Friday, February 28, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More ducks, a swan, two geese, a poleful of pigeons and -- The Early Bird Is Even Earlier

A glorious afternoon on Sheepshead Bay.

I came in search of scaup and bufflehead, the winter ducks I'd seen out here last year on President's Day. I'd come in January and there was a small flock of lady buffleheads who turned up just before sunset, but mostly it was gulls, pigeons, mallards and swans. Sunday, there they were! Look, there's a scaup (lower left) and a bufflehead (upper right), there were flocks of both all over the bay. 

Buffleheads are so skittish, you could never get this from a kayak. Notice how they look black and white here? Their heads actually have a lovely iridescent sheen to them and I really wanted to try to catch that on this trip. I did, a little further down. 

Single scaup. Liked the yellow eye shining in the sun on this shot. 

Bufflehead cruisin'. My birder friend Prof. M said they remind her of little tugboats - I'd thought of that too, they have that same sort of sturdy, broad-chested build.

Very small, though, here are some mallards for comparison. 

Three scaup. The male scaup have a little bit of iridescence to their heads too - you can see a hint of purple here, but it's very subtle. 

The buffleheads, though, the shine is noticeable - these three pix caught it pretty well. 

Handsome little guy, isn't he?

A Facebook friend has suggested using half a paddle and employing the canoe stroke known as the Canadian J-stroke (paddle never leaves the water, the stroke is very quiet and there's none of the visual hubbub of the other blade flashing up in the air) to try to get a better view of these guys when out in the bay; I'm curious to try that but for now I'm reasonably happy with the photos I got. Might try taking one of my little tripods if I try this again - I was using the zoom lens at maximum zoom and a lot of pictures that looked quite good on the little camera screen turned to be ever so slightly out of focus. Still, for a spur of the moment thing, not too bad!

Scaup with reflections from the bridge. It was interesting, these guys weren't as "feed me feed me" as the geese, gulls, pigeons and mallards, but some of them were coming in and nibbling at the sliced bread people were throwing. Fortunately they didn't seem to think that the sliced bread was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they were definitely curious, and not worried about the people at all.

The bufflehead, though, although not AS skittish of the humans on the hoof here as they are of humans in kayaks in Jamaica Bay, were still keeping a bit more out towards the middle of the bay. They had no interest at all in mooching, all they wanted to eat was whatever little critters they were finding on their dives. Whoops, there one goes again! 

Swan, apparently enjoying the warm air on the webbed feet.

A couple of canada geese - common but I still think they're nice-looking birds. 

And a poleful of pigeons! I just liked the way they looked with their sentinel seagull baygull.
 Most unexpected bird of the weekend, though? 
Remember when I painted this last year after spotting the first oystercatcher of Spring on a very mucky day in the middle of March and wondering if he was regretting leaving Florida? Well, we saw an oystercatcher in Jones Beach on Saturday. Around here, oystercatchers are a MUCH better sign of spring than robins, which I've seen in Prospect Park in December, and this is REALLY early for one of them to be back. With the weather we had last week, the little guy was probably congratulating himself on his cleverness in getting back so early, getting a head-start in staking out turf, all that - well, this week he's going to be sorry as winter returns. Hopefully this is winter's last laugh, but it definitely isn't quite over.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Duck Dives! Frogma is Frogma again.

"Duck dives" - think these were invented by surfers? No, no, no! They were invented by DUCKS! Here are some diving ducks duck diving today at Sheepshead Bay. I went out to see if the winter ducks were there yet. They were, and the water is quite clear right now after our stretch of cold water, and I noticed that you could see them under the water pretty well as they dove, and I took a bunch of pictures trying to get that. These were the best.

And with this, I think Bonnie's Big Blog of SNOW can revert to Frogma. There's still snow on the ground - in fact I took another snowman picture today, a whole family melting away in the springlike warmth - but taking the subway to spend an hour taking pictures of ducks? It doesn't get much more frogmic than that. Plus, I paddled yesterday (woohoo!), but those pictures will take a little longer to sort through. Although it was the first seal-less seal paddle in the history of Sebago seal paddles, it was still a gorgeous day and it felt great to be back on the water. And yes, there were Ipswich clams at Bigelow's afterwards. TQ said maybe we could just call it the Bigelow's Paddle, seals can be a bonus (trip leaders just wink at each other when a seal is spotted and shout "Wow, look, seals! We didn't know there were seals here!") and that way nobody ever goes home sad.

