Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 44: Raptors and phrastic

Somebody sneezed and then it was autumn. Nowhere was this more apparent than the marsh, whose long summer of sweltering heat and mosquitoes surrendered overnight to cool breezes and migrating raptors. I was very hopeful that the maiden deployment of camera trap #2 would yield a bird of prey. And it did. One photo of an unidentified juvenile accipiter (lower right corner).

This portrait left much to be desired. Fortunately, the raptors made up for it with a live show that lasted all day. Adults and juveniles darted in and out of the treeline by the dozen, inciting the marsh's refugee songbirds to repeatedly dive for cover. Rocky Point is a smorgasbord for bird-eating birds, and death from above took many forms: accipiters, merlins, peregrines, oh my!

They shared the sky with another voracious aerial predator (of fuel): the Airbus A380-800, AKA the world's largest passenger plane. This is the Lufthansa subspecies, buzzing the marsh on it's daily migration from JFK to Frankfurt. It may not look like much, but 526 people are crammed into that thing.

Moshe, Urzula and Kim-Nora plus me made four in the marsh today.

We consolidated our efforts to clear the mouth of Matchstick Alley. With most of the big wood gone, we turned our attention to the ubiquitous phrastic, my term for the moist, concentrated mixture of dead phragmites and plastic debris that sometimes results from the action of tides and delinquent New Yorkers.

Not long ago it covered much of the marsh, smothering the native flora and choking the channels. It now clings to a precarious existence in only a few remaining nooks.

Moshe went in deep to eradicate the stuff.

While Kim-Nora and Urzula raked and scooped.

And hauled it off to the pile.

This before-after would have been much more dramatic had I not been shooting into the sun, but there it is.

And one more, depicting one of the smaller alcoves in Matchstick Alley.

Thank you Kim-Nora, Urzula and Moshe for your marsh husbandry and compassion. Rocky Point is very lucky to have friends like you.

High of 74, max humidity 72%, average wind (NNW) @ 15 MPH, 5.3 high tide @ 03:24 PM. Moon 58% visible.
Water level unrecorded
Birds seen in marsh: osprey, merlin, peregrine, unidentified accipiters, Canadian goose, flicker, warbler, kingbird, mockingbird, black-backed gull

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