Friday, July 4, 2008

Suburban birding

I've been bogged down buying a house (or trying to find one to buy) for much of June and July and not doing much birding. However the apartment complex I'm living in does have an unusually interesting mix of birds at times. It's built adjacent to some sort of state park (apparently closed to the public), near some wet woods and there's a fallow field across the way. So despite being suburban it has a semi-rural aspect to it.

My list of "apartment complex birds" are basically those I've seen and heard from the complex itself.

The best birds in the apartment complex have been American Woodcock singing right next to the parking lot, a Peregrine Falcon harassing a Ring-billed Gull and Bald Eagle. There's also been novelties like Common Merganser (I once picked up a dead female from the apt complex road), Sharp-shinned Hawk and Tree Swallow. There are breeding birds on and around the complex - Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Flicker in the wet areas, House Finch and American Goldfinch, the sadly ubiquitous Brown-headed Cowbird and the typical suburban Song Sparrow and Northern Mockingbird. However the more heavily wooded areas near the edge of the complex have also yielded Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe, and in the fields I have heard Field Sparrow and Indigo Bunting - these two species appeared to move in in mid-summer, and were not singing initially in spring.

But the best bird, one that was no more than 300 yards from my apartment, was a bird I didn't actually see myself - a Barnacle Goose was reported from the edge of Quakerbridge Rd on the grassy area beyond the field, in what is a now-abandoned corporate lot. I never did manage to see that goose, which was only found a couple of times, and ironically had to go further afield (Califon, Montauk) to find one.