Songo Blue Skies

Friday, December 28, 2012

Compilation of birds seen since Hurricane Sandy

It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to post. Hurricane Sandy really wreaked havoc on so many of the lovely trees in Brooklyn as well as homes and habitat. Most of my students went without water, heat and electricity for a couple of weeks, some lost everything.

To take the edge off these heavy matters I have explored Prospect Park and Green-wood Cemetery more frequently. The gas shortage immediately after Sandy also helped to convince me to stay closer to home for birding.

There have been so many great birds to see. The winter finches in their bright colors have been plentiful. It took me a month to finally see some Crossbills. They have taken to frequenting Sweetgum trees rather than their usual conifer trees. Chickadees, Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Redpolls (which I haven't seen yet) and even both types of Nuthatches seem to love the seeds of the Sweetgums also. Most of the time when I've been lucky enough to see Crossbills the sky has been too gray and they've been feeding high up in the tops of the trees. Instead of Warbler neck I've had a couple cases of Crossbill neck. Today I got to see them against clear blue skies and the trees where I watched them were not as tall.

So here is a compilation of the birds I've enjoyed watching over the last two months. Hope you enjoy seeing them as well.

Winter Wren (life bird)

American Kestrel

Merlin (life bird)

Two male Hairy Woodpeckers

Female Evening Grosbeak

Red -breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Red Crossbill (life bird)

Male White-winged Crossbill (lifebird)

I hope you get to see some of these birds while they are around this winter. Happy Birding and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Couple of Rarities

   Since the summer, I live a little closer to Prospect Park. I really didn't do much birding there prior to last spring. But this fall has seen some uncommon birds and it has been fun to see them. First there was the Barnacle Goose.When I arrived late afternoon he was in the middle of the lake with other Canada Geese. He looked to be swimming toward the west side which was closer to me anyhow. I walked around and several birders gathered hoping to get a glimpse. Boy were we lucky he swam right to us but stayed off shore while the Canada geese came ashore and milled around.

Such a pretty goose.

       Then this week a Grasshopper Sparrow was reported hanging around the Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park. I used it as an excuse to leave school earlier than normal; it was still daylight.  I couldn't find the sparrow and there was a lot of gas powered saws cutting up some of the beautiful trees that fell during the storm in the cemetery. I saw several thrushes and a pair of Bluebirds which surprised me. I walked back toward the area where he had been reported and a tiny bird hopped right in front of me and there he was. I had seen several pictures posted so I recognized it immediately. This is one tame bird. He got so close a couple of times my camera couldn't even take a picture.  I watched him forage for about 40 minutes. I couldn't see anything worth eating on the sidewalk but he sure seemed to be enjoying it. He has the cutest hop when he wants to move fast.
     2 life birds! Unfortunately there is a Nor'easter heading our way...just what Brooklyn and NYC needs; another storm with high winds. Hopefully this little sparrow will find some shelter or fly south out of the storm along with the Bluebirds.

I think this sparrow is so beautifully marked. Notice the touch of bright yellow on the primary coverts (hope I got that right?)

Finding a nice fat worm

Enjoy and stay warm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Awesome Hawk!

I got out to the Community Gardens at Floyd Bennett Field about 8:00 on Saturday morning. I seemed to be the only one there. As I got out of the car there were phoebes, kinglets and yellow rumps flying and diving everywhere for yummie bugs. It was a very birdie day. When I came around the first corner I saw something on a fence in the back part. To be honest I thought it might be one of those fake owls at first, but it soon became apparent that it was something living and breathing.  It was this beautiful hawk. I was lucky to get a picture of it from its back side as well after in flew up into a tree.  The almost tear dropped feathers on his chest were beautiful. I believe this is a juvenile Northern Goshawk. I identified it by several factors. I could see the white stripe over it's eye especially apparent in the second picture. It's bill was two toned and his tail was striped. Life bird! There are a few rats that live in and forage in the gardens. Prey.

Know this is an old post. But the recent comment I got below added to my own questioning of the original ID. What do you think?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

More Sparrows and Warblers in Community Gardens

I returned to Allen's Meadows last Saturday but the weather was such that there just wasn't alot going on. When I got back to Brooklyn I decided to try out the Community Gardens on Floyd Bennett Field. The Community Gardens at Allen's Meadows in Wilton are grest for birding so it only goes to say that the Community Gardens at Floyd Bennett Field should also be equally as great and they did not disappoint. There are more gardens and they back into some trees and brush in the back. The gardens themselves are interesting to walk thru and there were birds and more birds and Monarch Butterflies everywhere.

