On Saturday morning I decided to look for early migrants and lingering winter birds out at the southeasternmost part of Queens, the tip of Breezy Point. This barrier beach habitat is often where Snowy Owls, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and other winter birds find food and shelter and it also serves as nesting grounds for American Oystercatchers and Piping Plovers, both of which arrive in March. And, of course, it is a great spot to see scoters and other seaducks, especially from the jetty, the tip of which is far as you can go in Queens without getting into the ocean.
As expected, the oystercatchers were back in force and they were already tussling about who would get what stretch of beach. Sanderlings were also around in large numbers and there quite a few Dunlin mixed into the Sanderling flocks. But I had no luck with the wintering land-birds at all. It was a bad winter for most of them anyway, with the mild winter and lack of heavy snow cover inland making it unnecessary for them to flee to the coast. Instead, I focused on the ducks and shorebirds, of which there were plenty!
Long-tailed Ducks were abundant and the males were getting pretty aggressive towards each other. Those duck hormones are starting to flow!
Watching the ducks land was entertaining. It works but they look pretty goofy.
There were plenty of birds doing close fly-bys of the jetty. This might be the best Northern Gannet photo I have ever gotten from land.
American Oystercatcher chases were constant.
And their focus on each other meant that they often paid no attention to me. This shot is uncropped.
Black Scoters were generally less willing to fly close but this flock buzzed right past the jetty. This shot is also uncropped.
These bloodthirsty Sanderlings were very happy about their kill and they defended the crab carcass with gusto. (No, they didn’t really kill the crab themselves.)
All-in-all I’ve seen much worse ways of spending a Saturday morning. What’s showing up in early spring in your neck of the woods?