7/28/10 – Jamaica Bay: Wilson’s, American White Pelican

Early Morning at East Pond

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.

Wilson's Phalarope spinning

Wilson's Phalarope with two SemiSands

On our way out we connected with 3 calling Willow Flycatchers in a thicket. Always a nice bird to see.

Here come the juvies

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.

LesserLegs, SB Dowitcher, Stilt Sand, JBWR, NY

2 Stilt Sandpipers

SB Dowitchers

We also ran into some other non-shorebird highlights including, both Night-Herons, begging juvenile Forster’s Terns and a female Gadwall with ducklings.

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.

Forster's Tern

begging Forster's Tern

large shorb flocks

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!!

American White Pelican

swallowing a fish

Shorebird Estimates:

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!


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4 Responses to 7/28/10 – Jamaica Bay: Wilson’s, American White Pelican

  1. Deanna says:

    So glad that and you Jim were able to get out. I wondered if the new antibiotic schedule was going to slow you down. I guess I should have known that it wouldn’t. Two great new posts in the same week! I’m impressed–great reading and wonderful shots of the birds. You get another star!

    Wish I could tell you that I’d send you something as exciting from Rangeley, but I’m sure whatever I send will pale compared to this!

    Big hug to you,


  2. Bruce says:

    Never heard of the American White Pelican. What is the relation to the ones that I am familiar with from south Florida?


  3. Uncle Lar says:

    Dear Clarks,

    Yoru photography becomes more and more adept as the weeks, not months go on. The tranquility of these pictures extends far more than words. Each photo has a gentle uniqueness that would be awe inspiring in the most infamous of photographers. Good Show! Thank you for the pleasure.

    Peace & Kindness,


  4. Dave says:

    The shots of the juvenile Forster’s Terns are worthy of “elite status.” How much are you selling them for?


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