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Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Leaves Have All Fallen

This was the first day this season that I've had to layer up against the cold. There was a cool dampness in the air that felt like a storm on the horizon. It never did rain and we even managed a few, brief patches of sunshine.

A fallen wasp's nest

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-click to see the structure of a Paper wasp nest-

In just a single week it seems like the remaining bits of foliage in the park has fallen. A few days ago the Ash-throated Flycatcher, with its lemony underside, was able to disappear into the golden leaves of the gingko trees. Now all the hidden bird nests and wasp nests are easy to locate.

Today was Sean's fourth attempt to find the Ash-throated Flycatcher. We ran into Bob (the man who originally found the bird) and Juliette who had also not seen it. I was confident that I'd find it for them as I've been very lucky to be able to track it down each time I've been in the park.

Sean was convinced that he was jinx. I was beginning to believe him as we couldn't find it anywhere. Out of frustration, he sat down at the base of a huge Willow Oak on the Peninsula. Bob, Juliette and I walked around for a while then I went back to ask him if he had given up. He joked that the flycatcher was probably flying directly behind us and that's why we couldn't see it. He rationalized that if he stayed back he would see the flycatcher bringing up the rear. As he was talking something caught my eye at the edge of a patch of phragmites behind him. Wouldn't you know it, there was the flycatcher, directly on the other side of the tree from where Sean was sitting. You can't make these things up.

A dragonfly warming in the sun (Sympetrum vicinum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

If that wasn't satisfying enough a few minutes later a Nashville Warbler was spotted in the Willow Oak. By the end of the day we had counted three species of warbler, all of whom should be somewhere very far south of New York City by now. I guess we really haven't had many days of below freezing weather yet so there are still plenty of insects buzzing around. I'm actually still hearing crickets in the woods.

Looking for dinner

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On the way home we stumbled upon one of the resident Red-tailed Hawks hunting from a low perch at the edge of the baseball fields. He kept looking down into a pile of leaves at the base of the tree in which he was perched. We quietly watched but he eventually flew off towards the 15th Street entrance of the park without a meal. I spotted another one of the adult hawks perched low next to the Litchfield Villa at 5th Street. It was too dark at that point for a photograph.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 12/2/2004
Pied-billed Grebe (3, upper Lullwater.)
Great Blue Heron (Flying over Peninsula meadow.)
Wood Duck (2, Lullwater.) [Bob Bains]
Northern Shoveler (~400, Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk (2 adults, 1 juvenile.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Peninsula meadow near large Willow Oak.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Breeze Hill.) [Bob Bains]
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (2, Peninsula & near lamppost J249.)
Winter Wren (Near lamppost J249.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Hermit Thrush (2, Peninsula & Lamppost J249.)
Nashville Warbler (Peninsula.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Peninsula.)
Wilson's Warbler (Behind Wellhouse, then later near lamppost J249.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
American Goldfinch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse (approx. 15-20, various locations.), European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

1 comment:

Katie said...

Your dragonfly is very similar to our version in the UK, Sympetrum striolatum.

Have a look at this.

Really enjoy reading your blog. Perhaps you might like mine?!


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