All Dressed Up

Tuesday, April 23, 2019,

This is a Common Loon in all it’s breeding plumage glory. This is one beautiful bird. Loons often winter here on Long Island before heading north to breed and raise families. Unfortunately, their winter plumage is very plain. It’s not until Spring that they get that black and white checked body and neck or that wonderful green cummerbund on the lower part of the neck. This particular bird is one of the final holdouts left here on the Island. I imagine he’ll be gone by next week or even sooner but in the meantime, it is a real treat to see such a  magnificent bird in the harbor. JK

JK

Spring Peepers In Love

Tuesday, April 9, 2019,

Spring Peepers are one of the harbingers of Spring. In fact, that’s where the first part of their name comes from. The Peeper part comes from the sound that the males make to attract females. Their high pitched “Peeps!” can be heard from quite a distance. We’re talking miles here. The males, who call from the edges of ponds and lakes, create their calls by inflating and deflating vocal sacs that are beneath their throats.

Last week, while walking through one of my favorite places, I stopped off at a freshwater pond in the middle of the woods. I could hear Spring Peepers everywhere. Their calls were coming from the far side of the pond as well as my side of the water. I could hear them to my left as well as my right. I could even hear some behind me, but try as I might, I could not locate a single Spring Peeper. They were all around me but I just couldn’t find any.

I decided to sit by the edge of the pond and just wait to see what might come my way. Sometimes, that’s what Nature Photography is: just waiting and watching. And listening, of course. I did a lot of listening that day. I spent over two hours by the pond listening and looking for those tiny frogs that I just could not find. I really, really wanted to get a shot of a male with its vocal sac inflated and calling. I had absolutely no luck.

However, my patience and persistence did pay off to net me two equally interesting photos. While I was unable to find and photograph a male calling for a female, I did get lucky enough to find two different couples who had already found each other. The male, which is smaller than his counterpart, rides on the back of the female till she is ready to lay her eggs, at which point he’ll fertilize them. In the top photo only the female’s head is out of the water and in the second photo, both frogs are completely submerged. I may not have gotten the shot I was looking for, but I did manage to get some decent pics after all. JK

 

Jeepers Creepers!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019,

This is a Brown Creeper. It’s the first Brown Creeper that I’ve ever seen, let alone photographed. I spotted this bird while I was walking through David Weld Sanctuary in Nissequogue. I suspected that it might be a Creeper and after getting home and comparing this bird to the drawings in my Sibley’s Field Guide, I was pretty sure I was right. However, I very rarely trust myself or my guesses, so I sent this photo to a birding friend of mine and she confirmed my sighting.

She also told me that “They can be a bit tricky to see as they creep around the trunks to the opposite side of the tree.” Ain’t that the truth. This bird was working tree trunks from the bottom up but he usually managed to stay on the far side of the tree without actually seeming aware of my presence. What I mean is, he appeared to be busy looking for insects rather than fleeing my camera. This photograph captures one of the few times I got to see the whole bird, rather than a partial glimpse. I definitely got lucky here. JK

 

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