Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shooting from a Kayak

I recently acquired a kayak and have been keen to use it in the evenings around the Flanders Bay / Gooseneck Creek area but lately the gnats have seriously inhibited the enjoyment factor.  This evening was nice and warm with a steady breeze that kept the bugs at bay and allowed me to get out and find some birds.

Along the shoreline were Ruddy Turnstones, Semi-palmated Sandpipers, American Oystercatchers, a Piping Plover and several Saltmarsh sparrows.  Unfortunately not all of the birds were cooperative, but there is always tomorrow.

Another angle:

Even a pair of Mallards and Swans were hanging around. . .

One of the Swans:

Speaking of birds that don't cooperate, this afternoon I checked out a colony of Bank Swallows in, of all places, the middle of the island - Farmingville to be exact.   One of my co-workers had done an inspection in the area and noticed the Swallows had taken up residence in the artificial banks created by the construction of new homes.  I was excited about this because I don't have any photos of that species and the lighting was perfect and some of the cavities were pretty low to the ground, but lo-and-behold the birds just would not cooperate.  They were too fast and unpredictable to photograph so I will have to make some return trips in the hope of photographing them.

What makes this colony interesting, however, is its location.  It is located at one of the highest points in Suffolk County (only rivaled by near by Bald Hill) and you can clearly see to the Long Island Sound and Robert Moses Park from the top of the bank.  However, one would expect a nearby water source for these insect eaters - but the closest "stream" is the Carmans River which is 5 miles to the east, and Lake Ronkonkoma which is 4 miles to the West.  The only time I've seen these colonies were at the beach at Mecox in Bridgehampton and along the eroded dunes in Sagaponack along the Atlantic Ocean.  So if you are in the area and want to check out a unique bird colony, take Lidge Dr. North from Horseblock Rd. in Farmingville and check out the big banks on the East Side.  (Note: this site is just to the East of the County Park on Horseblock)  Just make sure you stay on the road and off the private property.

The spit at Goose Creek remnids me of Lazy Point which you can read all about in Carl Safina's book: The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World which I highly recommend.


  1. Awesome images! Regarding bank swallows, I found that they will not approach a burrow if a person is close by. The only way I was able to get photos is driving my car as close as I could, wait a few minutes until they felt safe, and take photos from the window.

  2. Thanks Hilke. I thought the same thing so I stepped away and sort of "hid" behind a structure and waited, and waited, and waited but still nothing. I watched other nest cavities from afar and there were little "in and out" and it was wildly unpredictable. I know someone who went today and had some success so I'll be trying again . . .