Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cloisters Pond - Pre-Birding

Christmas Morning - Cloisters Pond - On the 17th of January I will be leading an "Easy Birding" walk in the Cloisters Park.  My goal this a.m. was to find out what birds to expect on the day of the walk.  Due to a total lack of rain, the pond is shrinking, and the vegetation along the park paths is extremely dry and birds are scarce (nothing to eat I figure).  The park lawn and some of the plants are watered which helps in providing habitat and insects for the warblers and flycatchers; the number one attraction for the birds is the pond.  The majority of the 26 species I observed were in or around the pond or on the lawn.

The above photo was taken from the overlook; as I approached, a family that had been feeding the ducks crumbs, were leaving.  The Mallard Ducks, being more skittish, moved closer to the water which left the Sparrows pecking at the crumbs.  As I was watching the little darlings, a California Thrasher came into view - a most unusual sighting.  Ca. Thrashers are usually off in the distance singing from atop a tall bush.  I am hoping this Thrasher will appear on the "Easy Birding" walk in January.   For a 24 second, could stand improvement Thrasher video, go to
 On my last visit to the pond I saw a male Northern Pintail Duck - a first-time Cloisters sighting (photo from wikipedia - with tailfeathers).  Male Pintails have long, pointy tail feathers, and this fellow was missing his tail.  He was probably hanging around the pond waiting for his tail feathers to grow back.  And sure enough his pointy tail feathers were sprouting, but they had a looong way to go.  I am hoping this handsome male will make an appearance in January.

Since the majority of the Cloisters birds are located in and around the pond, it looks like "Easy Birding" will be easy birding.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Front yard birding has been excellent of late.  One and sometimes two male Townsend's Warbler are feeding at the suet that hangs in a scraggly Mallow Bush in my front yard.  This morning, flitting in the Mallow, were two male Townsend's, plus Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chickadee, and a perky Oak Titmouse.

Occasionally the Townsend's takes delicate sips of water from the bird bath.   I was trimming a plant near the birdbath today when he came in for a sip, nearly close enough to touch; he lingered on the edge for a few moments, and of course I did not have a camera.  Taking a decent photo of the little darling is difficult, as this colorful little warbler is never at one location for more than a second.

From tiny birds to much larger birds - A few days ago, on a very cold morning was able to get a photo of Turkey Vultures warming up before flight. Unlike the fast moving Warbler, these guys were nearly stationary.  A photo op. I could not pass up.  A friend of mine whose living room window looks out at this old tree, called to let me know about the vultures.
Turkey Vultures are non-aggressive and contrary to common belief do not circle dying animals, although sometimes, while out in the wild, I feel they are giving me the eye.