An Energetic Shoveler

Tuesday, January 22, 2019,

This is a series of photos I took of a male Northern Shoveler stretching his wings or maybe just shedding some excess water. Or both, I don’t really know.

What I can tell you is that these are one of the most specialized ducks that visit Long Island. I’m not sure that you can see it in these pics, but Norther Shovelers have a very unique bill that they use as a sieve to filter out seeds and aquatic invertebrates from the water. They usually go around with half of their head submerged as they sweep that extra wide bill from side to side in search of dinner. It really is an amazing adaptation.

JK

Solitary Sandpiper Visiting Frank Melville Park

Wednesday, November 7, 2018,

Frank Melville Park in Setauket boasts two ponds and a terrific view of the estuary that leads into Conscience Bay. Lesser known is a third not-quite pond or rather large occasional puddle that develops after heavy rains. It also appears when a good amount of snow melts in the early Spring. This pond or puddle gets deep enough for Mallards to swim on and gives them a chance to browse upon the lawn beneath them. 

Of course, ducks are not the only birds attracted to new watery habitats. New habitats offer new opportunities. After some recent rains created this new wetlands at least one Solitary Sandpiper decided to take advantage of the new digs. Actually, three different Solitary Sandpipers found the puddle but on most days only one was present. I guess they really do prefer to remain solitary, although I did manage to see all three birds on one occasion. These shots were all taken on the same day and of the same bird as it was sampling the local fare. JK

JK

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