Friday, July 25, 2014

Dead Horse Bay

A dead tree decorated with beach findings and painted at Dead Horse Bay.
     Visiting Dead Horse Bay, in Brooklyn, NY was a first for me. And I'm kind of glad I didn't read about its history until after because it gave me the chance to try and answer the questions I came up with myself while on my 2.4 mile walk.
     My first question was why in the heck such a depressing name, Dead Horse Bay? I thought, well maybe it's the mosquitoes, there are enough here to suck a horse dry, and they hurt when they bite! I donated a lot of blood today.
     Second question, why is there SO MUCH GLASS on the beach?! I linked it to my first question, maybe it's what killed the horses; it would get wedged in the softer parts of their hooves and cause them such pain, they'd die. When the waves met the beach, they'd literally sing, it made a chime like tingle of notes, from many glass fragments meeting others and making a soft series of "tings" with the waves. The sounds were almost relaxing as they were rhythmic with the waves.
     Third question, how old is this glass? Some of this stuff looked old, like the old "kepler" medicine bottles we have on our shelves. I almost considered bringing some home, but I don't touch things I don't know about.
     The answers to all my questions are answered when you see that the history of the area is varied and weird. In the 17th century Dutch settler had tidal mills here, one of the mill stones can supposedly be seen on one of the trails. Later, as time went on in the ninetieth and early twentieth centuries, this was a place for factories, dead horse carcasses were brought here to make glue, fertilizer and all that good stuff (that's where the dead horse part comes from! And apparently you can find horse bone fragments from time to time on the beach!). The place also became a landfill, it was later capped, but it has since burst and now you can find 100 year old garbage (leather shoe soles, old tires, ceramic, tiles) and TONS of glass all along the beach (second and third question answered - it also explains the two gentlemen scouring the beach for glassware). Later it was filled in with sand to make Floyd Bennett Field, a once functioning airport. The place even had ferry service to the Rockaways before the Gil Hodges bridge was built, as old wooden pilings are all that remain of piers out in the water.
     It is a whacky beach, but I have heard so much about it from people who have come to it before for wildlife viewing and I was not let down! Learn more here!
     As for bird sightings, my complete list can be viewed on eBird, but the abundance of butterflies was also a very welcome sight!
A young Eastern Cottontail. This photo cost me about 6 mosquito bites.
Getting out to the bay from the trails.
Black Swallowtail sunning in the sand. How's that for alliteration?
Laughing gulls
Skimmer silhouette. 
Least sandpiper.
laughing gull.
G is for green, which is seen in the sheen of feather on the greater scaup. If it were a lesser scaup, it would be purple.
A black scoter, a type of sea duck, very much on dry land.

The osytercatcher family is out for a stroll, two adult on the left and 2 juveniles on the right, walking right towards me and clearly wanting to get past...
One adult takes the lead, giving me the eye, and walks by quickly...
The awkward looking juveniles come up next, with one adult still lingering behind...
The kids walk by....
The last adult takes flight and both are now further down the beach, calling, seemingly encouraging their kids to move their rumps.
Many semipalmated plovers were on the beach, many foraging with least sandpipers. 
Black skimmer. 
The 3 scaups and scoter seemed to always be together, as they took to the water, the scoter lingered further back, but near.

I almost walked over this guy, I didn't see this juvenile common tern until it started to run out from almost under my feet, I guess the camouflage is working well!
I love those funny tiny toes!
Another black swallowtail, feeding.
A red admiral.
An eastern comma!
One may ask, well how do I know that's an Eastern comma? This butterfly comes with it's own grammar check, see the white comma on its wing? Not to be confused with the question mark, literally, that butterfly would have a question mark on its underwing!