Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Black Bellied Plovers and Pals

     I had a very sad excuse for a weekend, with one rushed day off, seeing on a matter of hours family, friends, and accomplishing chores. So outdoor exploration was cancelled, but luckily I have some treasures from about 2 weeks ago when I attempted to find shorebirds. My first attempts came up mostly empty handed.
     If you get onto Plumb Beach at 7am or later, you are out of luck because the off leash dogs scare off just about anything-- and make me nervous as I have been jumped on by larger dogs off leash. So that was a bust. I drove around the shorelines of Floyd Bennett with "meh" results. And my last attempt was Dead Horse Bay and things took a turn for the better...
All I got at Floyd Bennet were 2 Semipalmated Plovers and a handful of sanderlings. They are in winter plumage, the bold black marking on the face and collar are absent or a bit more subdued. Still cute, none the less!
In heading across to Dead Horse Bay, I just liked these starlings on a light post. That street light is huge or those are some really tiny starlings. 
An Easten Kingbird was hawking for some insects on the trail that leads out to the bay. I was able to walk all 3 trails-- in more of a power walk, to ensure I arrived on time to work.
Then I found what I was at the very least hoping to see, some rag-tag looking black bellied plovers. Molting away that summer plumage for a less flashy winter set of feathers.
Bigger than the semipalmated plovers and killdeer we are used to seeing, it is the largest plover in North America. These guys might spend the winter here or further down south. We are the most northern part of their wintering range.
I think the American Oystercatcher, who shot me this glaring look gets photo of the day. I love these guys and really don't get tired of the yellow eyes and orange bill they sport.
Temperatures are a bit cooler than they have been and I am sad to let go of summer and the creatures that came with it, but I am excited to have some quieter outdoor spaces (the average New Yorker can't handle temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and new birds to explore.