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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Saturday's Green-Wood Trip

The trip that I lead to Green-Wood Cemetery this past Saturday yield few surprises, but we did manage to see a few new migrants and one very cooperative vireo.

We had great weather and I was optimistic that favorable winds would reveal a few new birds for the Spring. Predictably, the most common warbler seen through the morning was Yellow-rumped Warbler. I followed some of my favorite routes hitting stands of oaks, which are now adorned with the yellow, dangling flowers which many insects monopolize at this time of year. I heard a few Northern Parula's buzzy songs through the morning, but only actually saw one. I didn't locate much bird activity until we got to the Sylvan Water.

We did find one very nice species early on as I led the large group up Central Ridge. I like this spot because there are several mature oak tree along the narrow ridge that always seems to attract migrating songbirds. The group was enjoying a couple of Pine Warblers near the base of the hill then we continued up towards Pierrepont family monument. The ridge ascends like three giant steps and on the third step is a large oak with lower branches that hang down to eye level. A brilliant Yellow-throated Vireo was feeding in this tree, occasionally gleaning insects from the lowest branches. Like many of the vireo species (and warblers, for that matter) they are generally found much higher up, so it was a treat to get such great views of this beautiful bird.

Here's a nice photo of a Yellow-throated Vireo taken by my friend Steve during a past Spring outing in the cemetery:

Standing at the edge of the pond we scanned a small flock of Barn Swallows looking for something different. Maybe one of the "brown" swallows. A pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows weaved in and out of the field of more common deep blue and rufous swallows. A Spotted Sandpiper teetered along the opposite shore, foraging at the edge of the water. I heard a Yellow Warbler singing along Lake Ridge on the West side of this small body of water. I decided to pick up the pace to check the weedy understory in that area.

Facing the ridge, with the sun at our backs, any birds in the trees or understory stood out like beacons in the night. The first bird we spotted was a Yellow Warbler, singing loudly from within a Sycamore Maple. To its left, and lower down, was an equally brilliant Prairie Warbler. This male graced us with his warbling, rising chromatic scale. To his left, and on the ground, was my first Common Yellowthroat of the season. We probably spent 30 minutes at this small stretch of habitat along the Sylvan Water, but left having tallied around 15 species of birds.

The final leg of the morning walk wasn't nearly as productive, but I did bring the group to see Big Mama sitting on her nest in the "Flats" section of the cemetery. As one point, the large Red-tailed Hawk stood up and appeared to be fiddling with something in the base of the nest. She was either turning eggs or attending to tiny chicks. At this point it would be impossible to tell for sure. The morning's birding was pretty decent and I would have been fine ending it here, but the Spring migration had a big surprise in store for Brooklyn birders...


Location: Green-Wood Cemetery
Date: Saturday, 04/27/13, 8:00am - 11:00am
Species: 55
Comments: Leading Brooklyn Bird Club trip. 20 participants.

Double-crested Cormorant (1.)
Osprey (1.)
Cooper's Hawk (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift (5.)
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Blue-headed Vireo
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (2.)
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (1.)
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet (1.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush (2.)
Gray Catbird (2.)

Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (1.)
Northern Parula (1.)
Yellow Warbler (1.)
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler (2.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler (1.)

Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

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

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