Sunday, June 9, 2013

Terns, turtles and gulls, but no Booby

I left my boat slip at sunrise just a few mornings ago.
This Double-crested Cormorant is already drying itself off in the early morning sun.
I'll be looking high and low for the Brown Booby, but I know my chances are slim.
Common Terns are nesting on Cockenoe Island.
That is Peck's Ledge Lighthouse in the back round.
The sand spit on Cockenoe Island had a lone American Oystercatcher sitting on it's nest.
Other oystercatchers have already hatched their chicks, I saw at least ten oystercatcher chicks running about on this island, still a few adults are nesting.

One of several Willet

I notice this turtle making it's way out of the water and up a sandy shoreline area of Cockenoe Island.

For those not familiar with Cockenoe Island, there is very little fine sandy are to be found, but this Diamondback Terrapin found it....

...and started digging a hole to lay her eggs... I left her alone, wished her good luck, and went on my way, wow was that incredible!
I must mention that this turtle is nesting only feet away from public campsites that thankfully have been closed for the season due to Sandy.

Back on the main bar at Cockenoe sits this Common Tern,
a close look...

...shows a metal band, but not clear on the id numbers.

Behind the tern, oystercatchers are having a loud early morning squabble.
You fill in the Drakes words for this one? P.U?

One of only a few Least Terns sitting on nest

Although I had a total count of five hundred Common Terns on the sand spit.

The green vegetation is slowly returning, this spot had been wiped clean by Sandy.

Not Cool!

Great Black-backed Gulls eggs are just hatching.

a few more chicks.
This Black Tern just finished a bath as I caught him preening on Cockenoe Island.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Norwalk CT Brown Booby

Around 11:30 this morning I saw a post from Patrick Comins on CT BIRDS, about a Brown Booby that was spotted on a boat in Westport CT waters.
Several minutes later I received a phone call from Nick Bonomo alerting me about the Booby, moments later Patrick calls to tell me what he knows.
For those that don't know me, my boat is in the water year round and these waters have been my backyard for more then fifty years.
I started a search north of Cockenoe Island in Westport, the winds were Southwest near twenty and the seas were kicking up to that nasty two foot Long Island Sound chop, a wave about every second.
With the dropping tide I did not want to test the rocks on the south side of the islands, so I took the safe way in calmer seas, passing north and then east of Cockenoe, I spotted a few Double-crested Cormorants along the way that made me take a closer look.
With the rocking and rolling I did not want to venture further and started returning to Cockenoe to see what was happening with the terns and oystercatchers.
I watched from a distance as one oystercatcher pair had its hands full with five Fish Crows while trying to protect thier nest. Further on I did find one Oystercatcher hatchling, other adults mating and others on nest, at least three hundred Common Terns on or near the Cockenoe Sandbar, several Black terns, can't say I saw or heard a Least.
Back to the Booby.
Weather is coming my way so I decide to head back to port, as I start to head north into Norwalk Harbor I see rain in front of me so I decide to hang out a bit and wait for it to pass. I decide to go over to the Norwalk Power Plant and check out the many new Osprey nest.
On my way I come across what I initially think is a Common Loon in the water trying to swallow a fish, as I pass the bird I see that I'm very wrong .

It's the Brown Booby attempting to eat an Atlantic Menhaden.
I'm sorry about this photo, but in my haste to grab my camera I accidentally  turned it to a really bad setting and over exposed  it.
Soon the bird took flight and flew off to a harbor light, at this time Nick and friends were on his boat watching this happen.
On the Harbor Light
Another look.

After twenty or so minutes it flew over to Calf Pasture Beach, where it was mobbed by Gulls.
The booby headed east, we lost sight but headed in that direction.

I had to stop in choppy waters for this potential booby, still some Common Loons in the area.
We couldn't resight the bird, so with weather again at our doorstep, I headed back up the harbor and fast.
When I came close to my marina, I again saw gulls mobbing something, I figured this one out right away. 

It was the booby trying to escape the gulls, it headed over to my marina and set down on a friends boat.

 I never thought lightning could strike my boat twice in the same day, but wow!

Here he is, and he (she) seems to have no fear of me.

This bird had been reported perching on several working oysterboats today.

It had no problem posing

After a few minutes it flew off towards Veterans Park in East Norwalk

Where it was met again,

by some angry gulls.

So what does a Brown Booby do when being attacked by mobbing gulls?

Land on the nearest boat.

In this case, that was my boat!

So now I have a new friend onboard that is only a few feet away.

Back at the dock, it was not shy in the least, if fact it was very friendly, walking closer and closer to me. Perhaps it is used to getting handouts?

Frank Gallo did his best to get some sardines for him, but for no apparent reason it flew off.
We could not resight this bird.
Hopefully Tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sandy vs Norwalk Islands

Superstorm Sandy brought major damage to the Tri-State area, we have been well informed on that, but lets not forget the Norwalk Islands.
This early 1900's stone shack that stood proudly on Goose Island has been shattered by Sandy.
She saw many hurricanes and storms before, but could not bear the wrath of this incredible storm.
Above, is a current photo, her roof is torn apart as are her massive two foot walls and foundation.
Incredibly her NWR sign still stands, thankfully it was on the lee side of the storm.
Below, looking from the east, is the shack with it's  Double-crested Cormorant Breeding Area that swells to many hundreds, perhaps over one thousand Cormorants in nesting season.
In this post Sandy photo, along with the ruins of the 100 year old shack, almost all vegetation was wiped clean of the island.
All shell and vegetation that the Gulls,
and Cormorant nested upon has been washed into Long Island Sound

This is a photo of a Snowy Owl on Goose Island.
Here is the same area, just a few degrees east, the shell, sand and most vegetation are washed away.
Hopefully this will fill in again, a few species of breeding birds are also hoping for the same.
On to Cockenoe Island, this is the South West area, pre Sandy view.
This is the Heron Rookery Area
Same area on Cockenoe, post Sandy. The mass erosion is very evident.
Thankfully, this erosion didn't touch the Heron nesting area.
The Southeast side of Cockenoe, pre Sandy, note the trees and flagpole location plus the slope of the terrain
Same area, post Sandy,  here we see major erosion, the slope is now a cliff, several trees have fallen from the erosion and the flagpole has become very close to the edge. 
There is no need for me to mention the Tern nesting bar on this island, it has eroded further and it can not longer be considered a viable nesting area since it will be submerged on many spring and early summer high tides.
Hopefully a few new nesting areas may arise in the island chain.
Will we be ready?
A few other scenes, this is the shack on Sheffield Island.
Uprooted trees and shrubs encompass the whole southern shore of the island chain.
some more
and more

This Razorbill, that we found in Norwalk Harbor, before the beach and close to Cove Marina
doesn't seem to give a dang about any of this!

"                                          O bla de, o bla da life goes on..." Lennon & McCartny