Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year? New Bird

Since we stayed at a friend's house NYE up-island, we decided to check out Jones Beach in the morning to see if we could find some Snowy Owls.  Additionally, a Northern Shrike has been lingering and it would have been nice to pick up this species since I'd never photographed it (or seen it for that matter) before.  Upon Arrive at WE2, we saw a gaggle of photographers (in their mossy oak camo) out in the dunes and figured a Snowy Owl must be near... A chance encounter with Stella (from Huntington/Oyster Bay Audubon Society) resulted in a brief conversation about how close the photographers were to what was probably a feeding owl.  I took a walk down the beach and got a few snaps from further away than the other photographers who were "stalking" the owl.  The Bird was mantling which meant it had some prey underneath it.  While returning to my vehicle, a gentleman (birder I presume) informed me that there was another Snowy Owl just to the west in the Dunes, where there were no other photographers/birders.  I got in my car and we drove to the other side of the building then started hiking to find the other owl.  I noticed a bird by itself in a tree not to far off and raised my camera to get a shot to see what it was.  Sure enough, the Northern Shrike and it had looked right at me for the one image I was able to get before it flew off.  This was probably the easiest "rare" bird/first species I'd ever gotten (aside from my first Snowy Owl many years ago before I was really into photography).

We walked along the Dune line and "followed the footprints" as instructed by the friendly man who tipped me off.  I stood atop a little plateau to scan the horizon, coming up with nothing when sure enough, my wife told me she found the bird (she is 4 for 4 this year in Snowy Owl adventures).  We spent some time with the sleepy owl, before heading back to the care.

On the return trip, a large flock of Snow Bunting made for a few interesting photos - it was amazing how close they would fly toward us, chirping all the while.  I let my wife return to the vehicle to warm up while I took a shot at getting a few more photos of the original snowy owl (which had attracted a substantial crowd of photographers and birders).  I got some more images as it ate what was probably a rabbit before leaving for the comfort of my vehicle, passing a few other photographers and birders who were practically running to join the masses, completely unaware there was another bird just down the beach.

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