And now, on with the ducks. Duck dive, ducks, duck dive!

Click on the first picture for a slideshow view - this is it for the words today.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Snow Status

So, we've had a lovely warm week here, let's see how the snow is now...



 uh, still going...

and...yup, still going.
ok, this may take a little longer. Still, been a nice week and we have annual Jones Beach seal paddle tomorrow - this may be it for Bonnie's Big Blog of SNOW! 

Snow on the Bridge/Snow in Soho - going to work in the SNOW!

Winding down (knocking wood, crossing fingers) Bonnie's Big Blog of Snow here...let's see, I've done snow in my neighborhood and snow at the club, where's that other place I frequent? Oh, yeah, the office in Snowho. I mean SoHo (but I'm leaving that error because it is right and good). These were all taken on the 13th which may have been one of those storms that the Weather Channel in its infinite wisdom has decided it would be cute to name. I was late to work 'cause I just didn't want to go out there, plus I more or less had permission to not go if it seemed like it might be tricky, but in the end my subway line was running fine so in I went. Ever notice that when almost nobody can get to work, if you CAN make it in, you get twice as much done as when everybody's there? Well, that's my theory anyways. So if the trains are running, I go.

Here was the view looking north up the East River on the Manhattan Bridge. Horizon was lost in the murk very fast - could barely see the Williamsburg Bridge (the W in the "BMW" mnemonic for remembering the order of these 3 bridges to Brooklyn). 

Strange sight met me at the Broadway/Lafayette station - all of these firemen were coming in. No smell of smoke, and they weren't hurrying at all...hmm. I was glad I was heading out as they were heading in, this is always a little disconcerting, even when they aren't in a rush. 

Two fire engines upstairs and a third approaching with sirens blaring. Mentioned this on Facebook and pretty soon a friend had figured out what had happened - some device-addicted kid was texting in the subway station and fell onto the tracks. Anyways, she was very very lucky, the train that was coming in didn't actually hit her but she did end up underneath it, so these guys were on their way in to fish her out. Little more excitement than you really want in your day. Anyways, on to work - 

Walking up Broadway

Shovellers a-shovelling

Snow snow snow

and more snow!
What a winter we have had. Groundhog says six more weeks? Hmmm. So far I've only tried making chicken adobo. Maybe it's time to branch out. Heeeere, groundhog groundhog groundhog...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sebago in the Snow! Plus - thawing out in NYC, it's all fun and games 'til someone gets knocked silly by falling ice or electrocuted by a doorknob.

Oh NO! 40's today, 40's tomorrow, 50's on Friday - it looks like the time for this blog's stint as Bonnie's Big Blog of SNOW is melting away with the glacial remnants outside! And I haven't showed you all of my SNOW yet! Hurry, more SNOW! QUICK!

Here's Sebago Canoe club in the SNOW on Sunday, when we had a big meeting to plan out the season that we are absolutely sure will eventually get here after all the SNOW is done. Snow snow snow snow snow! 

Welcome to the frozen north Sebago!

The grounds, 1

The grounds, 2

Paerdegat Basin - this at least has now returned to liquid state. Phew. 

Snow angel (for Prof. M, who would have joined me if she hadn't been skiing).

Grounds 3

Tony calls the meeting to order

Good dog Bella. 

Ooh, we get by with a little help from our friends!

We actually had a kind of rough day of thawing out today in NYC - the morning commute was totally screwed up for anyone travelling to or through the World Trade Center area as roads and walkways were closed due to ice falling off of WTC 1 (story here, plus hat tip to the Flatbush Gardner, who works in the area and brought the story to my attention with this very attention-getting status on Facebook this morning: "It seems the 'Freedom Tower' is raining down ballistic icy death from above"). Fortunately no actual ballistic icy deaths occurred but I'm very grateful my commute no longer takes me to that area, sounds like it was quite a mess down there. And as if that wasn't enough excitement, later on in the day part of 6th Avenue was shut down due to electrified doorknobs. Ain't we got fun?