Tuesday, October 11, 2016

More shorebirding at Jamaica Bay

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Semipalmated Plover, Jamaica Bay
Very cooperative Semipalmated Plover

Shorebird season winds down in September--at least that's how it seems to this novice shorebirder--but I had a nice visit to Jamaica Bay towards the end of the month.

After my misadventures the last time out, I decided to start with the south end of the East Pond, and that worked out well. Coming down the very first trail to the edge of the pond, I was greeted by this...

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Dunlin, Jamaica Bay

A Dunlin! Right in front of me! Several Dunlins, in fact, and my very first. It took me a bit of time to work out what I was seeing, and I wasn't sure until a Finnish birder came along a bit after they (and most of the peeps hanging out with them had flown). He had seen them and confirmed my ID.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Dunlin and Semipalmated Sandpiper, Jamaica Bay
a Dunlin with one of the remaining Least Sandpipers

Dunlins are the last of my easy life shorebirds, I think. One thing to notice here is the grey on the shoulders ("scapulars") and upper back. Those are new feathers--these birds were transitioning into their very gray winter plumage. The sharp-looking reddish feathers on the butt are actually very worn, and from the bird's breeding plumage.

Peep numbers were way down from a few weeks before, but there were still some Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Semipalmated Sandpipers, Jamaica Bay
Semipalmated Sandpipers.  I really like the way the water blurred on this one

The water level in the pond was quite low and I was able to walk halfway up the east side to the area called "The Raunt". I could have gone farther, but it would have involved some scrambling.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black-Bellied Plover, Jamaica Bay
Black-Bellied Plover. Yes, that's right. The belly is only black in breeding plumage.

At the Raunt I had a great close view of a Black-Bellied Sandpiper. There were also a lot of sleepy peeps that I did not try to identify. I was told there was a Baird's Sandpiper in there somewhere, but you can't prove it by me.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Black-Bellied Plover, Jamaica Bay
Black-Bellied Plover waking up some peeps

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Sanderlings, Jamaica Bay
Sanderlings, also kind of awake

There was also a Snowy Egret dancing through the shallow water. Many more egrets were on the west shore of the pond.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Snowy Egret, Jamaica Bay
dancing egret

I saw several Monarch butterflies, which was nice.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Monarch Butterfly, Jamaica Bay
Monarch Butterfly contemplating a goose turd. Damn, I'm artistic.

Beside the Dunlins, the highlight was the Semipalmated Plovers, who were mostly at the extreme south end of the pond where I first came in. They were still there when I returned.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Semipalmated Plover, Jamaica Bay
Plover pictures, please

I never made it up to the north end of the pond, though I did go past Big John's Pond (completely dry) and the overlook, where I saw a group of American Wigeons and a flyover by a Caspian Tern (immediately identifiable by its huge red bill).

I think that's mostly it for shorebirds for me until Spring.

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