain Hawkwatch location


(Photo credit - USGS)

Shane had arrived about 45 minutes prior to us. We parked behind his car and walked the short incline to the watch. It was much colder than I had expected, thankfully I took Sean’s advice and wore many layers. At the clearing near the top of the hill a small wooden shelter had been constructed for the seasonal hawk counters. The northwest wall is exposed to the elements but a half wall provides the necessary respite from the frequent and frigid lake-effect winds. Unfortunately, we had to take advantage of its protection as wind, light rain and snow blasted us early in the morning.

Shane and Sean spotting hawks?

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Steve was manning the watch on Tuesday. After brief introductions we asked him about Golden Eagles. He assured us that we’d get to see one. I remarked that we probably wouldn’t because I was present. A thick blanket of clouds faded in and out over the horizon for two hours. A short-lived snow squall decreased visibility for a while but we still managed to see good numbers of Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks. Also observed were Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier and one Bald Eagle.

I was astounded by the numbers of Red-tailed Hawks that soared passed our perch on Franklin Mountain. Sean and I only stayed for two hours but in that time we counted 225 red-tails. That averages out to between 1 or 2 per minute! By 11am we still hadn’t seen a Golden Eagle but Sean and I had to leave. When I spoke to Shane later in the day he told me that 10 minutes after we left he and Steve spotted a Golden Eagle.

I was returning home late in the afternoon on Thursday. Standing at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 4th Street, waiting for the traffic light to change, I began daydreaming about Tuesday’s experience. I wondered if any of the individuals in the southbound stream of Red-tailed Hawks could pass through Brooklyn. I looked up into the sky and, above the brownstones and apartment buildings, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk soaring in wide circles. When it flew out of view I crossed the street and continued towards my apartment. At the next corner I spotted a woman staring up at the sky. I figured that she was watching the red-tail so I stopped to talk to her. As the two of us were staring skyward we spotted a second then a third Red-tailed Hawk circling the area and slowly moving south. Perhaps that is how Big Mama, Split-tail, Ralph, Alice and the Green-Wood Cemetery red-tails found their way to Brooklyn, only they never went north in the spring.

-Click here for more info on Franklin Mt.-

Another bird in need of help

Some of my non-birding friends and acquaintances refer to me as a "bird expert". (I feel like I should be saying, "I'm not a bird expert, but I play one on television".) I'm flattered that so many people come to me for advice but I'm just a lowly computer technician who knows a little more about birds than the average person. That said, a friend of my wife's just e-mailed her about an injured bird that she found. She wanted to know the identification.

I was surprised when I saw her photo of a Saw-whet Owl (they're rare but regular winter visitors here in NYC), but subsequently found out that they are year around residents in the Salt Lake City region.

From: Josette
Sent: Oct 25, 2006 11:20 AM
Subject: Visitor

This little guy was on the pedal of our golf cart here at the track. Since your hubby is a big bird fan, I thought I'd send it to you. He has a mouse in his claws, and a broken wing so they took him to get better.

Josette
Miller Motorsports Park


Northern Saw-whet Owl in golf cart

(Photo credit - Josette Ono)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bird in my livingroom

This morning I had an interesting visitor in my home.

Robin left the house before me and called to say that she had an injured songbird near the subway (she always seems to find them). I grabbed a bag and ran four blocks to meet her. When I arrived she had a tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet cupped in her hands. I held the bag opened and she carefully placed him inside. I assumed that he had hit a window and was stunned so I brought him home to recuperate. At home I looked up the website for "Project Safe Flight" and read that collision victims should be kept in the bag, in a quiet location for about 1 hour. Then, if they appear uninjured, released into a park.

Golden-crowned Kinglet (click images to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

After an hour it sounded like he was beginning to get active in the bag so I decided to let him go. Before taking him out of the bag I opened our fire escape window and pushed up the screen. I had looked online for the proper way to handle a bird so that I wouldn't inadvertently injure him. Once out of the bag he struggled to get free. That seemed like a good sign. When I was certain that he was alright and he could fly to the trees next to the fire escape I released my hold on him. I expected him to immediately rush to the tree branches about 8 feet from my window. I guess he liked my company because he just sat there on my hand, looking around or closing his eye for brief moments. A couple of times he bit me. Maybe he was hungry. His bill is so tiny, though, I barely felt it.


