Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Saturday's Prospect Park Trip

Last Saturday I lead a birding trip in Prospect Park for the Linnaean Society of New York. The weather was perfect for spending the day outside, but the migrant songbird showing in the park was a fraction of the previous weekend's numbers in both species diversity and abundance.

Seven people joined me for a fall migration walk in the park and, while there were some nice birds to see, there weren't any unusual sightings to report. I chose a route that began at the north end of the park, traveled through the woods and ended at Prospect Lake in the south. Throughout the morning it became clear that, rather than overnight Northwest winds carrying new birds into the park, it instead motivated the individuals that had been present for the previous week to take flight and continue their journey south. Several reports on the New York State birding discussion forums indicated that most of the city's birdwatching hotspots had experienced similar declines. By noon we had only tallied 8 species of warbler and a total of 41 species of birds. The previous weekend Heydi, Keir and I had observed 15 species of warbler and a total of 58 species of birds. One unexpected highlight was of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the Peninsula Woods. This shy species is not related to the European cuckoo and is more often heard than seen.

At the edge of Wellhouse Drive, near the Maryland Monument, we stumbled on this White-footed Mouse. The poor creature was very ill and inexplicably ran in tight circles, stopping periodically to rest. I asked Bobby about the mouse's behavior to which he replied:

"...The smaller rodent species are very rarely carriers of rabies, so I doubt that was the issue. It was probably something gotten from raccoons. Either roundworm, like the groundhog from contact with their feces, or another ailment called leptospirosis from their urine. Both can cause the neurological symptom you described and are most often fatal."

Here is a short video of the mouse:


video

Gusty winds kept most of the butterfly activity to a minimum, but I did spot this Eastern Tailed-Blue Gray Hairstreak hanging on to a single white clover flower at the edge of the Peninsula Meadow.







Location: Prospect Park
Observation date: 09/04/10
Number of species: 41

Wood Duck (7.)
Green Heron (1.)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1; Peninsula, across from skating rink.)
Empidonax sp. (3.)
Eastern Kingbird (2.)
Warbling Vireo (4.)
Red-eyed Vireo (5.)
Carolina Wren (2.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1.)
Veery (6.)
Wood Thrush (1.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird

Northern Parula (1.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (4.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (6.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (5.)
American Redstart (6.)
Northern Waterthrush (1.)
Common Yellowthroat (1.)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird (1.)
Baltimore Oriole (1.)
American Goldfinch (1.)

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

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