Posts Tagged 'Floyd Bennett Field'

Raptor Wednesday

A Red-tailed Hawk flew by with a Gray Squirrel hanging from its talons, the long bushy tail a banner of mammalian defeat. The hawk landed in a tree and spent maybe a minuted pulling at the mammal with its beak, no doubt ending its life. But the bird then moved to another part of the same tree, without its prize. Prey is hard-gained this time of year, so I figured the bird was stashing the prey to give to another. There was no other hawk in sight, and I had places to go, so off I went. Then, two hours later when I returned to the scene, Sylvan Water in Green-Wood, a Red-tail flew out of the same tree. Then suddenly there was another in the air. The two adult birds — both with red tails, that is — wheeled around each other, and landed in different trees right next to or near each other. So I think my guess was right. The first bird was a male, who had taken the squirrel in anticipation of giving it as a gift to a female. Such gift exchanges preview mating. Didn’t see or hear — its screechy and very brief — that, but it’s not too early for Red-tails to get in the mood.Classic Red-tail sign: big white or very pale blob in a tree. Many’s the time a distant white spot in a winter tree has turned out to be one of these buteos.Red-tailed Hawk bonus: this time at Floyd Bennett Field, also at a good distance.And another in the Bronx. I’ve had 26 Red-tail Hawk sightings (counting very conservatively, in three boroughs of NYC) since January 1.

Water, Water, Not Everywhere In Winter


Brant (Branta bernicla), geese who visit the region in winter.A trio of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) in the mid-zone for scale. These two geese species share a genus and look superficially similar from afar.

This was fresh water rippling out into Jamaica Bay, and everybody was happy to get some. Last week it was still pretty cold: parking lot puddles, 9/10s frozen, were also being hit up for fresh (?) water by Brant.

North Forty

Return-a-Gift Pond had one singular sensation of a tree frog last week. I wonder if they emerged early in our warm patch, then beat a hasty retreat in the face of the snow? Because reports are that they’re rockin’ now.
On the other side of the pond, something is taking over, covering over everything, and giving it this weird look of lumpy, alien planet set design for a low budget sf production. There’s some rose in there, but is that the only thing? It’s like some northern kudzu.

“The path of most resistance.” This article on the Women’s March is inspiring. Audre Lorde, quoted here on activism: “It means doing the unromantic and tedious work.” The author of this Harper’s piece continues, “This will never be the stuff of cinematic grandeur. It’s never satisfying, in part because it’s not enough. It should never feel like enough. But involving insufficiency as an alibi is just as dangerous as self-satisfaction or comfortable despair–the very things Lorde warned us against.”

Kestrels, Kestrels, We’ve Got Kestrels!

Falco sparveriusMale Falco sparverius at Floyd Bennett Field, where the grasslands, currently mown, can often be a good place to see this most common of NYC raptors. This one is particularly painterly with those spots (and the cloudy day).Falco sparveriusHere is a female, farther away from the camera. Her wings don’t have the blue of the male birds. Falco sparveriusA different male at the other end of the runway. Falco sparveriusNote the very worn edges of this bird’s tail feathers. Time for a molt? That black band at the near-edge is a good way to distinguish males from females, who don’t have it, up in the air when you can’t see their topsides.

These pictures are a week old. More recently, on Saturday, we saw a Kestrel plucking what looked like a sparrow of some kind in Green-Wood. And on Sunday, another Kestrel was hovering over the mown grasslands at the Salt Marsh Nature Center.

Blue-winged Teal

Anas discorsA drake Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors). Surely one of the most handsome of all ducks.Anas discorsThe species is a long-distance migrant, some heading deep down into South America. They’re also early birds, one of the first to arrive and the first to leave. I rarely see them in NYC.Anas discorsHere’s the hen. The pair were dabbling in Return-a-Gift Pond last weekend. They are rather smaller than the omnipresent Mallards, which are actually quite big waterfowl.Anas discorsThe 2nd Atlas of Breeding Birds in NY State (2008) notes that their decline in the state has been marked. There were no birds breeding in NYC; the first atlas 20 years earlier showed them on Staten Island and Nassau country. Shallow ponds are their preferred habitat. The loss of agricultural land may be one of the reasons they’re doing poorly here. Also, of course, as migrants, they get it at both ends as their wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America are chopped up, polluted, etc. Hunters in the U.S. bagging their “four-bird limit in 15 minutes” don’t help much either.

Brooklyn’s Pine Woods



pine2On a wet day.pine1


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