Saturday, October 21, 2006

I haven't been out looking for over a week, except to a vacant lot with a lot of brushy growth and grasses where I've seen some migrants. Then the lot was mowed and the weather was bad and even that option disappeared. Regardless, I asked God to send me a good bird today. Hours later while I was in the kitchen baking a pie I heard an uncommon bird song outside the window. Low and behold, an Eastern Towhee (Rufous-sided) was exploring the fire escapes across the way. Not a first, but a first since I've been in NY.
Deo gratias.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

There is a vacant lot two blocks away, on 1st Avenue between 35th and 36th. Although the lot has been prepped for construction, it's been quiet a long time, long enough so that tall grasses have sprung up around the perimeter. Where you find tall wild grasses you are likely to find birds. This morning I saw an intriguing yellow warblers with white wing bars on the back and a streaked breast, with a yellow eye stripe. I can't identify it, however, because nothing in the books looks like it. I went back later hoping to get a better look and saw instead a brown bird with white or pale yellow underside, black legs and feet and yellow on the tail. I haven't ben able to ID that bird either.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

No serious birding, but spotted a nice ruby crowned kinglet in the neighborhood while walking Gabby.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

On Thursday the 28th I made it to Central Park for an hour or so. Caught some mallards having a siesta, and saw two yellow birds, one tiny, like a kinglet in size, but bright yellow all over. I got aclose look at the thing, but still can't ID it. I saw a second yellow bird, much larger, and can't figure out that one yet either. I think its time I latched onto a group for some identification in the field before I waste time trying to get it all myself. I have forgotten a lot, it seems.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

On Thursday the 21st I had an hour or so to spend in Central Park and hustled through The Ramble, around the Lake and made my way to Belvedere Castle(pictured) not in that order. I was rewarded with a Swainson's Thrush, a Northern Pintail (both firsts)a song sparrow and the usual Robins (lots) mallards, catbirds,cardinals, a black and white warblers and other elusive creatures I couldn't spend time to ID.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On Monday the 18th I left work for 90 minutes or so and walked over to Central Park for a bit of birding. I went to the Ramble, mostly, though I also went around the lake. It was slow. I saw a Wood Thrush, some Redstarts and Robins, a Cardinal, Catbirds, and a Northern Waterthrush. The big sight of the day was a red tailed hawk. It was pointed our to me by a woman watching the bird. He was on a low branch about 20 yards away. We watched for a while, and I saw him take a massive pee, he just raised up his rump and squirted. I had never seen that before. I had to move on, and the hawk moved on. A little bit further along the path I saw the bird again and I asked a woman with bins, "Did you see the red-tail?"
She was extremely brusque in replying: "It's a Cooper's hawk."
I said, "Oh. Some woman told me it was a red-tail."
"IT's a Cooper's Hawk," she applied, even more brusquely.
Oh, well, it was a nice bird.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This Mute Swan swims serenely in the lake of Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ, in the 1930s. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart looms in the background.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A good day for birding. I went to Montclair, hoping to spot some birds in Mills reservation off Normal Ave. No luck there: a couple of Mourning Doves. Anderson Park, ditto: an American Crow, house sparrows, starlings...
So I returned to Aunt Pat's house.In her yard, in short order I saw:
two Gold Finches
scads of Cardinals
House Sparrows
American Redstarts
two Ruby Throated Hummingbirds
Chestnut-Sided Warbler(my first)
Downy Woodpecker
Mourning Doves.
Egrets, Blue Herons, on the train ride through the Medowlands coming and going.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I stayed close to home today, riding the 6 train to 92nd and heading over to Central Park. I covered the southeastern end of the reservoir and was rewarded with an American Black Duck, a first for me. I also saw an Eastern Kingbird, and a small group of Cedar Waxwings. I headed over to where the park abuts the Conservatory Garden at Fifth Avenue and 105th St. In a brief space of time, maybe 20 minutes, I saw
American Redstart (Female)
House Wren
Chipping Sparrows
and a delightful Black and White Warbler

Much closer and just as rewarding as the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Jones Beach offers plenty of space and foliage to birds, and in migration seasons it pays to bring the bins along. I spent no time looking for birds at the beach yesterday, but a red-winged black bird presented itself, as did a yellow warbler (too briefly for me to get a good look, but it was nice to see. Lots of peeps along the shore line, and the usual assortment of gulls (laughing, black-backed, ring-billed and herring).
Lots of fun. It was a good birdday, even without the effort.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

I made the trek to the today. I left the house @8 AM; #6 train, transfer to the 4 at 14th St.; transfer to the A at Fulton,walk from the Broad Channel Station to the center. About 2 hours. Return, walk to the station, ride the A (missed my transfer) to 14th, caught a crosstown bus at 23rd, rode a 3rd Avenue bus from 23rd to 31, where I stopped at a grocery store. Returned home around 2:45, about 90 minutes total travel time.

