Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld, who led the trip in spite of the dire weather forecast.
photo by Herb Thompson
On August 22, 2009, at 8:00 am, the New York State Young Birders Club went birding on the mudflats of the north end of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Our leaders were Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld.
It was the weekend of Hurricane Bill. As a result, there were thunderstorms the night before. It was still raining just before the trip. We were all wondering whether this would be the first Young Birders trip in the rain, but it ended up being a beautiful day.
The group drove from the Visitors’ Center’s parking lot, where we heard a Gray Catbird, to the parking lot of the north end of Jamaica Bay. We put on our rubber boots and hiked to the mudflats. On the way, we heard an Eastern Towhee.
photo by Mary Batcheller
We first came to an area where there was a little island. On that island were Stilt Sandpipers, a White-rumped Sandpiper, and a Greater Yellowlegs. On the mudflats around us were Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. In the water, there were Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, and spinning Wilson’s Phalaropes.
At the next stop, there was a Pectoral Sandpiper in a flock of shorebirds. We also saw two other good birds: an American Avocet a little ways away and a molting Sora going in and out of the reeds. We would see the avocet better later on.
It was then that people started falling into the mud. The mudflats were deceiving. You would think you were stepping on solid ground but your boot would be sucked right in. Some people went up to their waists in mud! First, it was Carena who fell in, but later Barbara and Michael would too.
At the third stop, we saw Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers as well as Semipalmated Plovers on the left side of another island. A little bit to the right of them, a White-rumped Sandpiper was preening.
After that, we stopped to look at a whole line of birds. It consisted of Short-billed Dowitchers, Red Knots, Black-bellied Plovers, Willets, and some peeps. We also got a good look at the avocet, who was wandering around. Around now there were a few American Oystercatchers that flew by.
Our last stop before we turned around was at another line of birds. Here, there were Great Black-backed Gulls, Canada Geese, and Mute Swans. There were also Northern Shovelers and a sleeping Ruddy Duck at the shore opposing us, and a Gadwall swimming nearby. Also nearby, a Forster’s Tern was flying around and making his loud call.
At one of the stops, Doug Gochfeld explained how to differentiate a Baird’s Sandpiper from a juvenile Semipalmated Plover. A Baird’s Sandpiper is as large as or larger than a White-rumped Sandpiper and the wings cross over the tail even more than a White-rumped Sandpiper.
Throughout the trip we saw a lot of passerines. The passerines that were spotted included a Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, a Song Sparrow, and a Louisiana Waterthrush.
We returned to the Visitors’ Center to eat lunch in the shade (and to hose off our boots). After eating lunch, some of us went home and the rest went to the other end of Jamaica Bay for more birding.
Thank you Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld for leading the trip, Lou Celenza for organizing the trip, the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club for sponsoring the trip, and Annette Lehner, Carena Pooth, and Herb Thompson for making the New York State Young Birders Club able to do trips like these.
List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Michael McBrien
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
| American Avocet
Greater Black-backed Gull
| Chimney Swift
Species Total: 68