Hurricane Earl is, as I type this, bearing down on Long Island!
It’s still unclear how much impact Earl will have upon LI, but at this point it is likely that it will pass far enough to our east that the LI beaches will get hammered and that the East End will get strong winds, but here in Bayville it looks like the impact will be minor. That clears the way for my upcoming Visionquest with Christophe which means several days without update.
Life in Bayville has been surprisingly busy lately. Leo’s visit came around the time that I started working a part-time job at an outdoor retailer and that’s certainly kept me busier than I anticipated.
Back at Jamaica Bay, Leo and I spotted this White-rumped Sandpiper as a pretty clear standout from its fellow peeps.
And what's this?
Why it's a Short-billed Dowitcher!
That evening: Leo, Anne and I went down to Jones Beach for a sunset walk on the beach. Ring-billed Gulls are among the most common Gulls in the area.
The simplest way to identify Sanderlings is to observe their feeding behavior. Here, the Sanderling chases the receding water from one wave...
And here the Sanderling flees the next wave.
All of this surf-chasing is done in the hope of discovering tiny crustaceans and bivalves that might be uncovered by the flowing waters.
And here our Sanderling enjoys his snack.
Ring-billed Gull walking through the surf
As the light went out, small groups of shorebirds like these Black-bellied Plovers began flying down the coast.
Gulls filled the sky when the floodlights were turned on for an evening concert at the Nikon Theatre.
The Tower near the Jones Beach bathhouse
JFK, Laguardia, even Newark airport bring air traffic over the south shore of Long Island. A light drizzle created this last rainbow before the sun went down.
Common Terns return from feeding at sea
Long-shot of the horizon as the sun went down
We all thought we might have something to add to the list when this mystery bird appeared...
Another silhouette of the mystery bird. Unfortunately, I think it's only a Savannah Sparrow, but that may be impossible to tell at this point.
After Leo left, I picked up more hours at work and have kept quite busy. A nice benefit of keeping busy, however, is that Anne and I had to make an extra effort to get outside and get active. We had a 3-day weekend coming up and planned on going to the Catskills, but a forecast for poor weather led us to stay at home and make less ambitious plans…
Anne and I decided to spend a day doing a relatively easy, but notable, hike. Jayne's Hill, Long Island's high-point and a gentle hike through the woods to help ease ourselves back into hiking.
Anne standing next to a boulder on the highest point on Long Island - upon the stone a Walt Whitman poem which describes the "Isle of the salty shore and breeze and brine."
Here is the back-side of that boulder - oh Long Island...
In Whitman's day, one could see the shore, the boats, the rolling hills and farms in all directions... Today, trees and shrubs have grown in so well that there is no view whatsoever. They've built a water tower quite near to the high point and in hindsight I wish we had looked at climbing that!
On our walk down, the woods felt like Fall had already arrived. Blair explained that this summer's intense drought stressed the trees so much that many of them dropped their leaves early in hopes of surviving long enough to see wetter weather.
Here I am enjoying early Fall.
Back to our neighborhood: typical boat-parking methods
Another boat patiently waiting for higher tides
Bayville saltmarshes with the famous Bayville Bridge
Boats in the harbor
The TR Sanctuary Bearded Dragon with a freshly cleaned plate - moments earlier it had been filled with mealworms.
It was hard to trade-out my Utah plates... Above, the Utah bird-themed conservation plate, below, the new NY retro plate. The Utah conservation plate has given me a lot of enjoyment, and not just by advertising my interest in birds to people across the country. Close inspection of the plate reveals a clear dimorphism between the two Great Blue Herons. He is larger and more powerful looking, she supportingly stands behind her man. Maybe we can convince Sibley to reissue a Utah version of his field guides...
In the meantime, Anne organized some bird-banding at TR, and Harvey came down with his nets to get an early idea of what Fall migration might bring. Last Saturday’s haul was light, but with an interesting diversity of species.
Black-throated Blue Warbler showing a considerable amount of green. This coloring indicates that this bird is quite young and likely hatched this summer. Being on Long Island, it's likely that this individual was born somewhere in the New England region (extending into southern Canada and the Maritimes). Hatch-year BTBW begin migration early (mid-August) and tend to stick to the coasts. By this time, almost a week after capture, this individual has likely flown south across Long Island, south across the water to New Jersey, and could conceivably be anywhere between here at Florida. If this bird is lucky, he will fly into the Caribbean in a week or two where he'll remain until Spring.
Harvey attemping to skull the BTBW
Profile of a BTBW
An Ovenbird, a type of Wood Warbler, was the next to get caught in our mist-nets.
Bird in one hand, pencil in the other...
I'm on the left with Harvey in the middle and Freddie on the right - looking up data on aging and sexing
Harvey with bird
Northern Waterthrush, our third Wood Warbler species of the day
NOWA preparing to sign his portrait
A volunteer at the TR Sanctuary holding his first banded bird
And the release...
Banding volunteers observing the safe removal of a NOWA from a mist-net
Everybody getting a good look at this NOWA fresh out of the nets
Banding volunteers gather around as another bird is processed
Harvey holding a N. Waterthrush in front of its portrait
In the last chapter of August, Anne and I decided to go for a nice hike from Stillwell Woods down the Nassau-Suffolk Greenway and over to Cold Spring Harbor.
Unidentified caterpillar - only seen by chance while we were observing the surprising quiet in a beautiful hollow along the Nassau-Suffolk Greenway.
Anne at the trail-marker for the Nassau-Suffolk Greenway... Looks like it might be time for some new signage!
The Long Island "Black" Grey Squirrel, seen here climbing up a tree. Anne remarked that it reminded her of a tiny Black Bear; it really was a dark chocolate brown color. Fascinating what happens on islands...
After Anne and I stopped to admire the squirrel, it took notice of us and we wondered if it might be a "fed squirrel."
Blue Jay feathers have been surprisingly common along the trails we've hiked lately on LI - this could seem to be the case simply because the feathers are unusually visible, but I'm noting it anyway.
One of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenway trail markers
The view of Cold Spring Harbor from above the library