Timeline runs from Wednesday, September 21st through Sunday, September 25th when I returned to Phoenix late Sunday night.
DAY #1 with Andy on Long Island
Arriving on a red-eye flight at 8 a.m., I enjoyed breakfast with Andy and Carmen before setting out for a look at some birding hot spots within a reasonable driving distance from their place in Queens.
Spending most of our time at the big pond we saw familiar waterfowl where MUTE SWANS are wild, not captive.
|Adult Mute Swan|
|Adult Mute Swan preening with two Juvenile Mute Swans doing the same|
|Double-crested Cormorant rookery above;|
|Common Snapping Turtle (no sharp ridges on the plate indicating Alligator Snapper) Andy's favorite sighting.|
The Gardens were close to Stonybrook Harbor, our next stop, where we simply parked the car and walked a sandy shoreline next to the road. From there, we saw more familiar waterfowl as shown from earlier stops, but also a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a few AMERICAN CROWS. Best of all was the LITTLE BLUE HERON, JUVENILE, in its white plumage. Although it's about the same size as a Snowy Egret, it tends to differ in its foraging posture as well as having a green tapered bill and dull green legs.
|Juvenile Little Blue Heron|
Our next stop at West Meadow Beach put us out on the sand along with sun bathers not ready to give up on continued good weather with temperatures reaching into the 80s F.
Birds here were challenging for me but since a lot of them also walked the beach, I was able to take some photos that sent me to my field guides later for identification.
|Juvenile Herring Gull|
|Basic-plumaged Herring Gull|
|Herring Gulls including dark 1st-winter one|
|1st-winter Laughing Gull|
|Juvenile Laughing Gull|
|Basic-plumaged Laughing Gull|
Our final stop of the day was at Setauket Harbor where, in addition to some of the birds already mentioned, I spotted a couple of COMMON TERNS. The BELTED KINGFISHER is always a happy finding for me, too.
DAY #2 with Andy and Carmen all the way to the tip of Long Island
Having seen many eBird reports from a place called Mecox Inlet, we managed to find the place on the Atlantic side of the South Neck of Long Island. Had I carried my scope, I would have wanted to spend all day at one place and that would drive my son crazy. So, I photographed a long line of some of the un-determined gulls and terns far from shore but discovered something closer to me that was much more exciting.
|Great Black-backed Gulls of various ages|
As I walked toward some GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, I noticed a very small bird at water's edge. Delightfully, it was a SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER. After taking a few photos of it, I stepped closer, almost stepping on another one. I realized then, that there was a small colony of these plovers lying in the dry seaweed on the beach, totally camouflaged and invisible to me until they moved. What a thrill to see so many--perhaps twenty or more!
|First Semi-palmated Plover I spotted at surf's edge|
After quite a bit of driving we pulled off at a place called Montauk County Outer Beach.
|Andy & Carmen|
New species here included birds along the roadway: BLUE JAY, FISH CROW, BROWN THRASHER. The beach was full of birds we had already seen, so we continued our journey toward the very tip of Long Island.
Lighthouse Point is the home of the first lighthouse in New York (authorized in 1792) and still guides boats at sea. Adjacent to it, is Montauk Point State Park where my best find of the day was a MERLIN.
Once Andy told me they wanted go to Shelter Island, I found Mashomack Preserve on eBird and was eager to explore that large Nature Conservancy site. Shelter Island is located in Long Island Sound between the south and north necks of Long Island, a short ferry ride.
|Me, looking for birds in L.I. Sound during ferry crossing to Shelter Island|
|Not all sightings were of birds: CHIPMUNK|
|Andy & Carmen on our 6-mile plus trek through Mashomack Preserve|
DAY #3 with Andy and Carmen
Heckscher Park in Huntington at 5 p.m. had no audible or visual songbirds around but I did spot one Black Duck among the few waterfowl on the pond.
Peeking through one slice of reeds and branches Andy was able to take some photos of birds on the pond.
|Great Egrets - Huntington Treatment Plan|
With none of us being tall, we were wishing for a pick-up truck so we could stand in its bed and look over the well-enclosed pond. Opposite the pond was the Dam Mill Park with recreational sports playing fields for young people.
After a brief drive past both the park and the pond, we came upon a water treatment plant which confirmed what I had guessed. Coming from a city with lots of such places, it seemed likely that's what we had stumbled upon.
DAY #4 with David
We discovered the old Celery Farm is now a forested wetland (including a big pond) that lies behind many very nice homes in Allendale. Another birder was taking a photo of this juvenile GREAT BLUE HERON when I arrived.
|Juvenile Great Blue Heron; gray overall; dark crown, dark upper mandible|
Also along the back loop, we spotted a doe and fawn.
|Doe White-tailed Deer|
|Also found this interesting cairn along the wooded trail|
|Two pair of Wood Ducks out of 7 total WODU I saw|
DAY #5 with David, Diana & Kristen
After a very good sleep, followed by brunch together, we ventured out to Pond Side Park where we had limited birding time due to my being a bit anxious about arriving with plenty of time to spare at JFK.
|Mature Great Blue Heron|
Soon, it was wrap-up time and I was headed for JFK where I arrived in plenty of time for my flight, delayed for mechanical issues (!), requiring a change of planes after an hour on the tarmac. Got home at midnight instead of 9:30 p.m. But, I'm home again and that's a good thing!
87 species in five days is no record! But birding offers a nifty way to get out and about with my family.
* * *
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31697386
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31697611
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31697850
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31698054
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31757881
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31767800
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31767970
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31768198
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31746000
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31745955
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31745552
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31754920