Posts Tagged 'Bush Terminal'

Foggy Old Town

Nothing quite says “harbor” like a foghorn. This freakishly warm December has been producing intense fogs in the archipelago of New York City. Up here on the Harbor Hill Moraine, visibility has often been reduced to less than an avenue block away. It’s just about an avenue now as I write; a large antenna on the corner of 40th and 5th Ave is my marker of that distance. The harbor, six avenues away, is completely shrouded, represented only by the long boom of the occasional foghorn. At just after 6 this morning, a very loud horn repeatedly boomed. I assume it was one of those appalling, floating environmental crimes known as cruise ships.

For these photos from the other day, I was down at Bush Terminal Park. It cleared rapidly after these shots, but the uphill cloud — fog is basically a cloud at ground level — settled on the apartment surrounds well into the afternoon.




Larus delawarensis

Flight Sluggish and Swift

bombusOn a blooming goldenrod, the only visible flower around, a single bumblebee. It was warm enough yesterday for invertebrates, but they have damn few places to feed. This bee did seem a little sluggish, but it was roused by the proximity of my phone camera, and buzzed a short distance away, and then returned as soon as I retreated. (But what are those running down the wire fence, eggs?) waspThis wasp, too, was moving slowly, practically crawling along the sidewalk.

But here was something moving swiftly: a small bird being chased by a Common Raven. At first, I thought it must be a Kestrel, a species I’ve seen go after much bigger birds over its territory; sometimes the tables are turned and the larger bird chases away the little falcon. But binoculars revealed the bird here to be a pigeon. And a second raven joined in the chase. (This must be the pair I’ve seen here since the beginning of the year.) I’ve never seen ravens go after prey before; generally, they are scavengers and carrion-eaters. The chase was dramatic enough to stop a soccer game as the players watched the aerial acrobatics. The pigeon shot into an open-air staircase in the old warehouse, and the ravens followed it in, as if they were all flying into tunnel. After a few minutes, no more than five, the ravens emerged. Had they caught and eaten the bird in that time? Was it squab for Thanksgiving? That didn’t seem like enough time, but then I don’t know how ravens would eat a fresh bird. Raptors pluck away feathers with their down-curved bills and then rip up pieces of flesh with same, but ravens don’t have such bills. Well, whatever happened in there, it was thrilling as always to see these huge corvids, toughing it out in a non-traditional landscape.

Falco sparverius

Falco sparveriusAmerican Kestrel, urban raptor.Falco sparveriusThis female was keeping a sharp eye on Bush Terminal Park yesterday. She was molting; perhaps she’s a first year bird. There was a nest somewhere in the area, I’m told, and the park has been a reliable location for these, our smallest raptor.Falco sparveriusShe had just eaten something. She dove low for it, disappeared and then returned with her prey in her talons to quickly dispatch it on this perch. It may have been a dragonfly. The bird ultimately flew off towards Sunset Park, and met up with another Kestrel perched on one of the warehouses on 2nd Avenue.

Ravens Again

Corvus coraxA pair of Ravens (Corvus corax) sailed on the stiff breeze along the shore of Bush Terminal the other day. This is where I and others have seen and heard them off and on since New Year’s Day. They have an almost floppy wing action, exacerbated by their long finger-like primary feathers. Several hours later on a return visit, a single Raven was seen and heard in the distance.Corvus coraxIt’s thrilling to see these big boisterous birds. They are about the size of Red-tailed Hawks, so substantially bigger than their corvid cousins, the American and Fish Crows. Unlike Crows, they were not regulars in the city until quite recently. But they now breed within the city limits; the first known nest was in Queens; as far as I know, a Brooklyn nest has not been located, even though there was ample evidence of nest material gathering. Ravens with young were seen by others here at Bush Terminal, and in Chelsea in Manhattan this spring and summer. The same birds? I haven’t seen more than two. Occasionally one will fly overhead here at the top of the moraine. A fellow birder photographed three on the Green-Wood entrance gate on Saturday.

The old warehouses along Brooklyn’s coast may act somewhat like cliffs, pushing up the winds to let the birds coast along them. (A pair of Peregrines did the same thing soon after the first sighting of Ravens that morning.)

I have a lot of questions about these birds. How many pairs are in the city? Where do they nest and roost for the night? Two youngsters were seen in Bush Terminal this year; what happened to them? What are they eating? Ravens are generalists when it comes to food, but tend to eat a lot of carrion in the country, via roadkill and hunter by-product; the youngsters especially need lots of protein. I am now reading Bernd Heinrich’s Mind of the Raven to raven-up.IMG_3976Thinking about Ravens got me to writing this about the captives in London.

O You’ve Got Green Eyes

Colias philodiceClouded Sulphur (Colias philodice).

Young Night-herons

Nyctanassa violaceaA pair of Yellow-crowned Night-herons (Nyctanassa violacea) nested on Governor’s Island this year, a first — in ages, at least. I haven’t seen the nest, but I did run into this youngster over the weekend at Bush Terminal Park. No idea where the natal spot was, of course; YCNH also nest in Jamaica Bay, and there may be ones nesting at Bush Terminal (an adult was visible in a nearby Cottonwood).Nycticorax nycticoraxAt least six Black-crowned Night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) were in the area as well; the tall Cottonwoods could easily have hidden more. Here’s one of the youngsters. Note the shorter legs and the different color and pattern of the feathers in comparison to the YCNH. Check out the adults of both species from the same spot from a previous visit.

Earlier last week, at Valentino Pier off Red Hook, three BCNH flew by in the gloaming, along with a Great-Blue. The harbor is quite herony.


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