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Last Woodcock

Orange-bellied American Woodcock taken by Red-tailed Hawk. Dramatic, but not the last word. The other night, we heard a few Woodcocks, who have some great alternative names (bog snipe, bog sucker, timberdoodle, Labrador twister), at Floyd Bennett Field. The males were calling, then flying into the air twittering and burbling to impress potential mates.

The Woodcocks abide, even as their habitat is diminished and the poisons take their toll (as do hunters).

In other news, it it possible to beat the beast. Last December, in Houston TX, smack in the middle of one of the most reactionary states of the union, the Democrats celebrated victories while the national party, having wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on the bullshit of TV and consultants, reeled.

More Woodcock

Positioned high and back, these eyes can see threats from behind and above. We tread very carefully and left it as it was in that snow hole.Shhh.

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Amazing! The Trumpidiot in charge of the Department of HHS, who was, you will recall, approved by the Republicans even in the face of some insider trading, says that states should make decision on vaccinations, because we all know how disease is stopped cold at borders.

In Trump’s malignant nation-busting budget, billions are promised for defense (already the most bloated military budget in the world) and boondoggles like a “border wall” while TSA, Coast Guard, emergency management, chemical accident, etc. etc. programs are to be be defunded. Some “security.” I personally think these bastards are desperate for terrorist attack to exploit, like a Reichstag Fire, in the needless panic that typically follows such things. It worked initially, and it worked for their model-of-autocracy, Putin, too.

NOGO-A-GoGo

There’s a system of four letter codes birding banders/ringers use to identify bird species. It’s usually made up of the first two letters of the bird’s common name, which is frequently two words long. Thus NOrthern GOshawk is NOGO. Just what you needed, right? Three things to call ’em: a common name, a scientific binomial (in this case: Accipiter gentilis, the noble hawk) and a particularly “in” code. NOGO baby!

Anyhow, a young Goshawk was seen last month in Prospect Park. Then it was seen again, and again. And again! Goshawks are the rarest of the three Accipiter species in the Northeast. The female can be as large as a Red-tailed Hawk. They are rare even in their boreal and mountain ranges. They are extremely rare inside the city.

The adults are quite distinctive, but this one is a youngster. First year birds look somewhat like a juvenile Cooper’s, only on steroids.I went into the park in the very late afternoon. There was something in that tree! Well, it wasn’t the Goshawk because this bird was an adult Accipiter — the russet barring, the red eyes — a Cooper’s Hawk. Carry on. Several other birders were loitering below the previous evening’s Gos perch. One of them had startled a Woodcock earlier. Very startle-able, Woodcocks. But the vigil was for naught, unless you count the rising moon, which was very nearly full. And I do, I do!

A fat moon rises
As we wait for a Goshawk
In leftover snow.

A call went up. There! But that relatively short tail… it was a Red-tailed Hawk. Nearly two hours later, the Cooper’s was in the same tree. Had it been there the whole time? It flew off right after sunset. The Red-tailed Hawk flew by soon, too, in the same general direction. They both looked like they were leaving the park. To roost in somebody’s back yard?

The Robins and Cardinals were singing their sunset hearts out.

Oh, wait, that NOGO? No go.

Twilight’s roaring birds
Are enough to keep me warm
After the snowstorm.
A wanderer does not care
If he sees the Snow Leopard.

But one keeps going into the mountains anyway. Three, four, five times, and then… stay tuned.

Woodcock Madness

A few of the nine American Woodcock I saw on Thursday in Prospect Park. Or, in this one’s case:Outside the park. On Vanderbilt St. in Windsor Terrace. I herded this one off the street. A stalking cat gave me the side-eye for doing so.The bird landed in the only patch of open ground around. But then the door behind it opened and a dog and walker emerged from the apartment building.  There’s no rest for the winged.

Reports from around the city tallied dozens of dazed and confused and probably hungry birds. March is when they migrate. They seem to have been blind-sided by the storm. The Wild Bird Fund had 35 of them in the other day. I saw one snagged by a Red-tailed Hawk, and heard of another being so captured, as well as one being jumped by the Prospect Park Goshawk.

Spring arrives two weeks earlier now than it did when I was born.

Scolopax minor

The first of three American Woodcocks seen on the Brooklyn Bird Club’s Woodcock walk in Green-Wood last weekend.Same bird from the other side. A dozen people walk by stealthily…. The sun came out. But it’s at dusk that these non-shore shorebirds do their magic. The males begin to vocalize repeatedly with a peent/beent call. Then they fly into the air, to descend with a twittering made by their wings. The ladies are impressed by these displays. The whole song and dance can barely be seen in the gloaming, but it can be heard, and we shall listen Sunday night (rain-checked from the original schedule).This one was just about two feet away from the one above, but harder to see. The leaf had just blown onto the bird’s bill before I snapped this. Since then, we had a storm, and in the last couple of days dozens of these birds have been spotted around the city. They’ve no place to hide. Just goes to show you how many of them are here, and how well hidden they usually are. But, exposed to predators like the city’s plague of feral cats, and food hard to get to in the frozen ground (they use those long bills to probe the soil), this unveiling can’t be good for them.

Tufted

I’ve never had such an obliging Tufted Titmouse before. The binomial, Baeolophus bicolor, translates as small crest of two colors. More fun with names on this MSU page.

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Let’s pause today, in light of yet another court staying the latest edition of Trump’s religious bigotry, to remember a despised alien “race” that professed a religion that frightened the majority of Americans, who come to this country, it was said, to take our jobs, impose their popish plots, their excess children, and their unclean habits, on us. Irish-Americans who support a Muslim ban betray their ancestors. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Raptor Wednesday

Sometimes all you get is the general shape of the critter. The big-headed American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), for instance. Other times, you take your best shot. I thought this might be a Kestrel, too. But it sure was spending a lot of time up there, a behavioral characteristic I haven’t seen so much with Kestrels. I hustled the half kilometer downhill to get a better view. (Still a crappy photograph, but better than nothing.) Much darker, more heavily streaked.Merlin (Falco columbarius)! So I’d been seeing this shape up there off and on from 2/20. Had it been a Merlin the whole time? The last time I definitely saw a Merlin was New Year’s Day. There have been a few ebirds sightings in the borough since then. And this past weekend there were two in Green-Wood!


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