Chicks On The Beach

Friday, July 18, 2008

Earlier this week I promised to post some pics of Piping Plover chicks. This little guy seemed as interested in me as I was in him but a few peeps from Mom and he headed back to her.

This shot of a chick with one of its parents shows the size difference between the two. Piping Plovers are not that big to begin with.

These guys are very difficult to photograph. When they’re moving, they’re moving fast. And when they stop, they melt right into the background. Those fuzzy edges just disappear and you can’t tell the bird from the sand.

June 12 was the first day I saw one of the plover chicks over at Sunken Meadow Park. I only saw the one chick that day but I’ve seen others since, but never in any great numbers. I don’t think I’ve seen more than five chicks in any one visit to Sunken Meadow. Of course, my view of the nesting area is from the water inside the inlet, so I don’t see all there is to see. You can walk around the perimeter of the nesting area but I prefer to disturb the birds as little as possible.

Now, anytime you have chicks on the beach, you’re going to find some cool cats checking them out. These two felines were at the base of the bluffs at Kings Park dreaming of ways to get across the water to Sunken Meadow. At low tide you or I can walk right across but I don’t think it’s a trick a cat wants to try. JK

Killdeer

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This, I think, is a Killdeer. Killdeer are a type of plover. They get their name from the calls they make. The Shorebird Guide by O’Brien, Crossley, and Karlson was very instrumental in helping me to identify this guy. I took this shot two weeks ago as he was working the south side of Short Beach in Nissequogue. JK

The Little Guy That Closes Beaches

Monday, July 14, 2008

This post is way overdue. These are pics of Piping Plovers. I’ve been seeing the adults since the start of May and their eggs began hatching at least a month ago. I’ll post some shots of the young ones later this week. In the photo below you can get an idea of how their coloration helps to camouflage them on sandy beaches. JK

I Am Not A Birder #3

Monday, June 9, 2008

I am not a birder and here’s the proof. On May 9th I posted this same pic and identified these birds as Common Terns. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

These handsome fellows are actually Least Terns. I was looking for Piping Plovers Sunken Meadow Park and I thought a pic of one the signs that marks the protected nesting areas of the plovers might make a nice addition to a post. That was when I noticed that the signs also included Least Terns. The illustration on the sign looked suspiciously like the birds that I thought were Common Terns out of breeding plumage.

Uh oh. I could feel an embarrassing moment coming on. So I emailed my friends Janine and Nancy at Sweetbriar Nature Center and asked them. Janine originally wrote they were penguins in disguise, but I think she was just putting me on because then she identified them as Least Terns. Nancy was unsure so she forwarded my email to Birder X, another Sweetbriar educator, who also confirmed that the birds in question were indeed Least Terns. Birder X also informed us that these terns are threatened but that they nest here.

When I was writing the original post I was concerned that I might be confusing Common Terns with Forster’s Terns. I was so busy looking at tail and wing lengths that I missed what should have been obvious. One turned page in my Sibley’s shows that distinctive white forehead. Here is a pic of the sign that helped show me the error of my ways. JK