Posts Tagged 'birds'

Raptor Wednesday

We were eating dinner in Park Slope, near a known hole-in-the-cornice Kestrel nest site. After dinner, we noticed a Kestrel making sorties for bugs up a side street. The bird returned to this perch twice and was still there as we left the scene.


Yesterday was the first day it felt like fall, more than three weeks past the equinox. And then it dropped to 41 overnight. This morning the radiators were gurgling.

Locally, not many leaves have turned yet, but these, fallen from a Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum, Black Tupelo), are in the mood.This Eastern Phoebe was a pleasant surprise in Green-Wood, which was otherwise bird-quiet. Two Red-Tailed Hawks circled overhead, a passing airplane between them. Later, walking home down 5th Avenue, I saw a Cooper’s Hawk gliding with the wind, back towards the cemetery.

Radar last night showed a lot of bird movement. Migration ain’t over yet.
Late afternoon.

Just before sunset, I saw a lone Chimney Swift over Sunset Park. The day I’ll see no more for the year is the real beginning of winter. Temps will be in the high 70s again by Thursday…

Meanwhile, Trump will lie about any and every thing, every single day. What a mendacious piece of shit.

Some Birds

The Swedish trip recedes swiftly into the past, but digital memory lives on! Here are a few of the birds I managed to get photos of:Great Tit (Parus major) at a Swedish-made bird feeder in the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen. This angle does not show the black streak running down the GT’s breast, so here’s another view:Compare with the Blue Tit:Cyanistes caeruleus.You should know both these silhouettes. Real Rock Dove (Columba livia) perched on bronze heron.Actual Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea). Smaller than our Great Blue (Ardea herodias).Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), seen with much greater frequency than Rock Dove.Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), young and old. And why not another view of the situation?Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). Formerly lumped with North America’s Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata).Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus).Adult breeding plumage is quite dark: an almost black breast and black legs.

Ariel Dorfman on Trump’s militant ignorance and the war on knowledge.

Raptor Wednesday at the Movies

The first sight of a church yard in Copenhagen triggered a memory that bloomed in Sweden. I’d seen such graveyards before: the gravel plots fenced in by foot-high hedges rigorously trimmed, the raked patterns in the somber gray sand. Very orderly, compact, clean.

It was all in the 1999 Swedish film Falkens öga/Kestrel’s Eye, about a pair of Common Kestrels nesting in a church building. The Swedish name for Kestrels is Tornfalk, which means tower falcon. How apt. In the film, we see the humans below come and go, tidying up their family plots; there’s a wedding and, inevitably, a funeral; hedge-trimmings are vacuumed up by a machine too big for the task. It’s all from the Kestrel’s POV (albeit without their greater span of the light spectrum!). The falcons dine on voles and, in one case, a lizard. Every descent to prey portrayed in the film is a successful kill, which is not particulately accurate; raptors miss a lot. The birds have six eggs. Five fledge: the fate of the sixth is not explicated; indeed, there’s no narration and the only human voices present are overheard from below.

Anyway, I found the film on Kanopy, which NYPL library card holders can use for free, and watched it again to refresh my memory. It turned out to take place at the very church in Skanör where we hunted for hedgehogs one night. The indented circle is where the falcons perched. Their nest was just below that to the left; you can barely see the top of the hole in the side of the wall. If I’d only realized this was the location as we ate breakfast next to it every day (the best breakfasts we’ve ever had out, by the way, even if there were no lizards or voles among the varied fare), I would have taken a more appropriate picture. The Flommen marshes, where we saw quite a few Kestrels hunting (perhaps the descendants of this pair?) are visible in a few scenes in the film. Skanörs borg, a ruin of a 13th century fort that’s mostly just a little hillock in the otherwise very flat terrain, is next to the church (parts of which date back about that far, too). This photo is from the top of the borg. The moat in the foreground was a lot less crowded with common reed in the late 1990s.

I also finally saw Birders: The Central Park Effect, 2012, on the same Kanopy platform. It was better than I expected. Though Central is justly renown as a birding location, I’m a Brooklyn boy and only get there a few times a year, if that. But I certainly recognized some names and faces from the bird-watching community there. Loved seeing the late Starr Saphir, a wonderfully flinty and wise birder. She talks about the second-best bird sighting she ever had from her apartment, a juvenile Goshawk — quite a good fire escape bird that — but this made me wonder what her best ever bird sighting was from her apartment.

So it turned out to be a bird film festival, because then I watched The Messenger: An Ode to the Imperiled Songbird, originally released in 2015. I know people are always looking for the silver lining, celebrating small victories in conservation, but the overriding story remains one of gloom, so damned well documented in this movie. Climate change, habitat destruction, hunting, city light pollution and glass buildings, cats, poisoning via pesticides, etc. are all resulting in fewer and fewer birds (and other animals, of course). “The messenger” is the old canary in a coal mine, as well as the ornithologists on the front lines. Meanwhile, a Frenchman who gobbles up Ortolans in contravention of the law insists he’ll stop when science proves to him that the birds are disappearing, echoing all those fisherman who said the same thing, denying the facts until there were no more fish to fish.

A rune stone in the Danish National Museum, at least a thousand years old. I like the way it echoes the first picture above.Bonus! Film studies comrades of yore: do you know which Swedish film opens with a short view of a Tornfalk hovering, here skillfully caught off the screen by your correspondent?

Muddy Duck

Ah, the White-breasted… wait a minute?Who the devil is this? These large, distinctive ducks were spotted all over Copenhagen.Took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at, later confirmed by our bird guide in Sweden. What do you think?

Birds in Hand IV

A juvenile male Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus), known as skäggmes to the locals, at the Flommen banding station.The adult males have black markings down the sides of their face, the “beard,” rather more like a full mustache. This species has also been called Bearded Parrotbill and Bearded Tit. It seems to be in its own family, with no living close relatives.

Birds in Hand III

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana).Småfläckig sumphöna. Our Sora is in the same genus.They netted another, this one substantially smaller than the first, so it had some chowing down to do before taking off for Africa. These birds eat insects and other aquatic yummies found in marshes. [The birds are weighed and checked for body fat, which is done by blowing the feathers away from their bellies to see the fat reserves or lack thereof.]And then a Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) was netted. This was all the same morning, btw. This one is known as vattenrall in Swedish. We had heard one or two previously, which is often the most you can ask for from these reed-dwellers.Our Virginia Rail is also a Rallus.Some new feathers coming in here…


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