Monday, October 23, 2017


Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American White Pelican, Jamaica Bay
large flying things

I was at Jamaica Bay a few weeks ago looking for the American Avocet that spent a long time at the East Pond. I didn't find it that day, but near sunset, I took a last look from the overlook near Big John's Pond. There was nothing exciting on the water, but when I looked overhead, I saw a huge white bird flying south.

It was already past me when I spotted it, but I got my binoculars up and say it was an American White Pelican. I thought I wouldn't be able to get a decent photo, but luckily it turned at the south end of the pond and flew back toward the north, and I got some good flight shots of it.

The American White Pelican is mostly a western bird, though some winter in Florida. We get occasional vagrants; there was even a pair that overwintered at Jamaica Bay in 2015-16. It's probably the best bird I've seen that I didn't know was there beforehand.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; American White Pelican, Jamaica Bay

I'm glad I went for the bins first, by the way. I don't think I would have gotten an identifiable photo if I had grabbed then camera first. The view in the binoculars was good enough that even if the Pelican had kept on going, I would have had an ID. People who say "pics or it didn't happen" can bite me--it just doesn't work that way, not always.

The Pelican was still around the next morning, and several people got to see it. Then it was gone. I finally saw the Avocet a couple of weeks later--a terrible view through the scope, but at least I saw it. (For that matter, it was way out of range for my camera, and I can't seem to get the hang of digiscoping, so I don't have proof that I saw it; see above.)

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