Posts Tagged 'birds'

Merlin Hunting

Falco columbariusA plump silhouette on a dead pine. The first rule of birding is to always look at the anomalies. And hope the sun comes out! Falco columbariusFalco columbariusBecause that, and an old concrete gun platform to lean on, makes for a better photograph.Falco columbariusThis bird was hunting around these dead pines at Fort Tilden. Falco columbariusIt perched on several of them and made various passes around the area. At one point something was caught and eaten, presumably an insect.

Ravens Again

Corvus coraxA pair of Ravens (Corvus corax) sailed on the stiff breeze along the shore of Bush Terminal the other day. This is where I and others have seen and heard them off and on since New Year’s Day. They have an almost floppy wing action, exacerbated by their long finger-like primary feathers. Several hours later on a return visit, a single Raven was seen and heard in the distance.Corvus coraxIt’s thrilling to see these big boisterous birds. They are about the size of Red-tailed Hawks, so substantially bigger than their corvid cousins, the American and Fish Crows. Unlike Crows, they were not regulars in the city until quite recently. But they now breed within the city limits; the first known nest was in Queens; as far as I know, a Brooklyn nest has not been located, even though there was ample evidence of nest material gathering. Ravens with young were seen by others here at Bush Terminal, and in Chelsea in Manhattan this spring and summer. The same birds? I haven’t seen more than two. Occasionally one will fly overhead here at the top of the moraine. A fellow birder photographed three on the Green-Wood entrance gate on Saturday.

The old warehouses along Brooklyn’s coast may act somewhat like cliffs, pushing up the winds to let the birds coast along them. (A pair of Peregrines did the same thing soon after the first sighting of Ravens that morning.)

I have a lot of questions about these birds. How many pairs are in the city? Where do they nest and roost for the night? Two youngsters were seen in Bush Terminal this year; what happened to them? What are they eating? Ravens are generalists when it comes to food, but tend to eat a lot of carrion in the country, via roadkill and hunter by-product; the youngsters especially need lots of protein. I am now reading Bernd Heinrich’s Mind of the Raven to raven-up.IMG_3976Thinking about Ravens got me to writing this about the captives in London.

Canada Warbler

Cardellina canadensisNow, that’s an eye-ring!Cardellina canadensisCardellina canadensis.Cardellina canadensisHeading to the northwestern flank of South America for the winter.

Brooklyn: It’s Not Just for Hipsters

Marmota monaxA parent and young Woodchuck/Groundhog (Marmota monax). Marmota monaxHere’s the youngster, perhaps 2/3rds the size of the adult, who is presumably the mother as males visit burrows to mate but don’t stay around. Both animals were mowing through the grasses, then this one found a nut or fruit. They are eating-machines this time of year, fattening up for winter hibernation in the ample hills — but not as ample as they used to be — of Brooklyn. Chelydra serpentinaA big old Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).Chelydra serpentinaGiving me the beady eye. The length of neck here is arm-like, hence the serpentina. I’ll be damned if I know how a) this big reptile survives in this little pond, and b) how it gets out, which I doubt it can do, since the wall surrounding it is about 3 feet high.
Archilochus colubrisA Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), look closer, maneuvers for a drink.

All in Brooklyn, and on an afternoon’s walk.

On Plumb Beach

IMG_3902Plumb Beach is off the Belt Parkway between Sheepshead Bay and Flatbush Avenue. The Parks Dept.’s website calls it Plumb; Parks Dept. signs on site call it Plum; it is supposed to be named after Beach Plums (Prunus maritima). It has a unexpected history, although perhaps not for Brooklyn’s wild edges, capped more recently by tragedy. In the supposedly more savage natural world, it is one of the premier places for Horseshoe Crabs in the spring. It was surprisingly quiet on a recent late afternoon. But that may have been explained by an enormous NYS Envirnonmental Police vehicle and armored-vest (!) wearing rangers on patrol.Danaus plexippusMonarchs (Danaus plexippus) are starting to show up on the shore in preparation for flightward south.Leucophaeus atricillaThis Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is already well out of breeding plumage. Charadrius semipalmatusThere were two Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) scoottling along the shore. Other notable birds were pair of Oystercatchers passing offshore and two Snowy Egrets rising briefly from the marsh.sharkA two-foot “sand shark” as I would have called them in my youth, missing a big chuck from the side of the head, the gills. Fraternal or by-catch? Holler if you know the species.

Young Night-herons

Nyctanassa violaceaA pair of Yellow-crowned Night-herons (Nyctanassa violacea) nested on Governor’s Island this year, a first — in ages, at least. I haven’t seen the nest, but I did run into this youngster over the weekend at Bush Terminal Park. No idea where the natal spot was, of course; YCNH also nest in Jamaica Bay, and there may be ones nesting at Bush Terminal (an adult was visible in a nearby Cottonwood).Nycticorax nycticoraxAt least six Black-crowned Night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) were in the area as well; the tall Cottonwoods could easily have hidden more. Here’s one of the youngsters. Note the shorter legs and the different color and pattern of the feathers in comparison to the YCNH. Check out the adults of both species from the same spot from a previous visit.

Earlier last week, at Valentino Pier off Red Hook, three BCNH flew by in the gloaming, along with a Great-Blue. The harbor is quite herony.

Morning’s Heronry

Nycticorax nycticoraxJust before Bush Terminal Park opened yesterday morning, we had a trifecta of herons. There were three Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) the adult above, and two juveniles.Nycticorax nycticoraxOne of the youngsters stuck around as parent and sibling (?) flew off “kwoking” to this Cottonwood:Populus deltoidesThis tree also hosted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) — barely seen at center left — and, presently, this Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea):Nyctanassa violacea.


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