The first half of October: BIRDS! BIRDS! BIRDS!

Well, lots of photos here from the first half of October – trying to catch up with myself before I forget about this whole project.

In October, Anne led an Audubon hike up Jayne’s Hill, Long Island’s highest point (400.9 feet above sea level), the two of us went camping out East and saw Montauk Point, and we did some birding down on our end of the Island.During this time, most summer birds were leaving the area (or flooding south into the area on the way further south) and some of the early winter birds began showing up and staking out their territories. I think I finally went over 200 NY birds at this point, which isn’t too bad considering I missed most of spring and summer by being in New Jersey. I’ll post some stats on my bird lists soon enough!

Mushrooms near Jayne's Hill
Anne and her hiking group near Jayne's Hill
Old Red-belly (the Red-bellied Woodpecker)
Staghorn Sumac fills the flats
A green frog, species unknown to me
Sand cliffs and grasses on the south fork of Long Island
Anne on the beach, north shore of the south fork.
From up on the rise we could see seals at play in the waters just off the shore

Oak scrub dominates the forest lands this far east
A typical trail sign in Hither Hills State Park
Another sharpie-on-two-by-six sign. Not quite the grace of the AMC or RMC signs up north.
Looking back to the south across sandy hills at the Atlantic
Sunset from the rise east of Hither Hills
Our campsite served us well through intense rains that started soon after nightfall.
The beach was beautiful that morning...
Here you can see how rough the seas were that morning - a powerful storm moved through overnight leaving rough seas and blowing a powerful gale.

Here, a fisherman illustrates the powerful seas that morning.

Montauk Point Lighthouse
At Montauk Point, Long Island's furthest eastern point, Atlantic Ocean surrounds you on three sides. The winds were so incredible that day that we would lean hard into them just to stay on our feet.

The intense winds brought streams of seabirds into view. This Northern Gannet easily navigated the troughs while more distant birds dove for fish.
Ring-billed Gulls, among others, combed the beach for tasty detritus.
This ruddy bird is earning its name here: Ruddy Turnstone.
A sea fisherman in sculpture
Another Gannet flying near to shore

Something unusual about that Gull...
Ah, now that it's standing next to that other one, it should be quite obvious! Lesser Black-backed Gull! An unusual but regular visitor from Europe!
These Double-Crested Cormorants were fishing in the rough seas just off shore - literally being swept up onto the rocks by the occasional wave. I guess the fish must have been experiencing something similar beneath the surface, as the DCCO were pulling them up in droves.

LIFER! Both Anne and I knew this bird was different when it flew by. It was dark, fast, and exciting. We had guessed it was a Jaeger and now it is certain: Parasitic Jaeger (bomb) - or is it Pomarine?
A mushroom, probably not safe to eat.
And another...
And these odd looking mushroom-like organisms. Also unsafe to eat?

This flashy purple mushroom is quite likely dangerous to eat.

A mix of shorebirds near the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach - the expert eye should be able to pick out three distinct species here: Black-bellied Plovers are the larger birds and Dunlin are the smaller birds. Then, in the foreground on the right side, there is a bird that is the size of a Plover but all gray with dull-yellow legs - I'm fairly sure that's a Red Knot! Solid bird this time of year!
I'd love to say that I had an American Golden Plover in here... let me know if you find one.
The next few shots serve to illustrate some of the variation in BBPL plumage and bill-size; some birds retain a surprising amount of their breeding plumage.

More BBPL variation and now with extra species including AMOY, DCCO, HEGU, and Sanderling!

I love seeing flocks of shorebirds in flight and coming in to land - here the flyers mainly consist of Dunlin.
This gives an idea of how many AMOY there were on the sandbar that morning... I counted them all from the photos just to see how close my estimates were. I estimated 250, but my count went above 300! Not too far off...
Another view of that Red Knot, this time without his head tucked.

One of the last Ospreys of 2010. Most of the Ospreys have now left the region and are well on their way to Florida and points south.
One of thousands of Yellow-rumped Warblers

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow
Northern Parula - one of the last stragglers I presume
This Merlin was hunting the West End at Jones Beach

Tree Swallow looking over-the-shoulder...
And the rest of the TRES flock...
Near the Swale, TRES were flocking together and landing in the low scrub on the dunes. Any day now, they too will leave for warmer climes.
Dunlin on the left, but the small bird in the middle might have been a Western Sandpiper (unknown) and the right-most bird? Pectoral Sandpiper!
Eastern Phoebe watches a passing insect and prepares to hunt
Portraits of Gulls on the Ransom fence (brand new after the old one was wiped out in a Noreaster). This is a Herring Gull.
Ring-billed Gull

Song SparrowD

Downy Woodpecker
Ruby-crowned Kinglet showing off that Ruby crown!
Golden-crowned King

And more Yellow-rumped Warblers
When I first glimpsed this bird, I thought it might be a Vireo...
But this cleared up any misconception in my mind that it is indeed a Palm Warbler.

Blue-headed Vireo, hiding his head from the light
Monarch Butterfly - that's one I do know.
Blue-headed Vireo, this time in the sun and showing off his blue head and the cool spectacles.
Eastern Phoebe hunting from the beach fence
I love watching Sanderlings...

Sanderling sprinting across the surf

Pair of Mute signets, now adult-sized
Some of the early Canada Goose migrants
First fall migrating Swamp Sparrow
And then back to the huge flocks of Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers

Although these aren't the best photos, this Sharpie flew in and caught my eye...
This Merlin flew in to join the Sharpie

Back to the Sharpie

And then the two clashed in this tree
If only I could have gotten a killer shot here 🙁
After the two raptors flew off chasing each other, this Flicker took over the perch.

Flight of Cedar Waxwings

One thought on “The first half of October: BIRDS! BIRDS! BIRDS!

  • November 6, 2010 at 18:32

    Glad you mentioned this group of photos today. It has been awhile since I looked at your site. Dang, as much as I love to work with these birds in captivity, it is so awesome to see what they are really capable of. I am so jealous that you got to witness the sharpie chase the merlin and get a photo. Don’t care that it was not as clear as you would have liked. I am glad I was able to see a bit of the action. Those guys are where they should be!

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