Friday, May 16, 2008

Birding 101 - Central Park West

First and Foremost I want to confess to you that I am not a true blue born in the flesh bonafide
BIRDER! If I learned anything on this trip this is it! Let me explain why.
We woke up the first morning at 4:30 to catch the train at 5:40 to Penn Station. You can see it was barely light out. But on we trudged not knowing exactly where to go but having within our
backpack and sweaty little hand the directions to take the subway C and get off at 103rd St. Central Park West.
We arrived at Penn Station at 5:55 and it was first light by then. Now all we had to do was figure out how to swipe our 'metro card' and get on the the right subway that would take us to the 103rd St. entrance to Central Park where the birders meet at 7:30.

Unbelievably the first morning went pretty smooth and we arrived
early to find lots of birders waiting for us. This was Saturday Morning
and Star was our 'star' leader this day. We would bird in the North
Woods today

On Sunday the bird walk was led by 'Birding Bob' and we met
at the turtle pond in front of Belvedere Castle. Today we will
Bird in the Ramble between the Castle and Boathouse.
Take a look at these two pictures. Birders are a easily
identified group...hats, binoculars, backpacks, some carry
bird guides but very few carry cameras.

And they are always looking towards the sky, leaning back in
unison catching a glance at a specimen not otherwise seen.
My back hurts and this kicks in my vertigo, Nah! I'm not a birder.

And if you listen closely you will hear phrases like "first branch
at the top, straight out to the right at 3:0clock.
Nah! I'm not a birder.

Then as if that wasn't enough to convince me ...they do this
little thing called 'pishing' where they blow air through
the teeth and use their fingers to make it come out in
little puffs. Pish, pish, pish, pish.... Nah! I'm not a birder.
Reminded me of one of my little boys when trying to
feed them applesauce and they did that raspberry
and spit it out!!

But all joking aside, the pishing does bring out the birds so
you can see them or get the picture. I was amazed about that.
There is actually a book by Pete Dunne, The Art of Pishing.

A True -blue birder will climb up on the tallest rock
and not be afraid of falling to see the rare find.

And then we have the true blue photographers...I found out
I am not one of them either. To get the picture close
up and personal you need a lens like the one in the picture

Or a cheaper version by Canon like this pretty girl has.

Yea! Man! That's what I call a camera and lens.

Putting all that aside lets get serious and I will show you what
I DID get with my little camera and more than inadequate
birding skills.

Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Green Heron (first for me)

Red Winged Blackbird

Indigo Bunting

Two Male Baltimore Orioles playing and singing in the top of a tree.
Took a lot of shots of these.

Double Breasted Cormorant. First day saw it at the Harlem Meer.

Second day it posed for a long time at the Boathouse.
Got lots of nice shots this day. Click to see it's blue eye.

Oven Bird... this was a challenge as it blends so well
with all the leaves. (first for me)

Ok let me just stop here for a moment...The Warblers!! They
are quite beautiful, but they are quickest, flittiest, hard to
see or capture birds I have ever seen. I missed alot of them
and was ready to give up long before the tru-blue Birders
were ready to go home. But I did get a few !
If I mis-identify feel free to correct me. My 1st try with
these little flitters!

Northern Parula Warbler

Common Yellow-throated

Black Throated Blue

Female Balck & White

Male Black & White

During the Saturday walk with Star someone came by and excitedly
announced the 'Dickcissel' was spotted but it was too far to go.
Fortunately on our walk with Birding Bob the next day
we were able to get a few decent shots of this little bird foraging
around on the ground.

He's quite a pretty bird.

It seemed he was gathering nesting material.
Dickcissel- a rare find! (first for me)

After we left the birding group on Saturday this was the
catch of the day. A Black Crown Night Heron was fishing
on the rail in the Harlem Meer. He commenced to put on
quite a show for us and we got a lot of pictures.

He would jump from rock to rock

Fly short distances.. almost like watch me watch me
I can perform

He sure was beautiful and not afraid at all.

Oops Not a bird. But we did see a sleeping Raccoon.

