Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ridgewood Reservoir

Saturday was the last day of our autumn bird survey, although I suspect some of us will be over at the reservoir a few more times before winter officially starts.

The leaves on the birches, sweetgums and cottonwoods in basin #1 have turned various shades of burnt orange to fiery red. Sparrows have arrived in force. All of the low grass and scrubby habitat surrounding the basins were loaded with Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows. The make up of the sparrow flocks were similar to what I had observed in the “Sparrow Bowl” in Prospect Park.

As usual, we divided into two groups to cover separate areas within the reservoir’s boundaries. The highlight for Steve’s group was locating a Vesper Sparrow in a small, grassy meadow. I was slightly jealous as it is one of my favorite sparrows and seen infrequently around the city. Shortly after we began our survey, the wind started to pick up and by 10:00AM it was blowing hard. The flock of Wood Ducks that had been hanging out on the lake had taken shelter within the dense reeds that ring the basin. We didn’t see the Pied-billed Grebes, but the could have also been hidden in the phragmites.

Despite the strong wind, several raptors were seen hunting in the area. A Northern Harrier spotted by Gerry was the first one we’d recorded at the reservoir. Also, with winter just around the corner, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the presence of Purple Finches. They were another “first” for our survey.

I took my group to the habitats around basin #1. Our first “good” bird of the day was a Nashville Warbler. By noon we had recorded five species of warbler. I’m beginning to think that American Woodcock are residents of the Ridgewood Reservoir as I flushed three with my group. I’ll have to check, but I think, we’ve recorded woodcock every month. Golden-crowned Kinglets are moving through the city in good numbers and several were seen at the reservoir. I expect to find small pockets of them throughout the winter. For such tiny birds, they are amazingly hardy. Of the winter arrivals, we should see Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow and Purple Finch through to next spring. It will be interesting to learn all the other species that call the reservoir home during the cold months.

Ridgewood Reservoir, 10/20/2007
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Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Wood Duck
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Merlin
American Woodcock
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Common Grackle
Purple Finch
House Finch

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

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

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