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Monday, April 16, 2012

If You Got It, Flaunt It!

Breeding plumage!  So many ducks have it!  Come mating season, they ditch their drab brown coats for something much flashier.  Colors and patterns you wouldn't believe! It's really quite something, and on a recent spring day, D had the good fortune of having jury duty!  Not only did he have jury duty, but he was released at 1pm!  He hopped on the A train and went straight for Jamaica Bay where he was thrilled to see many of the ducks we've become pretty used to seeing out there in much snazzier duds.  

Northern Shoveler (Male, Breeding Plumage)

I can never get over the size of this guys bill.  It's so disproportionately big it's almost absurd!!   I guess that's why they call him Shoveler.  Their highly specialized bill is good for sifting plankton from the waters surface. 

Here's the Northern Shoveler when he's not trying so hard:

Green-winged Teal (Male, Breeding Plumage)

Another dramatic transformation.  Pretty much the only thing this species retains between breeding/non-breeding is the little bit of yellow on the tail coverts.

And now for the really exciting stuff!  About a year ago, before I got into birdwatching in earnest, I was at Central Park on my lunch break taking a walk around The Pond.  I sat on a bench watching a group of about 50 Mallards, just ducking around, until something caught my eye.  One of these things was NOT like the others!!  What I was so amazed by, I later discovered, was a Wood Duck.  Heart palpitations, people!  I turned to the stranger standing next to me, "Do you see that insane looking duck?!?!?"  She did, and I'm not sure she cared...but it didn't kill my spirit.

And so, on his latest trip to Jamaica Bay, D finally got to see first hand what so excited me at Central Park. 

Premature equackulation!!  Get it?! ;)

Wood Duck (Male, Breeding Plumage)

He's got this virbrantly green helmet-like head and blood red eyes, not to mention shades of yellow, blue, purple and brown.  What.  A.  Duck.  Keep your eyes peeled folks, you can see one too!  Although uncommon, we saw another one at Prospect Park only yesterday and they'll be here all summer.

Two House Finches, Sitting in a Tree

Tree Swallow in Flight

You can usually tell a swallow by their shape when they're flying, as they have that distinctive curvature of their wings.  D snapped this one at the exact right moment.  I love the movement that comes through in this shot.  He hasn't even tucked in his little legs yet!

At Prospect Park yesterday we didn't have our camera but can report that spring is definitely in the air.  We spotted a baby Red-tailed Hawk in his nest over by the Vale of Cashmere.  The yellow-rumped warblers are back in action, and we must have seen about two hundred Robins, including one with an albino morph!!  Unfortunately, no news on the G.H.O., but we'll keep checking up on her.  Happy spring migration everybody!