For the past few years I have been meaning to make it out to Jones Beach to check out the Snowy Owls that over-winter there. The main problem has always been that during the winter, no public transportation is available to that location, making a day trip more than impractical. Luckily I had access to an auto this past weekend, so I decided to see what the deal was out there. Here's some pix of what I found...
At the Coast Guard Station there were tons of songbirds in the scrub pines. They included Yellow-rumped warblers, a Conneticut Warbler, a Orange-Crowned Warbler,
many varieties of sparrow, including this poor girl who was so chilled by the steady gale that she sought refuge in the wheel-well of my car!
Plus all the regulars such as the familiar gulls, pigeons and many, many Canada Geese.
Flights of Black Ducks made their way from the beach.
Rounding the pier, I found these two plovers hunkered down on the bayside.
From across the dock, I spotted yet another black and white avian form. It seemed to be preening on a small break water. I came across for a closer look, but could not locate it. After searching the water for 10 minutes, I started back when lo and behold, this gorgeous male Long-tailed Duck was crusing in an empty slip.
It approached quite near to me, and I marveled at its beautiful coloration. In a way, it seemed tame, almost like it was asking for my attention.
Upon futher observation, the cause became quite clear...
they poor guy has a busted left wing. I'll try to contact a rehabber out on LI, but catching a skilled and still healthy diving duck in frigid water is not for the faint of heart. As you can see its diving ability was not affected by its injury.
I was able to located two Snowy Owls, one much more cooperative than the other. Word of mouth is that the shy one is a young male, while the more approachable one is an adult female. From the very beginning of the trip, signs were posted everywhere emphasizing the special nature of this habitat and how to properly care for it.
Notice the photog taking a pic of the snowy in the background. Because of this it was easy to locate this bird. The issue is that many people who use these grounds dont respect the rules...as evidence by this disturbing photo.
After frantically waving the owner and her bird-retrieving dog off the dunes we settled into some picture taking.
Suddenly another sound disturbed the Owl.
A trio of crows paid a visit, but soon departed. Also this adult female Harrier swooped over the dunes,
as did this fellow,
The White Ghost!
After all the excitement, the Snowy quietly dozed off.
And I went to warm the heck up! I returned as sunset to find her with another gaggle of admirers.
She gracefully accepted the attention,
but moved on to more fertile grounds.