Well, in a few hours we're off to Rhode Island for a day before our trip to Maine. I can't wait for sun and sand, birds and letterboxes, and spending time with my parents and sisters. I should have considerably more freckles when I return. But I can't leave you without sharing this week's adventures in Prospect Park!
Monday, August 11
I spent a few minutes on the Terrace Bridge, overlooking the Lullwater in the direction of the boathouse. Here I saw a pair of eastern kingbirds being vying for dominance with s pair of birds with yellow breast and belly, dark eye and dark longish beak on a dusky yellow head, and black wings with white wing bars. I didn't really know what they were until I looked closely at the beak, which seemed distinctly oriole-like in shape. A glance at my guide later confirmed a pair of juvenile Baltimore orioles. I also saw two green herons perched on a fallen branch over the Lullwater. That's the spot I usually see a black-crowned night heron, so the greens were a nice surprise.
Tuesday, August 12
I've begun making Lookout Hill part of my regular routine. I love the reward of the two wildflower meadows after huffing and puffing my asthmatic self up that big hill. On my way up, I was enveloped briefly in birdsong by several young and ruffled black-capped chickadees and more young Baltimores. In the wild meadows above, many butterflies, a few wrens, and several American goldfinches made merry. Here is a butterfly that looks surprisingly like a leaf. Later, on the bridle path at the foot of Quaker Hill, I found an American restart, but a female or first-summer male, I'm not sure. I had great luck at the back of the Upper Pool in finding cedar waxwings. I also tracked down something that I knew would be a northern flicker once I found it; that white rump in flight always gives me a thrill. The two green herons were present again at the fallen log. I watched a good-sized turtle bask on a rock, extending one hind leg parallel to the water for a very long time. I have no idea why the turtle did that. Turtle yoga?
Wednesday, August 13
I saw a lot of the same species as earlier in the week, with a few additions. Behind the Upper Pool I spotted a tiny black-and-white warbler creeping up a tree trunk, then another, and another. These guys were all over the place. It seemed like the feather coloration was incomplete, but from the pattern of the stripes and the pattern of their movement, I'm fairly sure they were black-and-whites. At the rustic shelter on the Lullwater, I watched the green herons fly from their usual perch to a tree branch across the stream. I saw a black-crowned night heron in that tree as well. Then, at the boathouse, I found more ducklings! A mom with two little ones, to be exact.
All week I've been visiting this one area of the Lullwater in an attempt to recreate a lost moment. Sometime last week I saw a hummingbird pause at a red flower for about four seconds. I thought at first that it was a large insect, until I saw its long, thin beak in profile. It took me too long to register what I was seeing, and I was so stunned that I missed the moment to raise my binoculars and the bird was gone. It was only the third hummingbird I've seen in my life, and two of those sightings were before I became a birder. I'll see it well someday.
It was also a great week for hearing and seeing red-tailed hawks. Everywhere I went in the park, I could hear them screaming from high above. That's good, though, because it makes them much easier to find. I spent part of one afternoon sprawled on the shaded hillside of the Long Meadow, using my backpack as a pillow, and gazing through my binocs as the two hawks squealed and wheeled, higher and higher over Quaker Hill, with the occasional fast downward swoop. The screams I've heard mostly still sound like juvenile screams, but once I did hear the high keeeee-errrrrr of an adult.
I don't know if I'll have internet access while I'm gone, so you may hear nothing from me for a while, or if I'm lucky, you may get a few short updates. And now it is time to pack!