By Mike Busch
The Long Island Wildlife Photography group quietly surpassed the 10,000 member mark sometime on New Year’s Eve. The idea to start the group came late one night in May 2014 shortly after getting my first DSLR that came with a kit zoom lens. I wish I had envisioned what it has become but the truth is I wanted a place to post my wildlife photos and not annoy the rest of my Facebook friends with my wildlife shots!
It is hard to describe what the group has become because it means different things to different people. Birders and Photographers are sometimes not on the same page but I think we have ended up with a community where anyone, beginner or pro, young or old, can learn, teach and make new friends. Personally I still find it fascinating that we have such an incredible variety of wildlife in the shadow of New York City in what is considered a densely populated area.
My main contribution was hitting the button to create the page, what happened after that is thanks to the members and administrators that do a fantastic job of controlling the site and sharing their knowledge and images with the rest of us. As with all large groups we have to deal with the occasional controversy but by and large you will not find a better group of like-minded people anywhere. I know I am not alone in meeting some great people, many have become close friends that I would never have run into otherwise. I also know that several teachers are using this Best of Long Island Wildlife Photography column every week with their classes to showcase to the kids what is outside the house away from their computers and cell phones which I love to hear!
As someone who came into this hobby over just the last few years I appreciate the knowledge and experience many of the members bring. I still struggle with ID’s and can normally find what I am looking for by just by scrolling through the photos on the page.
Another great addition to the Long Island Wildlife Photography page and FireIslandandBeyond.com has been the bi-weekly bird of the week column. Dianne Taggart, a life long birder who runs the LI Birds.com Page (formerly Long Island Birds on the Internet) agreed last year to share her massive library of information on our local birds with the rest of us. Her information along with member photos is building a one of a kind directory that in my opinion blows away anything else on the internet. Click here to see what we have built up so far. If you are new to the group or this site and like wildlife, just click on the wildlife tab above for over 200 different wildlife features including all of the Best of LI Wildlife columns since mid 2016.
You can also utilize the search button, just type in a species and you will find a bunch of stories featuring what you are looking for.
Getting back to this week, the highlight would have to be the weather. We haven’t been above freezing in well over a week and have endured two snowstorms, not ideal weather to get out there and shoot wildlife.
However, as you will see below, this weather can be excellent as bird feeding stations are incredibly active and snow as the backdrop makes for a compelling wildlife image. When the ground freezes and is covered in snow, natural bird food becomes scarce as the need for energy to stay warm increases. Even through a window in tough light you can get a decent image. I took my own advice and loaded up my feeders before the storm and put out seed on top of the snow as it fell. It was instantly rewarding as my yard and deck were filled with birds the entire day. Below is a sample from the last couple of days including a Carolina Wren and Eastern Towee. I also had Dark Eyed Junco, Hairy, Downy and Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Tufted Titmouse, White Throated Sparrow to name a few. Before I put the seed out the backyard was bare!
Other highlights you will see below include Mountain Bluebird, Snow Geese, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Common Golden Eye, King Eider and some nice raptors.
The cover photo this week goes to Doug Henderson with a beautiful Harbor Seal. We will have a story out later in the week on how to approach Seals and what to do if you think one is in distress.
More photos on pages 2,3,4, and 5