Despite forecasts of snow, people of all ages braved the cold and headed to the Friends of the Bays headquarters at Townsend Square in downtown Oyster Bay on Feb. 25 to learn how to identify ducks they may see at their local beaches at the Oyster Bay Harbor.
Making the area even more prime for spotting wildlife is that Oyster Bay happens to overlook the Congressman Lester Wolff Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, one of approximately 550 national wildlife refuges in the United States. And this local refuge is the most used by waterfowl out of all the other refuges on Long Island.
The event, the first one since the pandemic to happen in the office, started with Friends of the Bay Assistant Director Christine Suter presenting a slideshow of various waterfowl that can be found locally. Faculty members from the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center were also present. They provided binoculars for the attendees.
“You may be thinking ‘what are the ducks doing here? It’s cold,’” Suter said. “This is sort of like a Florida vacation for them, because during the summer, they go really far up north… That’s where they go for mating and nesting… Some of them you see are inland during the summer and they move out to the coast during the winter. Different things change. Their diet will alter. Some of them eat plant material during the summer and then they move to the coast and eat crab.”
After the presentation, everyone got in their cars and drove to Beekman Beach for their quest to find ducks identified during the presentation.
Those ducks included mallards, American black ducks, long-tailed ducks, buffleheads, great scaups, lesser scaups, common loon, gadwalls, red-breasted merganser, brant goose and Canadian goose.
Throughout their walk along the shore, and then on West Shore Road along Oyster Bay Harbor’s waterfront, several of those waterfowl seen in the presentation were spotted. There were plenty of Canadian geese, but there were also mallards, long-tailed ducks, scaups and buffleheads.
During their walk, the promised snow also made an appearance, making for beautiful scenery.
“The more people learn about the bay and what we have in the bay and the animals that we have, the more they’re going to want to help protect them,” Suter said. “That’s the importance of the outreach… It’s inspiring to see young people here as well and people of all ages because nature is something we can all enjoy.”
Want to join in on a Friends of the Bay event? Keep an eye on their website at friendsofthebay.org.