Thursday, 27 December 2012

Central Park, New York, Dec 2012


T’was the day before Christmas and I had been told,
That Owls can be seen as the weather grows cold.
“Dash away,” I exclaimed, as I sprang from my bed,
And beer from the night before danced in my head.

The weather was mild and the day had turned fair,
I hurried along, so I soon would be there.
And there, in the park, at the top of a tree,
I looked up and a Barred Owl looked back down at me.
 

This is of course, the now famous Barred Owl of Central Park. I had cycled as far as the Loeb Boathouse to see if the owls (for there are thought to be at least two), were still being reported. The last entry had been a few days before and “Pishing” Bob Di Canio had indeed noted two birds.  
I moved swiftly through the Ramble, only stopping momentarily at the bird feeding station by Azalea Pond. From there I passed through the Shakespeare Garden and towards the Pinetum. There I saw a young lady looking intently into a tree. I approached slowly and she pointed out a “big brown lump” high, to the right, in a pine tree.
 

It wasn’t a great view, but it was the only one available as the bird had positioned itself so as to be invisible from any other angle. From this angle it was only possible to see its lower belly and undertail. Luckily it was not asleep and began preening to allow me to see a little more of it.
 

Two Blue Jays passed closely by and screeched at it half-heartedly and moved on quickly. This didn’t disturb the owl in the least which carried on preening and treated me to a full wing and leg stretch.
 

These pictures are the best of a bad bunch. I had tried to over-expose to gain a bit of detail on the bird. Unfortunately, the owl was high and silhouetted and by looking up into the tree, my eyes adjusted to the brightness of the sky, so when I looked back to the replayed picture on my screen, it still looked under exposed, so I over-adjusted. Eyes are not very accurate light meters and I have been caught out like this on a couple of occasions before.
 

Tufted Titmice were abundant in the park today and very bold. This one perched on my bicycle before dropping down onto my tripod. Does anyone, by chance, have a locking lever flap for a Velbon Tripod? Actually, I need four of them. The legs are currently suppoted by tightly wound rubber bands. 
 
 
Before I moved on I checked under the tree to see if the owl had dropped any pellets. There were a couple that looked rather old and dry, possibly from a smaller owl, but directly beneath the bird was a large, still moist pellet.
 

Between the Pinetum and the Reservoir a Red-tailed Hawk perched high in a bare tree. At the Reservoir Mallards lined the edges while estimated hundreds of Herring and Ring-billed Gulls roosted out on the hard stand.
 

Around the rest of the park, White-throated Sparrows were even more common than the Tufted Titmice.

Birds seen; 25

Canada Goose 120, Mallard 60, Red-tailed Hawk 1, American Coot 1, Ring-billed Gull 200, Herring Gull 200, Great Black-backed Gull 18, Mourning Dove 1, Barred Owl 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 2, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1, Downy Woodpecker 3, American Crow 2, Black-capped Chickadee 12, Tufted Titmouse 80, White-breasted Nuthatch 6, American Rovin 25, European Starling 25, White-throated Sparrow 100, Dark-eyed Junco 2, Northern Cardinal 2, Common Grackle 150, House Finch 20, American Goldfinch 20, House Sparrow 15.
 
 
For more posts from Central Park, follow the links below;

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