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Sunday, October 30, 2005

My nemesis bird

The Basherkill before arriving at fire tower

(Photo credit - Rob J)

It seems that every birder, after a few years, finds that they have a jinx or nemesis bird. That is a species that, no matter when or where you go, you can never manage to observe. Despite meticulous planning and research that bird somehow manages to elude “capture”.

I’ve been birding for approximately 10 years. Over those years I’ve never been able to locate a Golden Eagle in the wild. My wife and I once spent a couple of weeks vacationing in the Pacific Northwest. Golden Eagles are fairly common there but, apparently, not for me. I kept crossing paths with other birders who would say things like, “Did you see those Golden Eagles that were just here?” No. I would even go to hawkwatches every year hoping to catch a glimpse of one.

View north towards Catskills

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Today Shane and I decided to drive up to the Shawangunks and meet with John Haas to help out with the hawkwatch. Our motivation had been the reports of multiple Golden Eagles at that location. The Shawangunks are a high ridge that runs north to south, just below the Catskill Mountains. Raptors follow this ridge on their southbound migration. The watch is held from the top of a fire tower and affords expansive views of Sullivan County and, on clear days, much farther. For topographic reasons that I don’t understand the top of the fire tower is always very windy. John explained that during the hawkwatch period there are some days when the wind exceeds 70mph. Today was one of those days.

Fire tower shadow

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wind speed

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I suppose the conditions were not ideal as the hawks seen from the top of the tower remained very high and in low numbers. The most abundant species was Red-tailed Hawk and we tallied 24. John felt bad for us as he recounted fantastic hawk days on the tower and, recently, 5 Golden Eagles in one afternoon. I really didn’t mind much as it was pretty cool hanging out on the tower. We eventually gave up as the afternoon lull settled in and we accepted that we wouldn’t be seeing much more activity.

When I returned home I sat down at my computer to check my e-mail. The first message to catch my eye had the subject line “Rare bird in Prospect Park”. Three birders excitedly watched as a migrating Golden Eagle soared over the park at “11:10am”. So, my nemesis bird continues to elude me. I drove 200 miles to NOT see one when I could have walked 2 blocks to see one.

Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) at Eileen's house

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Shawangunk Hawk Watch, 10/30/2005
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Pipit
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Snow Bunting
American Goldfinch

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

Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx

I just received an interesting e-mail from Chris Lyons that I thought I'd share:

We were in Van Cortlandt today, and ran into John Young, who informed us that he'd seen an American Golden-Plover on the Parade Ground--his first ever in Van Cortlandt Park, which he's been birding regularly for 49 years.

Thankfully, the bird was still there, and we all got a nice look, and even a few halfway decent shots. Our first Golden Plover for Van Cortlandt as well--and remarkably tolerant of close approach. It was more wary of the surrounding ring-billed gulls than of the nearby soccer players. The soccer players were ignoring it, but the gulls kept trying to ambush it...

American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica )

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

-Click here for more info on Van Cortlandt Park-

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday afternoon in Prospect Park

I haven’t been in Prospect Park for over two weeks. Reports over the last week and a half painted a picture of songbirds by the tens of thousands passing through the city’s parks. I was worried that I’d missed all the activity. I took Friday afternoon off and headed up to the park at around 1:30pm. My typical route was to head up to the Vale of Cashmere and zigzag my way down to Prospect Lake, at the opposite end of the park. Red-tailed Hawks were on my mind and I planned on searching the resident raptors usual haunts.

As I began my walk I noticed that White-throated Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes were plentiful. The distance from the 5th Street entrance of the park to the inner loop road at the 3rd Street playground is probably only 100 yards. In that short distance I counted 20 Hermit Thrushes and dozens of White-throated Sparrows. I continued to see both in small groups spread throughout the park. If I had to guess I'd say that there were hundreds of hermits and many thousand white-throats moving through the park. Winter Wrens were still fairly plentiful, in fact, I’ve been seeing them in the neighborhoods outside the park foraging where the wind has piled up dead leaves. A few days ago I was buying a newspaper near the subway when I spotted one of these tiny, balls of fluff digging around in the detritus at the edge of the newsstand.

When I reached Nelly’s Lawn I was distracted by a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets rooting around in the grass. They were so intent on finding food that they ignored my close approach. I decided to sit down on the grass and watch them for a few minutes. The few minutes turned into almost an hour of lying on the cold ground observing these charming little birds at their level. They appeared to be a mated pair as one had the reddish crown feathers of a male while the other’s was all golden. The two birds stayed in relative close proximity to each other and often communicated with a constant, high, thin “zee zee zee” call. There were times that I was face to face with these diminutive creatures and it seemed like I could reach over and pick one up. Occasionally they would flush up a tiny moth and pop up in the air a few feet to retrieve it. One of the kinglets attempted to land on my back but thought better of it at the last moment and veered off to just beside me. I would have stayed until it was dark but decided to leave them to feed undisturbed.

