Category Archives: Your Photos

Mystery Object Investigation Concludes

Mystery object on South Trail © Marian Pierre-Louis
Mystery object on south-side trail © Marian Pierre-Louis

Stony Brook regular Marian Pierre-Louis was enjoying a walk on the Pond Loop Trail in mid-January when she spotted something unusual hanging in the trees. Unsure as to what it was, she snapped a photo and headed back to the Nature Center. After showing the image to the sanctuary staff, she inquired about the object’s origins.

Unfortunately, we had no definitive answers to give her! We had no idea what this mysterious “birdhouse” was, nor had we ever seen it. So, in our February 2019 e-newsletter, we solicited our readers for any information or theories they could give us.

In the end, the best explanation we received came from Perry Ellis, a teacher naturalist at Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum:

“I’m not sure of the size of your metal ‘birdhouse,’ but I vaguely remember seeing this design during my youth in the seventies and eighties,” Perry told us.

“From the sixties to the eighties, people experimented with making Wood Duck boxes out of metal stovepipe. The idea was that the house was essentially predator-proof, since raccoons and other predators can’t grip bare metal and can’t use metal shears to get inside. Materials like hardware cloth would be put on the inside surface of the box so the ducklings could climb out. The problem with this design was the interior of the nesting box could get too hot, cooking the eggs inside and, sometimes, the incubating mama duck too.”

We greatly appreciate Perry’s response. There’s always something new to learn, and we’re eager to be a part of the dialogue!

Got a photo, observation, or question of your own?

We love hearing from Stony Brook visitors! If Marian’s story of discovery inspired you to share your own, please send it to us. We may feature it in our e-newsletter or on this blog!

Encounter with a Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl at Gooseberry Island © Fred Laberge
Snowy Owl at Gooseberry Island © Fred Laberge

Fred Laberge, a resident of Norfolk and a frequent visitor to Stony Brook, is always looking for the next great shot. That’s why, on January 4, he set out for Westport with a very specific goal in mind—to capture a spectacular photo of a Snowy Owl.

The word among his friends was that one or more snowies had been spotted on Gooseberry Island at Horseneck Beach State Reservation. A review of recent sightings on the e-Bird website confirmed it. 

Fred had attempted to catch a glimpse of a Snowy Owl on a previous trip to Westport in December. While he saw many interesting shorebirds, there was not an owl to be had. The trip on January 4 was his second attempt, and luck was on his side that day.

Snowy Owl © Fred Laberge
Snowy Owl © Fred Laberge

Immediately upon his arrival around 9:00 am, Fred spotted a snowy flying toward him near the parking lot at the end of the causeway. Not wasting a minute, he parked quickly and rolled down his car window with camera in hand. The owl was sitting on a post and did not seemed at all phased by Fred’s presence. He took a few images before the bird flew about 75 feet away to a pothole filled with rainwater.

Once it landed, the Snowy Owl continued to sit there drinking water from the puddle. Seeing his chance, Fred slowly (and quietly) exited the car. He worked his way along a sand dune, taking care to stay low, and managed to take a few more images.

After 2-3 minutes, another car approached and the owl took off in a westerly direction. As the bird flew diagonally towards him, Fred was ready with his camera. The light was perfect, and he was fortunate to get several stunning shots of this beautiful owl looking right at him.

“Right place at the right time for once,” he said. 

Snowy Owl © Fred Laberge
Snowy Owl © Fred Laberge

Got a great photo of your own?

We love receiving photos from Stony Brook visitors! If Fred’s image and story inspired you to share your own, please send us your photos. We may feature them in our e-newsletter or on this blog!