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