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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

It’s taken me a few days to get this posting together. I managed to crack a molar on Sunday and have been dealing with throbbing jaw pain. Determined to write up my great morning at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge I was just too uncomfortable to get it together. I’m now looking forward to my first root canal.

Shane and I arrived at the parking lot near the north end of the East Pond at dawn. As I opened the legs to my tripod I noticed the illuminated windows of an “A” train crossing Grassy Bay along the low train tressel. A fresh sliver of sun cast a pale pink hue on the roof of the stainless steel cars.

Sunrise over the "A" train

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yellow-legs at dawn (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I was hoping to get another look at the American Avocet seen of the East Pond, as well as, locate a Marbled Godwit. We were the first people to arrive at the pond and spotted the avocet as we exited the phragmite-sheltered north trail. The bold black-and-white bird was probing for insects very close to shore. We continued walking south, towards Sanderling Point. In the dim, early morning light it was apparent that there were thousands of gulls and shorebirds beginning to stir. Something spooked the birds and there was a brief, frantic swirling of wildlife. Some birds settled near North Island and some landed on a mud spit nearer to us. A little later I spotted the cause of their panic. A Peregrine Falcon snatched an unfortunate straggler and was standing on the opposite shore eating the small bird.

Sunrise at the East Pond

(Photo credit - Rob J)

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on American Avocet-

Shane located a pair of Marbled Godwits feeding together, which more than made up for me missing out on Tuesday. Nearby a juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper nervously hugged the edge of the phragmites that ring the pond. An odd sighting was of a Clapper Rail flying across the center of the pond. These secretive birds are usually only seen slinking around among marsh vegetation.

Marbled Godwits (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Marble Godwit-

By 10am Shane and I had begun heading back to the car. The date, wind and tide was ideal for shorebird walks. Dozens of birders were gathering around the East Pond. Naturalist John Irizarry was leading one group of birders and was followed close behind by another group lead by Starr Saphir. On the opposite side of the pond was a group (or possibly a class) of photographers. I enjoyed the brief socializing while on my way out but am also glad that we arrived at first light and avoided the crowds.

Looking north on the East Pond

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 8/19/2006
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Glossy Ibis
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
Peregrine Falcon (Eating shorebird on east side of East Pond.)
Clapper Rail
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Avocet (East Pond.)
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit (2, East Pond.)
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (2, East Pond.)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher (North end of the East Pond.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Fish Crow

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, American Crow, Carolina Wren, European Starling , Red-winged Blackbird


Ed Turbert said...

Hi Rob,
I want to say two things to you:
First as a novice birder in CT I enjoy and get considerable learning from your delightful web log site. I love feeling connected to NYC through nature and your observations are stimulating and informative, so thanks.
2nd, I went with the New Haven Bird Club group to Jamaica bay and saw many of the same critters only later that morning (only 19 waders). What a glorious resource that place is. I found the New York birders to be open communicative and quite collegial so my hat goes off to your brethren in spotting scope arms!

Ed T

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Hey, Rob--my husband just saw your pix on here for the first time and immediately said, "This guy should do a calendar!" How about it?!

PS Been a great summer here just south of Prospect Park--a hairy woodpecker and a touring troupe of monk parrots in the front yard!

Rob J. said...


Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad that the Internet makes it so easy for me to share my passion. JBWR is great. My wife and I once met a British couple while we were in souther Spain. When I mentioned we were from NYC they asked if I've ever been to Jamaica Bay!


A seasonal calendar? It's a good idea but I think I need a slightly better camera. I'd want the images to look as sharp as possible in print. Don't know if it's the same monk parakeet flock, but lately there's been one frequently feeding in the hawthorns at the end of my block.

Dope on the Slope said...

Outstanding photos and adventure recounting as usual.

I'm going to have to quit chasing bats and bugs, and get into birds.

Rob J. said...

Hey, it's all good. Have you ever played "catch" with a bat? Crumple up a small piece of paper (about the size of a moth). When a bat passes overhead, toss the paper straight up and watch what happens.

janet said...

Love your photo's. I love bird watching as well and spend hours doing it. I'm in Colorado high country so some of your birds never come my way.

Rob J. said...

Thank you, Janet. I'm missing some of the birds in your part of the country. Tell you what, I'll send you some warblers and you send me some hummingbirds and ptarmigans.

PS, sorry to read about your camera woes.

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