Friday, July 16, 2010

Fall in mid-July

Louisiana Waterthrush--spring 2007
photo by DAVID SPEISER --

Tom Fiore, undaunted by New York's long heat-wave, reports on recent bird sightings in Central Park:

Hi Marie,

There have been a few Black Skimmer sightings at the western edges of Central Park, with a sighting of two flying together into the park, seen from the entrance at West 90th Street over a week ago and most recently a single skimmer seen by Mike Freeman & his family from West 100th Street, also going into or over the park. There may have been others - and you might be aware that in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, birders there have seen skimmers fairly regularly at dusk over the past week or more.

A few southward migrants are appearing in Central Park (about on schedule) - Louisiana Waterthrush was in the Loch on Wed,, a small flock of Bobolinks moved thru very early Thursday (over the Great Lawn - Turtle Pond).


John Blakeman on Wood Ducks

Yesterday's Wood Duck in molt
photo by Murray Head -- 7/14/10

John Blakeman, our Ohio hawk expert, casts light on yesterday's two photos of Wood Ducks


The less than fully resplendent male Wood Duck [shown yesterday] is now in the summer molt. Waterfowl tend to look their worst in the summer months during the molt, especially the males, when many old feathers have been shed and new ones in full splendor don't appear until autumn. The best time to experience the full color of waterfowl is in the cooler months of the year, when they are clothed in their very best, most colorful, and warmest feathered garb.

But ecologically, this works best, as they can stay just a bit cooler, and more importantly present a less showy visage that could attract predators during the summer months. Ducks lose so many feathers during the mid-summer molt that they are for time unable to fly. A less revealing color pattern reduces predation during this period of vulnerability.

Canada geese are particularly famous for this. During their 10 to 15 days of flightless molt, they can be "rounded up" with dogs or nets---or eaten by foxes or coyotes. The summer molt for waterfowl is a time of great flightless vulnerability.

--John Blakeman

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Murray eyes a Wood Duck

Murray Head, careful observer of Wood Ducks [among many other things] writes:

I took this picture of a wood duck in January 2010.

Then this one yesterday. (7/14/10)
(I do not know for sure if he is the same guy.)

it seems he had to switch from a winter outfit to something
more comfortable yet less snazzy for the summer.

What I found particularly fascinating was comparing the eyes.

All photos by MURRAY HEAD

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's the day!!


Taken on 7/9/10 at 57th St. and 7th Ave.

Note: for those new to the concept, Manhattanhenge defines the phenomenon observed several times a year, when the setting sun lines up with the street grid of Mnhattan [as in the photo above].

For an excellent article about the phenomenon by Neil deGrasse Tyson, click on the link below:

PS Many thanks to Mitchell Nussbaum for sending me his great photo.