Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Long Island, New York, July 2014

This blog has slipped so far behind that this entry refers to a time, way back, when England was still in contention for the World Cup in Brazil. It was a Long Island JFK and Corey came to pick me up from the hotel there. We headed out to the beach where a nesting colony of Black Skimmers, Common Terns and Piping Plovers on Nickerson Beach made for easy watching.


The nesting area is on the beach side of the dunes at Point Lookout. eBird is slightly cagey about the exact positioning of the colony, so I will follow suit and be discrete. This begs the question; why am I blogging about it? Redgannet is written to encourage people out into the open by telling them where to go and what they might see when they get there, so being a bit secretive goes against the grain. But look, I have all these pictures and need to offload them somehow.


Some of the Common Terns were feeding tiny chicks, while others were still sitting on eggs. Some inclement weather the night before may have disrupted a few of the families and adult birds called for chicks that did not reply. 


Hungry chicks, missing their own parents sought sustenance by any means. A displaced chick was chased off by an adult protecting its own part of the beach.


The Skimmers were not as advanced. They may have been on eggs further into the wispy beach grasses, but many roosted on the beach, showing little or no interest in reproduction.


A single Piping Plover flew up into the dunes. Here, their nests have been protected by wildlife rangers who cover them with a cage which allows the tiny plovers in and out but prevents Racoons from stealing eggs.
American Oystercatcher chicks were the furthest advanced and were almost as large as their parents. They were actively feeding or staying hidden amongst clumps of washed up seaweed.


The colony is in use from mid-April when the oystercatchers and plovers begin to arrive. The terns and skimmers wait for the warmer weather of May before they start to show.


 From here we went on to Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area. Corey was on a mission to find a life tick Saltmarsh Sparrow for me. A boardwalk passes out through saltmarsh that harboured a flushing Clapper Rail and a stalking Yellow-crowned Night Heron.


At the top of the path a pair of Osprey was nesting on a platform. As one bird watched the nest, the partner had been out fishing and came in with its catch as we approached.


Fleeting shapes in the grass eventually materialised into a Saltmarsh Sparrow as one popped up to be ticked. A subsequent bird sat long enough to get a record.


 Visit the dedicated USA and Canada page for more posts from New York. .