Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day Birdwalk

Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I always try to start the year off right with an extended birdwalk. Since I spent the day in New York, Central Park became my venue for the first walk of the year.

It was a gray day, but not very cold. Sometimes these January walks require stoicism and many stops in the cafe in the Boathouse, but today was fairly forgiving. The downside was that it wasn't a great day for photography because the colors were flat.

The highlights were the largest flock of cardinals I have ever seen--perhaps as many as 25--and the Great Horned Owl that has been hanging around Central Park for about 3 weeks.
Great-Horned Owl
The Great Horned is sometimes referred to at a "cat owl" because they look rather like a fat cat sitting in a tree. This one does at the top, but I have other shots where even his tail looks like a cat's tail. Allegedly, the Greated Horned can carry off a small cat, but I imagine Nicholas at 12 lbs. weighs too much. (See Monty Python and the Holy Grail for a discussion of whether a swallow can carry a coconut.) But I digress. I thought I was going to have to consult with other birdwatchers to find this critter, but he was way out in the open. I found a hawk, probably a red-tail, in a tree near the Point and when I went around the Oven to get a better look, I stumbled on the GHO. At one point the hawk, about 2/3 the size of the owl, flew into the same tree but quickly decided to beat a hasty retreat.

There were lots of ducks on the Jackie Onassis Reservoir--buffleheads, ruddies, hooded mergansers. Shovelers on the Rowboat Lake along with Canada geese, a cormorant and mallards.

The rest of the species were "the usual suspects": chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, white-throated sparrows and one lovely fox sparrow.

The year is young--many species to go! And maybe some sunny days for better photographs.


Grumpy Old Man said...

Great pictures.

I should go on more birdwalks.

Nancy said...

Wow, I have never seen so many cardinals in one place. Lucky you!