Bald eagles steal the show

Photo by Chris Bosak A bald eagle at Bashakill NWMA, summer 2019.

Savanna and I decided to venture outside the friendly confines of New England and take a short drive to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It’s a beautiful area teeming with wildlife, great scenery and surprises around every bend as you paddle along the narrow serpentine river. It is a New York state Bird Conservation Area and located between the Shawangunk (“Gunks”) and Catskills mountains.

I discovered this gem of a place when I worked for a short time in Middletown, N.Y. about 20 years ago. I’ve returned now and then ever since, but it had been quite some time since my last visit. So one day last weekend we strapped the canoe on the car the night before, rose before dawn and headed west.

Other than my usual access road being closed due to construction, everything was as I remembered it. The water channel was a bit more narrow than usual, but that’s because it was August and it hadn’t rained in quite some time.

Wood ducks, as usual, were the dominant species. There must be thousands there and we must have seen a few hundred of them. Red-winged blackbirds and a lone kingfisher were other usual sightings. At one point we saw a bush in the distance in the swamp that was literally bursting with swallows. The swallow migration has begun and this bush looked like a Christmas tree covered with live ornaments.

But the most memorable sightings were of the resident adult bald eagles. We saw the male first and then the female. As with most birds of prey, female bald eagles are larger than males. A man we met in the parking lot later — who identified himself as the “local eagle guy ” — who said there were two young eagles that year, too, but they like to stay hidden in the woods away from the open swamp. It was good to hear that the adults continue to have breeding success there.

Bald eagles are making a strong comeback throughout the U.S. and New England and nearby N.Y. are no exception. Just like the tremendous comeback of the osprey over the last few decades, it’s nice to witness another iconic species on the rebound. Now, let’s just keep it that way.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A bald eagle at Bashakill NWMA, summer 2019.
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Clearing out my 2014 photos, take 8: Least Tern

Photo by Chris Bosak A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon's Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

As we are now stuck in this deep freeze here in New England, here’s a warm-weather shot for you. It’s a Least Tern on the beach at Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Last week I posted a Piping Plover that I saw during my volunteering to monitor plovers and terns on the Connecticut shoreline. Well, here’s the other half: the terns. The plovers come in much earlier in the spring than the terns. Least Terns are handsome birds with yellow bills, compared the red or orange bills of most terns. Least Terns, as their name suggests, are also smaller than most terns. They can also be quite aggressive on their nesting areas (who can blame them?) and they will continually dive-bomb intruders. Yes, that includes innocent shorebird monitors just trying to help them out.

Piping Plovers and Least Terns are threatened species in Connecticut.

Clearing out my 2014 photos, Take 2: Piping Plover preening

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens on the beach at Milford Point, Conn., in April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens on the beach at Milford Point, Conn., in April 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting. I ran a similar photo in April, but here’s another look at a Piping Plover _ an endangered bird in New England _ preening at Audubon Coastal Connecticut Center at Milford Point. The photo was taken in April 2014.

Click here to read more about Piping Plovers and to see more photos of this spectacular shorebird. 

Piping Plover monitoring update

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

So I woke up the boys for school, got them breakfast and rushed them to the car for drop off. I turned into the school parking lot: empty. No school. Scheduled “staff development” day. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve done that. Damn.

Oh well. I’ve committed to monitoring Piping Plovers and other shorebirds and, later, Least Terns on a volunteer basis on Monday mornings through the spring and summer. “Boys, we’re going shorebird monitoring.”

They didn’t object and Will was actually excited and wanted to carry the camera with him. I filled them in on what we were looking for and, more importantly, why we were looking for them. Piping Plovers are a threatened species and protecting their nesting areas is critically important.

We saw about 10 Piping Plovers today (Monday, April 21, 2014), including a pair copulating. “That’s how they make babies,” I told Andrew and told him how to spell ‘copulation.’ He was the official note taker for the day.  Wonder if he’ll try to use that word in one of his fifth-grade essays. It’s OK as long as he uses it correctly and age appropriately, I guess.

We also saw eight American Oystercatchers, a pair of Osprey and countless shells, which entertained the boys as much as the birds.

All in all, a good, educational day with the boys. Thank goodness school was out.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.