In the trees around a picnic area to the left of the gardens I saw brown creepers, red breasted nut hatch and other birds. I was hoping to see a Clay-Colored Sparrow that had been reported. I ran into some birders who said they had seen it an hour ago in the Berm by the crickett field. So I just kept going thru the gardens. I got two lifers.
From Floyd Bennett Field I saw:
A fluffy Red-Winged Blackbird

Inquisitive Palm Warbler

love the light on this Palm Warbler

I'd never seen such a bautiful colored Goldfinch

and Yes, finally, a Clay-Colored Sparrow - Life Bird
From Allen's Meadows in Wilton I saw:

Lincoln's Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Not sure but think it is a Vesper Sparrow
It has been a great fall migration for me. I have seen a greater variety of migrating birds. Community Gardens are definately a great place to see them.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the birds.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Allen's Meadows in the Fall

Hard to believe that fall migration will be over in a few weeks. I love going to Allen's Meadows in Wilton, Ct. I'm trying to visit as often as I can. The gardens are dying down even though there are still many flowers in bloom. There are many sparrows and warblers plus other passerines passing through. Here is a sampling of a few from my first visit, Labor Day weekend. I have been back there this week and finally saw some sparrows but I'll save that for the next post.

Eastern Kingbird

Female Common Yellowthroat

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - the gardens were abuzz with hummingbirds on the last weekend of August. They were chasing each other all over the gardens.

Male Yellow Warbler

Palm Warbler

Female Goldfinch corrected this is a female Indigo Bunting thanks to Rob Jett
Empress Leilia (I think) if anyone knows for sure please correct Thanks. I love that you can see the eye on this guy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Barn Swallows

After kayaking in Jamaica Bay on Wednesday with my friend Andrea, we went to Breezy Point, Queens for a quick dip in the ocean.When we returned to the car there were several barn swallows sitting on a wire overhead. I quickly got my camera to see if I could get a few shots before they flew off. Swallows don't generally sit still for long and the light was right to pick up their coloring.

As I viewed them through the lens I noticed some differences. Some had shorter tails, but the most telltale sign were their flanges/beaks. Most of them had yellow flanges rather than the adult all black beak. As most of you know baby bird's mouths and flanges are bright yellow or orange or other color so their parents can see their mouths when they are feeding them especially if light is low inside the nest area. We had a whole slew of juveniles and just a few adults mixed in. Enjoy.

Yellow flanges and notice the shorter tail

Adult - notice the longer tail feathers and how the beak is all black

Friday, August 3, 2012

2 Cutie Fledglings - But What Were They?

I was sitting in my chair on the lawn observing the bird feeder while in Maine. Movement across the yard caught my eye. In the fringe trees from the narrow strip of trees between properties I noticed a small bird land on a branch of a small tree. Putting binoculars to eyes I spied a small fluffy bird. So I moved slowly to get a closer look.

Hum, I wonder what this little bird is I asked myself.  I looked around and low and behold I found another one.

Wow, white eye rings connected to look like spectacles. Buffy to yellow on it's side. And look ma, no tail feathers, well they are beginning to grow. The tail feathers are the last to grow. Two white/yellow wing bars are evident.

Then the racket started. I looked up and saw what I presumed to be the adult. I took a quick picture and backed off so that mom or dad could feed their young.

Do you know what it is yet? It is a Blue-Headed Vireo carrying a treat for one of his or her young.
This was a first for me, life bird.

I also saw red-eyed vireos regularly in the yard as I have in other years.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snowy Egret Dances on East Pond, Jamaica Bay

It has been a while since I posted or got out birding for that matter...too many excuses but after kayaking I headed over to the East Pond at Jamaica Bay. Very nice conditions this year as I easily walked around the cove starting from the north end.  I had the pond to myself even the birds weren't many. However I had great fun watching a snowy egret dance around. Notice this snowy's usual yellow loral area, before the eye, is a deep orange. It is orange during the breeding season, which I had never seen or just hadn't noticed before. Of course it's wearing it's "golden dancing shoes."

Let me take my golden dance shoes on the wing....

Since there was no further action of East Pond, I headed for John's Pond and that is where all the bird action was with several juvenile night herons etc.. but next time.