Today’s the start of the annual Christmas Bird Count. This tradition started 113 years ago as a protest against the then popular Christmas Hunts, in which pretty much everything that flew was targeted to be blown out of the sky. A change for the better, I think. The counts go on for the next few weeks, depending on your location. Brooklyn’s count is tomorrow, and both Brooklyn Bridge Park and Prospect Park are taking part.
So what might you see this time of year? On Wednesday, in a short walk of an a hour and a half, I spotted 31 bird species in Prospect. The highlights were three Eastern Bluebirds — which don’t look quite real when they fly, so intense is their blue — and four different raptor species. The Lake, where the Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) above was airing its wings, has numerous species of waterfowl and gull. Winter, after all, is the season of waterfowl, on both fresh and salt water, as long as its not frozen.
There was also a single Red-eared slider basking in the weak sunlight. And an Osage Orange tree that I had never noticed before.But now, bare of leaves and still armed with a few of its softball-sized fruits, impossible to miss.