Thursday, October 08, 2015

Wednesday's Green-Wood Cemetery Walk

Tuesday evening's winds weren't overly conducive to a big flight of birds, but there was still a lot of activity in Green-Wood Cemetery for my Wednesday morning walk. There were also some definite signs of a season in transition.

At the start of the walk I noticed that the grounds crews had, for whatever reason, decided that Wednesday was lawnmower day. In addition to this making the cemetery much louder than usual, I spotted lots and lots of unidentified songbird flocks zipping passed ahead of the mowers. I was only able to pick out some White-throated and Chipping Sparrows, but suffice to say there were a significant influx of birds in the area.

One sure sign of winter's approach was spotting my first Brown Creepers of the season. I love these tiny, bark-patterned birds. I usually hear their high, thin whistled calls before I spot them. Using the spiky ends of their tails to keep them from slipping backwards, they inch up trees, probing for spider eggs and other insects. They only move upwards, while nuthatches move downwards. I'm waiting for the day when I see these two species passing each other in opposite directions on a tree trunk. I hope they'll high-five, or at least give each other a wing-bump. Another species in the overwintering category that was in Green-Wood on Wednesday was Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It was making its distinctive mewing call from a stand of pines overlooking the Sylvan Water. We never did manage to get him in our bins despite a full minute of his close proximity vocalizing. There was also a sudden uptick in the number of both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. These diminutive, hyperactive songbirds are half-hardy and small numbers can usually be found locally through the winter months. Amazingly, Golden-crowned Kinglets are not much larger than some hummingbirds. Several years ago I wrote about an up-close, personal experience with one of these adorable birds here.

Another new seasonal arrival for me yesterday was Winter Wren. Despite what their name might imply, most of these birds will just pass through Brooklyn in the fall / early-winter then continue to their overwintering grounds south of New York City. White-throated Sparrows seemed to have increased in abundance a bit since Sunday's walk. Pretty soon we'll be seeing them along weedy edges and wooded areas nearly everywhere. Listen for their melodic, "Oh-sweet-canada-canada" (or "Poor-Sam-Peabody-Peabody").

The cemetery's numerous fruiting dogwoods (Flowering Dogwood and Kousa Dogwood) and yew trees have attracted a near constant stream of hungry robins, Hermit Thrushes and Scarlet Tanagers. The berries in the latter are small enough and soft enough that some vireos and warblers were also feeding on them.

The next cold front should bring even more birds.

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Location: Green-Wood Cemetery
Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Species: 53

Cooper's Hawk (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Laughing Gull
Belted Kingfisher (2.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1.)
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1.)
Eastern Phoebe (25.)
Red-eyed Vireo (3.)
Black-capped Chickadee (1.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
Brown Creeper (2.)
House Wren (1.)
Winter Wren (1.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (20.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (10.)
Hermit Thrush (5.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing (5.)

Ovenbird (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2.)
Common Yellowthroat (4.)
Magnolia Warbler (1.)
Blackpoll Warbler (6.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler  13
Palm Warbler (30.)
Pine Warbler (2.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (15.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (1.)

Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow (20 - 30.)
Savannah Sparrow (3.)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (4.)
Eastern Towhee (3.)

Scarlet Tanager (6.)
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

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