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Friday, August 12, 2005

250 Miles and Thousands of Shorebirds

Sunrise at Jones Beach Coast Guard station

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The three sleepless birders took another weekday day-trip in search of birds. Our object today was to find some "new" shorebird species. It was a great day with thousands of shorebirds seen.

Somewhere between the Townsend’s Solitaire seen in January and the Swainson’s Warbler in April (both unlikely to be seen in New York) Sean, Shane and I decided that we might be able to observe 300 species of birds in New York State in one year. We probably haven’t been as obsessive and methodical as some birders but it has involved a lot of very early mornings and long days. With the peak of fall shorebird migration closing in we took a road trip to a few great habitats on Long Island and NYC.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We left while it was still dark so that we could arrive at the Jone’s Beach Coast Guard Station at sunrise. There had been a report of a Marbled Godwit at that location. From there we planned to drive east to Shinnecock then turn around and head west to Lido Beach and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The godwit wasn’t present but we did observe a number of Black Terns in the area. As luck would have it, we decided to stop at the coast guard station again on our way home. This time the Marbled Godwit was present on a small island a short distance from the shore. It was feeding in shallow water very close to a family playing on the beach.

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The mussel shoals near the Ponquogue Bridge were loaded with feeding Willets and a few Whimbrels. A quick stop at the recently christened Lido Beach Passive Nature Area didn’t reveal any new birds but it does look very promising. The protected wetland and tidal pools will attract a nice variety of birds. Today we only observed a few mixed flocks of Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and dowitchers.

Cicada a.k.a. Dogday Harvestfly (Tibicen canicularis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info about Cicadas-

Our final stop was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The low water on the East Pond this season seems to have attracted more numbers of shorebirds than I remember from previous years. Last week Shane and I observed a Wilson’s Phalarope here and Sean was hoping he’d be able to relocate it. It took about an hour of looking but, after a passing Peregrine Falcon “reshuffled” the flocks, Sean found it. We had great, long looks of the pale shorebird as it fed in the mud at the edge of the pond. It has an unusual posture when feeding. It cocks it tail and body at a steep angle while keeping its chin close to the ground and bill pointing almost straight forward. It’s almost as if he is stalking the insects on the surface of the mud.

East Pond's sun baked mud

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Mixed shorebirds at JBWR

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Dowitchers and a yellowlegs

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Shorebirds panicked by a Peregrine Falcon

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I added two more species towards our goal and ended the day at 259.

Jones Beach, Shinnecock, Lido Beach, JBWR, 8/11/2005
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Phalarope
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern
Black Skimmer
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
empidonax sp.
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

1 comment:

AMP said...

I am a new reader to your blog, and wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your photos. You do such a great job that you even make the insects look great. Thanks so much for such an informative blog.

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