Golden-crowned Kinglet on Nelly's Lawn

(Photo credit - Rob J)

My fun with the kinglets cut into the afternoon and I ended up moving through the rest of the park quickly. What I observed was that migrating sparrows are still around in high numbers. A freshly seeded area at the “Sparrow Bowl” had attracted large flocks of Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and several dozen White-throated Sparrows. In the woods the prevalent sound was of the moving of dried leaves as flocks of White-throated Sparrows scratched and hopped backwards in the litter. On the Peninsula Meadow I sat down beneath a gnarly maple at the edge of the lake. I was soon joined by a Brown Creeper probing for insects in the tree’s deeply fissured bark. The tree must have been loaded with food as three more creepers came by for a look. I tried to take some photos but, like squirrels, they always managed to be on the opposite side of the tree.

-Click to see photos of White-throated Sparrows-

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 10/28/2005
Pied-billed Grebe (Lake near skating rink.)
Double-crested Cormorant (3, Prospect Lake.)
Great Blue Heron (Upper Pool.)
Wood Duck (Female, Upper Pool.)
Gadwall (Male & female, Upper Pool.)
Northern Shoveler (approx. 10-15, Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (12.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Perched at Upper Pool.)
Peregrine Falcon (Flying low over Prospect Lake.)
American Coot (approx. 15-20.)
Ring-billed Gull
Northern Flicker (Common.)
Eastern Phoebe (approx. 20.)
Black-capped Chickadee (3, Peninsula.)
Tufted Titmouse (6-10, various.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Nethermead.)
Brown Creeper (4, Peninsula.)
Winter Wren (approx. 10-12.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Fairly common.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Only about 5.)
Hermit Thrush (Abundant.)
Gray Catbird (1, Peninsula.)
Northern Mockingbird (Nethermead.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (approx. 15-20 around lake.)
Palm Warbler (1, Nelly's Lawn.)
Eastern Towhee (2, Ravine.)
Chipping Sparrow (Abundant.)
Vesper Sparrow (1, grass at edge of Fallkill wildflower meadow.)
Swamp Sparrow (7, wildflower meadow. 2, Peninsula.)
White-throated Sparrow (Abundant.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Abundant.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow (Common.), Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Plunging Temperature + High Wind = Poor Birding

Shane & waves

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shane and I thought that the northwest winds spinning off of the heels of Wilma would create good birding conditions along the shore. Unfortunately the gusts were much stronger than we anticipated. Much of the bird life was hunkered down, out of the wind and out of sight.

We started the morning at the Jones Beach coast guard station then made our way west; to Big Egg Marsh, Ft. Tilden and Floyd Bennett Field.

We were approaching Jones Beach just as the sun was rising. A surreal wall of slowly churning clouds created a soft boundary on the south to east horizon. At the coast guard station a large flock of shorebirds gathered on the leeward side of a small, offshore sand split. It was primarily composed of Dunlins and Black-bellied Plovers but there were also a few Red Knots present.

Passing storm

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A stand of conifers and dense underbrush forms a natural windbreak on the south side of the coast guard facility. It’s usually a good spot to look for passerines but, for some strange reason, a mixed flock of sparrows was feeding on the opposite side, behind the facility fence. Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco stayed close to the ground and fed on grass seeds. A Sharp-shinned Hawk followed a low flight path in front of the conifers trying to surprise the vulnerable, smaller birds.

Northern Harrier fighting the wind

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Merlins seemed to be one of the only species that easily cut through the strong winds in search of food. We saw several during the course of the day including one eating a Yellow-rumped Warbler at the top of a dead conifer.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were the most abundant species of the day until we began seeing swallows. By mid-afternoon we started noticing a steady stream of Tree Swallows moving west along the coast. Probably the oddest sighting of the day occurred while at Ft. Tilden. I heard a few crows making a lot of noise and turned to see them mobbing a Turkey Vulture. The huge, prehistoric looking bird was only about 50 feet above the ground and seemed unperturbed by the relatively tiny crows. Turkey Vultures are commonly seen on migration, just not at Ft. Tilden.

Torpid Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Cold temperatures slow down the metabolism of dragonflies and make them easy to examine. In an overgrown area at Ft. Tilden I found a Common Green Darner perched on a small twig. I picked him up from the base of his thorax and he offered little resistance. Shane held him on my glove while I photographed the large insect. There was a brief break in the clouds and the sun began warming the air. The dragonfly quickly thawed then darted off towards an open field.

