Saturday, June 9, 2012

Flooded Cockenoe Island Nest Site.

An 8.95ft high tide rises on  the Cockenoe Island Sand Spit at 23:02, a few friends and I were there by boat to witness the event.
Previous to this tide there were 600 plus Common Terns on this small sand spit with about 150-200 nest.
Damage may have already happened from almost as high of tides, plus severe weather the day or so before. I was not there to see that, so this is what I found. 

The USFW signs are now well below the tide line,there is little beach front left for the terns and oystercatchers.Many eggs are lost with this tide.
The terns settle on whatever land is left, perhaps crushing the eggs that survived the tide?

                  Returning by boat a day later, the terns were gone...600 strong and they were just gone.

                   Hopefully, they will renest somewhere else in a much safer place and do well.


                                             Several warning signs also also lost to the tides and sea.

On the main island, I happened on this resting Black Skimmer.

Plus this young American Oystercatcher, he or she also had a sibling that I missed in the photo.

Now take a very good look at this Oystercatcher, it has an inordinary amount of legs, eight legs in total!
Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Three chicks huddled in momma's feathers!
Do you see them?

Another AMOY chick along the shoreline.

As beautiful as these deer are, how many bird eggs do they smash on the islands while they are browsing?

                                    This deer was very close to the above Oystercatcher chicks.


 Peck Ledge Lighthouse.
She took a beating in last years storms, the deck railing is gone on the south east side.
But something new has been added.

Mr. Osprey has a nest, I haven't seen the Mrs. but will keep an eye out.

Over to Goose Island, the Great Black-backed Gull  chicks are running about.


They are quite a sight!

I look forward to photographing this hatch every year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ibis and Coyote

Today I stopped to photograph a pair of Glossy Ibis at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT.
This pair were feeding in a rain pool near the model airplane field.

Suddenly their demeanor changed, they stopped feeding and focused on something nearby. 

A coyote had entered the scene

The Ibis watched the coyote as it passed by.
No harm was done and the Ibis only gave the coyote slight concern.
The coyote did flush a number of other birds along it's way, including at least four Willet.

With the coyote no longer a threat, the bird to the right sat down in the water...

...and entertained me with it's bathing antics.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Finished, it was time to dry off it's wings.

The second bird flew a few yards to another pool and enjoyed it's bath.

Then flew back to join it's friend
After a head scratch and wing flap...

...they were gone.
I'm was lucky to show up when I did, everything was over and done in just a few minutes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thrashers thrashing!

For the past several mornings, we have had a Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) bathing in one of our backyard birdbaths.
This bird was very well aware of it's surroundings and was not easy to photograph, as it was very skittish.
Behind an open house window, I was able to capture a few nice photographs of this bird.

With great caution, the thrasher slowly approaches the bird bath, that is at ground level.

After a slow trip around the bath, it decides to step one foot in the water.

Then two feet, but it looks back at the window that I am photographing from with a bit of concern.

Oh, what the heck, time for a splash!

Checking me out again, with tail resting on the water.

Thrasher, thrashing?

Somewhat relaxed.

Some more thrashing!

Gathering the feathers.

Ahh, that felt good!

Time to get back to reality.

Hey you, damn papparazzi, get out of my face!!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barnacle Gulls

My good friend and biologist Dennis refers to them as Barnacle Gulls, and that is not without reason.
An annual late winter, early spring phenonomon occurs on the western end of the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound, from New Haven on westward to Greenwich CT.
In this mostly rocky bottomed area massive plankton blooms occur, for the most part the major player here are barnacle larvae and in amounts that cannot be imagined.
Penfield Lighthouse, Fairfield, CT in the above photo.

Gulls, mostly Ring-bills and  lesser amounts of Herring are the most involved bird species in counting the plankton mass birds, along with them are  many Greater Scaup, Goldeneye, Long-tail, Brant,Scoter, Black Duck, American Wigeon and a few other species, that feed in the planktonic soup

This area off Fairfield CT, with buoy 22 in the distance, follows a very rock reef, locally known as Sunken Island, this has been a hotspot the past several years for barnacle gulls.
The next few photos are a birds eye view of what they are seeing and feeding on.

These thick plankton masses create a viscious water density, this looks like a calm water slick when viewed from above, but is next to choppy water.
On this trip we did stop in areas where the choppy sea calmed to small flat calm water.
Plankton were always visible in these area's, as were the planktavours.

In this photo of my fish finder, we are in 17.7 ft of water off of Bouy 22. Near the bottom, there is a mass of activity.
Are these other plankton masses? Other plankton feeders, or piscavours?
Herring, Smelt, Anchovies, Striped bass?
One follows the other.
Regardless, this fishfinder photo shows another world happening only a few fathoms below the surface of the  feeding plankton gulls.
This is the world we never see. Any divers out there, that would like to jump in and fill us in?
Your welcome on board!

A Harbor Seal loafing off Southport.

Some of the many thousands of Greater Scaup aloft, with a local shell fishing boat heading home.
Overall the gull count alone was over 30,000 and this trip.

More Scaup off Compo Beach, Westport, CT.

And more.

Back at the dock,  my friends and mentors,
Dennis and Frank.
They are the best of the best.
Always a pleasure to have either of them on board.