It seemed to be covering it's eyes to block out the light of day.
Or is that my imagination.
At the end of a very very long two days I was happy with
my pictures, being the ameteur birder and photgrapher
that I now know I am.....
At the Loeb Boathouse there is a book that my friend just
had to see. It was a fascination of hers. Birders go there
after a walk and write all the birds seen that day.
Here it is for your enjoyment.

If you click you can read some of the entries.
For all the pictures of birds from Central Park go to
Picasa Album Birding Central Park

Stay tuned to Window on Nature for the second
most popular activity in Central Park....coming soon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Many Faces of Central Park

I have been to NY City, Times Square, Madison Square Garden,
China Town, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Empire State Building, etc....
and I thought I had seen it all .... but that was before my friend talked
me into going on a 'birding' tour of Central Park.

I was so impressed with the Park that I would go back there
in a heartbeat. It's the City in a country setting. Who would
have known what pleasures awaited us.

First I want to show the Scenes and Statues, Gardens and
lakes of Central Park. This 'jane and barbie' adventure
surpasses any we have taken in our 30+ years as friends.

The Famous Split level Bethesda Terrace is a picture that most
people have seen in books or on line. It is the Architectural heart of
Central Park.

At the edge of the Great Lawn in Central Park is a bronze statue
depicting the two lovers from Shakespeare’s play
Romeo & Juliet” published in 1597. ...

A Robin actually built a nest in the space between these
two lovers in years past. The Statue stands in front of the
Delacorte Theatre in Central Park
go here to see a pict. of bird's nest.

Fifty-ninth Street, at the entrance to Central Park
you will see a Statue of Columbus.

There are many other Statues and Scenes that I
have posted in my Picasa Album.. please click to see.

Belvedere Castle is perhaps the most magical monument in Central Park,
one that combines function, form and romance - ...
It is perched on an immense outcropping of bedrock called Vista Rock

What amazed me was how you could see the NY skyline
from a lot of places in the park. Reminding you that
you are indeed in NY City.

There are many bodies of water in Central Park. The one above
is near the Loeb Boathouse and the one below is the Harlem Meer.

We saw water birds at both places we do not see at home.

The sandstone terrace with benches built into the walls is the site of the
of the Waters, one of the world’s most famous fountains. ...
It was unveiled in 1873.

On March 26, 1981, the city council designated the area, stretching from
71st to 74th streets, as Strawberry Fields. The mosaic is at the heart of a
series of open and secret glades of lawn and glacier-carved rock outcroppings,and
is dedicated to John Lennon who was shot not far from here in the Dakota
Apartment Building on Dec. 8th, 1980.

Deep within the forested northwest sector called “The Cliff”, stands the
oldest building in the Park, Blockhouse No.1 high upon the edge of a hill.

Lush green and waterfalls can be seen through out the Park.

The six-acre Conservatory Garden is Central Park's only formal garden.
The walkways are lined with benches where you can sit and read
or just relax.

The Wisteria was in bloom and the scent was heavenly
and the view is of the Fountain

To the north is the classical French-style garden. At its center is German
sculptor Walter
Schott's The Three Dancing Maidens.

Some come to capture the beauty on canvas.

But the Reason we came to Central Park was not for the
beauty of trees, flowers, statues and waters but is depicted
in the photo below.
This is the famous 'Hawk Bench' where Pale Male
and Lola The red tailed Hawks
are watched everyday
they are nesting across on 5th Avenue.

And YES!!!! We did see Pale Male sitting on the nest.
Talk about excited..... It was the last thing we saw as we
were leaving Central Park and we were just in awe of the
whole experience.

Stay tuned for the next 'Face of Central Park' coming soon
to Window on Nature Blog....

Sad update.... When I returned from my trip I did not see
Mr. or Mrs. Wren flitting about and was afraid to even look
in the nest. When I did I was very sad....all 6 hatchlings were
there perfect but dead. While I was gone we had freezing temps
and pouring rain. If this was first nest for mom she may
not have known how to keep the chicks dry and warm.

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