Monday, March 08, 2010

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Duck psychology with Murray Head

Murray writes:

As I passed Gapstow Bridge there was a large passel of ducks scrambling for bread being tossed by a benefactress.

A singular duck climbed an overlooking rock to survey the activity...and hatched a plan of action.

She turned to observe the situation on the supply side...then gave the donor a Mona Lisa smile.

It didn't take long from turning on the charm to turn into success.

The take away... Some Ducks are smarter than others...and Success breeds imitation.

Photos by Murray Head

Friday, March 05, 2010

Coyote update

Coyote in the Cop Cot area--March 2, 2010 --Photo by Bruce Yolton

Since there was a widely-reported  encounter between a coyote and the NYC Police force in the Chelsea neighborhood two days ago [in which the wily critter eluded a large number of men armed with tranquilizing guns] ,  and since two coyote-trackers [myself and Melissa Cooper] failed to find the beast in Central Park on Wednesday evening , there were questions about whether the animal was still taking refuge in the park Not to worry: Bruce Yolton easily found the coyote at its usual location last night.

Bruce missed the coyote's actual exit at dusk from the Hallett Wildlife Sanctuary, a fenced-in preserve at the Southeast corner of the park where the nocturnal canid seems to spend its daytime hours. But he saw the coyote shortly thereafter, walking north on the path to the west of the sanctuary. Bruce was able to follow it up to the Chess and Checkers pavillion before losing track of it. This time, he writes on his latest blog entry, the coyote moved so quickly that there wasn't a moment
for photography. The shot above was taken on Tuesday. Bruce raises some fascinating questions on his blog today. Check it out:

Also from Bruce's blog, here's a map showing the area where the photo above was taken, with the animal's route both last Tuesday, and last night.

Last week New York magazine had a short feature about the Central Park coyote, including a quick chat with Bruce. Here's a link to the story:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Two weeks to Phoebe Day!

Eastern Phoebe -- one of the earliest spring migrants
Photo by David Speiser --

March 17 is the day Jack Meyer has chosen for his arrival countdown. But the Phoebe might show up earlier [or, for that matter, later].

Not a bad idea to start keeping an eye out for this lovely little tail-flicking flycatcher a week or so earlier. Recommended spots to check out:
the Lower Lobe, the Tupelo meadow, the Azalea Pond.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A new snow creature and a Magpie progress report

photo by Barrie Raik - 2/28/10

Azure-winged Magpie progress report [see posting of 3/1/10]:

I finally talked to someone at the Zoo [It's devilishly hard to get to a live person at the Zoo, but easy to find a mechanical voice giving directions of how to get there]. I managed to get a number from someone at the Conservancy, and reached someone named Rosie Venes. She told me that the recent snowstorm had damaged the netting in their outdoor Aviary where they have a number of Azure-winged Magpies.Three or four of them took the opportunity to wander out into the world. There seems to be no way they can recapture the birds without damaging them. That's the bad news, according to Rosie Venes. The good news: some of the magpies come back for mealtimes. But they don't know which ones. I guess they don't want to repair the net and prevent any of the wanderers from coming back. Or something. Rosie was not a curator and didn't have answers for many of my question; for instance, she didn't know what the birds were fed. And she declined to give me the name and phone number of any curator at the Zoo. So that's as far as I could get in penetrating the inner sanctum of the CP Zoo!