Plumb Beach, NY

Brooklyn Birding, Gateway National Recreation Area, New York Birding

We have entered the off-season of birding, which means the Bird Nerds have been able to spend more time with our family and friends again. Of course there are many birds that spend the summer in our area, so on June 14th we ventured to a new location, Plumb Beach, Brooklyn.

Plumb Beach in perspective

Plumb Beach in perspective

View from Plumb Beach to Verrazano Bridge

View from Plumb Beach to Verrazano Bridge

This location is directly off the Belt Parkway and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area (I have to wonder if we’d have any birds left in NYC if it weren’t for the National Park Service?)  It is a rather seedy location with an equally seedy past, if the Wikipedia page is to be believed.  The shore is covered with sea glass-in-the-making, a fair amount of garbage, dead fish and horseshoe crabs.

Future sea glass on Plumb Beach

Future sea glass on Plumb Beach

Horseshoe crabs are an important food source for shorebirds, but their numbers have been declining in recent years.  Walking along Plumb Beach gave us an optimistic feeling- we saw dozens buried in the sand, waiting until night to come out and mate.

Horseshoe crab buried in the sand at Plumb Beach

Horseshoe crab buried in the sand at Plumb Beach

Which brings us to the birds.  Overall Plumb Beach is a smorgasbord for shorebirds (mainly gulls) and we found lots of them feasting.

Gull assessing the best way to eat a fish

Gull assessing the best way to eat a fish

Yeah buddy, just eat the whole thing at once!

Yeah buddy, just get the whole thing in there at once!

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Gull angelically soaring with a muscle in his beak

Gull angelically soaring with a muscle in his beak

We also saw a favorite shorebird species of ours, the American Oystercatcher.

American Oystercatcher coming in for landing

American Oystercatcher coming in for landing

How can you not love these guys?

Oystercatchers cruisin’ for mollusks.  How can you not love these guys?

 Tucked away between the shoreline and the Belt Parkway, Plumb Beach also has a marshy inlet.

Marsh at Plumb Beach

Marsh at Plumb Beach

The seclusion of this area makes it a popular spot for (can you guess?!) private encounters. We found evidence of this as we walked along the marsh, but mostly we saw thousands of Fiddler Crabs scurrying into their holes.

Full moon over Plumb Beach

Full moon over Plumb Beach

We saw a Black-Crowned night heron sitting in the tall grasses, and watched it take off and soar to a new spot.

Black-crowned night heron

Black-crowned night heron

Obligatory NYC Skyline pic from Plumb Beach

Obligatory NYC Skyline pic- as seen from Plumb Beach under the Belt Parkway

As we walked from the marsh back to the beach, we saw a family having what was surely an illegal and nearly out-of-control bonfire, and a group of Willets:

Willets

Willets

And more gulls!

Gulls on Plumb Beach

Gulls on Plumb Beach

Last but not least, we found about a dozen Least Terns, flying closely over the water and rapidly diving to catch fish:

Least Tern diving

Least Tern diving

Least Tern

Least Tern

And because this is still New York City, of course our ubiquitous feathered friends were also on the beach: the House Sparrow and Pigeon!

Beach House Sparrow

Beach House Sparrow

A beautiful bird

A beautiful bird

Finally, the list:

Laughing gull
Pigeon
Barn swallow
American oystercatcher
House sparrow
Least tern
Snowy egret
Red-winged blackbird
Black-crowned night heron
Tree swallow
Boat-tailed grackle
Common tern
Willet
Double-crested cormorant
Great black-backed gull
Herring gull
Mourning dove
Northern Cardinal

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