Friday, January 01, 2010

Last Day and First Day

On Thursday I wandered around Prospect Park in one last ditch effort to find a new species for 2009. Friday I spent 2 hours walking around the park, starting my new list for 2010. There was quite a difference in bird activity between the two days.

In the Ravine, the stream was reduced to a slow trickle and ice formed a crystalline curtain below the Ambergill Falls. The woodlands were strangely quiet. Birds were somewhere, just not in that stretch of woods. The only sounds were the whistling winds and creaking of swaying trees. I followed the stream towards the Boathouse, then along the Lullwater to the Peninsula and lake.

Prospect Lake was nearly completely frozen. A large flock of mostly Ring-billed Gulls kept a small bathing & drinking hole opened near Three Sisters Island. At the lake's edge where people usually feed the ducks was also a small section of open water. Practically all the resident Mallards, black ducks, odd hybrids and a small number of coots and shovelers crammed into that small area.

An adult Cooper's Hawk was perched in a cherry tree at the south side of the Terrace Bridge. He was probably waiting for one of the resident pigeons to fly out from its roost under the bridge. It wouldn't be much of a contest; the fast, agile accipter would easily out maneuver any Rock Pigeon. Scattered remains of pigeons can frequently be found on the Peninsula Meadow during the winter. Small sparrows and other overwintering songbirds were hard to locate around the Peninsula woods and Lookout Hill. No doubt they were keenly aware of this predator's presence. Peter's birdfeeders on nearby Breeze Hill were a target of the overwintering raptors. Despite freshly stocked seed and suet feeders, there were few birds partaking in the free food. I probably just arrived at the feeding station moments after the hawk buzzed the woods and the birds were still in hiding.

While the "coops" was on the lookout for pigeons and small songbirds, one of our Red-tailed Hawks was perched on Quaker Ridge, near the edge of the Nethermead Meadow. The red-tails prefer squirrels, pigeons and doves. I never noticed them spending much time monitoring the birdfeeders. Either nuthatches, sparrows and finches don't interest them or they are too difficult for these hulking raptors to capture. The dark-faced hawk perched in the tuliptree looked like "Alice" - the female of the Ravine-nesting pair. She was scanning the floor of the woods and the bridle path that edges the forest. After several minutes, I heard the red-tails familiar "keeerr" call coming from the direction of the Midwood. She took off in that direction, where she presumably met up with her mate.

The weather on New Year's Day was much milder. The melting snow and ice was turning the park's footpaths into slushy streams. Unlike the previous day, there seemed to be a sudden burst of bird activity throughout the park. The bird feeders and surrounding Breeze Hill was loaded with birds - there were the usual park residents, as well as, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, both nuthatches, Brown Creeper, both kinglets, Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch and goldfinch.

There were also a couple of unexpected surprises to start off the New Year. While walking along the northern end of the Nethermead Meadow, I spotted a pair of blackbirds foraging in the exposed leaf litter. At first glance I thought that they were Common Grackles. As I got closer I realized that they were uncommon Rusty Blackbirds. These birds will occasionally overwinter in Prospect Park, usually in areas close to the park's lake and waterways. It was a nice find, especially since their numbers have been declining throughout the country.

Much of Prospect Lake was still frozen and Ring-billed Gulls dominated the expanse of white. After a quick walk around the Peninsula, I headed back toward the west side of the park. As I was walking along the south edge of the meadow I noticed a small, streaky bird walking near the base of a Willow Oak. The bird bobbed its tail as it foraged in the grass. I was pleasantly surprised when I put up my bins and found that it was an American Pipit. On migration, these birds are more frequently heard than seen. They are seldom seen in Prospect Park in January, however, on December 31st of both 1999 and 2000 a single pipit was observed in the park.

Except for a few trips with Shane, nearly all my birding around NYC in 2009 was done on bicycle or by public transportation. I finished the year with a total of 249 unique species in all five boroughs (click here to download my year report). For the borough of Brooklyn, I finished with 220 species. Here is my Brooklyn list:

Locations: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Bush Terminal, Columbia Street Pier, Coney Island Creek Park, Coney Island Pier, Dead Horse Bay, Dreier-Offerman Park, Floyd Bennett Field, Four Sparrow Marsh, Gravesend Bay, Greenwood Cemetery, Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center, Owl's Head Water Pollution Control Plant, Owls Head Park, Paedergat Basin, Plum Beach, Plum Beach--West, Prospect Park

1) Snow Goose
2) Brant
3) Canada Goose
4) Mute Swan
5) Wood Duck
6) Gadwall
7) Eurasian Wigeon
8) American Wigeon
9) American Black Duck
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
10) Mallard
11) Northern Shoveler
12) Northern Pintail
13) Green-winged Teal
14) Ring-necked Duck
15) Greater Scaup
16) Lesser Scaup
17) Common Eider
18) White-winged Scoter
19) Black Scoter
scoter sp.
20) Long-tailed Duck
21) Bufflehead
22) Common Goldeneye
23) Hooded Merganser
24) Common Merganser
25) Red-breasted Merganser
26) Ruddy Duck

