Saturday, December 28, 2013

A White Christmas!

I love listening to the reeds on the walk out to the dunes of the beach. Oddly, I find Jones Beach much more inviting in the winter.
     Since becoming a teacher, my free time has become limited, which has not enabled me the ability to just go out on my usual treks to be immersed in nature. So since it is the holiday break, I made sure that I was able to get out and enjoy what winter brings with it, some nice migrants from the North.
     In round two of three, as far as Christmas goes, my husband and I traveled out to Long Island to spend some time with my parents. We also made sure to go to Jones Beach hoping to visit some awesome winter migrants. It was a great day for the beach, 40 degrees, sunny, the wind made it feel colder, but I have definitely been there in much colder weather with far more layers on!
     All we had to do was look for people standing around and we had the pleasure of seeing two snowy owls on the West end beach, both within a 7-10 minute walk of one another!
     Enjoy the sights:
The first snowy is either a young male or a female bird. Unlike the birds I have seen the last two years, which were all white- indicating an older male, these had black barring.

This bird was fairly active, preening its feathers.

It was fun being able to see this bird move around and change its posture!
A sneaky peek of that beak!

Then a flock of black bellied plovers flew by.
These birds, like the snowy owl, normally live in the Arctic, but come down South for winter. I was able to ID them because of that black patch in their "wing-pit." ("Wing-pit" is NOT a scientific term)
Evidence of feathered friends...
Snowy #2.

I wonder if they come for the people watching, as we come for the bird watching...
I highly recommend a visit: Jones Beach State Park, West end beaches, park on the SW corner of the lot, take the beach trail down and look among the dunes. Make sure you give the birds a respectable distance and bundle up! If they say it's going to be 40, dress for 25-30. Bring some binoc's and a camera - and for extra fun, the Coast Guard Station on the inlet side usually has good migrant waterfowl viewing and seal viewing.