Monday, May 07, 2012

Weekend Migration Update

Over the past weekend Heydi, Paige and I scoured two of Brooklyn's birding hotspots for migrating birds. It was probably the best weekend for birding thus far this Spring.

Saturday's weather forecasts must have been for a different Brooklyn. Reading "partly sunny" and "70 degrees" off of our phones for the current conditions while shivering and seeking shelter from the rain under a spruce tree was a little disheartening. Poor lighting and mostly taciturn songbirds also made for a challenging day, but our perseverance was ultimately rewarded with many good birds. Had it not been for our ear-birding skills, many birds would have gone uncounted.

We started the morning in Prospect Park, then worked our way over to Green-Wood Cemetery after a brief coffee break. Yellow-rumped Warbler were still the warbler of the day, but several new species had joined the soundscape including Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Canada Warbler. Other non-warbler vocalists that were heard throughout our travels were Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and Baltimore Oriole. Orioles seemed to have arrived by the busload and their rich, liquid whistles can now be heard nearly everywhere.

At Green-Wood Cemetery we saw our first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season when it stopped to rest within a Black Cherry tree next to the Dell Water.

On Sunday the sky cleared and the songsters found their voices. At around 6:10am, as we approached the Rose(less) Garden of Prospect Park I heard a song that brought a smile to my face. The loud, clear "ta-wit ta-wit ta-wit tee-yo" whistle of a Hooded Warbler was coming from somewhere near the western edge of the narrow, grassy field where it meets a stretch of woods. I would have been content to just listen, but we spent a few minutes searching for the source, for the full "aahhh" effect. It was a great way to start the morning.

As the morning progressed we found several small areas of mixed flock activity in Prospect Park; The Midwood, the edge of the Nethermead Meadow and Lookout Hill. One of the more interesting observations occurred while we were checking the compost area north of the zoo. During a quiet moment we all suddenly heard a familiar sound and gave each other quizzical looks. I realized it was the call of a Common Loon and looked upward in time to see three loons heading north. For me, Common Loon vocalizations evoke images of summer time and clear, freshwater lakes in New England.

We were pretty beat having spent 5 hours birding, but after a short lunch break outside of the park, we returned for a few more hours of abuse. My friend Steve had reported a Yellow-throated Vireo in the Ravine, so we headed to the footpath just passed the Fallkill waterfall. There was a fair amount of bird activity in the mostly oak canopy, but no yellow-throated. We ran into Rob Bate, who also came looking for the vireo. After a few minutes of looking I spotted what I first thought was a female Indigo Bunting landing on a dead snag in a maple tree. The bird seemed very large, however, with a conspicuous rusty wing covert. When it flew closer to us it became obvious that it was the similar, but much larger Blue Grosbeak. This is a very good bird to find in Brooklyn. We hung around the Ravine for another 30 minutes or so and eventually relocated the Yellow-throated Vireo. He revealed his location high in the deciduous tree cover with his lazy, burry, singsong, "three A, THREE a".

Our total species count by the end of the weekend was 90. Twenty-one of those birds were warblers. Twelve were new for me for the year.

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Dates: May 5, 2012 and May 6, 2012
Locations: Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park
Species: 90
Checklists: 3
Observers: Rob Jett, Paige Linden, Heydi Lopes

Ruddy Duck (Prospect Lake.)
Common Loon (Flyover, Prospect Park.)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Green Heron (Prospect Park.)
Osprey (Prospect Park.)
Accipiter sp.
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel (Rose Garden, Prospect Park.)
Peregrine Falcon (Prospect Park.)
Spotted Sandpiper (Prospect Park.)
Solitary Sandpiper (Prospect Park.)
Laughing Gull
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Prospect Park.)
Great Horned Owl
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Dell Water, Green-Wood Cemetery.)
Belted Kingfisher
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Lookout Hill, Prospect Park.)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo (Prospect Park.)
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Veery
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing (Dell Water, Green-Wood Cemetery.)

Ovenbird
Worm-eating Warbler (Prospect Park.)
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler (Rose Garden, Prospect Park.)
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler (Crescent Water, Green-Wood Cemetery.)
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler (Prospect Park.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson's Warbler (Lookout Hill, Prospect Park.)

Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (Dell Water, Green-Wood Cemetery.)
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak (Ravine, Prospect Park.)
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

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

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