Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday in the Park with Rob, {and George was there too.}

Brooklyn birding is quite different than birding in Queens. Truly an urban location, unlike Queens where a car is more de rigueur, a whole cadre of birders makes extensive use of all that Prospect Park has to offer; bird and otherwise.

But Brooklyn birding is different in other ways: for example when you hear an American Crow call out “cah cah”, much like a Bostonian, is it actually saying ‘car car’  - perhaps mocking the Brooklynites who for better or worse don't have cars.  It is rumored that the occasional Raven visitor even says "never more" in reference to the use of public transportation. Not sure if a tree grows in Brooklyn, but Green Birding sure does.

True, Prospect Park has so much to offer and with Brooklyn's proximity to Manhattan a car is often superfluous, the result is that it has taken the Brooklyn birder and made them into a special breed.

A semi-annual QCBC trip was held Sunday September 16th and CityBirder Rob Jett generously offered to lead the trip for us. We had quite the turnout. 21 people in fact! It began as a beautiful day; though we were waylaid by coin operated toilets!

Several participants of the female persuasion tried to avail themselves of the fancy coin operated ‘out-house’ but just about got trapped inside. While waiting we had the first good birds of the day, Chimney Swifts!

The park was hopping! Swainson's Thrushes were abundant in the undergrowth, and it was heartwarming to see the trees swarming with warblers and vireos. Entering the Rose Garden, we spied numerous birds in the surrounding trees such as Redstarts, Revios, Magnolia Warblers, Black & Whites.

Continuing onto the Vale of Cashmere, we also had a lot of  Parula and Chestnut-sided. Of course Rob was spotting Pairyuluz, which confused some of our participants. But as I explained, they pronounce things differently out west

We went to the Aralia Grove, and though it was past peak, we still had some nice sightings. On the way to the Ravine, I spotted an imm. BC Night Heron, but not much else in the duck-weed coated ponds. We were hoping to see Wood Duck and Blue-winged Teal, but the reports of their presence were not all they were quacked up to be.

Watch Hill and the butterfly garden was nice, with BG Gnatcatchers and Goldfinches. Of course one might have said that Red-breasted Nuthatches were the most desired bird of the day, but this was because they were all over the place and a few of our participants had a bit of difficulty getting on them. Fortunately, as stated they were abundant that day, and all over, so everyone got a look. Better late than never!

Taking the steep trail down the hill, we looked for and missed Purple Finch; that is until most of us were already down the hill. I ran back up, and was treated to two gorgeous males devouring the seed heads of Wild Lettuce. Sure, you call it a vile weed to be picked from your garden, but the birds were silent on the issue, perhaps because they don’t speak with their mouths full!

Rob ended his tour by taking us to the berm, where we hoped to get Olive sided Flycatcher. What we did get were killer views of a Bay-breasted Warbler replete with bay coloration, a trio of Palm Warblers, and quite the show from a Red-tailed hawk.

The hawk cued up in a pine in front of us, and totally ignoring the person walking down the path, flew right past him on the way to pounce on something in the grass. The passerby hardly seemed to notice, but we were all wowed. The Red-tailed missed though.

At this point the trip concluded. A few of us stopped for a snack at the Boathouse / Audubon Center. On the way down the narrow path we spied a Wilson’s {Orthodox} Warbler and watched as it made it’s way down the trail. With confusion over how much yarmulke the bird was sporting we discovered that there were actually two birds; an adult and a young bird with only partial black on the head.

Sitting by the waters side, a Kestrel flew by as we enjoyed our snacks. Sated, we headed towards our cars at the north end. Along the way we spotted much the same mix, and Jean and I decided to hang out a bit at the Vale of Cashmere.

We were joined again by Monica, and we had a nice bit of additional birds. Tennessee Warbler was my favorite. We also had a lot more Vireos; mostly Red-eyed but also a few Blue-headed and Warbling, and one Philadelphia.

The trees also sported a number of flycatchers. Some were those pesky Empids, and a few Pewees, but Jean picked out a Olive-sided as well. It had dark flanks, but was as flittery as warblers usually are, and while I saw the dark vest well, was hoping to see the white spots which I missed, not to mention having it sitting cued up at the top of a snag the way they usually do!

Beginning birder Lili wanted confirmation on the Olive-sided, and I hemmed and hawed a bit too much for her Jean later informed me. She asked because it would have been a lifer for her.  As no one had the most perfect look, I did not want to make that decision for her and told her as much. Sorry Lili. Yes It was a OSFL, but if it were me I would have termed it a BVD { better view desired} had I even decided to count it as a lifer for myself.

Getting hungry, we headed out of the park. It turned out that this Sunday was “Food Trucks at the Arch” and Jean and I decided to partake. It was a really pleasant ‘city’ experience, particularly the people watching. We later made one more foray into the park, but much of the birds were the same as seen earlier.

   Black-crowned Night-Heron
   Sharp-shinned Hawk
   American Kestrel
   Herring Gull
   Rock Dove
   Mourning Dove
   Chimney Swift
   Downy Woodpecker
   Northern Flicker
   Olive-sided Flycatcher
   Eastern Wood-Pewee
   Eastern Phoebe
   Great Crested Flycatcher
   Carolina Wren
   House Wren
   Gray Catbird
   Northern Mockingbird
   Swainson's Thrush
   Wood Thrush
   American Robin
   Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
   Black-capped Chickadee
   Red-breasted Nuthatch
   White-breasted Nuthatch
   Blue Jay
   American Crow
   European Starling
   Blue-headed Vireo
   Warbling Vireo
   Philadelphia Vireo
   Red-eyed Vireo
   Tennessee Warbler
   Northern Parula
   Chestnut-sided Warbler
   Magnolia Warbler
   Black-throated Blue Warbler
   Black-throated Green Warbler
   Blackburnian Warbler
   Pine Warbler
   Palm Warbler
   Bay-breasted Warbler
   Blackpoll Warbler
   Black-and-white Warbler
   American Redstart
   Northern Waterthrush
   Common Yellowthroat
   Wilson's Warbler
   Scarlet Tanager
   Northern Cardinal
   Rose-breasted Grosbeak
   Purple Finch
   American Goldfinch
   House Sparrow

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