Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still Waiting

As the month of May approaches and images of a Spring songbird fallout flutter about in my head, I found myself in Prospect Park at dawn last Saturday and Sunday.

Northbound migrants wait for south winds before taking off en masse for their annual breeding grounds. Friday night the winds were out of the North-Northwest, so I wasn't expecting to see much change in the migrant diversity and abundance around Prospect Park on Saturday. I suppose you could say that I wasn't disappointed. We did, however, manage to see a few first-of-year species.

As I observed last weekend, the majority of the morning's bird activity was at the southern end of the park - along the south side of Prospect Lake, the Peninsula woods and on Lookout Hill's wooded sloops. Yellow-rumped Warbler was still the dominant warbler species, flitting about at the tops of, primarily, oak trees. Palm Warblers were seen in less abundance, bobbing their tails in the oak trees, as well. I meet Heydi at the south side of the lake just after sunrise. We heard a Northern Waterthrush singing then found it foraging along a muddy section at the edge of the lake. A Louisiana Waterthrush was found late in the morning at the opposite end of the park, in the Vale of Cashmere. Despite the "thrush" in their common names, these birds are actually wood-warblers, or New World warblers, and no relation to the thrush family.

On the Peninsula, a squeaky wheel, "wee-see-wee-see-wee-see" drew our attention to my first Black-and-white Warbler of the season. A second one was heard much later in the Ravine. The buzzy "beer, beer, beer, BEEE" of a Black-throated Blue Warbler found singing near the Vale of Cashmere was the park's first of the season. Tiny, hyperactive Ruby-crowned Kinglets were heard singing from as low as shrubs to the tops of trees throughout the park.

Two other first-of-year species for me on Saturday were Brown Thrasher on the south side of Prospect Lake and a small flock of Chimney Swifts feeding high above the lake. The thrasher was singing rhyming couplets from a perch above a section of burned out phragmites. I look forward to months of hearing the happy chittering sounds of swifts outside my kitchen window as I eat my breakfast.

Except for one lonely Ruddy Duck, all of the overwintering waterfowl on the lake have departed.

South winds were forecast for Saturday night, but so was lots or rain. I decided to go out into the park Sunday morning, despite the rain. Unfortunately, a fallout never materialized. In addition, it appeared that Saturday's birds either departed, expired or had more sense than me and stayed out of the rain. There was a short burst of yellow-rump activity on the Peninsula at around 7:30am, but that was about it. I checked the actually wind history when I returned home and found that the South wind had been very brief, then, through the course of the evening, switched from SE to ESE. By dawn the wind was coming from the East. Oh well, there's always next weekend.

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Location: Prospect Park
Observation date: 4/24/10
Time: 6:30am - 10am
Number of species: 51

Wood Duck (1.)
Ruddy Duck (1.)
Common Loon (1, Peninsula flyover.)
Great Egret (1.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Laughing Gull (1.)
Chimney Swift (6.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Blue-headed Vireo (6.)
Tree Swallow (1.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
Carolina Wren (1.)
House Wren (1.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (20.)
Hermit Thrush (10.)
Gray Catbird (1.)
Brown Thrasher (1.)
Cedar Waxwing
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1, Between Vale of Cashmere & Rose Garden.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (75.)
Palm Warbler (12.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2, Peninsula "Thumb" & Ravine.)
Northern Waterthrush (1, South side of Prospect Lake.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
Eastern Towhee (3.)
Chipping Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (3.)
White-throated Sparrow
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch (2.)
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (2.), Downy Woodpecker (4.), Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (2.), Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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