Friday, October 31, 2014

October 30 - Inwood - Ravens and Blue Grosbeak

A beautiful, crisp, fall morning in Inwood. I went into the park around 7:30 am. After checking the Muscota Marsh area (the usual Swamp and Song sparrows in the marshy areas), I went out towards the dock. When almost to the dock I heard a Common Raven croaking across the canal but I couldn't spot exactly where it was coming from. Then I spotted a raven flying north across the canal, but I knew this was not been the bird I had heard. The flying bird landed in a cleft on the cliff near the big Columbia "C" on the north side of the canal. Already in the cleft was another raven, presumably the bird I had heard calling. Over the next few minutes the two birds moved around the cleft and picked up and passed around some sticks in the cleft before flying off. Ravens have become increasingly regular in the neighborhood lately. If this is a pair, perhaps of young birds, thinking of nesting in the area, perhaps even on the cliff overlooking the canal, they would be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

I continued my walk, back past Muscota Marsh and to the soccer fields. The trees on the south side of the Henry Hudson Bridge are now showing some nice fall color.

Ridge south of Henry Hudson Bridge                                                                      © Joseph DiCostanzo
As in recent days, there were many sparrows around the edge of the soccer field. Today the flocks were mostly on the southwest side of the field and as in recent days were dominated by Dark-eyed Juncos - probably hundreds of them. After checking through the sparrows for a while I headed up the Clove to the ridge. I was hoping for a hawk flight and the meadow overlook of the Hudson River is often a good spot to catch birds following the river south. However, I think it was still too early in the day - no thermals yet for the hawks to ride. On the path north of the overlook I found that the Osage Orange tree had dropped most of its large, yellow/green, knobby, baseball-sized fruit. These are a not uncommon sight littering the ground in the fall.

Osage Orange fruit on ground.                                                                             © Joseph DiCostanzo
Close-up of Osage Orange fruit.                                                                                   © Joseph DiCostanzo
As I was walking south along the ridge to get to the valley path to go home, my cellphone range with a call from Nadir Sourigi. He had a Blue Grosbeak along the Greenway trail south of Tubby Hook at the west end of Dyckman Street. Since I still needed this species for my New York State 2014 year list I quickly headed south. Nadir said he would wait for me to arrive so I did not have to hunt for the bird. When I got there I found Nadir and James Knox still watching the bird which was feeding in the weeds on the west side of the trail with an Indigo Bunting.

Poor picture of the Blue Grosbeak.                                                                                © Joesph DiCostanzo
The grosbeak was number 294 for my year list. Only six to go to my goal of 300! As the three of us headed north back up the Greenway, the day's hawk flight was starting. Overhead we saw a immature Bald Eagle, a Red-shouldered Hawk and two Peregrine Falcons - the last perhaps local birds. My morning list follows.

Canada Goose
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven (2, see above)
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Palm Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (1, fenced brushy area north side of soccer field)
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird (a group flying south over the Greenway)
Common Grackle
Purple Finch (6, seen flying south at the Overlook)
House Sparrow

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