Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forster's Tern on the Carmans River

This morning I kayaked the the lower portion of the Carmans River (from Montauk Hwy [~ Hards Dam] to Squassex Creek in Brookhaven Hamlet and was disappointed in the few birds that made themselves present (though we are in the doldrums of Summer as far as birds are concerned on the island).  There were many Purple Martin's near the north end of this stretch and an Osprey managed to nab a fish (out of view) which it promptly brought back to its calling children.  A glossy Ibis was briefly spotted flying over the extensive cattail marshes (oddly enough it was alone and not in a flock as would be expected) and Great Egrets seemed to appear around every curve of the river (and there are a lot of curves!).  But the further south my girlfriend and I paddled, the more we heard and saw Terns.  They were almost exclusively Common Terns but I thought I spotted one or two Forster's - well, by the time we reached the "marina" at Sqaussex I had the confirmation I needed as this first year (a locally born bird perhaps?) Forster's Tern mysteriously plopped down in the river for a few moments.  Though I wish I could have gotten more photos of this species I was happy with this addition to my growing collection.

If you would like to learn more about the Carmans River and Brookhaven Hamlet, check out this cool history book, entitled: Bellport Village and Brookhaven Hamlet (NY) (Images of America)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Early Migrants

This evening I took a challenging kayak trip to Goose Creek against a very strong wind (though the waves remained small).  I was rewarded with lots of early migrants feeding on the extensive mud flats including Least Sandpipers and Black-bellied Plovers.  While these birds have already nested and raised young, Least Terns remained on eggs nearby and Piping Plovers were also present (though guessing by the number [4] I think they hatched and fledged out young).

To learn more about the birds on the east coast, check out this fantastic ID book National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Green Heron, Grasshopper Sparrows

This evening after work I visited EPCAL grasslands looking for Grasshopper Sparrows.  I was successful in finding quite a few but had a difficult time getting close to them.  Interestingly I found some that had been banded - if anyone knows about these birds being banded in New York I would certainly be interested in hearing about it.  While there were plenty of Eastern Meadowlarks at the site they proved impossible to get near so I was unable to photograph them.

Upon returning home I got in my kayak and headed into Reeves Bay and the mouth of the Peconic River.  Aside from the Least and Common Terns which are nesting, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Green Heron which has been particularly elusive for me on Long Island.  This bird posed beautifully in the strong evening light as it hunted for fish along the edge of the marsh.  There was also another Green Heron in my canal but by that time there was very little light.

Around the corner was a Spotted Sandpiper, but alas when I got near it was no longer present - a shame because I have never been able to photograph this bird and the conditions this evening were excellent.

For more on Long Island birds and wildlife (and more of my pictures!), pick up a copy of John Turner's Exploring the Other Island: A seasonal guide to nature on Long Island

Monday, July 4, 2011

Common Raven

The Common Raven is a new species for me (and a new breeding species for Suffolk County - at least in the last few decades, though it's entirely possible no one knew about them) which is always nice to get, especially when it's in your "backyard" and as easy as driving by a big water tower and looking up.  I would have much preferred the bird to be closer but maybe in the future I'll get a better chance.  Anyway, nothing terribly exciting but this just goes to show that a "rare" bird can turn up literally anywhere, anytime.

If you are interested in the birds that breed in NY and where abouts they breed, check out this incredibly informative book: The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State