Friday, August 21, 2009

birding around the day job

As you probably already know I am spending quite a lot of time in the US at the moment, with work. Recently I've needed to be in New Jersey and New York whereas normally its Boston. This week just passed I decided to take my bins and camera with me on the basis I hoped to get a few minutes during the week to get out of the office or hotel and see what was about.

I tried first to explore around my hotel but being located on a Corporate Park the only way to move around outside the grounds is in a car. There are no facilities to accommodate pedestrians of any sort, which was quite a shock to me.

Anyway first-up is what I believe to be a juvenile American Robin:

It's moulting into the more distinctive plumage with an all orange front. Apart from the Robin's the other birds were all European introduced birds such as pigeons and Starlings.

Next I managed to sneak out for half an hour at the end of a working day. Right out the back of the office is some woodland, so I felt I had a good chance of seeing something. The first few birds were very familiar including American Crows and American Goldfinch, this however was unfamiliar:

The field guide I had with me wasn't up to identifying it so I emailed Helen over night and she identified it the next morning as a juvenile American Redstart:

The fanned tail and yellow bars on the tail being distinctive and decisive in the identification. The other bird of note and one I've seen on each of my trips this year was a Black-and-White Warbler:

The last picture I took on Tuesday evening before going back into the office was the fungus on a tree, I just liked the colour and the dappled sunlight:

I got another thirty minutes of birding in on Wednesday evening. Stood in exactly the same spot but with a number of different birds. This White-breasted Nuthatch was one of three squabbling around:

A Red-bellied Woodpecker:

A Hairy Woodpecker:

And a Downy Woodpecker on the other side of the track, made it three Woodpecker species in thirty minutes:

Last but not least a juvenile Baltimore Oriole:

No new species but it was nonetheless a good way to wind down a little after the mayhem of the working day.

On Thursday we had to head into Manhattan and decided to take the ferry. I was expecting a cross between a channel ferry and something smaller. The SeaStreak Catamaran therefore turned out to be quite a surprise.

Waiting for the service to depart from the New Jersey shoreline I watched a Common Tern perch, then fly off to grab a bite then settle down again:

All around were American Herring Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants and a good number of juvenile Common Terns.
The boat set off promptly, you can see here the wake and cloud of diesel when she's going flat out. My guess was 40 knots but judging speed on water is tricky. So much for the birding I expected to be able to do from the ferry though. It was like being stood in a storm!

We approached Manhattan from the south, this is the first bridge we passed under as we entered the New York islands:

On the shoreline you can see an old fort, my guess is it dates back to the 19th century:

Finally, we passed relatively close to lady liberty:

A murky day but the sunshine really catches well on the flame. Fingers crossed for more birding opportunities on my next trip.

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