Tiny Terrapin

Tuesday, April 18, 2017,

This is a Diamondback Terrapin. A brand new one. Handsome little beastie, no?

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These pics were taken almost a year ago at Sunken Meadow State Park. (Yeah, I’m still behind on my posts). It was the start of a good day. I didn’t know that yet, or rather, I didn’t know how good it was going to to be. I did know that it was a fine morning to be walking the beach and maybe for taking some decent pics. It was late May and I was enjoying a morning before the sweaty days of summer here on Long Island. I couldn’t know it yet, but before my visit was through I’d get some fairly decent shots of a Piping Plover patrolling the beach. Not to mention these pics.


When I came across this little one – (check out the photo below to see how tiny he was) – I was looking to take pics and video of the hundreds, heck, maybe thousands of Fiddler Crabs that inhabit this little spit of land when I noticed this guy booking away right beneath my feet. I very nearly stepped on him. I failed, completely, to get anything useful of the Fiddler Crabs that day, but just look at what I did get. You can never know what you’re going to find when you step out the door.  

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All we need to do is take that step. Just look and see what’s waiting for us. This and other little wonders are out there every day.  JK

Yuri: Now and Then

Thursday, August 11, 2016,


Meet Yuri. Handsome brute, no? Or lass, nobody really knows and it doesn’t matter. Yuri is the Bullfrog that has taken up residence at a local artist’s backyard pond. Now, admittedly, a Bullfrog claiming a pond is not front page news but Yuri is the first frog of any species to make a home in this pond in the seventeen years since it was built. The pond has finally been discovered. The top pic is a shot of Yuri at the end of July. This next shot was taken two months earlier, when he was still just a pup. It’s hard to see from these two pics but July Yuri could have swallowed May Yuri whole. My, they do grow quickly. JK

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A Night Heron Hangout

Saturday, August 31, 2013,

In my previous post I mentioned seeing fourteen Black-crowned Night Herons behind the Old Grist Mill in Stony Brook. Here are twelve of them. I was shooting with a long lens and it was impossible to capture the whole lot in one shot. Missing here are the adult featured in my prior post and an immature bird that was feeding nearby. I have very little doubt that even more of these guys were congregating along Mill Creek as it leads to Stony Brook Harbor.

This is not a pic that I would ordinarily publish because, well, it’s not very good. But folks both here and on Facebook have expressed an interest in seeing it so here it is. As usual, click on the pic to view a larger version. It’ll make it easier to count the birds.

What I don’t really understand is why so many of these birds are adults. I only see two immature birds in this lot. The younger birds are those which are mostly brown, while the adult plumage is largely black and white. I would expect to find more young birds, especially at this time of year. When I see these guys on the Nissequogue River the ratio between between adult and immature birds is much more even. I imagine that there are features of Mill Creek that draw more adult or experienced Night Herons whereas the Nissy offers more of a family atmosphere. Maybe it’s easier to learn how to fish on the Nissequogue. Or, perhaps the Nissy makes for a better training ground for up and coming herons. I really don’t know. Look, I just take the pictures, even these lousy ones. JK

Northern Shovelers

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   


Painted Lady At Young’s Island

Sunday, October 7, 2012,

Two weeks ago I found myself on Young’s Island in Stony Brook Harbor. The island is largely made up from the sand dredged out of West Meadow Creek and Stony Brook Harbor itself. Despite being man-made, the island is now DEC protected, and no one is supposed to land on there. It’s protected because it has become a very important nesting area for Piping Plovers and Least Terns, both of which are disappearing far too quickly. It’s also a very popular nesting area for several species of gulls and shorebirds. This is a good place to spy Oystercatchers, which just might be the most striking looking shorebirds that grace our fair island.

Now, this post is supposed to be about the butterfly in the photographs, correct? What’s all this yakking about protected species and islands? And what was I doing on a DEC protected island in the first place, right? Well, dear reader, while I rarely mention it, I am a member of the Four Harbors Audubon Society. Shucks, I’m even on the board. I’m the photographer. Now that’s a surprise, huh? Anyways, for the past two years, Four Harbors has received permission to kayak to Young’s Island and clean it up. I like to volunteer, because while picking up trash is even less glamorous than it seems, it affords me the chance to photograph some almost unspoiled shore land, and the critters within. Plus it’s kinda cool walking around where few others get to go. Of course, we’re not the only only ones who actually go there. Not all of the trash we pick up is washed ashore. This year, one of the larger pieces of garbage was a four person tent. It would seem that others enjoy being here as well. I don’t blame them for being there, I just wish they’d take their belongings with them.

Alright already. Yes, these are pics of a butterfly. A Painted Lady Butterfly. I know almost nothing about them, even my friend Sue from Four Harbors had to identify it for me. The only thing I know about Painted Ladies is that my Mom always told me to steer clear of them. I don’t understand; I mean, it’s just a butterfly. Mom never warned me about wasps. Go figure. JK