Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

Spring Flies In

On Thursday, I saw two Phoebes in widely spaced parts of Green-Wood Cemetery. Clouds of insects were visible, too, so we know what these fly-catchers were hunting. The next day, when the temperature got close to 70, reports of Pine Warblers, usually the first warbler species of the year, came in from the cemetery as well. American Woodcock are crashing into the city, too, although I’ve yet to see one. This big fly was out and about, too.

Mammal Monday

It’s just remarkable how the sound of teeth gnawing on hickory shells travels in the winter woods.

Kestrel Renewal

Well, here they are, kitty-corner from last year’s cornice nest. Have seen no mating as yet, but that sure doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any. Picture above from March 5th.

On Thursday, March 14th, at about 5:30pm, the same set up: both on the chimney pot after she flew there from a nearby roof pipe. Much vocalization from both.

Yesterday, Friday, around 9:15am. Heard first, as if often the case (can’t look out the windows every minute…). The male was stirring up a trio of Blue Jays. He held his own, didn’t budge. The female showed up. She perched on one pipe of a neighboring building, flew to a another pipe on the other side of the same building, and hey! She had prey. Which she clearly cached up there on the roof. Because she dipped down out of sight behind the parapet and reappeared to perch on the pipe on the other side of the building again. (These three photos of her are in sequence). We call this the Solar Building because its roof is filled with solar panels. Last year, it was a definite food-caching site. Presumably the falcons are stashing prey under the panels, where it can’t be seen from overhead.About 2:30pm yesterday, the female was seen eating on the solar bldg. She plucked and snarfed down what looked like a sparrow, the same thing she had up there earlier in the day. At one point, she dropped down to pick up a scrape she dropped. Not wasting anything but the feathers. She’s got to put on lots of weight for egg-making.

A big change from last year’s #BrooklynKestrels story is that the upright dead limb of the London plane tree across the street is no more. It was a regular perch for the falcons. It came down in a snowstorm this past November. Also this year, there’s no sidewalk shed around around our building: this hosted several House Sparrow nests last year, which probably meant the population of this Kestrel prey species was enriched.

One of the Staten Island Ferry’s big orange boats in the background. That’s Upper NY Bay, with the southern end of Ellis Island just visible to the right of the ferry.

Raptor Wednesday

A young Red-tailed launches into the air in pursuit of… a Canada Goose? No, really? Yes, really. There were a dozen geese herding up the hill above Crescent Water in Green-Wood. The hawk raised a gaggle and disappeared from my sight. Then it flew back to this tree, making another pass of the geese as it did so. After this, the hawk gave up on that idea, and flew the other way towards a trio of holly trees brimming with fruit and a big flock of American Robins. Suddenly there are two Red-tailed Hawks coming out of those hollies! The birds made more passes at the Robins, and the Geese. Nobody got caught while I was watching, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.The ponds at Crescent-Dell are now brimming with bird-feeders, so there are song birds all over. RTHs general hunt mammals, but they will eat whatever they can catch. Only, being so big, they are not the most agile or subtle of hunters, like falcons or Accipiters, who are more commonly bird-eaters.This RT was eyeballing one of the feeders. About this time, I noticed an adult RT perched above the Dell Water. Before it was all over, I counted three individual juvenile RTs perched above the Crescent Water as an adult circled overhead.

Hatchin’ Still

We began the winter with White-breasted Nuthatches, and as we near the end of it… three of them were working over this old horse chestnut, whispering amongst themselves. This one kept finding tidbits in this tree cave. On an hour’s walk in very chilly Green-Wood recently, I came across around a dozen of these nuthatches, a count surpassed only by the number of Canada Geese.
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I have a poem in the Winter 2019 issue of Clapper Rail, the magazine of the Brooklyn Bird Club. It’s about a bird.

Mammal Monday

Curling up on a roof on a cold winter day. For two days, this raccoon spent daylight hours up here on a neighboring roof. The gutter, and poor roof drainage, provided water from the recent snowfall. It disappeared just a few minutes before sunset the first day.  I thought it might be a goner, for canine distemper virus is still taking its toll.

The next day it was again in this corner for most of the day. That second afternoon, a Common Raven flew low over the raccoon. Scouting mission? Twilight Thursday, the raccoon walked towards the front of the house, where a tree presumably provides access to the street. No sighting since.

Dogs of Prospect, Again

I used to spend so much time in Prospect Park! It’s farther away now, but that’s not the reason I’m there so infrequently now.

Half a dozen Red-winged Blackbirds were burbling with Spring there the other day. A Song Sparrow was singing, tree buds were clearly on the edge of bursting, mosses waved their tiny spore capsules, and was that a Brown Thrasher???Overhead, a Red-shouldered Hawk, an uncommon sight anywhere in the borough. So far, so good, right?

Turns out this was the first time I’d been to Prospect since October. Had to make way for two trucks, two carts, and a police car on the walking paths. Our friend, who had come from Manhattan to ice skate, decided that the hideous pop music blaring from the speakers at the rink was so horrible she would skip the ice entirely. Across the lake from the rink is the Peninsula. We watched as two professional dogwalkers unleashed their packs there. The tragedy of the commons in action. Of course, that historical lesson is usually misinterpreted: elites engineered the destruction of the commons because they enclosed and dispossessed everyone/everything else; it was the first great act of privatization.

So at least ten dogs proceeded to run riot in a woodland area where dogs are always supposed be leashed. These guys probably do this every day. I doubt they’re picking up every last pile of shit their charges deposit in the woods. Remember, it’s called canine distemper. Dogs can be vaccinated against it, but they can also all spread it.

Just the day before, a bird-watcher had seen an unleashed dog kill a squirrel in the Vale. There’s virtually no enforcement of city leash law by NYPD or Parks Enforcement Patrol. Yes, that’s a link to an eight-year-old post, but all that’s changed since is that now there are more dogs and the dog-owners are more entitled.

The Parks Department and the neoliberal Prospect Park Alliance consider dog-owners to be good “stakeholders,” who will advocate for parks, or, let’s be more specific, parks as dog runs. Those who can afford to hire dog walkers are also potential funders. Private money must be catered to and the PPA prioritizes funders. Is this why the leash laws are unenforced? Anyway, this wild west of unleashed dogs sure succeeds in pushing me away from this public park.


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