Sunday morning, bolstered by the extra early hour of sunlight, I finally made it to a bird walk hosted by the Brooklyn Bird Club. I'd never gone birding in a group. The air was cold, the sunlight was warm, and I was a little underdressed. Still, I had a wonderful time, and I got to meet the authors of two blogs I read regularly, A Brooklyn Bachelor and brooklynometry, which was a real treat for me. I was, by far, the youngest person in the group, but I welcomed the experienced eyes and ears of other long-time birders. Simply being awake when birds are active is a great first step. As soon as I walked outside, I spotted a downy woodpecker on an evergreen in front of my building, and some bluish-yellowy warbler type nearby. I knew I was in for a good morning.
The light in Prospect Park at 8 a.m. was bright and clear, and made the whole day seem young. Our group meandered very slowly from the Audubon Center, over the Binnen Bridge to the Nethermead, up to the dog beach (which is when I sneaked off to take advantage of the comfort station at the Picnic House - I had forgotten what cold weather does to the bladder!), then across the ballfields and back down to the Lake, where I parted ways with the group so I could get home in time to go to church. A few exciting birds were called out, but I didn't get to see the meadowlark, merlin, or woodcock, all of which would have been life-birds for me. I did have some excellent views of a sleepy hermit thrush taking in the sunshine, the golden flight of flickers, a pair of red-tails in synchronized flight, golden-crowned kinglets flitting about low branches, and an extended view of a handsome yellow-bellied sapsucker.
I took a picture of this tree because I loved the contrast of color between the berries and leaves. Later I overheard someone say that shrikes use the three-inch thorns on these hawthorn trees to impale their prey so it cannot get away. Deadly beauty, right here in my backyard.
These walks are the first Sunday of each month. They will start at 10 a.m. beginning next month, and they always start from the Boathouse. I think I'll be dressing a little warmer next time!