Mammal Monday

In which we attempt to glide your way into the working week with something mammiferous. Twice I passed this hole-in-the-bole recently and the Blue Jays were screaming and the Red-breasted Nuthatches were wailing and one or two jays actually got on the lip of the hole and peeked in. “By Jove, there’s something in there, Holmes!” I said aloud, and the world’s first and foremost consulting detective, oddly enough standing there by my side, arched a brow.There was, for instance, another hole, on the other side of the bole. It’s a floor-through! The next day I showed up to see what I might see, and through this keyhole a shapely furry ear moved slightly to the right.Then it was all clear again. I was surprised a raccoon could fit into the entrance, but there it clearly was. While canine distemper has been cleaving its way through the city’s raccoon population, some are surviving.DSC03566.jpg

Weekend Update

Two and a half hours in Green-Wood this morning, and not a single raptor sighting. That’s unusual for a winter day.

As I was walking home, a block away from the southern edge of the cemetery, I heard a Raven croaking. I turned to see it heading towards Green-Wood. Because I’d turned around, I saw a kettle of big birds swirling over the next avenue down the hill, to the west. Seven Turkey Vultures, with a few pilot-fish gulls, probably Herring, in the mix. And then a Cooper Hawk cut right overhead, heading south.

Once home, warming tortillas, I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the 40th St. antenna. But back to the  vultures. They’ve been seen in dribs and drabs over Brooklyn in the last month. Mostly Turkey, with a few Black. On Thursday, a Turkey Vulture flew low enough for me to capture the red face of a mature bird and the curl of the primaries.Yes, a Valentine’s Vulture! This is a tuliptree, not a cherry, but a haiku does suggest itself:

A midwinter day,
Vulture floating overhead ~
“Yo, I’m not dead yet!”


Surprising Teal

I couldn’t determine what this was from a distance, where it was dwarfed by a herd of Canada Geese.Even close by, I was running through the names of the ducks in a bird ID app.That moire pattern! The stripe! That head!Of course, “wigeon” and “gadwall,” among others, don’t come up if you type in “duck”…. Male Green Teal. Stunning in sunlight, more subdued in shadow…Anas carolinensis is common across its breeding grounds in northern North America, but I don’t recall ever seeing one in Green-Wood before. In fact, I don’t have a picture of one in the entire run of this blog. The bird was shy, swimming away even as Canada Geese and Mallards, also mucking along the shore, paid me no heed.

Branta bernicla

Or, just plain Brant. A winter visitor to our waters. This one was spotted off the coast of Brooklyn recently.

(Those on the west coast have black bellies and are known as Black Brant. They were once considered a separate species from these east coasters.)

More Cooper

Of late, the Cooper Hawks I’ve seen have been in the air, as yesterday’s post, or huddling in the yews and arbor vitae. But this one was perching as bold as brass… or is that rusty iron? With nary a Blue Jay in sight… The Jays have been abundant in Green-Wood this winter. They let up a vocal storm when they run into something they don’t like. But they can’t be everywhere. This big Accipiter had the field.

Raptor Wednesday

Cooper Hawk amidst the Rock Doves!A dangerous ballet in the sky for the flock, which has the confusion of numbers on their communal side.There was no killing in this swirl, nor in the one seen the very next day in the same general area.Nor in the hawk/pigeon flurry yesterday before the snow flurries.In fact, when I notice the pigeons up, I always cast a sharp eye for the cruising hawk(s).This one flew off towards Green-Wood.An awful lot of hawking is all about silhouettes. The long tail and rounded wings of an Accipiter, for instance, are striking from a distance.


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