Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-Hurricane Birding

I decided to do a little pre-hurricane birding around Brooklyn to see if anything unusual has showed up. I had planned on cycling down to Floyd Bennett Field to meet up with Heydi and Shane, but had a change of plans.

I received a text from Heydi in the morning saying that Floyd Bennett Field was closed?! She arrived early and the gate at Aviator Sports was closed and locked. Fortunately, the gate in front of the Ryan Administrators Center was opened. After only a few minutes an NPS employee notified her that Floyd Bennett was closed. Shane arrived and the two of them decided to head to Prospect Park. Glad I didn't make the long ride down there just to turn around and go back. I texted back that I'd meet them in the park.

My neighborhood is one of the few that is far enough away from the coast that it isn't in any of the flood zones. In fact, one of the evacuation shelters is just down the block from me. The entire mass transit system was shutdown at noon today, so the only practical place to look around for birds was up the block in Prospect Park. The was a light drizzle falling when I hopped on my bike to meet Heydi and Shane.

When many birders were strategizing on how to search for possible rare birds along the coast during the hurricane, I was being a little more pragmatic. I love birds, birding and finding rarities, but would rather not become a candidate for the next Darwin Award. I'd rather wait until Monday, especially since most of coastal NYC in under mandatory evacuation.

Keir had texted early in the morning that he spotted a Yellow-breasted Chat on Lookout Hill. I haven't seen one of these elusive warblers is a few years, so that's where I headed. I met Heydi and Shane on the stairway next to the Maryland Monument. There were a few warblers foraging on the hillside - a couple of Ovenbirds and black-and-whites - but nothing unusual. After about 15 minutes several warblers began to appear in the treetops on the east side on the stairs. A Blue-winged Warbler was the first bird I noticed. Shane spotted a Chestnut-sided Warbler in its olive-green fall plumage. Then a mixed flock of feeding songbirds arrived and, in quick succession, we added Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler.

It felt a little weird to be counting songbirds. I realize that it's almost Autumn, but I'm still in Summer shorebird mode. I usually don't begin scouring the woodlands until September. Anyway, we followed the feeding flock up the hill and towards the top of Lookout Hill until the rain started to fall. Back down the stairs and towards Prospect Lake, we took shelter under the dense foliage of a stand of maple trees. My only protection against the rain was my cycling helmet and speed, so I waited until the raindrops slowed before heading out of the park.

I don't expect to be spending any time outdoors tomorrow, but will keep you posted with post-hurricane observations.

Stay safe.

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Prospect Park--Lookout Hill
Aug 27, 2011 9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
21 species

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Ovenbird
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Northern Cardinal

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