- - - - -

Jones Beach; Big Egg Marsh; Ft. Tilden; Floyd Bennett Field, 10/26/2005
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Blue-winged Teal
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Red Knot
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Winter Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Snow Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbird
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A week in Rome

Temple of Castor and Pollux & Temple of Vesta

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I don’t always write my journal entries on a timely basis. Sometimes impressions, memories and ideas stick in my head and pester me until I yield to their voices. We just spent a week in Rome. The exhilaration of lengthy walks on ancient paths, absorbing profound chapters of history and overindulging on mouthwatering foods usually left me too spent at day’s end to write anything down.

Piazza San Pietro - Rock Pigeon

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Castel Sant'Angelo - Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The word “familiarity“ kept popping into my head during and after the trip. I noticed plants that looked very similar to ones in Brooklyn. Polkweed, ailanthus, phragmites and chicory were a few plants that I saw everywhere. I searched for squirrels in the branches of a tree adorned with large acorns. I was disappointed to learn that squirrels in Rome are almost nonexistent. The abundant Common Wall Lizards, however, seemed as urbanized in Rome as our squirrels in New York City.

Palatine Hill - olives

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Palatine Hill - Umbrella pine framed by Domus Augustana

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On our second day we walked up the Palatino, the highest of Rome’s hills and the nucleus of its existence. Near the top I heard a bird’s high-pitched ”see, see, see“ and immediately thought ”Golden-crowned Kinglet“. I tracked the calling bird as it fed within the thorny leaves of a holly. If I didn’t know better I would have assumed that it was a kinglet as it was almost identical. It was the kinglet’s European cousin, the Firecrest. A White Wagtail pumped his tail as he foraged in the stubby grass of a freshly mowed field; habits and behavior similar to the American Pipit. While cycling along the ancient Appian Way I heard the squawking of several parakeets and was surprise to see a flock of Monk Parakeets circling the hulking shell of a building from a bygone era. I thought that Brooklyn was the only place outside of Argentina where Monk Parakeets have taken up residence. I presumed that their noisy agitation was due to a pair of Eurasian Kestrels hunting over an adjacent field. They’re also just a boisterous, gregarious species by nature.

-Click here to see a 'crest & kinglet comparison-

Appia Antica ruins

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Villa Borghese - Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I chased a beautiful black, white and red butterfly so I could photograph my first European species. It reminded me of a Red Admiral. I found out later that it was a Red Admiral. Apparently, Vanessa atalanta is very common in North America and Europe. I did manage to take a photo of one new butterfly for me - the Southern Comma.

-Click here for a guide to European moths & butterflies-

Castel Sant'Angelo - Southern Comma (Polygonia egea)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Palatine Hill - Fire Bugs (Pyrrhocoris apterus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I guess it unconsciously creates a level of comfort in unfamilar surroundings when I can find similarities to my accustomed haunts. I tried to ignore any similarities between the Roman Empire and...

Appia Antica - chariot tracks

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Rome Italy, 10/11/2005-10/17/2005
Great Cormorant
Mute Swan
Eurasian Kestrel
Herring Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Monk Parakeet
Common Cuckoo
Common Swift
Crested Lark
Common House-Martin
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Eurasian Blackbird
Song Thrush
European Robin
Long-tailed Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Eurasian Jackdaw
Hooded Crow
European Starling
European Greenfinch
European Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Villa Borghese - Bougainvillea

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Roman Forum - High Mallow (Malva sylvestris)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Villa Borghese - Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Roman Forum - White Garden Snail (Theba pisana)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Cool, damp and gray

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday was the first day this season that truly felt like autumn. The wind had switched to the northeast and clouds finally deposited some much needed rain on a dehydrated city. Some of the last migrating songbirds were making their way through Prospect Park and I caught up with a mixed flock near the Terrace Bridge.

Sweetgum "stars" (Liquidambar styraciflua)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I began my walk at the extreme north end of the park and ended it at the south end of Prospect Park in the wooded section of the Peninsula. I was hoping to locate one of our Red-tailed Hawks in the forest along the way but only caught a fleeting glimpse of one menacing the ducks on Prospect Lake. There was little to no bird activity until I reached the Terrace Bridge. At that location I noticed several birds foraging within a sprawling Turkey Oak on the east side of the bridge. A few minutes of scanning the tree and the grass below it turned up Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler and Common Yellowthroat. A stretch of grass farther up the hill was dominated by a small flock of Northern Flickers probing the rain softened ground.

