Sunday, March 20, 2016

Winter/spring bird walk - Sheepshead Bay to Gerritsen Creek

OK, so it may be snowing out there, but the oystercatchers are back, I saw my first flock today. They're a springy thing even if the weather doesn't feel like it. So glad I got myself out for a beach walk - it was a long long week with too much work and body complaining a bit about chemo round 7, but after a very lazy day of hanging out with TQ while nursing a grouchy tummy yesterday, I was feeling a little more rested, and although the Evil Futon of Nap did nearly take me down, I fought my way out of its comfy clutches and headed out to Sheepshead Bay for my annual winter duck walk.

The winter ducks were there - 

Not a whole lot, but a small flock of Buffleheads -

Dive! Dive!

click this one for detail, focus isn't great but I caught him in mid-dive! :D
and one lone scaup

After stopping beside the bay, I decided to walk a little way down the beach towards Gerritsen Creek. 

Looking back toward Kinsborough College and the inlet to Sheepshead Bay. 

My original plan had been to walk a little ways down the beach, then turn around and walk to Brighton Beach and take the train home from there. But it was so nice and peaceful heading out towards Plum Beach that I decided to keep walking that way instead. It wasn't the springiest first day of Spring ever, but that meant very few other shorewalkers - I really had the place to myself for most of my hike.

 This ended up being a great call - I was rewarded with oystercatchers, just outside of Gerritsen Beach, at the inlet to the marsh behind Plum Beach. 

 I'm always so happy to see my first oystercatchers of the year. These are one of the first summer birds that I notice returning this time of year and when I see them and the ospreys, I know summer's really on the way. Skimmers mean summer's HERE.

 I think this flock must have just arrived from their flight from the south. Usually you hear oystercatchers before you see them, because they loudly and proudly proclaim their presence with shrill cries of "Wheet! Wheet! Wheetwheetwheetwheetwheetwheetwheet!". This flock was so quiet - thinking back, I think there may have been one single "Wheet!" that drew my attention, but then I sat down to watch them for a bit and there wasn't another noise out of them for the whole time. Never knew oystercatchers actually had it in them to be quiet, but if they'd just gotten in, they may have just been to tired to holler. 

 I watched them for a little while and then headed back for Sheepshead Bay as snow began to fall. 

Saw a couple of cute little sandpipers on the way back

 A pair of swans flying in the Jamaica Bay direction 

 Snowy goodnight to the birds and the bay. 


Haralee Sleepwear said...

The different shades of gray in your pictures are beautiful!

bonnie said...

I came THAT close to not bringing my camera, as my original plan was mainly focused on getting off my posterior and getting some exercise and fresh air. I was very glad I re-thought that, I was so happy to have the camera along when I changed my route to a shorewalk.

Connie McLeod said...

Bonnie, I felt that I was walking right along with you. Lovely photos. I live in Louisiana and wonder if we have oystercatchers here. I've never heard of them, but I know we have lots of oysters along our coast. Wishing you the best with your chemo.

Rob K said...

Great photos, Bonnie! I felt like I was right there with you. And I love "Evil Futon of Nap" and its "comfy clutches." Brilliant!

O Docker said...

Too pooped to tweet and that close to JFK?

I think your Oystercatchers just flew in on a red-eye from Orlando.

Just look at their eyes!

bonnie said...

Hm, that does look a little suspicious, doesn't it?

Another theory over on Facebook was that they were trying to sneak up on the oysters, which are of course the flightiest of mollusks, poised to flee at the slightest alarm. Or something like that.

Their eyes are pretty wild, aren't they?

When I did The Early Bird, I took a bit of artistic license with that particular feature. I was after "disgruntled", not "satanic".

bonnie said...

Connie, I found a good range map and as I suspected, they do live in Louisiana. They're a summer bird here, but last year I think I remember hearing them when we went sailing in the Caribbean in January, and I was absolutely tickled to run across them in a Flickr album a friend posted after a trip to the Galapagos Islands. We're pretty close to the northern end of their range here in NY, but they've got the entire East Coast of North America south of here covered, plus the Gulf, plus the west coast up to the Mexican border or so. I think there's another variety of oystercatcher that covers the US west coast. Very widespread!

Thanks, Rob! The Evil Futon of Nap dates back to when I moved to Midwood just as some friends were rearranging their apartment. It's a full-sized futon in a frame that was cut down to fit in a nook in their place; the overlapping futon rides up over one corner of the frame in a sort of a lounge or nestlike effect. It is the single most dangerous piece of furniture in my apartment for when I actually have ambitions to go do something.

Jennifer Adams said...

Love winter shore walks especially when the birds start coming back. Thanks!