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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Red-tailed Hawk Journals

Excerpt from "The Red-tailed Hawk Journals: A City Birder in Brooklyn":

Saturday, 20 April, 2002

It has been almost a week and a half since my last visit to Prospect Park and much has changed in that short period.

Seemingly overnight a layer of green has settled over the park and the woodlands have begun to reverberate with song.

The once leafless area surrounding the 3rd Street Red-tailed Hawk nest is now beginning to be shrouded in young, green foliage and catkins.

If my estimates are correct, and the pair is successful, the presence of hatchlings should become apparent this week.

Where there were once mostly White-throated Sparrows, titmice and chickadees there are now hyperactive warblers filling the treetops.

The predominant migrants in Prospect Park today were what my friend Kimberly likes to call "Rumps and Pumps" (Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers, for their constantly pumping tails). Added to the warbler mix were a single Blue-winged Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Parula and Northern Waterthrush. At a very active spot on Lookout Hill a few Black-and-white Warblers completed our parulidae day list.

Unlike the hordes of birders in Central Park, Prospect Park seems to attract a small number of regulars. It’s not unusual for me to meet a new birder in the park and then end up spending the next couple of hours with them searching for birds. That is how I met Sean Sime this year.

A quiet and serious man, Sean is a professional photographer who is easily recognized from a distant by the huge camera rig always slung over his shoulder when in the field. He is part of a group of artists who raise money for conservation causes.

Sean spotted a Rusty Blackbird today foraging in the decaying leaves in the Pagoda Swamp and we all got very good looks.

A flock of arriving Chipping Sparrows trilled and fed in the trees above the Sparrow Bowl while the lake's seasonal swirling flocks of Nothern Shovelers have finally shoved off.

Despite that whispering voice of logic reminding me that it is a bit early in the show I still anxiously await that huge songbird fallout that myths are made of.

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