Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Prospect After the Snow

Brooklyn received a dusting of snow overnight. I had about an hour free at noon, so I ran into Prospect Park to see if any new gulls or waterfowl showed up on Prospect Lake.

I ran into Alex Wilson at the "duck feeding spot" at the edge of the lake near Wellhouse Drive and West Lake Drive. Some guy was feeding bread to the waterfowl and gulls a few yards to our right. Both Alex and I were primarily interested in any possible vagrant gulls and scanned a large flock of Ring-billed Gulls as they stood around on the mostly frozen lake. There were several Herring Gulls and a few Great Black-backed Gulls, but nothing unusual. In addition to a handful of bathing gulls, in a tiny opening in the ice directly in front of us was a raucous collection of Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Ruddy Duck and American Coot. There was also a male and female
Hooded Merganser nervously hiding under the branches of an overhanging willow tree.

We had been standing at the edge of the lake for a few minutes when Alex finally realized that there was a Green-winged Teal on the shoreline a few feet to our left. We rarely see these tiny ducks in Prospect Lake, and it's even more unusual to see one so close up. The tiny bird walked up onto the ice a few feet away from the shore and tried to blend in with a flock of sleeping Northern Shovelers. The smallest of our North American waterfowl he would occasionally disappear from view whenever he walked behind one of the shovelers or Mallards.

On my way across the Long Meadow I stopped near the baseball fields to look for an American Pipit which has been hanging around the park for over a month. It only took me a minute or two to locate the bird as it fed behind a stretch of snow fencing. It is in an area of the park where our overwintering Merlins can usually be seen scanning the grass for prey. So it didn't surprise me to see that the pipit was frequently tipping its head sideways, watching the sky for predators.

video

In this video I shot of the pipit, notice its unusual tail-pumping behavior. I don't know what the evolutionary purpose is for this action. Perhaps it flushes insects from the grass.

1 comment:

CE Webster said...

Great video of the pipit! All the pics were good, thanks for sharing.

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