Winter Seals & Waterbirds EcoCruise

Date: Feb. 26, 2012

Location: NY Harbor, Swinburne & Hoffman Islands

Reported by: Gabriel Willow

I led another NYC Audubon/ NY Water Taxi Eco-Cruise yesterday (Sunday), the last one until the Harbor Heron cruises begin in June. The primary draw on these tours (which I'm happy to report have been sold out all Winter) are Harbor Seals that congregate around and on Swinburne Island, near the Verrazano Narrows. I was nervous that we wouldn't spot any seals as it's getting pretty late in the season for them, but happily we did have a couple bobbing in the water and peeking at the boat.

We also had a number of nice birds, the highlight of which for me were numerous adult Northern Gannets, some as far up the harbor as the Verrazano Bridge, which were plunge-diving, presumably for herring or shad. We also had two or three Red-throated Loons and several of the usual harbor duck species, and Purple Sandpipers on the rocks near Erie Basin. Notably absent were Great Cormorants, which I've seen no less than a half-dozen of on all previous tours this winter; I have to assume they're already retreating northward.Thanks to Joseph O'Sullivan for compiling the species list.

Species Seen: 16

Canada Goose
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Peregrine Falcon
Purple Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Crow sp.

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