Raptor Wednesday

Falco peregrinusI have been sighting Peregrine(s) on St. Michael’s tower again regularly. Here at twilight.img_0782Another late afternoon instance. The church, two long avenue blocks away, is at the limit of my optics; I really need a good spotting scope for this scene.img_0781There are two large roof-top fancy pigeon coops in the area, one that frequently flies to the south of the church tower.img_0779Possibly what the falcon is eating.

As survey’s go, this is quite unscientific: during the summer, the curtains are closed all afternoon to keep the long hours of sunlight out.


Colaptes auratusIf you’re going to hide in the ornamental cherry, don’t be screeching. But then, nobody ever accused the Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) of being subtle, with their loud calls, white rumps, and flickering yellow underwings (red in the West). Not to mention this palate of plumage…


Or, in birding parlance, the “little brown jobs” and “confusing fall warblers.” The little brown jobs aren’t necessarily all that brown once you get a good look at them, but they are small and flighty. The confusing fall warblers are now in their regular plumage, not their distinctive spring breeding feathers. These are not the hard ones, though.Melospiza georgianaSwamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana).Melospiza georgianaAnother Swamp, but still in breeding colors. Same day, same spot, by the way, as the previous bird.Melospiza melodiaSong Sparrow (Melospiza melodia).Geothlypis trichasCommon Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).Setophaga caerulescensA Black-throated Blue (Setophaga caerulescens).Mniotilta variaBlack and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia).Setophaga coronataThe yellow rump of the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) is best seen in flight.Setophaga palmarumPalm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum).Regulus satrapaAnd finally, the unmistakable golden crown of the Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa). Looks like there’s some ruby in there, too.

Nyssa Shine

nyssaThese shiny red leaves are Nyssa sylvatica, Black Tupelo or Black Gum. One of the great fall color trees.

Have you been bathing in fall colors?

Twilight of the Gods


Newtown Creek

wildflower2This is the design on the back of Newtown Creek Alliance business cards. What the…? Ah, of course. It’s the creek, coming off the East River to divide Queens, on top and to the right, and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint is essentially a peninsula.

To be more specific, it was a marshy creek, long ago, draining off the terminal moraine, but in the 19th and 20th centuries it was bulkheaded, canalized, and heavily industrialized. There are still limited access points and there’s plenty of old poison — Greenpoint is the location of one of the largest underground oil spills in the country — yet life is hardy. Cormorants continued to fly by as we stood on the Kingsland Wildflower Roof. Two-legged critters in the ‘hood are hardy, too: a friend who regularly paddles on the creek reports herons, Osprey, Kingfishers going after life in the tidal waters. We heard a Kestrel while up there (my mouth was full of cookie at the time so I could barely called the visiting British writer’s attention to it.)newtown1Here’s the view from that Wildflower Roof looking towards the Digester Eggs of the massive wastewater treatment facility that dominates this end of Greenpoint. That’s our sold waste, lovely euphemism, being digested by bacteria. Go, team bacteria! Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. The remaining cake of material leftover can be used as fertilizer. And talk about how architecture can enliven the scene.

Butorides virescens

Butorides virescensAn inside source tells me that there was indeed a Green Heron nest in Green-Wood this season.Butorides virescensBehold a juvenile; there are at least two. Butorides virescensThis one caught two fish as it walked around the edge of the pond towards me.

These pics are from earlier this month. They will fly south any… minute now. After spotting none last Saturday, I thought they might have all left, but then I saw one Sunday.


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