Saturday, October 6, 2012

First trip to Jones Beach this fall

This morning was my first trip to Jones Beach's West End of the fall, a time of year I always look forward to photographically. The promise of migratory birds big and small including raptors, songbirds and woodpeckers combined with cool crisp mornings is my favorite time of year to be in the field with camera in hand. While I just returned from my honeymoon in Dominica which provided wonderful photographic opportunities and scenery, it's nice to get back home and see what my backyard has to offer.

 I didn't find anything of note today - well, nothing rare anyway. I did see some Cedar Waxwings which I cannot remember seeing during migration along the shore in the last 3 years I've been going there. There were plenty of Pine Siskins, Goldfinches, loads of Northern Flickers and a decent number of Merlins around.

 The most exciting bird for me though was on my drive home, when I was halfway down the Ocean Parkway and saw something large perched in a tree. As I passed by at 60mph I saw a large falcon - the Peregrine. I took the time to drive to the next U-turn and go all the way back and U-turn again in an effort to grab a quick photo (parking alongside the parking was strictly prohibited, but the police were otherwise occupied with some speedy motocyclistes). This photo was taken with my new Nikon 1 V1 10.1 MP HD Digital Camera

 The Merlins this morning were quite active and the first one I saw in the parking lot was eating the remains of it's catch (clearly a small bird). The Merlin had fled to the parking lot from its perch in a snag after a couple crows showed up to investigate. I also saw several merlins in hot pursuit of Northern Flickers (which are only slightly smaller - at least it seems that way) but never saw a successful catch. 

Another surprise, along the bountiful median was a beautiful Northern Harrier that came across the road slowly working the area for a meal. The photo below is probably the best I've taken of a Northern Harrier in flight in my 3+ years of pursuing flight images of them. You just never know when a bird will give you a chance like this.


  1. ~Lovely~ Harrier image (and others), Luke. I made it down late morning to Jones Beach yesterday and there seemed to be some sort of "fishermen's festival". Access to the West End looked like it was blocked off so I continued to Robert Moses. I was happy to see a juvenile Osprey sitting on a snag so pulled over (glancing around - no traffic!). When do they stop collecting parking fees?

    1. Deborah,

      Thanks for the comment. West End Access has always been kind of funky... before 9 (8 maybe?) They have it "blocked off" and it says you can only continue if you have a fisherman's access permit. I don't have one, and I don't most birders do... technically I suppose you need one but I've never seen a patrol car actively looking and I think they are aware of the # of birders who go down there early in the morning.

      I think that they charge access fee (again, starting at 8 or 9 AM, whichever it is) through October (which is ridiculous).

  2. Wonderful photos! I love the harrier in flight....great catch.