Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sheepshead Bay Duck Walk - 1/4/2014

Goodness, January 4th? Time flies when you're having fun - and it also flies when the calendar year ends and your job involves you in royalty reporting. Home with a 2nd winter cold this weekend, perfect time to sort through these photos from a very nice walk I took on the Saturday after New Year's Day.

We'd had a big snowstorm on Friday. Saturday was cold but lovely and although I think I toyed with the idea of going paddling, we'd had a good Frostbite Paddle on the first and instead I decided to walk out to Sheepshead Bay with my good camera and my zoom lens, with the idea of taking some pictures of winter ducks.

 This was something I'd had in mind since President's Day last year, when I took Bella for a very long walk with a clam-chowder break at Randazzo's in Sheepshead Bay. In addition to the usual mallards, gulls, swans and Canada geese, there were flocks of a couple of different kinds of winter ducks, buffleheads (the one with the big white cheek patch above) and scaup (the one to the left). These guys tend to be pretty skittish when approached by kayak on the water so this was the closest I'd ever been able to get and I was very happy with some of the pictures I got, but I left there thinking I really needed to go back with the zoom lens and without the dog (she's a Catahoula Leopard Cur, a short-haired breed from Louisiana, and a dog that's bred for the bayou gets chilly if asked to stand around in northeastern cold while a person takes pictures). Didn't make it out again last year but the 4th looked like a perfect day for picturetaking.

Unfortunately the winter ducks were not hanging out in the numbers that they had been on President's Day; perhaps I was a little early. Still, I had fun taking pictures of the more usual birds out there, plus people and scenery.

As usual, click on any picture for a better view. 

Gull. Ring-billed, I think. Definitely a baygull, it was by the bay, and it would have liked some lox if I'd had some to share. That's the footbridge across Sheepshead Bay in the background, my walk ended later crossing that, looping back around the end of the bay and then down to Randazzo's. 

Canada goose

Swanny swan a-swanning - swans know how to pose!

Seagull feeding

This guy was having the gulls pluck bread from his fingers, which they did deftly and too quickly for me to catch on film - this was the closest I got to the grab (definitely worth a click for detail). 

Moseying on now as I was getting chilly - here's just a nice boat scene, fishing boats at a marina, always nice to see. 

Not so nice to see:

 I've loved these little cottage courtyards since my first stroll in Sheepshead Bay, several years ago. There are 2 of them side-by-side and although I don't know how old they are, they look like they've been around for a while. I think the first time I saw them I thought "What a wonderful place to live". Aside from being too close to the water for storm surges of course, and I was aware of that before Sandy, it was never so much a question of if as it was of when - I like where I am, well inland, for that, and I suspect that might have something to do with why these are all for sale now. Still, even suspecting that a big storm surge would be trouble here, I just loved the look of them.

Makes me sad to see them up for grabs because I wouldn't be surprised if these neat little courts are just snapped up by somebody who wants to knock 'em down to put up another one of these -- ugh. Move along. Nothing to see here. 

 Plumb Beach, the easternmost point in my walk. Usually this is a big hangout for wind and kitesurfers - none on the fourth, though, no wind and as you can probably see, also not much water. Plus brrr, cold. 

 Couldn't resist making a snow angel in a smooth patch of snow in the little park that lets into Plum Beach. 

 Guess what? Brant butt! 
A few brants were hanging out here at the entrance to Sheepshead Bay. These smaller cousins of the Canada geese winter here in massive flocks - unlike the Canada geese, these guys do all migrate, by early summer you won't find a single one, and they are also much less moochy than their big relatives. Like the winter ducks, they're very shy when you approach them in a kayak, and in fact with the numbers we have in the bay it's hard to go for a winter paddle without spooking huge flocks.

They're a little less skittish when approached from land but even so this trio were heading away as I took these, looking across the Rockaway Inlet towards the Rockaway Penisula. 

Heading back into the main drag now, it was cold enough with the sun and that was sinking. Must be ice crystals in the sky as some light sun dogs appeared. 

 Jet, one of the Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet - I've been thinking it would be fun to go fishing again sometime, haven't recently, and when I do it will probably be on one of the boats here since they can take care of all the stuff I don't have and don't know, plus it's so easy to get to (the Captain Dave folks have been friendly to the folks at my kayak club and also advertise as being family friendly - I don't want to go out on a frat boy boat - so it's their website I've kind of been watching). 

Sheepshead Bay from the bridge. By this time I was starting to have strong thoughts about Randazzo's chowder. I didn't have a dog to share it with this time, but that also meant I was going to be able to sit inside to thaw out while I ate it, but I still had a little light and it seemed like I had just enough time to add in this loop. 

On the other side of the bay, I did finally spot one of the winter ducks I'd hoped to see - a couple of small flocks of lady buffleheads (when I posted these on Facebook, the Peconic Puffin said that Downton Abbey needs a Lady Bufflehead - never watched the show for fear of addiction but I totally agree on principal, at least). 

Taking wing for a quick loop around to see if there's another spot that looks better

This spot looks good

Sleepy young ringbill settles in for the night

Swan glowing in the low rays of the sinking sun

Sheepshead Bay sunset

And so to Randazzo's (note the skinny little crescent moon just above the lamp-post - that's why there was no water at Plumb Beach, new moon = spring tide, higher high and lower low than average).

Might repeat this tomorrow, it should be a nice day and I'm at point in this cold where I'm ready for a little light exercise and fresh air -- if it was summertime I'd head out for a swim at Coney Island; there will probably be people swimming there tomorrow (the REAL polar bears go all winter) but I don't think I want to join them for a dip just now!


Bursledon Blogger said...

Winter walks on cold crisp days are wonderful , shame we have so few over here - singing and dancing in the rain is more like it

bonnie said...

Didn't quite get sparkly enough to go again today, was kind of overcast all day so I just ran errands instead.

But yes, we do get some decent winter days, if you just have the right clothes to enjoy them!