Black Locust seed pods (Robinia pseudoacacia)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Honeylocust seed pods (Gleditsia triacanthos)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I followed the flock as it slowly moved south towards the edge of the Lullwater. They eventually made their way across the water and onto the Peninsula. As I followed the activity towards the Peninsula woods I ran into a birder named Jim. He described a lot of songbird activity on the Peninsula earlier in the day. When I arrived the canopy was busy, mostly with Yellow-rumped Warblers, but there were also several birds darting across the path ahead of me. It was late in the day and the birds were busy filling up on insects before nightfall. I tallied another five species of warblers in these woods. I scanned the lake from the point and noticed that Northern Shovelers are beginning to congregate on the water. A small flock was whirling, face down, near the skating rink.

Chipmunks were also very busy today feeding and stashing food stores for the cold months. Throughout my walk I noted a number of the fearless, brown striped rodents collecting seeds, nuts and fruit that had fallen onto the park’s asphalt footpaths.

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 10/9/2005
Double-crested Cormorant (2, Prospect Lake.)
Wood Duck (3, Upper pool. 1, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (15-20, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk
Chimney Swift (15-20, over Long Meadow.)
Northern Flicker (Common.)
Eastern Phoebe (1, Peninsula.)
Blue-headed Vireo (1, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
Red-eyed Vireo (1, Peninsula.)
Brown Creeper (3, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (6-8, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (3.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Parula (3, Peninsula.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1, Peninsula.)
Magnolia Warbler (1, Peninsula.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (fem. Peninsula.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (20-30, Breeze Hill & Peninsula.)
Palm Warbler (6-8, Breeze Hill & Peninsula.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
Black-and-white Warbler (3 or 4, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
American Redstart (1, Peninsula.)
Common Yellowthroat (4 or 5, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.)
Wilson's Warbler (1, Peninsula.)
Eastern Towhee (Near Fallkill Falls.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (2.), Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee (2, Breeze Hill next to Terrace Bridge.), American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Coastal Birding in Brooklyn & Queens

No fronts have moved through the area for four days and more south wind and hot weather was forecast for today. We accepted that the conditions were less than ideal for fall migration birding because it was the only day Shane and I both had off. We headed to coastal Brooklyn and Queens to see what we could find.

Wet Grass at Fort Tilden

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We arrived at Fort Tilden by first light and spent the next 7 hours birding Fort Tilden, Riis Park and Floyd Bennett Field. As expected it was slim pickings but there were still a few bright spots during the day.

Early in the morning there was still a haze over the ocean so it was tough to identify anything other than the obvious terns and gulls. A small flock of Black Skimmers were still present in front of the Breezy Point cooperative. They looked to be mostly young birds. Fairly large flocks of Blue Jays were flying parallel to the beach on their way south. Tree Swallows are also on the move. We scoped a “swarm” of several thousand in the air above Little Egg Marsh.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) & Milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

In Ft. Tilden we watched in amusement a lone Yellow Warbler feasting on an unexpected windfall. There was a mass of tiny, white flies in a stationary position between two tree tops. The warbler was flying from one treetop to the other through the center of the insects. He likely remained in the spot all day expending little energy while fattening up for the continuation of his southbound journey.

We counted 2 or 3 Merlins between Ft. Tilden and Riis Park. One Merlin, at the Riis Park parking lot, spent a few minutes aggressively flying back and forth between a crow perched in a tree at the edge of the lot and one perched on a steel sign. We drove next to him from a safe distance to see how fast he was flying. He reached about 30MPH before pummeling each crow.

Sanderlings at Riis Park (Calidris alba)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At the ocean’s edge, thousands of Sanderlings have assembled in distinct flocks. Periodically small groups would break off and fly down the beach, constantly growing or shrinking the size of each flock. A Peregrine Falcon, no doubt stalking his prey from his lofty perch atop the Marine Parkway Bridge, made several breakneck passes at the small sandpipers. Like a shoal of silvery herrings several hundred Sanderlings formed a tight-knit flying ball, ebbing and flowing in unpredictable directions as they eluded the predator.

-Click to learn more about Sanderlings-

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) at Fort Tilden

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I noticed that Monarch butterfly numbers have increased in recent days. Like their avian counterparts, these insects have an arduous journey south to their wintering grounds. I’m amazed that any of these diaphanous creatures complete the trip.

