Monday, March 30, 2009

More Migrants & Hawk Update

I began this posting on Monday, but an exasperating week of computer troubleshooting has kept me away from my blog. I made some interesting observations around Prospect Park last weekend, not the least of which was a nesting hawk update.

Sunday was drizzly and gray, but I enjoy going into Prospect Park under those conditions as I sometimes make unsuspected discoveries in the uncharacteristically empty park. On that day I was drawn to the recent waterlogged surroundings - from the glistening topographic ridges of Hackberry tree bark to a verdant patch of moss on a wall near the Terrace Bridge or a slug crossing the path near the Midwood. One new discovery for me in my local park was of an unusual fungus. Growing on the dangling branch of a dead tree near the Peninsula were some Tree Ears, also known as Wood Ears. You may recognize the rubbery mushrooms from Chinese Sweet and Sour Soup. I considered collecting some for use at home, but glad I didn't. It turns out that using them in cooking is almost not worth the effort as they need to be dried and that it takes a whole lot of those little ears to make just a tiny pile. I once bought some dried Tree Ears, used them a couple of times, then they just sat in the spice rack for a year or two before I tossed them out. If you want to go that route, porcini mushrooms are clearly a much better investment in time and effort.

In the Ravine, Alice is finally sitting on eggs. She began incubating on either the 28th or the 29th, which is the same date as last year. I can still see her from the path in the Ravine because the trees haven't leafed out. In another couple of weeks, she'll be hidden from sight. Later in the afternoon I doubled-checked the nest at Nelly's Lawn. Nelly was still on the nest. I get a little concerned for her and Max, due to the nest's close proximity to the road and lots of human activity. Then I remember Big Mama's first nest above the 3rd Street crosswalk and realize that they will, in all likelihood, be fine.

In the Lullwater and at the edge of Prospect Lake I spotted a new Spring arrival. A Great Egret stood motionless on a log below the Terrace Bridge. A second one was at the edge of the phragmites near the Wellhouse. Black-crowned Night-Herons and Green Herons should be seen in the city parks very soon.

On Prospect Lake, the number and diversity of waterfowl has dropped. We've gone from several hundred Northern Shovelers to a couple of dozen. The remaining Ruddy Ducks are transforming into their azure bills and ruddy breeding plumage. A lone Gadwall was seen resting on the coping wall of Prospect Lake at the edge of the Peninsula Meadow. They are uncommon in Prospect Park and even more unusual to see them out of the water. On the Lower Pool a Wood Duck continues to keep company with a small flock of Ring-necked Ducks. Some people passing by the ponds stopped when they saw me setting up my scope. They were curious, so I let them take a look at the Wood Duck. Nearly everyone I've met has the same response when they see this beautifully gaudy duck for the first time. They are surprised that it is native to North America and that they are relatively common. I can't be 100% certain what this individual is picking from the surface of the water, but I presume that it is insects or insect larvae.

video

1 comment:

Silversalty said...

Ironically around then I saw a Great Egret at Coney Island Creek. It was there two days in a row. I also saw my first hawk at the creek or anywhere for that matter. Not sure what type of hawk it was or if it actually was a hawk though it did buzz the only other birds around - a couple of Mallard ducks foraging in the water. The ducks didn't seem to concerned.

Yesterday I saw a pair of Canada Geese acting strangely, at least to my inexperienced eye. They were repeatedly dunking their heads and necks in the water in a sort of dance contest. One even did something of an underwater head stand a couple of times. It became apparent what was happening when one mounted the other.

I got a couple of shots of the hawk and egret. Nothing special. Just something to document the sightings.

Hawk
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14060984@N05/3396351285/

Great Egret
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14060984@N05/3390777064/

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