Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret:
A trip on Friday to Montauk gave me my first Cattle Egret that I spotted along Montauk Hwy. feeding in a swollen marsh in Napeague.  This egret is almost in full breeding plumage - it's lacking the deep red on the bill and the purple around the eye and is somewhat of a rare site on Long Island.  While there were 5 individuals seen this week (this one included) they are not common, though they've been increasing over the past few decades as they expand their range north.

Also out in Montauk were some gorgeous Harlequin Ducks in full breeding plumage - which I was not able to photograph earlier in the winter with the harlequins that were hanging around Hampton Bays.  One of the ducks was quite aggressive in chasing off this White-Winged Scoter for unknown reasons.  The male Harlequin would run across the water (see below) then when the Scoter dove, the Harlequin would follow suit.  Not quite sure what the Harlequin was going to do if it actually caught the Scoter but it was amusing to watch.

Shu Swamp:
A trip to Shu Swamp in pursuit of Owls left me disappointed - but I did see a few Wood Ducks which are a secretive species and flush easily.  This pair flew onto this tree branch and were hanging out in the late afternoon sun.  Wood Ducks are an interesting species as they nest in the cavities of trees - sometimes at significant distances from the water.  Once the young hatch they jump (fall) out of the tree and march to the water with their parents.

On Thursday I went out on a boat with the USFWS to an island we were doing habitat restoration on.  The boat was docked at Wertheim federal wildlife refuge and a long trip down the Carman's River to Moriches Bay provided some good photographing opportunities:

Unfortunately I clipped the top of the wing on this action shot of a Double Crested Cormorant:

The Carman's River was full of Osprey and I was able to get pretty close to this one as it flew overhead in search of fish:

EPCAL Evening:
I ended my day with a trip to EPCAL where the Kestrels were somewhat cooperative and I added a new bird to my files, the Horned Lark (notice the "horns" on the head):

I spotted this female Northern Harrier along the taxiway which posed before taking off - I like how the side-lighting splits the bird in half:

This Eastern Meadowlark gave me a pose similar to the American Kestrel above:

As I was leaving I noticed a Killdeer on the side of the road being lit up by the setting sun:

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