I joined James Orrico for a great morning of birding at Jamaica Bay NWR in Queens, NY. JamBay is the place to be to watch shorebird migration at it’s best in the Metro Area. Our two highlights of the day were an adult Wilson’s Phalarope and a continuing American White Pelican. My digiscoping attachment is finally fixed after another birder broke it : ( and I was excited to see what I could capture in the way of digiscoped shorbird shots. And boy did it prove it’s worth.
We started early at the North End of East Pond. I was hoping the water level would be low enough to walk the north end south but unfortunately it was still too high. I immediately spotted the phalarope when the pond came into view. It was not long before the bird noticed us and flew but it stayed within range of getting good views. We watched it for the next 30 minutes as it put on it’s spinning act (always wanted to see that!) and preened. When the Wilson’s spun, it seemed so concentrated on what it was doing, I didn’t dare move a muscle in fear of disturbing it. Although supposedly a hard ID, I had no trouble distinguishing it from the surrounding Lesser Yellowlegs.
On our way out we connected with 3 calling Willow Flycatchers in a thicket. Always a nice bird to see.
Once we reached the South End the terrain was much more accessible. With our new muck boots we recently purchased we were able to navigate the muck fairly easily. The shorbs were great. Semipalmated Sandpipers dominated, but Least were also present in fair numbers along with 2 juveniles. Short-billed Dowitchers were abundant as well, and Lesser Yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpipers were also well represented.
We also ran into some other non-shorebird highlights including, both Night-Herons, begging juvenile Forster’s Terns and a female Gadwall with ducklings.
Soon we reached the raunt. Overwhelming numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl surrounded us. We sat back (not literally!) and enjoyed the show.
After just a couple seconds of scanning, we spied the American White Pelican in the back of the masses of Mute Swans. Although far out my scope’s awesome 60x power really showed through and allowed for some great looks. The orange bill was beautiful against the snow-white body. We were able to catch some behavior including preening as well as fishing. I was able to get a shot of the bird tipping its head up to swallow a fish. It was a really neat bird!!
Semipalmated Plover (25+)
American Oystercatcher (8+)North End
Lesser Yellowlegs (50+)
Least Sandpiper (100+)-2 juveniles
Semipalmated Sandpiper (2,000+)-Dominant
peep sp. (4)
Stilt Sandpiper (25+)-One of my favorite shorbs
Short-billed Dowitcher (700+)-Including a few hendersoni
Dowitcher sp. (3)
Wilson’s Phalarope (1)-North End; beautiful
A beautiful day to be out!