Friday, April 19, 2013,
This past Saturday morning Four Harbors Audubon Society had our monthly walk at Avalon Park and Preserve. We meet every second Saturday at 8 AM, 9 during the winter, at the Duck Pond in Stony Brook. It was a terrific morning. Comfortable weather, sunny skies, and friends I haven’t seen in far too long.
We were joined by the Brookhaven Young Birders Club. This is one talented group. Sharp eyes and sharp minds. One of this crew spotted – and identified! - a Northern Harrier from at least a half a mile away. Older, (I mean more experienced), but by no means more able, birders confirmed this with binoculars. These young birders are that good.
That’s some of them in the photo above. They’re pointing out a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk that was perched above one of the farm fields. In the pic below you can see that same bird trying to see what all the excitement is all about.
This crew compiled a very impressive bird count for the morning’s walk. They really know their stuff and they’re eager learners. One of them keeps a blog of their adventures. You can check it out here.
The Brookhaven Young Birders Club is open to anyone between the ages of ten and seventeen. If you know any young people that like birds or even just finding new places to hike and explore here on Long Island please contact Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a good bunch. You should check them out. JK
Monday, January 14, 2013,
This is a Black-capped Chickadee that I managed to get pics of recently. Chickadees are not hard to come by, especially at this time of year, but they are quick-moving little buggers and can sometimes be tricky to photograph. These guys are with us all year round but we tend to see much more of them during the winter months. They do breed here but I think it’s possible that we also see migrators from northerly climes enjoying our balmy weather. I’m just guessing here. I am not a birder, I’m just paparazzi.
I took these pics at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. This is such a wonderful park and it has so much to offer no matter what the season. There are several easily accessible trails that take you through some very interesting woods. There’s even a stand of bamboo that not only looks cool but sounds even cooler if there’s a breeze. There’s also two ponds and a saltwater marsh as well. Sounds good, huh? You should come and check it out for yourself. This place is a pleasure at any time of year. JK
Tuesday, December, 18, 2012,
I took this pic three weeks ago but I was unsure what it was so I was bit hesitant about posting it. When I first came upon it, I knew it was a cormorant. Their body shapes are pretty much unmistakeable. And as most of the cormorants I ever see are the Double-crested ones, my first thought was “what the heck are you still doing here?!?” This guy was bit thicker in build than my “usual” cormorants, not to mention he was out of season so I got to thinking that, maybe, just maybe, I had managed to capture a new-to-me species. This is always a cool thing. Many of my birder friends keep lists of the birds they’ve see. I don’t count them till I manage to get a pic of them. This not so much because I hold myself to higher standards than other birders, but, rather, it’s because I am a lousy birder. I am probably the worst birder in Audubon. I don’t trust myself or my identifications. Look, I just take the pictures. This is, in fact, how I got involved with Audubon in the first place. I would send pics out to my birder friends asking for species identifications. Next thing I know, I’m the photographer for the Four Harbors Audubon Society. Not that this is a bad thing. Now I know even more folks to query about birds I can’t identify. Plus, all those wonderful folks are forever pointing me to good places to take my camera.
Looking through my Sibley’s it seemed to me that maybe I had captured a juvenile Great Cormorant. However, on this occasion my friends at Four Harbors were non-committal. A couple of them were even wiseguys, despite the fact that that’s my job. So I posted this pic at Audubon New York’s Facebook page. These folks have come through for me before and they did this time as well. And, as it turns out, I managed to guess this guy’s identity correctly. He is indeed a juvenile Great Cormorant. Woo hoo! Always nice to get a new species under my belt. JK
December 2, 2012,
One of my responsibilities as photographer for the Four Harbors Audubon Society is coming up with a bird of the month for our website. One of my fellow board members suggested a winter duck so I went to Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. This park is terrific for waterfowl. The two ponds here attract a wide variety of wintering birds. One can find all kinds of ducks here. For a photographer it can be like shooting fish in a barrel or ducks on a – well, you get my point.
These are pics of a pair of Northern Shovelers. Check out those bills. They’re bigger than the rest of their heads! It’s no wonder that these birds tend to keep their bills pointed down. The real wonder is how they manage to stay upright at all.
My friend Elaine says, “Gotta love that bill!” and my friend Luci once described it as a “wonderful adaptation”. Meanwhile, these are the ducks that had to sit by themselves in the high school cafeteria.
All kidding aside, those bills really are amazing. That over-sized shnozz is used to sieve edible matter – be it zooplankton, crustaceans, or seeds from the water. This gives these guys a one-up on the other dabbling ducks that visit us, even if they do look like mutant Mallards. JK
Friday, November 23, 2012,
This is not a House Wren, despite appearances. I thought it was. I mean, look, it’s a wren and it’s inside the house. How could I be wrong? Rather easily, as it turns out. I sent this pic out to a few of my birder friends, mostly just to share this experience. Kinda lucky for me that I did so because Luci from Four Harbors Audubon Society corrected my misidentification. Here’s a direct quote, because I couldn’t say it any better:
“When is a wren in the house not a House Wren? In the winter, when it’s a Winter Wren!”
It turns out that House Wrens are rare this time of year but these guys, Winter Wrens, come down from up north to enjoy our balmy winters. Maybe this guy was looking for some extra warmth. I don’t think he was counting on sharing the place with my cats, although neither of my two sleeping beauties noticed him. Top predators indeed.
If you click on the pic, you’ll get to view a slightly larger version. That one lets you see all the cobwebs this guy is wearing. I may have to fire the maid. Oh wait, I am the maid. Darn. JK