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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Weekend Birds

I spent much of Sunday with family, but did get out on Saturday for several hours of birding around Brooklyn.

I started off just after first light by cycling down to Dreier-Offerman Park (aka Calvert Vaux Park) where I met my friend Heydi. From their we moved north along Gravesend Bay, the Shore Promenade Park, Narrows Botanical Garden, Veterans Memorial Pier and finally ended the morning at Owl's Head Park.

Weather forecasts had called for south wind and unseasonably warm temperatures. I anticipated that the wind would also help transport some more migrant birds into our area. One thing I didn't count on was a cold, thick bank of fog slipping over Gravesend Bay and the lower harbor by late morning. It made for some interesting photographs, but not very productive bird finding. We did, however, manage to find a few new Spring migrants.

Dreier-Offerman was not very birdy but we did find a few Laughing Gulls along Coney Island Creek. In addition, several Tree Swallows were seen flying in from the south or zig-zagging across the bay. Both species were new for us for the Spring.

It was very strange watching the thick fog rolling in to Gravesend Bay and enveloping the Verrazano Bridge. The warm, dry morning quickly transformed into a damp, cold, winter-like walk. Along the rocky shoreline, at least 14 Purple Sandpipers were still present. Many of the sandpipers were showing their namesake purple sheen on new, breeding plumes. Gulls were few and far between (or just impossible to see), but we did find one Bonaparte's Gull. There were also still a few Common and Red-throated Loons fairly close to shore. The large flock of overwintering scaup has been reduced to a couple of dozen birds in a few scattered groups. The Horned Grebes that are still present have transitioned to breeding or near-breeding plumage.

The trees along the Shore Promenade were depressingly devoid of birds. We found our first Gray Catbird of the season at a small park called "Narrows Botanical Garden". The "park" is a couple of blocks south of Owl's Head Park and next to the Veterans Memorial Pier. Within a couple of weeks catbirds will be a common sight in our parks and backyards until their departure next fall.

Finally, at Owl's Head Park we sat down on the grass next to a very obliging Pine Warbler that foraged for insects on the lawn. The warbler seemed to be acting more like a pigeon than a wood-warbler. It was a very nice way to end the morning.

Date: April 3, 2010
Locations: Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay, Shore Promenade Park, Narrows Botanical Garden, Veterans Memorial Pier, Owl's Head Park

1) Brant (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
2) Canada Goose (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
3) Mute Swan (1, Dreier-Offerman Park )
4) Gadwall (4, Dreier-Offerman Park)
5) American Black Duck (7, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
6) Mallard (Dreier-Offerman Park)
7) Greater Scaup (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
8) Lesser Scaup (Gravesend Bay)
9) Bufflehead (2, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
10) Red-breasted Merganser (5, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
11) Red-throated Loon (1, Gravesend Bay)
12) Common Loon (3, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
13) Horned Grebe (6, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
14) Double-crested Cormorant (3, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
15) Purple Sandpiper (14, Gravesend Bay)
16) Bonaparte's Gull (1, Gravesend Bay)
17) Laughing Gull (4, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
18) Ring-billed Gull (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
19) Herring Gull (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
20) Great Black-backed Gull (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
21) Rock Pigeon (Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay, Owls Head Park)
22) Mourning Dove (5, Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
23) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1, Owls Head Park)
24) Downy Woodpecker (2, Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
25) Northern Flicker (12, Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
26) Eastern Phoebe (1, Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
27) Fish Crow (5, Dreier-Offerman Park)
28) Tree Swallow (4, Dreier-Offerman Park, Gravesend Bay)
29) Carolina Wren (1, Dreier-Offerman Park)
30) American Robin (Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
31) Gray Catbird (1, Narrows Botanical Gardens)
32) Northern Mockingbird (2, Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
33) European Starling (Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
34) Pine Warbler (2, Owls Head Park)
35) Song Sparrow (6, Dreier-Offerman Park)
36) White-throated Sparrow (1, Dreier-Offerman Park)
37) Dark-eyed Junco (6, Owls Head Park)
38) Northern Cardinal (Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)
39) Red-winged Blackbird (Dreier-Offerman Park)
40) Boat-tailed Grackle (1, Dreier-Offerman Park)
41) Brown-headed Cowbird (2, Dreier-Offerman Park)
42) House Sparrow (Dreier-Offerman Park, Owls Head Park)

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