Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Alice update

Stream trickle

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I went into Prospect Park in the afternoon to check on Alice and Ralph and to find out if there were any hatchlings in their nest. It was bright and clear, perfect conditions for photographing their nest. There are only a few days left before the trees on the west side of the nest completely leaf out, blocking a great view of their activities. After that point I have to settle for a more distant view from the south.

As I was setting up my tripod, I realized that the conditions for observing the nest, let alone photographing it, were far from ideal. There were powerful gusts swelling up from the southwest. During the most powerful bursts the top of the nest tree was swaying nearly 6 feet from south to north. Alice was hunkered so far down in the nest that I could barely see her. Had she not been there any chicks present would have certainly been throw from the nest. For the 90 minutes that I watched her she barely moved. I was so optimistic that I’d find signs of chicks today, but realizing that there wasn’t any chance Alice would move, I packed up my gear and headed home.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

One my way out of the Ravine I stopped at the Rock Arch Bridge that overlooks a small waterfall flowing out of the Ambergill. The parks department had shut off the water temporarily as we had such a deluge of rain lately that the lake was overflowing its banks in places. Apparently the water had been turned back on in the last day so the waterway above the fall had started to fill. The stretch of mud beneath the bridge was coming back to life as a slow trickle worked its way downstream. Cloud of midges and the splashing sound of the fall had attracted several birds to the area below and I stopped for a moment to watch them feed. I counted White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler feeding at the edge of the water and the steep rock walls above the stream. Suddenly, a bright yellow bird appeared in the shrubs next to the bridge. A Prothonotary Warbler. The bird was nearly luminescent his plumage was so fresh and lustrous. We don’t see these birds very often on migration as, like the Summer Tanager, their range doesn’t extend into New York City. But there he was and I wanted to soak him in as long as possible. I called Peter on my cellphone to let him know about the bird’s location.

Prothonotary Warbler

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

Several non-birders walked through the Ravine while I was watching the warbler and, as they were approaching me, I considered whether or not I should point out the warbler. I always did. I stopped one couple pushing their infant in a stroller and they were astonished to learn that it wasn't an escaped, exotic bird. I explained that there were a number of amazing looking birds that pass through NYC twice a year. A Black-throated Blue Warbler landed a few feet away and their smiles got even wider. There was also a group of about 6 police officers walking towards the stairway that leads to Payne Hill and the Boulder Bridge. I called them over and pointed out the Prothonotary Warbler. They tried to look all cool and disinterested. I could tell by the look on most of their faces, though, that they were amazed by the brilliance of the tiny bird and that, for a change, the bird wasn't a pigeon.

Black-throated Blue Warbler in Ravine

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

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Prospect Park, 4/30/2007
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Great Egret (Upper Pool.)
Mallard
Red-tailed Hawk (2 adults, 1 juvenile.)
Mourning Dove
White-eyed Vireo (Ravine.)
Blue-headed Vireo (Ravine.)
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Black-throated Blue Warbler (2, Ravine.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (3 or 4, Ravine.))
Black-and-white Warbler (3, Ravine.)
Prothonotary Warbler (Ravine at Rock Arch Bridge.)
Northern Cardinal
Swamp Sparrow (Ravine at Rock Arch Bridge.)
White-throated Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole

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