Thursday, March 20, 2014

Prospect Park 3/20--Rusty Blackbird

Ring-neck Ducks, Wood Ducks, Mallard, Upper Pool, Prospect Park
 I had to be in New York today to get my taxes done; so the day wouldn't be a complete loss, I took the subway first to my old stomping grounds--a few rarities had been reported there, but more than anything, I just wanted to walk around the park for a couple of hours.

I swung around the Upper Pool on my way to the Nethermead and found my first ducks of the day. My real objective, though, was the Osage Orange tree in the Nethermead where Rusty Blackbirds have been reported for the last week or so. My first pass through the area failed to turn up any rusties--just grackles, sparrows, and a lot of noisy jays. I didn't want to waste my limited time in the park looking for one species, so I hurried on to the lake, figuring I'd at least get a lot of ducks. I did, including a small flock of Common Mergansers, relatively rare for the park's lake. They were easy to find, and made a nice contrast with their smaller cousins, the Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers that were also in the middle of the water.  I was looking for one more water bird, and half-circled the lake until I got to the southwest corner. There was a fairly large flock of Ruddy Ducks there, as there always seemed to be, and then, just as I was about to give up and turn back toward Park Slope, I found what I was looking for: a Red-necked Grebe--certainly not a new bird this year, but my first ever in Kings County and a rare find for the vicinity.

Amazingly, I hadn't seen or heard a Black-capped Chickadee. Didn't get one in Central Park either earlier this year. I decided to look at Peter's feeders to see if one or more would come in. As I was standing there, not seeing any chickadees (though there were finches, sparrows, and a Downy Woodpecker) a text came in from Peter--the rusties were back at the Osage Orange. I gave up on the chickadee (I suppose I will eventually see one this year) and walked back to the Nethermead at speed. When I got there, nothing. Peter had said they'd flush to the creek that runs alongside the meadow so I slowly walked backed and forth, looking for movement in the shrubbery. Nothing--just sparrows, jays, robins, and grackles again until finally I saw one, deep in a bush--pale iris, pointier bill than Red-winged Blackbird, much smaller than grackle. Peter said there were 6 there and that patience would prevail. But I had to go and I only need to see one. I saw it well, though there was no possibility of taking a picture through the bushes--all the camera would do was focus on the twigs.

So it was a pretty good, if fast-paced two plus hours in the park. As to the taxes--we pretty much came out flat which is as good a result as I could hope for.

My day list:
36 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  5
Wood Duck  4    Upper Pool
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  100
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)  1
Northern Shoveler  10
Ring-necked Duck  3    Upper Pool
Hooded Merganser  15
Common Merganser  6    
Red-breasted Merganser  5
Ruddy Duck  26
Red-necked Grebe  1    Largish grebe with long, dagger-like bill. Black capped head. Lake.
American Coot  10
Ring-billed Gull  50
Herring Gull  5
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2    Heard
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  1    Heard
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
American Robin  125
European Starling  100
American Tree Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Northern Cardinal  8
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Rusty Blackbird  1    
Common Grackle  15
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  20
Banded goose

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