Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ridgewood Reservoir

A few weeks back, someone from the Brooklyn Children's Museum scheduled an hour or so to videotape a group of us at work surveying birds at the Ridgewood Reservoir. They are producing a short video piece about "citizen science" that will be viewed in a kiosk at the soon-to-be-renovated museum. I didn't think that the date would be optimal timing for migrating birds (the nesting season is already over), but sometimes production and migration schedules are tough to coordinate. Peter Dorosh, the president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, had also been contacted and would be surveying the birds around the reservoir with a few club members.

It was fortunate that Peter and his group were at the site to meet the video crew, because I was stuck in mass transit hell. The previous night I had emailed Peter to let him know that the subway ride to the reservoir was quick and easy; unless, of course, the "F" train is unexpectedly re-routed over the "G" train line, my simple solution to switch for the "J" train at Fulton Street didn't work because it doesn't stop there on the weekends, plus, I needed to change for a "4" train and ride it one stop north to transfer to a "J" train back to Brooklyn. I was completely frustrated when I finally got to the reservoir. The video crew was nearly finished by the time I caught up with them. Ultimately, it ended up being inconsequential as they didn't want to follow me into the basin, where I would be working, for fear of dropping their expensive equipment.

It wasn't all bad, though. My early morning aggravation was quickly erased by the sighting of several migrating species and some new seasonal discoveries.

Various species of polygonum were either blooming or fruiting. The most abundant of these was the highly invasive Japanese Knotweed. They have white, frilly flowers and thick, bamboo-like stalks and can quickly dominate habitats. Areas of dense growth made some spots in and around the reservoirs virtually impassible. Janet, Suzanne and I pushed our way through the vegetation at the southeast corner of the bog to the first clearing where we could scan for birds and listen for chip notes. We had only been there a few minutes when I heard a sharp, metallic call that I didn't recognize; not that I recognize a large number of fall chip notes, this one just sounded different. After a brief search, I located a Cape May Warbler foraging low in a birch tree. During the spring migration, they spend most of their time at the tops of the trees and are heard more often then seen. The three of us were very pleased to, not only, have added a new species to the reservoir's growing list, but also to have such long, clear looks at a normally elusive bird. It stayed in the area long enough that when Peter and Kelly joined us we were able to relocate him by his metallic chip.

The "bog" basin appears to be wet throughout the and was still carpeted with various bright green mosses. In addition, on this trip I noticed an abundance of freshly emerged fungi. I know only a little bit about mushrooms, but I did note several areas of small puffballs clusters, scattered pockets of delicate inky-cap type mushrooms and a few beefy boletes. The most distinctive change was a ubiquitous bracket-like fungus that looked almost like it was dripping out from under the thin bark of birch trees. Some were bell shaped, others looked like marshmallows that had been squeezed between ones thumb and forefinger. At a few small, wet meadows young phragmites where sporting purple, feathery seed heads. An abundant sedgegrass that I previously couldn't identify was now topped with tiny, beige, cottony balls. The appearance of the tufts at the tops of the grass helped me to identify it as woolgrass.

Near the northeast end of the reservoir habitats we found several, very recently hatched Italian Wall Lizards. We cornered one at the base of a clump of grass and he promptly "ejected" his tail. I presume that it is a survival strategy because, like us, a predator would be distracted by the squirming tail and the lizard would escape. Their tails eventually grow back.

Italian Wall Lizard
I thought that it was a good idea to wear shorts and sandals, because a hot, humid day was forecast. It didn't occur to me that the areas we had been surveying since April were rife with multiflora rose, wineberry and blackberry vines. By the time we finished our morning work my ankles and legs looked like a pair of well worn cat scratching post. I went home feeling good, though, because our day list contained 8 species of warblers, 2 new species for the reservoir list, and we observed a very young Red-bellied Woodpecker, confirming that they nest in the area.

Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus)
I went back to the reservoir on Friday with Marge. Our primary objective was to shoot some video and document the reservoirs and surrounding habitats. I've been editing the material and will have something posted online soon.

Ridgewood Reservoir, 8/25/2007
-
Broad-winged Hawk
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
band-winged grasshopper spp.
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Indigo Bunting
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Mallard, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris)
Ridgewood Reservoir, 8/31/2007
-
Wood Duck
Red-tailed Hawk
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

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

No comments:

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope