Boats & Birds: It’s Summer on the Sound!

Most of us have had cabin fever during the COVID pandemic; some of us have weathered it better than others. And, the weather is better – and warmer – on average. So, more boats are out. Some of ours are too!

We’ve been sailing since April, albeit very sparingly for obvious reasons. Things are opening up gradually with select low-risk on water activities. We’ve managed some private classes and lessons for individuals or family who’ve quarantined together, and some of our Sailing Club members have gotten out.

In this pic: our Pearson 10M, Kilroy, with the ‘Gold Coast’ of Long Island in the background – and closer than you think (just as City Island is)!

Memorial Day Weekend is a benchmark of the beginning of the summer season. We usually ramp up for it. This weekend was quite slow, due both to weather and pandemic precautions. But, we got some folks out.

In that pic: teens enjoying a sail with the folks on the Sound recently. Memorial Day, in fact! Note the greenery surrounding the Sound. Plenty of bird sanctuary.

And, we got to simply observe. And we were reminded of one of the things that make City Island special as a sailing location and destination: wildlife. Fish and birds abound.

The sailing in Long Island Sound is arguably the best in the New York Tri-State region: gentle currents, abundant room, little commercial traffic, clean water one can swim in, scenery everywhere, tree lined shores, etc. It’s excellent for beginner and expert alike, with yacht clubs and sailing associations lining both coasts, and any number of one-design racing classes well represented. Junior programs; race weeks. Pick-up and JAM sails (Jib & Main). Coastal and the occasional National Championship. Cruising destination par excellence. Breeding ground of Olympians. And, perhaps the best place for people to just learn how to sail.

Plus, we have the plumage…

In that pic: a family, flock, or whatever one calls a gathering of snowy egrets. Eastchester Bay, on the west side of City Island, Memorial Day. S. Card, photo.

No, it’s not important to see birds to learn how to sail or enjoy quality Club sailing. But it is important to see them as a sign of a healthy ecosystem that’s clean and fun to play in. Plus, all other things being equal (and they’re not), why wouldn’t you want to see them? They’re one of the attractions of the Sound in general as well as City Island.

In that pic: Geese and goslings. Rodman’s Neck, off City Island, Memorial Day. Shot taken by our DP, Captain Card, while taking a quick fishing break. He did hook one weakfish and lost it. Signs of life…

Here are birds we see routinely or occasionally here…

  • Amazon parrots (no shit!)
  • Black capped night herons
  • Canada geese
  • Cormorants
  • Ducks
  • Egrets
  • Great herons
  • Gulls
  • Hawks
  • Osprey
  • Swans
  • Terns
In that pic: family returning from a sail aboard one of our boats on Saturday, May 30. Parents: grads of our program and now cruisers. Kids: taking a shine to the daysailing and cruising, and who knows… maybe future wave shredders on the race course!

Osprey attempt to nest each spring on the frame over our pier. The gulls always outsmart them and dash those dreams on the ramp and rocks. Amazon parrots are fairly well distributed around the region, surprisingly; City Island had a large population that appeared to have disappeared, but we’ve been seeing them again the last two seasons. They hang out right in our marina and are a hoot (ouch) to watch and listen to.

In that pic: a lone osprey captured doing a fly-by against the tall radio tower next to City Island – the single best beacon, or navigation aid, in Western Long Island Sound.

All the others? Seen along the shore, off our docks, from our boats, etc, etc.

So, if you want to mix some bird watching with your boating, or you just appreciate a calmer, healthier environment in which to enjoy top tier sailing….

Birds of a feather know what’s better.

In that pic: an egret or heron (who knows? who cares…). Picturesque, yet pedestrian… this kind of scenery is an everyday thing on the waters around City Island and Long Island Sound. Come capture your own scenes!

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