Posts Tagged 'birds'

Always Check That Bird

IMG_3659Because the assumption “pigeon” may usually be correct, but it isn’t always. Something about that silhouette…Falco peregrinusPeregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).Falco peregrinusAt the top of 1st Avenue. You may remember that on January 1st, I found a pair of Ravens (Corvus corax) courting near here. Lately, four Ravens have been seen in the area, so presumably the nest-building seen in March led to good things, the first Ravens born in Brooklyn in… forever? Traditionally a species of highlands, Ravens are now adapting to urbanity. (I’m still hunting for a picture of the family.) But on that first day of the year, I also saw a Peregrine, streaking down 39th St. Good continuity. The Peregrine is traditionally also a bird of highlands, nesting on cliff faces, but following their reintroduction have taken surprisingly well to the canyons of cities.

Windhover

Falco tinnunculusA Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the “dapple-dawn-drawn-falcon,” as Hopkins alliterated to the nth degree, hovering over the Northumberland beach. IMG_2779Hopkins’s poem The Windhover, although another of his mash notes to his Invisible Boyfriend, captures something of the impression made by these birds hovering with head to the wind and eyes to the ground, searching for prey. But then so does the non-canonical nickname, cited in Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, of “windfucker.”Falco tinnunculusThe first bird pictured is a male. This is a female, looking like she’d made a splash, paralleling the edge of a golf course near Bamburgh Castle.BamburghHover-hover-hover-hover, swoop down on prey or swoop down to take up another hovering position further along. Lovely to watch them in action. (I was not quick enough to get a picture of one perched on a sign warning of the dangers of unexploded ordnance.)Calton HillA third sighting was along the flank of Edinburgh’s monument-studded Calton Hill. We had just descended and were looking up to from David Hume’s tomb.
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The American Kestrel (F. sparverius), which is a more colorful bird, does the same thing. The grasslands at Floyd Bennett Field are one of the best places to see them do this in the city.

An Errant Whooper and A Quiz

IMG_2822As we neared the near-end of our first day’s walk along the Northumberland Coast, we spotted two swans in the distance. One was a familiar Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), invasive in the U.S., but native in the UK (and very present on the Tweed, where we started our walk) and the other, pictured below, a Whooper (C. cygnus).Cygnus cygnusNote the projection of yellow below the nostrils, a good field mark when comparing with the similar looking but smaller Tundra or Bewick’s Swan (C. columbianus). Whoopers are general seen in the UK during migration, so this one was late or dawdling, with only a few breeding in the north. (The North American Trumpeter Swan (C. buccinator) is closely related but has a black bill.)

IMG_2433Less of a quiz than a mystery, to me anyway. Spotted this one in the Royal Botanical Garden. What is it?

Even More British Birds

 Emberiza schoeniclusA very vocal male Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) popped out of the dunes. Sternula albifronsAt Long Nanny along the Northumberland shore, we ran into a fence across the beach. As we were trying to figure out the best way to proceed, a volunteer National Trust ranger emerged from the dunes, where she’d had her eye on us. She was guarding the beach nesters, Little Terns (Sternula albifrons) and Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula). The Little Tern is another species in decline, with some 1900 breeding pairs in the UK. Unleashed dogs, egg collectors (illegal, but these characters are often sociopaths if not psychopaths), habitat destruction, etc. are all a problem. She said we could pass by as close to the water as possible, then “paddle” across the low tide rush of the Nanny pouring into the sea. But first she invited us to see the nesting birds. At the time, there was one nesting Little Tern (Sternula albifrons) there. The pictured bird was actually another example of the species, resting not nesting nearby. On July 1, 18 chicks and 30 more eggs were reported. SylviaWhen I saw this new-to-me bird, I said to myself that I would name it a Whitethroat. Bingo! Sylvia communis. But then I turned the page and there was a Lesser Whitethroat (S. curruca). Uh-oh. I still think it’s the communis. Correct me if I’m wrong.Certhia familiarisTreecreeper (Certhia familiaris), another new bird for me. A couple of young, with tail feathers not yet fully developed, were also leapfrogging between trees with this adult.Vanellus vanellusNorthern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) at the island end of the Holy Island causeway. A species that has suffered significant declines and is now listed as Red by the RSPB, meaning it has the highest conservation priority. We saw two.Somateria mollissimaSeveral female Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) shepherding a whole flotilla of their (?) young.

British Birds II

Erithacus rubeculaRobin (Erithacus rubecula). Yup, looks nothing like ours.Turdus merulaThe Blackbird (Turdus merula), on the otherhand, is much like our American Robin (Turdus migratorius), an omnipresent thrush.Aythya fuligulaTufted Duck (Aythya fuligula).Larus fuscusLesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus): we’re seeing more and more of these birds on this side of the Atlantic.Fringilla coelebsChaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), the source of the frog-call.Motacilla albaPied Wagtail (Motacilla alba), a bird we encountered in every habitat; here it’s in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Anthus pratensisI was puzzled by this bird and asked three different couples sporting binoculars to help me identify it. The first insisted it was a House Sparrow. Ahem. The third couple and I agreed on Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis).

British Birds I

Buteo buteoOn our very first day in Edinburgh, we wandered about the Royal Botanic Garden in a jet-lagged daze. An accipiter profile high overhead was one of the day’s first birds. Sparrowhawk presumably. A Kestrel made an appearance, but more on these anon. And a Buzzard (Buteo buteo) was seen twice, the second time being mobbed by corvids. Prunella modularisMeanwhile a Dunnock (Prunella modularis) crumbed about around our snacks. An old name for this species was Hedge Sparrow.Ardea cinereaGrey Herons (Ardea cinerea) were a daily sight, starting with two on our first day.Corvus coroneCarrion Crow (Corvus corone) youngster being fed.Pica picaAnother Corvidae clan member, a Common Magpie (Pica pica). Columba palumbusWood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), like a giant cousin of the more familiar:Columba liviaThe Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), a.k.a. Feral Pigeon, on more or less native ground.

Some Recent Sightings

Hirundo rusticaBarn Swallow (Hirundo rustica): this is a Brooklyn bird, but this is a cosmopolitan species; Eurasian specimens, which I saw most days recently in the UK, have generally longer tails and brighter colors.leafcutterThe clean work of a leaf-cutter bee on Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), one of their favorite plants. If you’re a gardener, you should be proud to be hosting these bees, who line their nests with plant fragments. MegachilidaeHere’s one of these Megachilidae family bees on that pollinator-magnet Milkweed (Asclepias). Note that hairy underside of the abdomen: they gather pollen here. OrthopteraA young (early instar) grasshopper, and a much more ragged edge of leaf-munching. The short antennae are a quick distinguishing mark from their Orthoptera cousins, the katydids.katydidThese antenna are more than twice the length of this katydid’s body. Sterna hirundoA Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), a NYC harbor nester, fishing from the pier.


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