Yesterday I got myself out of the house early enough to take a long, leisurely walk through Prospect Park on my way to work. I've been enjoying taking walks with Chrissy, but yesterday especially because the weather was so perfect and we had a new toy to try out.
Our route began by navigating around the south side of the Lake. I wanted to give that area another try, because my earlier experiences were unsatisfying. After yesterday's walk, I don't think I will ever go that way anymore; it's so filthy and stinky. It feels like the parks maintenance crew just doesn't bother with cleaning up that area. Unless I hear of an interesting sighting at the Three Islands or another specific place on that route, I'm sticking to north of the Lake and up.
Chrissy was my helper yesterday, trying out the new toy my mom gave me: a set of 10x25 binocs with a digital camera smack-dab in the middle. It was fun to upload the pictures last night and see what its advantages and limitations are. The funny thing is that you have to aim it a little higher that what you are actually seeing through the binocs if you want the target to be centered in the photo.
Of course, I am still in search of ducklings, and having very little luck on that front. But yesterday's birding was very satisfying. I was able to show Chrissy a bunch of the stuff I wrote about in my last entry, including the horde of goslings, who have grown and whose feathers have matured considerably in a week's time. Most of them are nearly indistinguishable from their parents now, with the exception of a few younger siblings who retain more of that yellowish halo of young feathers. We found them on the south side of the Lake, so it wasn't a wasted effort.
As we travelled up the Lullwater's course, I spotted a black-crowned night heron attempting to escape from several red-winged blackbirds that seemed to be mobbing it. Every time it found a place to rest, just minutes later I'd see the group whirl by again, all flaps and threatening calls. That poor guy must have been tired when it was actually time for him to be active.
The highlight of this adventure happened along the Lullwater trail just past the rustic shelter as we headed toward the Audubon Center. Two handsome mute swans herded their three adorable cygnets into some nearby duckweed to feed. A couple in a pedal-boat came by and (thankfully) avoided scaring them away. It was my first time seeing cygnets. I'd have to say, they are nearly as cute as ducklings, and that story about the ugly duckling just doesn't make sense to me anymore.
It was a day for turtles as well. Huge ones everywhere. They were sunning on every partially submerged log in sight. These little fellows came to my attention while I was trying to get a good shot of the cygnets. So covered in duckweed were they that I didn't notice them until one had moved! And I haven't yet seen turtles of this small size in the park. This picture is for my mom, because she loves turtles.
I made a quick stop at the Binnen Bridge to check for tree swallows and was treated to a brief sighting as a blue gem sped through the air. Facing the pool-side of the bridge, I spotted my first green heron, hunting from a rock. I love the colors on this bird. We headed through the Nethermead, where I saw another tree swallow very low to the ground, dozens of big, red dragonflies, and my first eastern kingbird. I'm fairly certain I've seen that bird before, but it was the first time I had enough notes to compare to the field guide and get down to a single bird. I bet he had a good lunch on all those dragonflies!
I went back through the park on my way home from work and saw a black-crowned night heron finally getting some peace and quiet on some lily-pads. Also, way across the Lake I spotted a great egret roosting in a tree. It always surprises me to see such huge birds in trees.
Tonight the park will be full of opera-buffs, so I'll try to take a walk before work. I liked yesterday so much that maybe I'll do a bird-walk every day. Birding, commence!