Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy First (full) Day of Summer!

     I worked this weekend half a day which got me the ability to jet out of work early and head out to check out a new place I have yet to visit. I went out, close to home, on Lido Beach to Nickerson Beach Park. This place is well known among birders for its nesting bird colonies. Today I went out that way to see what this place was all about.
     If you do check out Nickerson, go with a group- the cost for parking is rather high, $30 for non-residents, and a reduced price for Nassau residents who present a leisure pass. It is not hard to find the nesting birds, their areas are roped off, and even approaching the roped off areas, the birds have no problem dive-bombing you.
     After my Nickerson adventure I drove back to Brooklyn and made a quick stop at the salt marsh in Marine Park. It was a satisfying day with a special lifer for myself, not too shabby for the 1st day of summer!
Black skimmers (pictured), American oystercatchers, and common terns greet you in the parking lot of Nickerson Beach Park.
American Oystercatcher
Signs and roped off areas identify nesting areas for plovers, terns, skimmers, and oystercatchers.
Black skimmers are awesome, I was so happy to see so many of them, they also look comical on the ground.
If you looked through the dunes and grasses, nesting common terns seem to be everywhere!
I was photographing this bird, and did not realize the two little chicks hiding in the plant to her left! Thats when I especially gave even more clearance than the roped off area, so mom/dad and babies could do what they do naturally.
This common tern summarizes bird parenting. There is a chick under each wing, waiting for their mate to return, tired and hungry themselves.
No chicks spotted among the skimmers, only the common terns.
I did find this little young American oystercatcher catching a snooze next to one of the nesting area signs. Mom and dad stood close by.
Tern chicks are really cute, like floofy chicken nuggets with legs! They move pretty quickly too!
They are so tiny and honestly, they blend in so well! I just love how they seek out a hiding spot and all you see is their little fluffy bum!
This chick wants a snuggle with their parent to feel secure. This was so incredibly adorable to watch...
Then the second chick joins and squishes underneath.

The dunes are such an important habitat for shorebirds. Those grasses help to hold them in place. It is important not to walk all over dunes as our weight can really destroy this very delicate and important habitat.
And now for some terrible photos, but a life bird for me, piping plovers! Do you see him? They are the exact color of the sand, small, and really are hard to see!
Bonus, there were also plover chicks!! Which are pretty much cotton balls on toothpicks.
Piping plovers are endangered and there is a constant battle with local residents over these birds. From firework displays shot off around their nesting grounds to vehicles allowed access to the beach to feral cats and off leash dogs, these plovers have a lot of human induced obstacles.
Worst picture ever, but I mean, it's so floofy!
There were at least 3-4 chicks plus one adult looking over them. I saw at least 2 other adults, one of which was with another chick.
Super happy to see these guys!
Onto Marine Park! Lots of snowy egrets out actively catching fish, even in a group together, with cormorants at one point! It was pretty cool to watch birds just coming up consistently with fish to eat.
I love their little yellow feet!


The dragonflies are out and about. This one I am pretty sure is a painted skimmer. I cannot ever get a dragonfly photo unless they have landed. This one gave me the abdomen... thanks, dude. 
A red-wing blackbird holds on as a breeze sways him back and forth.
A Forster's tern nabs a fish!
Many of the flowers planted at the marsh are in bloom, attracting local pollinators like this cabbage white.
It's hot out there, and summer is totally here. Hope you all get the chance to go out and have yourself an adventure!