Loony Day

Saturday, February 24, 2018,

So. I had hiked along the upper fields of Avalon one morning and I saw a bird. As in singular. As in one. It was small and dark and deep in the brush. It may have been a Junco. A lonely Junco at that.

Needing something to calm myself from all that excitement, I drove to Stony Brook Harbor where I saw gulls and more gulls. And then, even more gulls. There were more gulls than you could shake a stick at, even a really big one. So I sat and I waited. I read my Kindle. I played solitaire. I glanced up from time to time and, yep, the gulls were still there.

Another half an hour goes by and still more gulls. I was feeling quite gullible when I noticed a change. A giddy change, a downright loony change. There was a Loon. (Cue Katherine Hepburn: “The Loons, the Loons!”). There was Loon. I know I already said that but after all those gulls, there was a Loon. A Loon! I took some pics as it slowly drifted off.  Then it was just me and the gulls again.

Eventually, another Loon appeared. Maybe it was the same one, I don’t know. I started up with the picture taking again. This time, I noticed a bunch more. Most of them were near where West Meadow Creek empties into the harbor. There were at least 14 of them. There may have been more but they were fairly spread out and with one or another diving and bobbing back up, it’s hard to be certain.

Most of them were too far off for me to get any good pics, but I did get lucky with a few. It seems that crabs were the lunch special for the day and, to my surprise, I think they were swallowed whole. The Loon would come back to the surface, shake the crab free of any sand and grit and then, gulp, it was gone. The crab, not the Loon.

As I headed back to my truck I checked, and yes, the gulls were still there. JK

A Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Magic of Morton Refuge

Thursday, February 8, 2018,

Those of you that visit this blog – I think there might be three of you now – may have noticed me make mention of the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Sag Harbor. Morton Refuge is a truly magical place. I’ve been going there for over 35 years years and the magic never grows old. It has never become a “ho-hum” experience despite the scores of times I’ve visited there. The magic of the refuge is simple but awe-inspiring. The magic of Morton is the trust that birds have for us humans. There are several species of our feathered friends that will feed directly from your hand. Just bring along some sunflower seeds and you’ll have a hundred new friends. 

This is a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. He was perching and pacing along a split rail fence at Morton, waiting, and hoping, for some seed to be spilled by the folks that come to feed the braver avian species. The braver – or perhaps I should say tamer – birds include Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Downy Woodpeckers.  That is the order in which you can expect them to visit you. Chickadees and Titmice are the most common visitors, while Downy Woodpeckers tend to be the shyest of the birds that will perch on your hand. Sometime, and I make no promises here, even the occasional squirrel can be enticed to sample your goods.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and several assorted Sparrows will all be interested observers but I have never had any of them alight upon my own hand. This is not to say that it does not happen. I met a woman last week who told me that she had had a Blue Jay take a peanut from her hand. It just hasn’t happened for me. If it does, Morton Refuge will become that much more magical for me. As it is though, Morton is magical enough. As I said earlier, even after over 35 years, the wonder of this place never ceases. JK


A Very Blue Jay

Monday, February 5, 2018,

Here’s a pair of shots of a Blue Jay that is looking rather magnificent. Just look at those colors and the way he’s posing. I found this guy strutting his stuff at Morton Refuge. It’s almost as if he’s showing off a new coat. As far as I know, Blue Jays do not molt in winter but this bird appears to be brand new, doesn’t it? He’s looking good and I think he knows it. JK