Monday, November 09, 2009

Ducks and Duck Hawks

During this point in the fall migration waterfowl have begun streaming along New York City's coastline, as well as, descending into our inland ponds and lakes. Many will overwinter here and some will continue moving south. In addition to the various ducks, several species of loons and grebes have started to appear. This seasonal abundance isn't just a boon to birders searching for something different, but also a local predator of incredible speed.

Prospect Lake, in my local park, has been slowly filling up with flocks of Northern Shovelers and Ruddy Ducks. To a lesser extent, American Coots have been making their annual appearance. On a recent visit to the park I counted ten species of waterfowl, plus Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot. This concentration of birds on the 10-acre lake had also attracted a Peregrine Falcon. Perched at the top of a dead tree on West Island, the world's fastest animal seemed content to just relax and ignored the ducks below him. His distended crop told me that he had recently eaten. The archaic common name for Peregrine Falcon was "Duck Hawk". The day after I photographed this juvenile falcon at the edge of Prospect Lake I walked over to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. At the south end of the garden is a very large antenna tower. It is a favorite perch for birds of prey, so I shouldn't have been surprised to find two adult Peregrines relaxing near the top of the tower. Using Google Earth, I created a perspective 3D satellite image to approximate the view from the top of the antenna. From their perch near the top, the falcons had a perfect view of Prospect Park's waterways ... and hundreds of waterfowl, fattening up for a long winter.

Here is a slideshow of many of the waterfowl that can be found locally during the winter:

1 comment:

Helen said...

So beautiful. God must really love birds or He wouldn't have made so many of them

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