Thursday, January 14, 2010

Birding Bay Ridge to Bath Beach

I decided I needed to check out some places I've never been birding before. Carefully reviewing the BBC's Peter Dorosh's coastal Brooklyn guide, I picked this one, a walk I've never done, easily accessible via the subway. I took the R train south to the end of the line, then ankled the remaining blocks of 4th Avenue down to the shore walkway. There are excellent views of the bridge, Ft. Wadsworth, and in the distance Hoffman & Swinburne Islands. Plus the various boats going to and fro.
This is in John Paul Jones Park at the end of 4th Ave. The monument to the Dover Patrol, whose mission was to sweep the English Channel of German ships, is a modified obelisk, one of three, the others being in Dover, England, and Cap Blanc Nez, France. They were paid for by public subscription in Great Britain. Are we worthy?
Birding was excellent. There were the expected brants, mallards, American black ducks, ring-billed, herring, and black-backed gulls. There was also a pair of gadwell, a couple of bufflehead, some red-breasted mergansers, one double-crested cormorant fly-by, and bunches of greater (I think) scaup. The highlights, however, were all life-birds: Purple sandpiper (above), Bonaparte's gull, and Common goldeneye.
This is a Mew gull, Larus canus. Not usually found in these parts. It's a mostly Europe species, where they are known as the Common gull. I saw them in Scotland a couple of years ago. They do show up in Alaska and our NW, but not so much here.
This one has been hanging around for a couple weeks with the ring-billed gulls, which it somewhat resembles in winter plummage. I found it at the shore-side of the 17th Avenue pedestrian overpass, where it had been reported Tuesday. I first saw it on the rocks below the seawall, then on the grass next to the path. Both times it was on the edge of the huddle of ring-billed gulls. It is a little smaller than the ring-billed, has a shorter bill (with very faint ring), and has greeny-greyish legs as opposed to yellow-orange, but the most noticeable thing at close distance was the eyes. The dark iris and reddishness, not to mention the squint, really stood out.

I made my way back by going over the overpass and walking up 17th Ave two blocks to Bath Ave, where I turned right and walked to 18th Ave, several blocks away (very Queens-ish, that) and turning left and walking northeast until I hit the D train. Low-rise Brooklyn, brick, Tudor-esque, no chainstores. Auto repair stores and multiple flavors of Jesus on 18th Ave.

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