Saturday, May 18, 2013,
Wednesday, May 8, 2013,
Here’s a pic of two ducks I saw at Avalon Park and Preserve, just off the Duck Pond. The duck in the background is the ubiquitous Mallard, looking just as he should. However, this guy in the foreground is looking a bit iffy. I suspect some Pekin Duck in his heritage. Pekin Ducks are those all-white ducks that are raised at duck farms right here on Long Island. In fact they are very closely related to true Mallards. Long Island’s Pekin Ducks come from a handful of birds whose ancestors were domesticated Mallards from China. Sheesh, those Mallards sure get around. They’re are just about everywhere north of the equator. That, boys and girls, points to a successful design. Darwin would be proud. JK
Saturday, May 4, 2013,
Bob White? Bob White? Paging Mr. Bob White. Bob White? Bob White? All morning I was hearing these calls. Bobwhite? Bobwhite? Obviously, this is one incredibly busy guy. Or maybe he’s just ducking his messages.
Have a listen. Bobwhite Call
Bobwhites tend to be fairly secretive birds which makes a lot of sense because they’re game birds. That means people like to shoot them. It’s much more common to hear a Bobwhite than it is to actually see one. So trust me when I tell you that I was amazed to come across the bird itself. And practically underfoot to boot! I mean that quite literally. I had just crossed Shep Jones Lane, going from one set of farm fields to another when a White-throated Sparrow caught my eye. I was crouching down to see if I could get a shot when I noticed some movement on my left. And there, less than six feet away, was a male Bobwhite.
I could scarcely believe it. It was one of those Holy Cow! moments. In 45+ years of playing in the woods I don’t think I’ve seen Bobwhites on more than ten occasions, if that. And, with the exception of a few memorable encounters in my early youth, nearly every one of those sightings had been mere glimpses. After my initial shock, it finally occurred to me that taking some pics might be a good idea. I am supposed to be a nature photographer, right? I was certain that I had only moments to get a shot. I was wrong, and quite happy to be so. As it turned out, this guy was within view for nearly ten minutes. Heck, I even found enough time to get some shots of the White-throated Sparrow that I had seen in the first place. Not that I had grown bored with the subject at hand but those sparrows are a big favorite of mine. As it turned out I was with this Bobwhite long enough to record two short videos of him. This was one very cooperative bird.
These were my first ever forays into the world of video photography. I think it’s safe to say that David Attenborough and Marty Stouffer are both still sleeping soundly. I remain a fan of still shots – (I like capturing that single moment in time) – but there’s no denying how much in the way of behavior that only a video can convey.
I’d love to tell you folks how I “stealthed” this bird. And how I repeated my “Be one with nature” mantra. (Think Chevy Chase “being” the ball in Caddyshack). Or how I crept up and got my shots on the sly while hiding amongst the foliage. I could regale you with all these tales and more but I’d be lying. For one thing, the fields had just been mowed and there was no place to hide. This guy knew I was there from the get-go. He definitely saw me before I saw him. The only thing I did was to stay low and avoid sudden movements. Somehow, he did not view me as a threat and continued about his business which primarily seemed to be stirring up old leaves, searching for bugs and other assorted goodies hidden beneath. You never know where you’ll find hidden treasure. JK
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
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