27) Ring-necked Pheasant

28) Red-throated Loon
29) Common Loon

30) Pied-billed Grebe
31) Horned Grebe
32) Red-necked Grebe

33) Northern Gannet

34) Double-crested Cormorant
35) Great Cormorant

36) American Bittern
37) Great Blue Heron
38) Great Egret
39) Snowy Egret
40) Cattle Egret
41) Green Heron
42) Black-crowned Night-Heron
43) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

44) Turkey Vulture

45) Osprey
46) Northern Harrier
47) Sharp-shinned Hawk
48) Cooper's Hawk
49) Northern Goshawk
50) Red-shouldered Hawk
51) Red-tailed Hawk
52) Rough-legged Hawk

53) American Kestrel
54) Merlin
55) Peregrine Falcon

56) Clapper Rail
57) American Coot

58) Black-bellied Plover
59) American Golden-Plover
60) Semipalmated Plover
61) Killdeer
62) American Oystercatcher
63) Spotted Sandpiper
64) Solitary Sandpiper
65) Greater Yellowlegs
66) Lesser Yellowlegs
67) Whimbrel
68) Sanderling
69) Least Sandpiper
70) Purple Sandpiper
71) Dunlin
72) Short-billed Dowitcher
73) Wilson's Snipe
74) American Woodcock

75) Bonaparte's Gull
76) Black-headed Gull
77) Laughing Gull
78) Ring-billed Gull
79) Herring Gull
80) Lesser Black-backed Gull
81) Great Black-backed Gull
82) Least Tern
83) Common Tern
84) Forster's Tern
85) Black Skimmer

86) Rock Pigeon
87) Mourning Dove

88) Monk Parakeet

89) Yellow-billed Cuckoo

90) Barn Owl
91) Great Horned Owl
92) Long-eared Owl
93) Northern Saw-whet Owl

94) Common Nighthawk

95) Chimney Swift

96) Ruby-throated Hummingbird

97) Belted Kingfisher

98) Red-bellied Woodpecker
99) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
100) Downy Woodpecker
101) Hairy Woodpecker
102) Northern Flicker

103) Olive-sided Flycatcher
104) Eastern Wood-Pewee
105) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
106) Acadian Flycatcher
107) Willow Flycatcher
108) Least Flycatcher
Empidonax sp.
109) Eastern Phoebe
110) Great Crested Flycatcher
111) Eastern Kingbird

112) White-eyed Vireo
113) Yellow-throated Vireo
114) Blue-headed Vireo
115) Warbling Vireo
116) Red-eyed Vireo

117) Blue Jay
118) American Crow
119) Fish Crow
crow sp.

120) Horned Lark

121) Tree Swallow
122) Northern Rough-winged Swallow
123) Bank Swallow
124) Barn Swallow

125) Black-capped Chickadee
126) Tufted Titmouse

127) Red-breasted Nuthatch
128) White-breasted Nuthatch
129) Brown Creeper

130) Carolina Wren
131) House Wren
132) Winter Wren
133) Marsh Wren

134) Golden-crowned Kinglet
135) Ruby-crowned Kinglet
136) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

137) Eastern Bluebird
138) Veery
139) Gray-cheeked Thrush
140) Swainson's Thrush
141) Hermit Thrush
142) Wood Thrush
143) American Robin

144) Gray Catbird
145) Northern Mockingbird
146) Brown Thrasher

147) European Starling

148) American Pipit

149) Cedar Waxwing

150) Blue-winged Warbler
151) Tennessee Warbler
152) Orange-crowned Warbler
153) Nashville Warbler
154) Northern Parula
155) Yellow Warbler
156) Chestnut-sided Warbler
157) Magnolia Warbler
158) Cape May Warbler
159) Black-throated Blue Warbler
160) Yellow-rumped Warbler
161) Black-throated Green Warbler
162) Townsend's Warbler
163) Blackburnian Warbler
164) Yellow-throated Warbler
165) Pine Warbler
166) Prairie Warbler
167) Palm Warbler
168) Bay-breasted Warbler
169) Blackpoll Warbler
170) Black-and-white Warbler
171) American Redstart
172) Prothonotary Warbler
173) Worm-eating Warbler
174) Ovenbird
175) Northern Waterthrush
176) Louisiana Waterthrush
177) Kentucky Warbler
178) Connecticut Warbler
179) Mourning Warbler
180) Common Yellowthroat
181) Hooded Warbler
182) Wilson's Warbler
183) Canada Warbler

184) Summer Tanager
185) Scarlet Tanager

186) Eastern Towhee
187) American Tree Sparrow
188) Chipping Sparrow
189) Clay-colored Sparrow
190) Field Sparrow
191) Vesper Sparrow
192) Lark Sparrow
193) Savannah Sparrow
194) Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
195) Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
196) Seaside Sparrow
197) Fox Sparrow
198) Song Sparrow
199) Lincoln's Sparrow
200) Swamp Sparrow
201) White-throated Sparrow
202) White-crowned Sparrow
203) Dark-eyed Junco
204) Snow Bunting

205) Northern Cardinal
206) Rose-breasted Grosbeak
207) Indigo Bunting

208) Bobolink
209) Red-winged Blackbird
210) Eastern Meadowlark
211) Rusty Blackbird
212) Common Grackle
213) Brown-headed Cowbird
214) Orchard Oriole
215) Baltimore Oriole

216) Purple Finch
217) House Finch
218) White-winged Crossbill
219) American Goldfinch

220) House Sparrow

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