Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jamaica Bay, July 4th Weekend

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Song Sparrow, Jamaica Bay NWR
this means you!

At the beginning of July, Elena and I went out to Jamaica Bay with some friends. Although it's still a little early for shorebirds, some interesting birds had been seen there and we wanted to get the lay of the land.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black Skimmer, Jamaica Bay NWR
Skimmer skimming

We arrived just about at low tide. On the West Pond side, things were a little slow. There were a number of egrets, both Great and Snowy, and some Boat-Tailed Grackles were out on the mud flats acting like shorebirds. A few Gulls and Common Terns. Then as the tide began to turn, I saw three black-and-white birds with red bills, low over the breach in the pond.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black Skimmer, Jamaica Bay NWR
against the tide

They were Black Skimmers, doing what they do best. They were so graceful as they skimmed the surface, flying against the tide. They looked like they were in slow motion, though they were obviously flying quite fast. It was so mesmerizing that I didn't manage to get a shot with them all in the frame. Thrilling to see!

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Osprey Nest, Jamaica Bay NWR
Osprey suburb

Elsewhere at Jamaica Bay, nesting is in full swing. The Osprey platform at the West Pond has two young birds on it, and there's another Osprey nest north of the North Garden

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Osprey, Jamaica Bay NWR

There were a lot of Yellow Warblers around, and many singing House Wrens. Over at the East Pond, I counted fifty-eight adult Mute Swans. I understand that some have seen well over a hundred, plus cygnets.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Mute Swan, East Pond, Jamaica Bay NWR
you, I don't trust

We didn't see any cygnets, but this adult cruised back and forth in front of us, clearly very suspicious, so I assume he had a nest nearby.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American Oystercatchers, East Pond, Jamaica Bay NWR
loafing Oystercatchers

On the far side were a large collection of Oystercatchers--I counted 25--and many Glossy Ibises. There were a number of Forster's Terns and Least Terns, hunting by hovering over then water and then plunging in with an impressive bang.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Snowy Egret, Big John's Pond
the stare of the Egret

There were only a few birds around Big John's Pond--it was only a couple of hours after low tide--but we had nice close looks from the blind at a Snowy Egret and several Glossy Ibises.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Glossy Ibises, Big John's Pond, Jamaica Bay NWR
Ibises at work

Alose a bunch of Black-Crowned Night Herons were hanging out, including this juvenile, who I guess is so young he's still kind of gray-downy instead of teh brown-streaky appearance I'm used to with young BCNHs.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron, Big John's Pond
young and lovely

There were fewer shorebirds than I expected, but of course we didn't try to go around the muddy areas at the north and south ends of the East Pond, not having knee-boots. We didn't see any of the reported rarities--no White-Faced Ibis, Royal Tern, Gull-Billed Tern, or Cattle Egret, but we had a great time.