After sleeping in for the first time in forever (Daisy even got up and fed the cats!) I realized that having birded Jamaica Bay yesterday (and getting my first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Glossy Ibis, and Wood Duck of the year) I didn’t really have a plan for the couple of hours worth of birding I could sneak in today. So I decided on one of my favorite default options: walking north the length of Flushing Meadows Park and then turning east and walking across the Queens Botanical Garden, the Kissena Corridor Park, and Kissena Park proper. The sun was shining nicely and despite the strong winds it was warm enough to be out and about without a jacket.
Of course, the nice weather brought what seemed like half the population of Queens out as well, and most of the nice open areas that I try to find birds foraging on were taken up by a host of folks playing every sport imaginable, from cricket to soccer. Fortunately, there were some areas not infested with people, and both Meadow Lake and the air over the park were busy with birds. An American Kestrel struggling against the wind was the main highlight at Flushing Meadows Park but a Red-tailed Hawk that was, for lack of a better word, playing in the wind let me try my hand, once again, at digiscoping a bird in flight. I tripped the shutter at least fifty times and this was the best I could get:
Granted, I’ve taken worse photos, but I really thought I had some exquisite shots, but once I got the camera home and hooked up to the computer I realized that the shutter speed I was using was far too slow so I had a lot of motion blur, to say nothing of the blur caused by my inability to focus on the bird.
Much easier to focus on was this American Coot, which, as you can see, was eating goose poop. Maybe all of the golf courses, parks, and other grassy areas that have an abundance of goose poop should import coots to deal with the problem? If anyone out there starts a business involving coots eating goose poop I expect at least 50% of the profits!
Much more fun than watching coots each poop was watching American Robins pulling worms. I have long wanted to get a good shot of a robin in profile stretching to its full height as it dragged a worm to its doom but, despite my best efforts, the shot below was the best I could get.
Which would you rather eat, an earthworm or goose poop? Having skipped lunch, I was nearly hungry enough to try both! And I still had more birding to do!
The Queens Botanical Garden was, as is only to be expected on a sunny Sunday in spring, rather full of people. Other than they usual avian suspects there wasn’t much around until I spotted a Brown Creeper working its way up a tree. I got myself in position and managed to get the best shot of Brown Creeper I’ve ever taken.
The creeper almost made up for most of the walk through Kissena Corridor Park being entirely devoid of birds. Kissena Park itself wasn’t much better though I was pleased to come upon a photographer who had found an unexpected visitor to Kissena Park’s lake, a Black-crowned Night-Heron roosting directly over the trail! There was only one spot where an unobstructed shot could be taken of the bird and, really, it was far too close and I was kind of peeved that I couldn’t fit the whole bird into the frame but really, why would I complain about a unexpected, close-up Black-crowned Night-Heron?
A second heron was peacefully roosting on the small island in the middle of the lake. Waterfowl numbers were way down from where they were over the winter, with none of the multitude of Northern Shovelers that had been around, and only a few Canada Geese, Ruddy Ducks, and Double-crested Cormorants remaining. There were, however, a ton of turtles! So many turtles that they ran out of rocks to sun on and had to use each other!
Once I was done at the lake I walked out to 164th Street and caught the Q65 bus to Union Turnpike, where, while I was awating the Q46 bus to take me home, a flock of nine Monk Parakeets went by overhead! A new species for me in Queens! It was a great way to end my birding for the day, and mentally prepared me for the spring cleaning that awaited back at the apartment…