Banded Goose Returns

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Friday I spotted H7H6 in Prospect Lake again. As you may recall, H7H6 is the banded goose I first saw in Prospect Lake on January 29, over two weeks earlier. I hadn’t seen it again since, though I had looked for it. I assumed it had flown on. Now it’s back.

Where was it for two weeks? Was it simply hiding in the phragmites? Had it crossed the road to the Parade Grounds where I rarely go? Flown a few blocks to Greenwood Cemetery? or out to the coast and Jamaica Bay? or even further? Why did it leave (if it did) and why did it return? I don’t know, but these are the sorts of questions bird banding is intended to answer.

What’s Missing

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

I’ve been scanning the list of birds reported so far for New York State in the Great Backyard Bird Count. We’re two days in, and there are some missing birds that might be gettable within the greater New York City area. These include:

  • Boat-tailed Grackle (Jamaica Bay)
  • Northern Sawwhet Owl (Fort Tilden, Floyd Bennett)
  • American Bittern (Jamaica Bay)
  • Short-eared Owl (Croton Point)
  • Great Horned Owl (Croton Point, Central Park)
  • Yellow Breasted Chat (Clove Lakes, Staten Island)
  • Dunlin (Jones Beach)
  • Purple Sandpiper (Coney Island, Breezy Point, various locations)

Of that list, Boat-tailed Grackle is by far the easiest. I’m surprised it hasn’t been reported yet. I think I’m going to have to hop an A train out to Jamaica Bay to try for it. I’ll probably look for American Bittern while I’m out there too; but that’s a long shot. Purple Sandpiper shouldn’t be that hard, but it’s eluded me repeatedly.

Great Backyard Bird Count Begins

Friday, February 17th, 2006

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Like many Brooklynites, my backyard is the wall of the next building.

My backyard

House sparrows are regulars there, along with an occasional European Starling or Rock Pigeon. Two or three times I’ve even had Mourning Doves perch on my air conditioner, but otherwise I normally count in local parks. I wasn’t sure if I was going out today, but most of my work was blocked waiting for other people. When I walked Shayna this morning, the weather proved exceptionally warm and sunny for February in New York so I decided to walk over to Prospect Park and see what I could find.

Bad Pricing: Epidemic or Fluke?

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Twice in the last two days I’ve caught programmed cash registers scanning a different price than was clearly advertised. Once was in a fairly nice restaurant that added $2 to the price of a glass of Bourbon; once was in a sporting goods store that added a $1 to the price of a pair of rubber boots.

Maybe it’s just a fluke, and I only took note because it happened to me so close together in time; but maybe it’s an increasing problem as more pricing gets automated without effective checks and balances; and just maybe it’s not a mistake at all but a deliberate and dishonest way to raise prices.

Spammers getting smarter

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

The comment spammers are getting smarter. I had a pretty effective antispam system of moderating any comments that included two or more URLs. However recently I’ve noticed several comments that included zero or one URLs. (The zero-URL spams work by shoving the URL on the commenter.) Plus they aren’t showing the usual gibberish I was seeing in comment spam. They’ve got plausible generic content in the comments. So far the amount of spam isn’t crippling; but if it continues to get worse I may have to take more serious measures.

#329-333 at the Glory Hole

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

Yesterday I went on my first pelagic trip. It was led by Paul Guris of See Life Paulagics. The Captain Lou VII left out of Freeport, New York bound for Chicken Canyon and the Glory Hole (I don’t know how these undersea features got their names; possibly the same way the Grand Tetons did.) around 6:20 A.M. I hadn’t been on an extended boat trip for 25 years; and the last ones I went on made me horribly seasick, so I was more than a little nervous. However the seas were calm and so was my stomach. The trip was full with 50 or so people, but I only noticed one person chumming over the side of the boat the whole day.

Birding on the Captain Lou 7, February 11, 2006