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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Back to birding

I wrote this last week and finally got around to posting it.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at Nelly's Lawn

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday I returned to birding after a short break since New Year's Eve, when I completed my first big state year. Shane Blodgett, Sean Sime and I began 2006 by trying to find 300 species in the state as a group. I was at a little disadvantage as I don't own a car. Since I wasn't able to put in the same hours as Shane & Sean I didn't lose my mind quite a thoroughly. We spent as much time as possible birding the state together and helping each other find species that we "needed". I tried to cover most of our exploits on this blog. Between the three of us, we were able to document every observed rarity. A huge "Thank You" to all the people who helped us reach (and exceed) our goals. You kept us updated on sightings and passed on a wealth of information on the state's species abundance and migration patterns. I think I learned more in 12 months than I have in the combined past 5 years and finished 2006 with a respectable 315 species. Now, back to yesterday...

It was exhilarating to finally feel "normal" winter weather after such a mild first half of the season. Somehow, though, observing a Pine Warbler at a bird feeder on Breeze Hill didn't totally surprise me. The bright, yellow male appeared to be eating millet and cracked corn. Aren't warblers supposed to be insectivores? With the sudden cold snap the center of most of Prospect Park's bird activity was on Breeze Hill at or near the four feeders. There was a single Chipping Sparrow hanging out within a flock of juncos. Between the two pools on the west side of the park and Prospect Lake there were 8 species of waterfowl, the highlight being 4 Ring-necked Ducks on the Upper Pool.

Click to enlarge

(Photo credit - Rob J)

One other highlight was of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in a conifer at the edge of Nelly's Lawn. There are several red-tails that call Prospect Park and the adjacent botanic garden home but this individual has unusually light head feathers. It appears to be the same bird that Sean and I saw and photographed in that area on 4/21/06.

40 down, 260 to go...just kidding.

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Prospect Park, 1/11/2007
Pied-billed Grebe (Prospect Lake.)
Great Blue Heron (Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (abundant, Prospect Lake.)
Ring-necked Duck (4, Upper Pool.)
Bufflehead (2, Upper Pool.)
Ruddy Duck (Common, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Juvenile at Nelly's Lawn.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Crow (4.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Next to Wellhouse Dr. & Park loop.)
Hermit Thrush (Breeze Hill.)
Pine Warbler (Breeze Hill feeders.)
Chipping Sparrow (Breeze Hill.)
Fox Sparrow (Breeze Hill feeders.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch (Breeze Hill feeders.)
American Goldfinch (Breeze Hill feeders.)

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

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