It rained hard at times yesterday, but today was sparkling clear and forty degrees when I arrived at Gooseberry early – well, 8:30 or so. At this temperature, however, I didn’t expect to see Monarchs flying, yet I saw four in a one-hour walk around the island, all flying. That means that despite the low Sun, they were able to warm their bodies about 15 degrees above air temperature.
The surprise on arriving, however, was a couple of Mute Swans swimming off West Point. Now Mute Swans are common around here, but I almost always see them in the river. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the ocean and these two took off just as I was arriving. I did grab a shot of one through the car window, however, as I slowed to park.
I headed south on the central path, planning to do the same loop I did the other day when I saw 147 Monarchs and almost immediately saw one. Also saw plenty of songbirds. They seem to really favor the area just south of the parking lot. I thought this shot of a Mockingbird as it flew towards me was fun.
Yellow-rump Warblers were common near the towers . . .
. . . and near South Beach I saw this Monarch who looked like he was going uphill – actually, I think I tilted the camera as I tried to grab a quick shot before he flew out of sight.
So is this a Yellow Warbler – first year maybe? In any event, doesn’t she/he blend in beautifully with the surroundings?
OK – here we go -LBJ time – that’s Little Brown Jobby. Sparrow I suspect, but which one? That half moon on its cheek should help – but I couldn’t sort it out.
Eastern Song Sparrow, right? That’s easier.
Now I’m back in familiar territory – near the towers – and here’s a perky Yellow-rumped Warbler.
And near the same location I got this fleeting glimpse of a Common Yellowthroat. You should have seen the picture I didn’t get. As I aimed the camera he looked right at me and the yellow throat caught the morning sun beautifully – but when I clicked, well . . . this is what the other end of a Common Yellowthroat looks like 😉
I don’t hear worth a damn – I don’t bird by ear as some do, I bird by camera. And while doing that I heard “Big dog!” And sure enough, here comes a lady with a BIG DOG right behind me – and behind it a little – very little dog.
And after Big and Little passed, another mystery – sort of. This guy just wanted to tease – show me a little in one, shot, a little in another – never a really good view. This is the best I saw him, though an earlier shot did show a strong, thin black stripe through the eye, widening behind it. My best guess – it’s a White-throated Sparrow – something I see often in my yard in winter.
And one of these days I’m going to try to track down some of the plants – besides the beach rose. Honeysuckle is still in bloom – at least I can identify it 😉
Oh – and seaweed. Now again I’m at a loss for specific names, but the last few days there have been tons of the dark brown type – rockweeed? – on the ocean-side beaches like this area near Bar Rock. Years ago I came down here with a biologist friend and “harvested” a lot of this to use in the garden. I also wrote an article for Country Journal about how people used this seaweed not only for gardens, but to bank the exposed basement rocks along the sides of their houses, providing additonal winter insulation. I used a bunch at the bottom of a hole where I planted a Japanese Maple. That tree has grown splendidly over the past forty years and become a main feature of our backyard. I always attributed it’s growth to this seaweed, harvested right here at the start of the gooseberry cayseway, but then that was probably just the romantic in me. I suspect it would have done as well without it.