First Snow

Saturday, December 9, 2017,

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We had our first real snowfall today. Nothing major. I think a total of five to seven inches are expected when the weather clears tomorrow morning. I was on a bird walk at Avalon Park and Preserve this morning when the snow began to kick in.

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The bird walk was one of Four Harbors Audubon’s regularly scheduled walks. We walk at Avalon and Frank Melville Memorial Park every second Saturday of each month. We had a very small gathering at Avalon, only four of us altogether. I guess the forecast scared some of our regular walkers off. I guess the snow isn’t for everybody.

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As it turned out, it wasn’t a very big day for bird watching anyway. We saw a few but no great numbers of anything. However, we did come across a small herd of five deer. Three does and two fawns. It was the first snow of the season for us, but for those two fawns it was their first snow ever. They didn’t seem very impressed but the snow was really just beginning when I took these photos.

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Female Orchard Oriole at Avalon

Friday, September 8, 2017,

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This is a female Orchard Oriole at Avalon Park and Preserve. I took this pic during a bird walk with the Four Harbors Audubon Society. This bird was spotted and identified by Luci Betti-Nash, who leads the monthly walks at both Avalon and Frank Melville Memorial Park. These walks, which take place on the second Saturday of each month are very informative on a wide range of subjects from botany to zoology. It’s not just about birds with this bunch. Our regular walkers include ornithological geniuses, Master Gardeners, and even an expert on insects. I, of course, provide the comic relief. Look, someone has to do it, and it’s the only reason they let me tag along. We have two walks tomorrow, Saturday, September 9, 2017. Maybe you’d like to join us. Click here for more information about the meeting times and locations. JK

One Birder, Two Birders, Three Birders…

Sunday, November 20, 2016,

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Hello dear readers, both of you. Click on the pic to see the GIF. Just having some fun with the pics in the previous post. Taken together, it looks to me like this this little guy is counting birders as they go past. Or, maybe just shaking his head at the myriad of intruders in his little bit of forest. JK

A Chipmunk at Avalon

Sunday, November 20, 2016,

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This, obviously, is a Chipmunk. I love these little guys. So very cute, so very animated, and so very difficult to photograph because they dont sit still for very long. They’re like little dogs. The smaller they are, the more energy they seem to have. At least Chipmunks aren’t constantly yipping and yapping at ya. They’ve got some self respect. Plus, since they like to keep their personal space, you don’t need to worry about them nipping at your heels.

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I got these two shots near the end of a Four Harbors Audubon Society walk at Avalon Preserve. We were there to observe and count birds. Myself, I’m there to to get whatever pics I can and this Chipmunk was the highlight of my morning. That happens. Alot. I can’t make the birds sit still any more than I can ask jumpy little mammals to do the same. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve also tried to grow hair with the same result. I still need a woolen cap in the winter to keep my noggin warm. Not to mention that I could use some sort of sunburn protection in the summer. Sometimes I think I love Mother Nature a whole lot more than she loves me. Then again, without Her, these shots never happen. JK

Baby Boxer

Friday, October 14, 2016,

This is a baby Box Turtle. Cute little beastie, isn’t it? I was with a group of birders at Avalon during the most recent Four Harbors Audubon monthly walk. One of the walkers – one with much better eyes than my own – spotted this tiny little guy near the side of the path. And, as the next two pics will show, this is one small turtle. In fact, these photos are slightly larger than life. Click on each pic for an even larger view.

After all of us had a chance to view this diminutive marvel we began discussing what species of hard-bodied critter this was. Birders are like that. It’s not enough to see a bird – they insist on identifying everything they see. Some of the walkers thought we were looking at a baby Snapping Turtle and others were thinking it was a Diamondback Terrapin. I was certain that it was neither. I’ve seen plenty of baby Snappers and baby Terrapins and this wasn’t one of either. My first instinct was Box Turtle but I couldn’t be sure. While I’ve been very familiar with Box Turtles since childhood, my experience with baby Boxers is quite limited. The shape of this guy’s head screamed Box Turtle but that shell didn’t look quite right. The dome didn’t seem high enough but, again, I don’t get to meet many baby Boxers. 

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Luckily, birders are not my only resource. I sent these pics to some of my friends at Sweetbriar Nature Center and then I posted the shots at Facebook’s Long Island Wildlife Photography page. The general concensus was that this was, indeed, a baby Box Turtle. And while this may seem like an ‘I told you so’ moment, the truth is that without the input of others I would never be certain of what this little guy is. Thanks to everyone who helped me figure this out. JK