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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Weekend on Long Island

View of Little Peconic Bay and Robbins Island

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Robin and I took the train out to eastern Long Island for the extended weekend. One of my brothers has a small place in the town of Watermill, near Southampton. A younger sister lives a couple of miles from his house. I didn’t plan to do much birding, mostly just catch up with some family members and eat a lot of barbecued meats. I figured that there’d also be a few beers in the mix, for good measure. Obviously I couldn’t ignore the birdlife and, in the words of one of my sisters, “Uncle Rob is always good for a nature walk or two”.

The oak woods surrounding my brother’s house is dominated by breeding grackles. I also heard quiet a few Great Crested Flycatchers, wrens (House and Carolina), catbirds, chickadees and titmice. Raccoons seem to be a problem (like everywhere) as they regularly raid garbage cans. One night, while we sat chatting outdoors, I spotted one lurking in the shadows near the corner of the house. He was no doubt waiting for us to retire.

There were some interesting flowering plants around his neighborhood but one that fascinated me was a cluster of Indian Pipes on his lawn. I’ve read about the fungi-like plant but I think that this was the first time I’ve seen one.

I was photographing a vetch flower when, out of curiosity, my niece came by to look over my shoulder. The tiny 3 1/2 year old is very talkative and asked what I doing. I told her I thought that the flower was very pretty and I wanted to find out its name. She wrinkled her brow and said very seriously, “I think it’s a Fairy Wheel”. Hmmmm, I suppose that’s as good a name as any. Anyway, it turned out to be Crown Vetch, yet another pretty but invasive species.

Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Indian Pipes-

Crown Vetch (Coronilla varia)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about Crown Vetch-

Our “Nature Walk” with my brother, his wife and two children was a stroll in “Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge” on Jessup’s Neck peninsula. The chickadees and titmice at the refuge are habituated to the hundreds of humans who arrive daily with bags of sunflower seeds. I wonder if the birds even remember how to forage for food. I’m used to the two bold species feeding from one’s hand but was surprised by a pair of equally fearless White-breasted Nuthatches. The two nuthatches readily answered to my imitation of their muted, nasal, “whi-whi-whi-whi”. My niece is probably still talking about all the friendly, black and white birds and running around the house singing “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”.

Hungry Black-capped Chickadee

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Tame White-breasted Nuthatch

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Unidentified skipper and Green Metallic Bee spp.

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to see more green metallic bees-

We arrived back in Brooklyn on Monday night just as the fireworks on the East River were about to begin. Our roof has a great view of lower Manhattan so we dropped our bags and ran upstairs. As the rumbles of the exploding mortars reverberated across the river I was pleasantly surprised to hear the “peent, peent” call of a Common Nighthawk overhead. These birds used to nest near our home but have disappeared over the past few years. I don’t suppose that the annual fireworks in the park and on the river helps their decision but I hope that the nighthawks have returned for good.

- - - - -

Watermill, NY, 7/2/2005 to 7/4/2005
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Red-tailed Hawk
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Least Tern
Black Skimmer
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow


Susie said...

What a beautiful and informative blog you have. So glad I found it while looking for info on someone who helped me from the rare bird report.

Will be back and back!


Rob J. said...


Thanks for your kind words. NYC is a small birding town, maybe we'll cross paths one day while out in the field.

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