Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Dunlin Murmuration, Jones Beach, 1/26/2019

Taking a quick break from Florida posts because a couple of Sebago's birders led a hike at Jones Beach on Saturday, the highlight of which I can share without much writing (in best Barbie voice: "Writing is hard!")(well, not that hard, it just takes me way longer than I ever think it's going to) -

As we were approaching the jetty at the end of the point where we've gotten a pretty good view of seals in the inlet in the past, one of our sharp-eyed aviphiles noticed that the curious conglomeration of small, round, grayish-brown stones on the beach beside the jetty weren't actually stones - they were a huge flock of the medium-sized sandpipers called dunlins. They were all tucked up against the wind with their feathers fluffed and their heads beneath their wings. We watched them from a distance for a while, amazed at their numbers, and then skirted the flock to go to the jetty and look for seals and eiders and whatever else might present itself. 
I'd just switched my lenses from the smaller lens I used for the photo at the top of the post back to my zoom lens when I saw motion out of the corner of my eye and turned to see the entire flock swirling into the air. We'd stayed far enough from the dunlins to not frighten them but there were suddenly a lot of people around, and then I'm told another beachwalker approached from the other direction, maybe didn't spot them in time, and up they went - and the ensuing murmuration (that's what it's called when you have a large enough flock of birds flying close enough together to look like a shifting speeding color-changing cloud - the most famous ones with the viral-est videos are starling flocks, but this was the same thing) was simply magical. Everyone on the point was just standing all going Ooooh and Aaaah exactly as though we were watching the best 4th of July fireworks ever.

With my camera already in hand, I got some lovely photos as the flock circled around before settling on the jetty - and better still, Chris Bickford, another club member who enjoys taking pictures, got an absolutely beautiful video. Click here to view, and do make sure you click on the video to expand it to full-screen! For the photos here, as usual, clikc on any one for a slideshow view. Enjoy!  


songbird's crazy world said...

You got some great photos. I love Jones Beach I the winter. Did you see seals?

Jeff K said...

Those of up near the front of our spread-out group followed a seal fishing in the breakers, and occasionally bodysurfing onto the sand. He then scrunched back into the water and did it again and again! Didn't see the snowy owl that had been there, but there were lots of red-breasted mergansers, common loons, surf scoters and eiders. The dunlin were fantastic and we were right in the middle of their flight, with perfect sun, surf and jetty.

Alana said...

I gained a vocabulary word (hope I remember it) and saw some fantastic pictures. I've only been to Jones Beach in the summer, and the last time was almost 50 years ago.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I can imagine it was really cold out there said the woman from California who thinks 48 degrees is cold. The bird shots are amazing. It must have been fun.

Haralee said...

I always wonder how so many birds communicate? Your pictures are great!

bonnie said...

How they manage it without everybody crashing into each other is a great thing to wonder about, isn't it?

There was one humorous interlude when one went left when EVERYBODY ELSE went right - we all watched the lone little bird spin away by itself then circled back and zoomed by us to meld back in with the flock. Rebel!

Rebecca, I grew up in Hawaii and I miss thinking that 60 is OMG SO SO COLD QUICK DIG OUT THE SWEATERS! lol!

Murmuration is an excellent word.