Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

Borough of Raptors

Buteo jamaicensisTwo Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) drifted overhead of me as I crossed the Terrace Bridge on Saturday, coming from somewhere in the direction of the parking lot now befouling the top of Breeze Hill. One landed, the other floated off towards Lookout Hill. This photographed bird shook its tail feathers quite a bit, which made me think it was the female, post-coitally making some adjustments. Falco columbariusAs I bisected the Nethermead, I noticed a tell-tale light spot up in a tree. This developed into a Merlin (Falco columbarius). Raptors usually have whiter bellies than backs, and on bare winter branches these stick out like beacons to the hawk-eyed. This was the second weekend in a row I’ve spotted a Merlin in Prospect. This bird dropped from its perch in a suddenly plunge and shot towards Quaker Hill with incredible speed, such a difference from the slow flapping and circling flight of the Red-tails.Buteo jamaicensisOn Sunday, as I was nearing the Union St. bridge over the Gowanus Canal, I saw this Red-tail fly by. It landed on the Gothick pile of St. Agnes, where it was still perched about an hour later as I made my way back through the Valley of the Shadow of the Gowanus.Buteo jamaicensisI’ve said it before: the “red” of the adult Red-tailed’s red tail is really more of a russet or brick color.

Creeper

Certhia americanaThe Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) is rare in Brooklyn because its habitat is woodlands. This particular fast-moving specimen challenged my photography skills recently in Prospect Park, characteristically circling up tree trunks and branches in a hopping-like motion as it searched for invertebrate prey. The bird’s down-curved bill and stiff tail-feathers help keep it close to the bark.Certhia americanaThe bird will often fly to the bottom of a tree and work its way up, then down again to another tree and so on. They need 4-10 kilocalories (which is a “calorie” to the diet-watcher; by a curious editorial fiat somewhere along the line, we lost all those kilos…) a day. Their plumage is cryptic and bark-like, and they often nest behind loose flaps of bark. Here on the east coast, they breed from Newfoundland to Virginia, but there are no recent records of nesting in Brooklyn itself. They do find woods further west on the long island conducive to nesting, though.

A Good Walk

Quercus rubraA good walk in Prospect Park with Ken Chaya, who always adds immeasurably to my knowledge. This young Red Oak (Quercus rubra) was holding on to its youthfully large leaves.Taxodium distichumA particularly nice spread of “knees” of a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum). It was once thought that these projections from the roots were pneumatophores, helping the tree breath in the swampy habitat they are native to, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this. Now the thought is that they are for stability and support.AccipiterThis looks like it came off one of the Accipiters. We did see a Cooper’s high over the Ravine. A single Swamp Sparrow and half a dozen Fox Sparrows were noted, as well as Goldfinches, Purple Finches, White-throated Sparrows, and the usual suspects. Hypsizygus tessulatusKen thought this was an Elm Oyster (Hypsizygus tessulatus). It was certainly high up on the tree, which is a characteristic of the fungi.Falco peregrinusOk, this Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) was some 2000 feet away, but still, it made for a falcon species trifecta over an 8-day week.

The Whiteness of the Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensisThis Gray Squirrel obviously isn’t very gray. It has been seen out and about in Prospect Park lately. Several “white” — or ivory — squirrels have been noted in the park and Park Slope in recent years, but they’re not all that common here.Sciurus carolinensisLike the black squirrels also seen, these are all variations on the basic Sciurus carolinensis.

What a fall!

LullwaterThe Lullwater. Wood Ducks and a Pied Grebe and turtles and meadowhawks.Red MapleRed Maple (Acer rubrum) burning up the Vale.

BFH Nest Down

nestBald-faced hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) have been in the news recently. There seem to be a lot of their nests in Brooklyn: a bumper crop or just people noticing more of them? While some seem to think they are the Ebola of wasps, the wasps won’t bug you if you don’t bug them, or their nest. This magnificent specimen of wasp-paper was on the ground in Prospect. This year’s wasps are mostly done, except for mated queens, who stash themselves for the winter elsewhere.

Tail-less

Turdus migratoriusThis Am. Robin has molted away its whole tail. Don’t worry: new tail feathers will emerge, and meanwhile, flight, including in the sense of escape, is still possible. The silhouette is now a bit reminiscent of a woodpecker’s.


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