Monday, November 29, 2010

The thrush, again

One varied thrush, a visitor from the northwest, very much off course, and a flock of bird watchers. There seems to be a pattern........ bird is seen, bird flies off, first group of birders moves on, next group of birders arrive, eventually bird reappears. There's a lot of waiting around until bird reappears. Lots of searching,- left, right, north, south. Suddenly there's action at the north end of the Maintenance Meadow by the men's bathroom. Can you see it? See that tree up by the fence? Go left. See the leaves. In the leaves. In the leaves? IN the leaves??? UNDER the leaves! This little bird chose the right spot today, overhead protection, lots of leaves with grub underneath, acorns to be cracked open, branches to work under, visibility for humans very difficult. Do you see it? There, under the leaves. Just look for the leaves. (Thousands of leaves!) Do you see it? It's out in the open. Open? Branches in way. Leaves in way. Rocks in way. More birders. Yes, yes. it's right up there, near the fence. See that tree. Go to the left, the right, not up, down on the ground, behind that tree. Yes, behind the tree. (Oh, if only I had an x-ray lens, or x-ray eyeballs!) There it is, in those leaves. See the leaves? The leaves on the right. There's a protocol for watching. Don't get too close. Let everyone see. No loud noises. See! There it is, right behind that branch, the branch next to the tree on the left that tilts to the right, under the leaves, behind the rock. On the ground. To say I was having the giggles is to put it mildly. This sweet bird looks differently in shadow, then in sunlight. It was really finding lots of food. I think. I can't see under leaves. Bird looks plump. I could see when it banged acorns open like a woodpecker and ate the grub from inside. It's a very pretty bird, smaller than a robin, doing standard thrush behavior. As I was heading back here I met another couple, binoculars in hand, running to see I-knew-what. Yes, it's there. (It will be a life bird for this couple.) I hope it stays around for a few days and everyone can get to see it. Besides I like the fun of watching the birders as well as the bird.

Cracking acorns. A little jackhammer.

An 800mm lens would have helped, but I'm not about to shell out $10,000 for one lens that will never pay for itself.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Without and with camera

On Friday, grocery bags in hand, no camera, there was a swirl of activity in the middle of our parking lot where the sparrows always pick at seeds. Bird on ground mantling. MANTLING??!!! Oh my God, a kestral with an obvious catch. I couldn't see what it had captured.... sparrow, chickadee, mouse???? But I could see the beautiful red coloration on the top of its body. Then, catch secure in its talons, it flew west, then south. We have a big sparrow community as well as a cluster of chickadees, so I've been watching their behavior. That kestral could be a neighborhood resident. Have food. Easy pickings. Where are they picking now? Near the bushes, so I looked upwards. If I were a kestral I'd perch on a balcony railing. Kestral up there?? Fake out! Urban owl, the store-bought variety.

With camera today, the next bird was interesting. Lots of excitement today, "Varied thrush at the Maintenance Meadow." West coast bird in the park. I would not know a varied thrush if it stared me in the face, but in short order there was a cluster of birders all gawking here and there. Finally a yelp, "There it is!" Binoculars raised. Cameras raised. Gotta see this bird! "Did you see it?" "Did you see it?" The birders were as fascinating as the bird. I couldn't find it until it was way up in a tree, but as the sun hit I could see how pretty this bird is. I've seen it!
Onward to the next corner and as I headed towards 72nd street a fellow came trotting along with a huge tripod. He noticed my lens and asked as he scooted by, "Did you see it?" I nodded yes and then cracked up. Big lens = birding. There were hawks today and all the gorgeous little birds, but it was the varied thrush that got everyone's attention. I think birders were crawling out of the woodwork to come see this unique visitor.

Pretty visitor.

Winter birds

Last year there were few chickadees or titmice. This year there are loads of them even though there are resident hawks in this area. It's going to be survival of the fittest.

The chickadee.
There are seeds and suet at the Evodia Field, some suet in suet cages, more mashed into tree bark.

Blending into the background, the brown creeper.

Still a few around, the hermit thrush.

This really surprised me, because of the location, the pine siskin. I've seen them at the feeders, but not at the stream.

On the lookout for hawks and owls.

Friday, November 26, 2010

West side

Cold day. The last thing I expected to see was a buttterfly. Very strange. A Thanksgiving butterfly?

Central Park West near 70th street, screaming blue jays . What's going on? Search. Oh joy, an immature redtail hawk. Maybe it will spend the winter in this area. Lots of food available. Lots of tall trees for perching. There were two squirrels taunting the hawk overhead, but not too close.

Lots of sparrows bit-picking on the ground, and then into my vision came this gorgeous redbelly woodpecker. I hope this sweet bird doesn't become lunch at some point. The hawk noticed it.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Short stroll

This was the biggest surprise of the stroll, a yellow rump. I thought all warblers had left town, but not this one. However, it was a 1/2 second warbler, there and then gone. One shot.

A month ago there were hundreds of hermit thrushs. Now there are few. There is one hanging out on West End Avenue.

Normally I would not want to photograph the birds at the feeders, but this peanut butter stuffed coconut is too funny. It's drawing the small birds like a magnet.

The titmice are scrounging on the ground. I wish bluebirds would fly in and do the same.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Autumn colors

West 69th street is always good for a smile. Autumn colors adorn this block.

This came as a surprise. I've never before seen goldfinches in this spot, bathing and drinking near the LoPat Bridge. Add yellow to autumn leaves and it makes for more smiles. I stood by a tree and tried to blend into the scenery so as not to spook the birds.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


Hail, hail, the gang's all here! I've been waiting for this, checking the berry trees. Robins always, but it was the cedar waxwings I was waiting for. Finally, a ripe tree. Elegant waxwings!

It's never the same. Some years all the berry trees are plush and ripe at the same time. Sometimes the berries fall early. Sometimes there are seemingly no berries. I tried one of the larger yellow berries. I don't think they're berries. They tasted like apples. And to my pals who get scared and think I'll end up poisoned, I'm still alive. I think they're small yellow crab apples. No tummy ache. No problems. Better than hot dogs. I still love the mulberries and wild cherries best.