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Archive for November, 2012

The local Audubon Society cancelled the Nov. 18th birdwalk to Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge. (What a bunch of whimps) The refuge sustained a lot of damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy and is currently closed to the public.

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Local Rarity

There have been numerous reports of an uncommon bird in our area – a Cackling Goose. Sue O’Rouke took this photo of the goose on Huguenot Lake in New Rochelle (that’s a fancy name for the large pond in front of New Rochelle High School.

You may be thinking that it looks a lot like a Canada Goose. It does. In fact, it used to be considered just a sub-species of the Canada Goose. But now has its own status as a separate species.

The Cackling Goose is much smaller, maybe only half as long as a Canada. And it has a more rounded head. When you see the two side by side the difference is obvious.

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All the media is saturated with sad news of terrible devastation and loss in populated areas caused by Hurricane Sandy. Natural areas were also affected by the storm. At Jamaica Bay Natural Wildlife Refuge the storm surge carved a large channel connecting the waters of Jamaica Bay directly to the south end of the West Pond. The deep cut wiped out a portion of the trail that goes around the West Pond. We will have a chance to see the re-arranged landscape on Sunday, Nov. 18th when we visit Jamaica Bay together with the Bronx River–Sound Shore Audubon Society. Join us if you can. Meet in the store at 8:00 a.m. or, if it is more convenient, meet us at Jamaica Bay at 9:00 a.m.

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After the Storm

My November BirdWalk was scheduled just days after Super Storm Sandy (or was it a hurricane) blasted through the region. As you might expect despite, or because of, water damage, downed trees, power outages, blocked roads, lack of heat, gas shortage and other storm related events, the turnout was limited.

I had spent recent days cooped up inside, not venturing far from home so my awareness of conditions was limited. My first real insight came when I turned off the Bronx River Parkway and into the parking area at Crestwood Lake. Barricades across the road. Downed and drooping overhead wires. Yellow police tape blocking the entrance to the path.

The birds must have been aware also because not many of them showed up. Enough, though, to make the walk enjoyable. I had two memorable sightings.
The first was a close-up view (maybe 10 ft away) of Green-winged Teal in morning light. The coloring was vivid. 

 

 

 

 

My second highlight was Hooded Mergansers, not as colorful as the teal. Attired mostly in basic black and white. But with the classic elegance of Fred Astaire in top hat and tails. However, mergansers are not as graceful as Fred. In fact, they can seem clumsy especially when they decide to fly from the water surface. Unlike dabbling ducks which just spring into the air and fly away, mergansers have to run across the water surface for 20-30 yards with their flat feet slapping at the water until they gain enough forward momentum to become airborne. The sound and sight is comical. Still I like them. I still recall the first one I saw at Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca and how I was amazed that a vision in black and white could look so colorful.

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