(Photo credit - Rob J)


(Photo credit - Rob J)

We keep our bicycles on a rack near the window and, when I'm not using my bike's padded pack, I keep it on the window sill. I couldn't stand at the window all morning so I prodded him off of my hand and onto the pack. I went back to working on my computer but, so that I could keep an eye on him, I removed our hallway mirror and propped it up on a chair next to me. He promptly fell asleep but would ocassionally wake up and preen his feathers. At 9:56am he hopped up to the very edge of the pack. He sat and looked all around for a couple of minutes. Then, without warning, he flew onto the fire escape railing then into the London Planetree in front of our building.


(Photo credit - Rob J)



(Photo credit - Rob J)

I'm glad that he wasn't seriously injured but I already miss the sight of a Golden-crowned Kinglet sitting five feet away while I work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Northern Wheatear

Over the weekend a Northern Wheatear was discovered in Upstate New York. It's not a bird that shows up in the northeast very often so it has generated a lot of excitement among birders. Shane actually drove 5 hours through the night and successfully located the bird. He came back to Brooklyn, extremely tired but gloating. Doug, who is going to school upstate, just sent Sean and I the following amusing note:

"Date: 10/23/06 1:48 PM

So when are you two lazy (persons born of parents that are not married to each) gonna make the short little jog up to see the wheatear? All you've gotta do is leave you're warm and comfy house at 9:30 PM, drive 85 MPH for 6 hours in pitch black, take a 2 hour nap in a Waste Treatment Plant Parking Lot, then go out pre-dawn in 25 MPH winds, and shine your headlights on the wheatear in lieu of sunlight........c'mon, all the cool kids are doin' it.

Doug"


I'll let you know if we become temporarily insane and make the trip.

-Click here for Doug's wheatear photos-

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)

- - - - -

Floyd Bennett Field, Fort Tilden, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 10/21/2006
-
Pied-billed Grebe
AMERICAN BITTERN
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Brant
Wood Duck
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Black Scoter
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Killdeer
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
VESPER SPARROW
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
EASTERN MEADOWLARK
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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A morning along the coast


(Photo credit - Google)

Daybreak at Robert Moses SP (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Sean and I did some coastal birding yesterday and I ended the morning by adding one more bird species to my year. I’m not sure what we were thinking, but we headed out at 5:00am. The sun didn’t rise until about 7:15am so we ended up standing around in a dark parking lot at Robert Moses State Park listening to the surf for almost an hour. We heard the flight notes of a few migrating birds as they passed overhead but couldn’t identify them by sound alone.

Sunrise at Robert Moses SP

(Photo credit - Rob J)

It was a route that Sean, Shane and I had travelled a few times this year and it always seemed to produce something interesting. We’d drive east for an hour or so, and begin the day at Robert Moses State Park. Following the ocean as we drove west towards the city, we’d also make stops at Jones Beach, Long Beach, Ft. Tilden and Floyd Bennett Field.

Torpid Monarch (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Monarch Butterflies are still migrating in an abundance that I haven’t seen for years. Sean pointed out one that was resting on the parking lot’s cold pavement in the dim early morning. I got out of the car, let it climb up onto my finger and walked to the edge of the dunes. I didn’t want it to get run over, plus, it would make a good photo op. After a few photos I put my hand next to some dune grass thinking that he’d climb onto the plant. He probably preferred the heat from my hand and I had to gently prod him onto the stalk of grass.

Eastern Phoebes were seen just about everywhere we went. At Fort Tilden a few shared a stretch of fence surrounding one of the baseball fields. Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were observed (and heard) in great number. We also saw four or five Merlins hunting above the open fields along the coast.

The best find of the day was a Vesper Sparrow that was feeding in the sparse grass next to the boulder piles at Long Beach. It was in this location that we observed a Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow two weeks ago. The birding gods seemed desperate to keep us from seeing this bird. Every bird in the area seemed a little on edge when we arrive. A Merlin buzzed the area and all the birds hunkered down. When we found the vesper Sean ran back to his car to retrieve his camera gear. Then a feral cat showed up and spooked all the birds again. We remained patient and the sparrow returned to feeding near a mound of dirt. Then a massive truck arrived and dumped it’s tons of boulders causing the earth to vibrate like the San Andreas Fault had just shifted. And yes, the birds flew and hid again. We played this game until Sean was able to take a few photos then we headed off to the next location. As we were exiting the park we spotted a Merlin perched in a tree at the back of the boulder area. He had a freshly killed Dark-eyed Junco in his talons.