Was it worth the trip?
I saw:
Great Egret
Great Blue Egret
Glossy Ibis
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Snowy Goose
Least Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Gray Catbird
European Starling
American Redstart
Northern Water Thrush
American Robins
Least Flycatcher
House Wren
and something near a small pool, which might be a house wren or a marsh wren or a Carolina wren or maybe a Northern Water Thrush. After reviewing my notes and consulting several bird identification guides I have decided this was a Carolina Wren. The deciding factor was the Kenn Kaufman Birds of North America. This has been a good addition to my array of birding materials.

Or a Northern Waterthrush
The behavior and size matches this bird, but I am not sure about the speckled breast. I wasn't focusing on that, and don't have my birding chops back yet, so can't focus on more than one thing at a time.

I like birds and trying to ID them: I never said I was an expert.

Yes,it was worth the trek. Plus they have a new facility which is delightful, particularly the restrooms, where in one finds a hand drying blower which is so powerful I had to hold on to the sink so as not to be blown away.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Starlings, rock doves, sparrows, that's it for the neighborhood, except for the Mourning Dove nest where I still see only one chick. I don't look too closely for fear of spooking the Mama.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mama MoDo and the chick. The picture is not good. Even at this distance she seems to know when I pick up the bins or the camera and goes into freeze-mode, with the chick concealed underneath her. I don't like to intrude, so I won't get any good pics.
I was surprised this morning to see her pick up a big piece of egg shell and fly off from the nest. She returned and repeated the procedure. Maybe this is typical behavior, getting rid of the shell, but I didn't know about it. Could be that piece of stark white shell would attract predators to the nest.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It is indeed a Happy Birdday! Mama and Papa Modo have a little strangerin the nest, possibly two, but from my angle I can only make out one. Pictures of the new arrival to follow if I can get them without upsetting anyone.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Egret at Jamaica Bay.

This is a narrow view of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve in Queens, NY. My lens isn't stong enough to get great shots of the birds, but I like looking at the blue water and the green foliage growing at the water's edge. Migration will be in full swing very soon and I hope to use a stronger lens and get better photos, to keep me through the cold winter.

Here's the little MoDo nesting on the fire escape across from my PC station. The due date should be any time now. At least the heat wave has broken.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I've added some links which I've found helpful in birding in the metropolitan area. More to come.
This is the third day of an awful heat wave (no, I don't believe it's "global warming." We had plenty of these days when I was a child. In fact, the weather now seems more like that of my childhood than did the weather of the intervening years.)
Through all this heat the Mourning Doves sit on the nest. I get tired watching.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Solitary and still the Mourning Dove sits in the oven that is Murray Hill. No Mayzie the lazy bird is she, or they, because the male takes his turn on the nest as well.
Rock Doves
House Sparrows
Nothing else,and it's too hot to go looking.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Murray Hill has been particularly still these past few days, as the heat blisters the sidewalks and sensible creatures stay close to the nest.
I saw a dead pigeon on the sidewalk a few blocks away. No injuries were apparent. I wonder if the heat caused his demise?
The Mourning Doves still steal my attention, and I feel bad for them in this heat, punctuated by the occasional fierce storm. The next couple of days promise 100 degree plus temperatures, with high humidity. I doubt I'll be in the field.
I visited Point Pleasant, NJ for a day on the beach on Saturday. I recognized Laughing Gulls, the other gulls I didn't ID; I don't know gulls very well, so that's no surprise.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Quiet. The Mourning Doves still tend their nest. Rock doves, house sparrows...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nothing new to report about the Mourning Doves. I look at them, and I fancy they look at me, but that might be nothing more than fancy.
I was pleased and surprised to hear an unfamiliar song from the rear of the apartment building. There is a spacious area behind with trees, abutting the terraces of the buildings on the next street.
The song turned out to be that of a house finch, or finches, as a group of them, adult immature, male and female were all present. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but I had never seen them beforein my Manhattan neighborhood. They were joined by house sparrows and later a cardinal. A good start to the birdday.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A MoDo Nests in Murray Hill

It's hotter than Hades in Manhattan today and I'm grateful for the AC. Yards away on a grimy and battered fire escape five stories up, a mourning dove, faithful to her nest, incubates her eggs. The nest, typically, is a skimpy contrivance, barely there. A broken board leans at an angle above the nest, sheltering it from the fierce, intermittent rains we've had over the past week. The incubation is shared by Dada MoDo, and I hope Mama has a green and shady spot for a respite. (The digital cam can't do this justice, so photos must wait for actual film development.)
The neighborhood otherwise yields the usual winged creatures:
House sparrows
Rock doves