-Click to learn more about Monarch Butterfly migration-

Sparrow numbers were pretty low with Savannah Sparrow being the only species of any abundance. We spotted one Field Sparrow along the golf course fence at Riis Park. A single, juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was seen at Floyd Bennett Field in the community gardens, as well as, a Lincoln’s Sparrow. One sparrow caught our attention at the same location but remained hidden as it scurried around under rows of white eggplants and tomatoes. We settled in for a long wait and, eventually, a Vesper Sparrow gradually came out into the open. I was able to get very good looks from an adjacent plot. Ironically, as we were watching, the owner of that plot showed up to do some weeding. It’s a weekday and there’s nobody else working in the gardens. What’s the likelihood that, of the dozens of plots in the community gardens, someone needed to be right where we patiently waited 30 minutes for the sparrow to come out? At least she hadn’t arrived earlier. Oh, and yes, she did chase the sparrow away.

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

- - - - -

Fort Tilden, Riis Park, Floyd Bennett Field, 10/4/2005
Great Egret (5 flying together over Riis Park promenade.)
Osprey (Ft. Tilden.)
Northern Harrier (Soaring over Little Egg Marsh, seen from FBF.)
American Kestrel 1, Ft. Tilden. 2, Floyd Bennett Field.)
Merlin (2 or 3 between Ft. Tilden and Riis Park.)
Peregrine Falcon (Riis Park, chasing Sanderlings.)
American Oystercatcher (2, Riis Park.)
Sanderling (approx. 2000, Riis Park.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Black Skimmer (35-40, Breezy Pt., seen from west end of Ft. Tilden.)
Monk Parakeet (Ave. I.)
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher (2, FBF. Chasing each other at end of Archery Rd.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (2 or 3, Ft. Tilden.)
Eastern Phoebe
Red-eyed Vireo (Ft. Tilden.)
Tree Swallow (Many at Ft. Tilden. Several thousand seen over Little Egg marsh.)
Black-capped Chickadee (2, Ft. Tilden.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Riis Park, pines at rear of golf course.)
Brown Creeper (Ft. Tilden near visitor's center.)
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Yellow Warbler (Ft. Tilden.)
Magnolia Warbler (Riis Park.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Riis Park near golf course entrance.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Abundant.)
Prairie Warbler (Ft. Tilden community gardens.)
Palm Warbler (Floyd Bennett Field community gardens.)
Common Yellowthroat (A few at all locations.)
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow (Riis Park, field at rear of golf course.)
Vesper Sparrow (Floyd Bennett Field community gardens.)
Savannah Sparrow (Common.)
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (Floyd Bennett Field community gardens.)
White-crowned Sparrow (Floyd Bennett Field community gardens.)
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch (Floyd Bennett Field community gardens.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, European Starling, House Finch, House Sparrow

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday in Prospect Park

It was an unseasonably warm day and my wife and I took a stroll in the park to explore some of the fall changes. I'll post a complete report and our day list tomorrow. Here are some photos until then.

Follow-up: Too much time has passed and the day's details have faded a bit. I'll have to skip my usual day report. However, the highlight of the day was seeing a Yellow-billed Cuckoo perched at the flower garden at the park's 5th Street entrance. Also, I've added some links to go with the photos

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

-Click here for more info on Yellow-billed Cuckoos-

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Ginkgo biloba

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here to learn why ginkgo berries smell-

Goldenrod (Solidago spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

New York Aster

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva punctella)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on the Ailanthus Webworm Moth-

-Click here for more info on Ailanthus trees-

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Spring "Tripod Incident" final word

I ran into a couple of birding acquaintances at the green market this morning. They asked me what finally happened with my friend who had received a summons for carrying a tripod in Prospect Park this past spring. I apologize for never posting a follow up so here is the last word from Mike:

Several people have asked me about the outcome of the ticket I received in Prospect Park back in late May. As was expected, the judge dismissed the case, and that was the end of my legal involvement with this incident.

Rather than reply to each e-mail separately, I thought I would ask the listowners' indulgence one last time and post the text of the letter I received from the New York City Police Department. If anyone feels the need to, please contact me offlist.

"78th Precinct
65 6th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220

August 3, 2005

Dear Mr. Zablocky,

I am writing to you, on behalf of the Commanding Officer, 78 Precinct, regarding your complaint against Police Officer Merline Lewis, who issued a summons to you on May 31, 2005.

Police Officer Lewis was questioned by the undersigned investigator and was instructed in the New York City Police Department's policy of courtesy, professionalism and respect when interacting with the public. A copy of your complaint will be maintained in Officer Lewis' permanent personnel file which is maintained for her entire career.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the Department's attention.


Lieutenant Richard Murphy
Integrity Control Officer
78 Precinct"

Michael S. Zablocky
Brooklyn, NY

So it is now safe to carry your tripods into city parks...just don't sit on any park benchs without kids.

Woman Ticketed For Sitting On Park Bench Without Kids