Vesper Sparrow



(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

By the time we arrived at Floyd Bennett Field we were both pretty spent and half-heartedly scanned the grasslands. A kestrel perched on a bluebird nest box caught our attention and we very slowly crept up to get a closer look. He was periodically flying down from his perched, into the grass and returning with a cricket or some other insect. In flight they appear to be a fairly large falcon but, after watching him dine on a cricket, he left an impression of a very compact, delicate predator.

Merlin eating a junco

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Kestrel at Floyd Bennett (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

- - - - -

Robert Moses SP; Jones Beach; Long Beach; Ft. Tilden; Floyd Bennett Field, 10/19/2006
-
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
American Oystercatcher
Sanderling
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Merlin and dragonflies

Nethermead Meadow in Autumn (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Walking across the Nethermead Meadow in the late afternoon I spotted a Merlin zipping back and forth above the grass. She was trying to catch one of the hundreds of dragonflies that were pursuing their own prey. The flattened perspective through my binoculars made it look like she was dive-bombing a black Labrabor Retriever walking along the path. Her twisting, turning manuevers paid off as she ascended to the top of an oak tree to eat a huge, Green Darner.

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?
Tickseed

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Burdock

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler (click to enlarge)


(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Savannah Sparrow

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Sean and I took advantage of a brief break in our work to rush out to Kissena Park, in Queens, to try and locate a reported Orange-crowned Warbler. Thanks to Jean Loscalzo’s excellent directions we were able to locate the warbler without a problem. It was found foraging for insects in the company of a Nashville Warbler within a pair of locust trees. The time was approximately 2:15pm. The addition of the orange-crowned to my year list makes this the first time that I've seen all the expected northeastern wood-warblers in one year. Thankfully we managed to get to the park, find the bird and head back to Brooklyn before the cloudburst.

Also of note was an abundance of Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. Along the weedy edges of the baseball fields was a nice assortment of sparrows. As we were leaving we spotted a kestrel flying over the field clutching a small passerine in his talons. It didn’t look like an Orange-crowned Warbler.

- - - - -

Kissena Park, 10/11/2006
-
Red-tailed Hawk (3, flying low over velodrome.)
American Kestrel (Flying over baseball field with prey.)
Ring-necked Pheasant
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Orange-crowned Warbler (Feeding in locusts near sidewalk north of velodrome.)
Nashville Warbler (Feeding with orange-crown.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Abundant.)
Palm Warbler (Abundant.)
Chipping Sparrow (Approx. 20.)
Field Sparrow (2.)
Savannah Sparrow (Several.)
Swamp Sparrow (Several.)
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (1.)
Baltimore Oriole (1.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Three times a charm

After three tries in three different locations Sean finally got to see a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Thanks to a tip from Tom Burke, we found it at Hempstead Park in Long Beach.

It was in a weedy, overgrown field used as a repository for large boulders, concrete chunks and retired concrete & rebar highway dividers. Primarily birds of marshy habitats, this bird, like the individual that Shane and I located at Fort Tilden, was foraging in an area that was very far from the nearest marsh. I guess when you're hungry sometimes fast food will have to suffice.

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (click to enlarge)



(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Thirsty Great Black-backed Gull at Robert Moses SP

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Breakfast visitor

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on roof

(Photo credit - Rob J)

While eating breakfast this morning I noticed a hawk on the roof of an adjacent building. By the brown, banded tail I could tell that it was a young bird. One of Ralph and Alice's offspring? It's impossible to tell but one things for certain, he'll get rid of the pigeon flock hanging around our roof.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Program note

When I began this blog I added a link to a fascinating weblog named "Birding Babylon". It was the journal of a birding serving in the military in Iraq. The author has since returned home and written a book about his experience. The Linnaean Society of New York is hosting him as a speaker at the American Museum of Natural History. It should be very interesting:

Date : October 10, 2006
Subject: "Birding Babylon: My Year in Iraq"
Lecturer: Jonathan Trouern-Trend
Location: American Museum of Natural History, Lindner Theater (enter at West 77th St., bet. Central Park West & Columbus Ave.)
Admission: Free

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Belated reports and photos

I haven't been keeping up with my postings so here are a couple of belated reports. I'll add some links and more information this week as time permits.

