Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Evening of Wildlife

     On Monday after work I had planned to do my last volunteer session with NYC Audubon and horseshoe crab monitoring, as the spawning season comes to a close. Instead of driving home and back down to south Brooklyn, I decided to visit the salt marsh in Marine Park before grabbing a snack and heading to crab monitoring.
     It ended up being a beautiful and enjoyable evening, enjoy the sights!
My coworker, who also happens to be a birder, and I walked out of work yesterday and didn't even make it out the gates, before spotting this Nessus Sphinx moth!
These moths are considered "day flying moths." 

The native plant garden at Marine Park was in bloom, the native prickly pears were super gorgeous.
I might have squaled really loud when we spotted this baby- a pair of monarch caterpillars munching away on the trail on the eastern side.
A pair of red milkweed beetles coupled up to create a new generation... and doing it all with a view!
The osprey nest was active with three chicks!
When we arrived to the nest part of the trail, we found 3 photographers off trail, down in the habitat. I took the chance to ask them back up to the trail, as they were trampling plants by foot and with their gear. I also mentioned that birds actively land where they stood, meaning, they are potentially scaring away animals that may want to go there to feed. I also, made sure to complain about why in the world any one would need to get closer to an active nest when you have a lens that looks more like a planetarium telescope than a camera...
These photos, actually all of them are using a 50-300mm lens, the photos are then cropped, sometimes heavily- all photos are taken from the footpath in the marsh. Getting a killer shot is NOT worth upsetting wildlife. My photos are 99% of the time just to document the sights of the day. Sometimes photographers loose sight or do not understand the consequences of their actions, just to get a good picture. Please respect wildlife in whatever hobby you may be enjoying in their habitats.
First monarch caterpillars and first monarch butterfly of the year! A male at that- you can tell from the black spot on the hindwing, visible on the right side of this individual.
A bonus treat for my birding coworker was seeing a clapper rail, her first!
He stood and preened, and stood on one leg for some time...
...All before disappearing back into the marsh grasses.
A sweet black-crowned night heron bid us farewell as we left the salt marsh.
I love these cute little guys and how they can appear so sinister...
After stopping for a quick snack (I didn't want to spoil my dinner!), I arrived to a most beautiful and calm evening on Plumb Beach for horseshoe crab monitoring.
As the sun sank, we began our task. I got the role of the walker, I walked my paces and placed the quadrate down to take a sampling of crabs on this long stretch of beach.
Washed up, we found an adult American Eel! So cool!
As the sun set, a pink moon rise happened. It was a full moon on summer solstice!
The camera I use during monitoring is my little point and shoot water proof camera, it is a bit on the older side, but it does the trick.
Our first sample that contained crabs, a female in the lead with the male behind.
Some samples were a full on fight for a female- this is a sample containing 6 males, 1 female. The female is underneath the middle-most male.
In comparison to my other monitoring dates, the waters were far calmer, so crab activity was high, waters were calm, the moon was full--- but the trade-off? The flies were in my nose, mouth, throat, eyes, and biting!!
A moon-lit night for a giant, crab spawning, orgy.
Beyond lies the Gil Hodges bridge and the Rockaways.
spawning conga lines lined the beach! With the flies biting, we fled back to our cars to end the night on a great note.
From another daytime visit to Plumb with another coworker, I took a time-lapse video of many male crabs trying to mate with a rock, my foot, get washed away by an incoming wave, then finally a female. It's a tough life as a horseshoe crab, and somehow they have survived for over 400 million years on this planet.