Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Birds

I was able to get in on the Hurricane Bird fun yesterday after checking on my families homes to ensure there was no damage.  I headed to Squires Pond to check out the bay on the off chance there were some birds (since the South Shore/Ocean was impossible to access unless one headed to points East of Southampton).  To my surprise there were Terns - a lot of Terns - on the shoreline and feeding in the pond.  Gulls were present too and in a far off cedar were several egrets who were roosting away from the wind.

I quickly was able to pick out a Black Tern in full breeding plumage from quite a distance and worked on getting closer to the birds.  Unfortunately there were a few trucks running up and down the beach - and that mixed with the still very strong winds resulted in me losing track of the breeding plumaged black tern.  I did however pick up on some non-breeding plumage and/or juvenile's of the same species.

Over at the Shinnecock Canal (on the Peconic side) there were lots of Terns but didn't pick out anything too unusual.  A couple Royal Terns were hanging on the rocks on the East side and there were more juvenile skimmers (there was one at Squires Pond) were nice to see as well.  No Bridled or Sooty Terns but I'll take two new birds in my "backyard".

Anyone interested in helping me ID other terns in these photos can feel free - I'm no expert on these birds and may have missed one or two...

All in all, I think I had at least 10 Black Terns at Squires Pond, 1 Juvenile Black Skimmer, 1 Laughing Gull and at least 2 Sandwich Terns.  Not bad for a beach that never has more than a couple Least Terns feeding offshore.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quogue Wildlife Refuge

This evening I headed over to Quogue Wildlife Refuge in hopes of photographing some orchids and other flowers.  Well, the orchids weren't there and the rest of the flowers were in the shade so surprise surprise I ended up photographing birds - what a pity!  Eastern Towhees were abundant, including a juvenile (1st image below).  A juvenile Red-winged Blackbird (2nd image below) was also hanging around... While I got a nice look at a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, photography of this quick and tiny species proved impossible (yet again).

A surprise bird (for me) was a "young-of-the-year" American Redstart which unfortunately was quite a distance away from me.

Cedar Waxwings however stole the show - they were numerous and quite active hawking insects.  Unfortunately they too kept their distance, but they were a joy to watch.

For more on birds of Long Island and the types of things you can find at a place like Quogue Wildlife Refuge, check out this book:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grasshopper Sparrows

While EPCAL was pretty quiet this afternoon (with only a few American Kestrels making their presence known) as I was leaving I spotted a Grasshopper Sparrow near the Rt. 25 entrance.  I was able to make a somewhat close approach on foot and I believe (based on plumage) that this is a juvenile.  Always a treat to find these birds!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

American Goldfinches and butterflies

This evening I headed to Southampton Village to check out the wildflower meadow that has been installed as part of a subdivision known as "Olde Towne" which is located just Southeast of the Southampton Hospital.  This meadow has been filled with thousands of container plants of native wildflower and grasses species which has created an oasis in the Village which is of course overrun with extensive lawns and non-native ornamentals.  It seems as though the birds and butterflies have made this place home as there was a significant flock of American Goldfinches present along with at least 5 species of butterflies, Cedar Waxwings and several species of Sparrow.

While Birds of Long Island has traditionally been dedicated solely to birds, I'm allowing a few butterflies to sneak in!

For more about our native Butterflies, check out this book:  Butterflies of New England (North Woods Naturalist Guides)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Least Tern Hatchling

I visited a second Least Tern colony near my home today which can only be reached via kayak.  I was disappointed when I only found one nearly fledged chick.  I got out of the kayak and searched the spit of land for more birds or eggs (I was asked to do this as part of the colonial waterbird survey that the County is responsible for doing on their lands due to my proximity to the site and the difficulty of getting there).  I found this adorable hatchling that may have been born this day.  Otherwise there was no real activity which was a bit of a surprise - I hope it means the other birds have fledged and I'm just late.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Least Tern Chicks

I was able to get out to one of the Least Tern colonies near my house to look for chicks and was not disappointed.  While I did find one abandoned Common Tern nest and one deceased Least Tern chick (that was likely only a few days old) there were a dozen or so chicks (and I suspect that some have fledged already) that were active on the island.  I'd never photographed chicks of these species before so the results are a great for me.

For more about birds that dot our shores (and yes, I know the Least Tern is not a shorebird) check out Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pikes Beach

I took a visit to Pike's Beach this evening hoping for a Black Tern - I was unsuccessful on that front but found some non-breeding plumage Plover's (never photographed one of them before) and some other shorebirds and had a beautiful sunset.

A few Greater Yellow Legs were also hanging around