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Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Weekend "Out East"

Tiger Lily

(Photo credit - Rob J)

My wife and I went “out east” to spend several days with family. For non-New Yorkers, the term “out east” refers to the eastern end of Long Island. The habitat at the western end of the island is New York City. For the most part, the eastern end is as opposite in habitat and human density as one can be and still be in relatively close proximity to the city. When I was young our family spent many summers on the north fork of the east end. It doesn’t have the celebrity allure of the hamptons on the south fork but it is no less beautify. As a kid I spent many long summer days exploring the marshes, woods and coastlines near our house on the north fork. Decades later I became a birder and started to explore Long Island’s familiar places with a new perspective of nature.

NYC and Long Island

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Displaced hatchling

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Most of my time this past week was spent barbecuing, swimming and catching up with family members. I promised myself that I wouldn’t focus on birds. The birds had other plans. My first day in Watermill I walked out of my sister’s home to find a helpless hatchling sitting on the ground. I searched for a nest in the surrounding trees but could not find one. The unidentified bird seemed unharmed and made a loud chirping sound. The parents would surely be able to find him so I just placed him on top of a large, dense Yew shrub. Two days later I couldn’t locate him so I figured that he was alright. I still have no clue what species of bird he was but there were several species nesting around my sister’s property; Whip-poor-will, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Ovenbird, Chipping Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle. It could also be a Brown-headed Cowbird.

Broadnecked Root Borer (Prionus laticollis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Root Borers-

My niece seems to be genuinely interested in nature. When we found a large beetle in the backyard she was very curious and asked me if it “clicked”. Maybe I’m reading into her comment when it actually meant nothing but, how does a 5 year old know about Click Beetles? At one of the local beaches an area is fenced off to protect nesting Piping Plovers and Least Terns. I spotted a pair of recently hatched plover chicks, pointed them out and my niece managed to get them into the binoculars. Another birder in the making? We’ll see.

A young birder

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I heard my first Whip-poor-will of the season. They usually nest near my sister’s house so I asked her if they were around this year. Her simple reply was, “9 o’clock”. As the sun was setting we relaxed on her back deck. Suddenly a silhouette flew over the yard, landed in a conifer and began repeatedly calling, “ Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will”. We checked the time and, sure enough, it was 9 o’clock. Weird.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Eastern Box Turtles-

One other interesting observation was of an Eastern Box Turtle lumbering through my brother’s yard. He has woods with lots of leaf litter on two sides of his property where, I presume, the turtle spends most of his time. I can’t be certain but there were some clusters of fresh mushrooms on the side of the house that might have caught his interest.

Unknown mushroom

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Deptford Pink-

Unidentified Wave moth (Scopula spp.)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Watermill, Long Island, 6/30 - 7/4
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Piping Plover
Laughing Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Roseate Tern
Common Tern
Least Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Crested Flycatcher
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole

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


Eleanor said...

Loved your "Weekend Out East" photos, Rob. Hope that hatchling is OK....

Pamela said...

You inspire me!

We have something that looks like a dragon fly, but it's black and white striped -- I'm going to have to chase it down and capture it on film.

Now tell me, how do you get them to sit still?

Rob J. said...

Early mornings are usually a good time as they aren't as active. On cold mornings they need to warm up to get moving so they're pretty cooperative. I've actually been able to pick a few up. I once snuck up behind a dragonfly called a Slaty Skimmer and caught him...he promptly bit my finger. Could your dragonfly be a Common Whitetail?

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