Storm over Ft. Tilden

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On Sunday I lead a trip for the Brooklyn Bird Club to some of Brooklyn's and Queens coastal habitats. What began as a fairly miserable, rainy day with threats of thunderstorms ended as a sunny, sultry afternoon. The rain slowed most bird activity to a near standstill but we still had a good time. One of the highlights was watching a Merlin harassing a kestrel over the grasslands of Floyd Bennett Field. The pugnacious Merlin eventually forced the kestrel to retreat to a low shrub at the edge of the field.

Sunday after the storm

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Porcelain Berries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Forage Looper moth at Floyd Bennett Field

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Dog Stinkhorn mushroom

(Photo credit - Rob J)

What a difference a day makes.

Early this morning Shane, Sean and I drove over to Big Egg Marsh to try and relocate a Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Shane found the bird yesterday (Monday, 10/2) in the grassy area between the basketball courts and the bridge. We struck out on the sharp-tailed sparrow but, as a consolation prize, we found a Dickcissel in that area. At the opposite side of the recreation fields Sean spotted a Clay-colored Sparrow.

We eventually gave up trying to find the sharp-tailed and packed it in. Sean went home and Shane and I continued to Fort Tilden. One of the few remnants of untouched habitats at Tilden is a narrow stretch behind the baseball fields and parallel to Rockaway Point Boulevard. It’s a great habitat to find migrating sparrows. Within about 90 minutes of us searching the grass a Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow popped up in front of Shane and perched in a shrub. We both had nice, long looks at an overall, very gray individual of the maritime race (Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus). I could have ended my day right there having located three very good species. On our way back to the parking lot, though, I spotted a Blue Grosbeak perched on the fence that surrounds the community garden. It was associating with a flock of House Sparrows.

We were feeling lucky and decided to make a final stop at Floyd Bennett Field. At FBF we scanned the pilings at the end of Archery Road then walked the edges of the Cricket Field. It seemed like Savannah Sparrows were popping up everywhere we walked. A kestrel also noticed and vigilantly watched the Cricket Field from a high perch. Other than those sightings the only other sparrow of interest was a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

American Kestrel

(Photo credit - Rob J)

It was gratifying to see that Monarch Butterflies were still migrating in very good numbers. They were passing us in fits and starts all day. At one point I counted 20 passing my field of view within 10 seconds. I haven’t seen such an abundance in many years. There were also large numbers of Red Admirals at Big Egg Marsh.

Red Admiral

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Big Egg Marsh; Ft. Tilden; Floyd Bennett Field, 10/3/2006
-
Common Loon (Big Egg Marsh.)
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Northern Harrier (Big Egg Marsh.)
Cooper's Hawk (Big Egg Marsh.)
American Kestrel (Floyd Bennett Field.)
Merlin (Big Egg Marsh.)
Peregrine Falcon (Ft. Tilden.)
Clapper Rail (Big Egg Marsh.)
Black-bellied Plover (Floyd Bennett Field.)
Laughing Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo (Ft. Tilden.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Ft. Tilden.)
House Wren
Marsh Wren (Big Egg Marsh.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher (Ft. Tilden.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Ft. Tilden.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Ft. Tilden.)
Palm Warbler
American Redstart (Ft. Tilden.)
Common Yellowthroat
Blue Grosbeak (Ft. Tilden.)
Indigo Bunting (Ft. Tilden, Floyd Bennett Field.)
Dickcissel (Big Egg Marsh.)
Clay-colored Sparrow (Big Egg Marsh.)
Field Sparrow (Ft. Tilden.)
Savannah Sparrow (Virtually everywhere.)
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ft. Tilden.)
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (Ft. Tilden.)
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (Floyd Bennett Field.)
Bobolink (Big Egg Marsh.)
Boat-tailed Grackle (Big Egg Marsh.)

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

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