Monday, March 23, 2015

The beginning of Spring

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Elena feeding a Titmouse
Watch this! I am going to eat these seeds, and not get eaten!

Spring began this weekend. It was a long winter, and Elena had some knee trouble and couldn't get out much. We were finally able to go birding in the Ramble Sunday, and it was a fine outing.

The first order of business was to feed the Titmouses and Chickadees at the Upper Lobe. The Titmousen were characteristically fearless; the Chickadees were a bit more standoffish. One was at least interested enough that it actually sat still for many seconds at a time, and I was able to get some of my best Chickadee photos ever.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black-Capped Chickadee, Central Park
I'm not sure I want to do that

We didn't neglect the otehr little birds, though they never come to hand.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; House Sparrow, Central Park
that's right! never neglect the Sparrow, for he is puissant and fierce

All the usual late winter birds were around.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; White-Breasted Nuthatch, Central Park
I'm not going to show you where I've stashed the seeds

And there was singing everywhere. This Cardinal gave a concert about 4 feet from a path and just six feet up.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Cardinal singing, Central Park
I call this number, "Get Out of My Territory, Fool"

The best birds of the day (in the birding sense) didn't yield any good photos: two American Woodcocks deep in the brush near Azalea Pond; a Merlin perched briefly atop a tree at the south end of Maintenance, then flying fast and hard toward Belvedere Castle; a Turkey Vulture high, high overhead. Fine things to see, though.

I hope you had a good first weekend of Spring, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bird buddies

You don't think of gulls as being companionable, but they'll loaf around together.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Ring-Billed Gulls, Muscota Marsh

Coots--practically the definition of cantankerous--like to just hang out sometimes.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Coots at dusk, Central Park Reservoir

I suppose ducks seem generally more friendly, though you know their private lives are appalling.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Canvasback ducks, Spuyten Duyvil Creek

Oh, what the heck, here's a couple of more gulls, just chillin'.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Ring-Billed Gulls, Hudson River at Dyckman Street

Monday, March 9, 2015

OPB: Hits and misses

One of the disadvantages of productive employment is that I have less time for birding and wind up chasing birds based on reports I've seen. Other people's Birds, OPB.

Sometimes this works out fine. A bunch of people had seen a Long-tailed Duck at the bridge over the Harlem River at Broadway. So I went up there bright and early on Saturday.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Long-Tailed Duck, Harlem River
Long-Tailed Duck, what the old-timers still call an Oldsquaw

Very nice-looking drake, hanging out with a female Ring-Necked Duck. On the way home, I went to Central Park. When I got there, I saw a report on-line, only an hour old, of a Scaup on the Reservoir. "Oh, I can do that", I thought. Turned out I couldn't. No Scaup for me. Also no Long-Eared owl, which has been spotted several times in the past few days, originally in the Shakespeare Garden.

That night, I saw reports from Randall's Island, where one observer had seen a bunch of interesting birds--Killdeer, Green-Winged teal, American Wigeon, Common Goldeneye--so that's where I spent Sunday.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Common Goldeneyes, Randall's island
pretty close for Common Goldeneyes

The Goldeneye were there, two drakes and a hen, between the south shore and Mill Rock. This was actually the best look I've ever had at them. The drakes were diving, but it was the female who was being harassed by a young Herring Gull. Very strange--normally gulls attack ducks after a dive, when they might be coming up with food. I think maybe this one had a bright idea--"they always come up with food after a dive so if I force one under, I'm perfectly placed to grab it when she comes up." That would be unusually complex reasoning for a gull, even though completely wrong.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Common Goldeneye, Randall's island
Common Goldeneye female, in between annoyances

On the north tip of the island, I failed to find the Wigeon or Teal on the Bronx Kill, but a Killdeer was poking along the mudflats.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Killdeer and American Black Ducks, Randall's Island
Killdeer and American Black Ducks

A pretty good weekend in all. A few more weeks and there'll be some many birds coming in, it will hardly matter when the online reports say. I can do my own hunting.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Killdeer, Randall's Island
contented Killdeer

Ha ha! Just kidding. I'll be looking at the reports even more then. Golden-winged Warbler, come on out!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kingfisher, Randall's Island

I still haven't seen a number of regular winter waterfowl--like Horned Grebe, Common Loon, Greater and Lesser Scaup--so I went up to Randall's Island on Saturday. I didn't have any luck with the waterfowl, but I did have a very nice look at a Belted Kingfisher.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Belted Kingfisher, Bronx Kill (Randall's Island)
Mister elegant

He was hunting up and down the Bronx Kill--the little neck of water separating Randall's from the Bronx mainland--and at one point hit the water and then came up and hovered a few feet above the water for about 5 seconds.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Belted Kingfisher, Bronx Kill (Randall's Island)
Hovering over the Bronx Kill

I think he was hoping for a second try at whatever he had just missed. It was interesting to see how his wings looked like a hummingbird's while hovering. Fascinating.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Belted Kingfisher, Bronx Kill (Randall's Island)
Urban Kingfisher

Earlier in the week in Central Park, I had nice views of some of the resident woodpeckers. Several Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers overwintered, which is a little unusual.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Central Park
Sapsucker at Evodia

And there's at least one pair of Hairy Woodpeckers around. If it's only one, they range from Greywacke Arch and Tanner's Spring on the east and west sides of the Park, and also all over the Ramble. So there may be two or more pairs.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hairy Woodpecker, Central Park
Hairy Woodpecker at work