Friday, November 04, 2011

October Birds

October was a fairly productive month. With migrating sparrows being my primary focus, it should be no surprise that three of my six new species were emberizidae..

Early in the month there were still plenty of warblers moving through the area, however, with grasses and wildflowers going to seed, I expected to see a surge of sparrows. To that end I began spending more time birding around the fields of Green-Wood Cemetery, Prospect Park, Calvert Vaux Park and Floyd Bennett Field. My first new year bird of October was a Philadelphia Vireo seen in Green-Wood. Leading a trip for the Linnaean Society, I had just left a wooded hillside next to the Sylvan Water when Heydi called. She and Rich Fried were still at the hillside and spotted a Philadelphia Vireo. Rarely seen in during Spring migration, my group and I high-tailed it back to the area where the bird was cooperatively feeding in a locust tree.

October 6th was a weird day in that I spotted a new sparrow in a very unexpected location...for the second time in three years. The parks department has reseeded an area of the baseball fields in Prospect Park and protected the spot with a large expanse of snow fencing. Birds quickly learn that people and dogs won't disturb them behind the fence and it is a hotspot of passerine activity. As I slowly circled the perimeter of the fenced field I tallied the following birds feeding in the grass: Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. On my final loop I flushed a sparrow from a patch of long grass at the edge of the fence. It was a large-billed sparrow with a bright orange face and breast. The flighty bird only flew a few yards and I was able to look over the fence at a beautiful Nelson's Sparrow. The Nelson's Sparrow is a bird of marshes and, typically, the only places to see them in Brooklyn is Plum Beach and Marine Park's saltmarsh. Oddly, this is the second time that I've seen one in Prospect Park. The first time was two years ago in a similarly fenced off area on the baseball fields. This fenced off area was also where I spotted my year Vesper Sparrow, a bird which, apparently, has enjoyed the accommodations so much, that he has stuck around for a couple of weeks.

Completing my October sparrow list was a Lark Sparrow, which I spotted at a smaller enclosed area in Prospect Park, near what local birders have aptly named "The Sparrow Bowl".

One non-sparrow I added in October was the Eastern Meadowlark. I usually only find this bird on the Christmas Bird Count at Floyd Bennett Field, but this brilliant yellow grassland species was spotted both at Calvert Vaux Park and Prospect Park.

Finally, Heydi and I located an Orange-crowned Warbler in a weedy plot at Floyd Bennett Field's community garden. Ironically (or prophetically) it was about 10 seconds after I said, "We could still find an Orange-crowned Warbler this weekend." That means that I have seen all but one of the expected species of Eastern warblers in New York this year - Kentucky Warbler being the only exception.

I ended October with 252 species in the state of New York, 242 of those in Brooklyn.

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NYS total: 252
Kings total: 242

247) Philadelphia Vireo (Green-Wood Cemetery, 10/01/11)
248) Lark Sparrow (Prospect Park, 10/05/11)
249) Nelson's Sparrow (Prospect Park, 10/06/11)
250) Vesper Sparrow (Prospect Park, 10/12/11)
251) Eastern Meadowlark (Dreier-Offerman Park, 10/22/11)
252) Orange-crowned Warbler (Floyd Bennett Field, 10/22/11)

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