Readers’ wildlife photos

March 30, 2021 • 10:30 am

by Greg Mayer

When I visit Long Island, New York, where I was born and raised, I often visit Argyle Park, which is in the heart of Babylon Village. These photos are from a visit on July 1, 2014. Argyle Lake empties over these falls into the Great South Bay, which is about a mile south (to the left in the photo).

Argyle Falls, Argyle Park, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

It’s a small park, about 25 acres, most of which is taken up by the Lake, which is formed by the falls (actually a dam) across the Carll’s River (a stream, really). There are a few smaller ponds, with lawns and pathways.

A side pond in Argyle Park, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

The Lake and ponds attract waterbirds; visible here are Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and Mute Swans (Cygnus muta).

Argyle Lake, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

Canada Geese feed on vegetable matter on land, but the swans feed on aquatic vegetation. Here, three swans feed while two geese float by. Mute Swans are native to Europe, but have long been well established on Long Island. Breeding pairs can be very aggressive if you happen to walk by a nest, as I have (although at a different park, in Smithtown, Long Island).

Argyle Lake, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

Canada Geese are native. In early July, these would be resident geese; goose numbers would be augmented outside the breeding season by migrants from more northern breeding grounds. I did not notice any goslings or nests.

Argyle Lake, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

This goose looks content, as it sits guard over various bird droppings. Notice the greenish droppings in front of it (from the grass which the geese eat), and the white spots– uric acid, but likely from some species other than the goose.

Argyle Lake, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

On this visit I first saw that there was a large group of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacocorax auritus) on a small island in the Lake. You can also see on the island Mute Swans (also on Lake in background), Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus; larger, black, far left) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus; smaller, gray backed).

Argyle Lake, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

I don’t ever recall seeing cormorants in the park when I was growing up, so they might possibly be a more recent arrival at the park. (I also may just have been less observant, but I did see and identify cormorants out on the Great South Bay itself at the time.) A guide to the birds of the park, which was clearly not brand new, is quite informative, but leaves out cormorants, so they may have arrived after the sign was made.

Argyle Park, Babylon, NY, July 1, 2014.

The sign urges that thee birds not be fed, which used to be one of the park’s main draws.

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Very nice area. Would not have expected such a place on Long Island. I miss living on the 25 acre lake where I grew up but that’s the way it goes. First your money, then your clothes.

  2. The general ornithological consensus is now that American Herring Gull, Larus smithsonianus is better regarded as a separate species from the Old World Larus argentatus.

  3. I know where that is! I used to live in Wantagh, across the street from the Twin Lakes. I believe all of these lakes were dammed to provide water to the then-separate city of Brooklyn. When it was annexed by NYC the old reservoirs became parks and preserves.

    I loved it riding the LIRR home from the city when the announcement came: “Next stop: Jamaica. This is the train to: Babylon.”

    1. Yes, I took that train, too! These creeks are too far from Brooklyn, and carry little water– any reservoirs for Brooklyn must have been in Queens. NYC water now comes from upstate reservoirs; I’m not sure when that started, or if it applies to the whole city.

      GCM

      1. Oh, Brooklyn definitely pumped water from as far east as Massapequa (30 miles); apparently the conduit is still largely intact under Sunrise Highway. But now I see you’re right that they never got as far as Babylon.
        Brooklyn was connected to New York City’s upstate reservoirs in 1917.

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