Freshwater habitats at Jamaica Bay

Gateway National Recreation Area, New York Birding, Queens Birding

In mid-August, on one of the few very hot days of the summer, the Bird Nerds took another trip to the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  (Read the entry describing our first visit here.) We wanted to see what the eastern portion of the refuge was like, so we walked across Cross Bay Boulevard in search of the freshwater “East Pond” (you may recall the West Pond used to be freshwater as well, until hurricane Sandy breached the embankment.)

Shortly after we began walking one of the trails, we encountered a bird blind that overlooked a small marshy pond. A bird blind, or bird hide, is typically a three-walled wooden shelter with holes cut out so you can watch wildlife without disturbing them. Bird blinds work very well; turns out all you have to do is hide behind a giant piece of wood and the birds will come right up to you. The longer we looked the more birds we started to find wading in the water and perched in the trees – Black-crowned AND Yellow-crowned Night Herons.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Then we saw something that looked similar to the Night Herons, but with unfamiliar plumage.  We realized the Herons must be breeding here, and this mysterious bird was a juvenile Yellow-crowned.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  Young, but fierce.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Young, but fierce.

This small pond was home to many birds besides the herons.  We saw warblers such as the Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white, and Yellow catching insects. Some of Tim’s favorites were also walking around the perimeter of the pond, shorebirds:

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What is this mysterious bird behind the reeds?

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Shake it off, Lesser Yellowlegs.

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A Lesser Yellowlegs, strutting around like it owns the place.

A few pairs of Goldfinches landed in the mud near the blind to eat as well.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

It was hard to pull ourselves away from the blind, but we wanted to see the East Pond so we continued down the trail. When we arrived we could tell there were hundreds of birds on the other side, but the only way to get there was either by hiking in deep mud, or by boat, so we didn’t have the best view. We did identify dozens of Mute Swans, some Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants and the A train to the Rockaways flying by. We almost forgot we were still in New York City!

A train flying by

A train flying by

Double-crested Cormorant in flight

Double-crested Cormorant in flight

We returned to the blind for a bit, and then walked back to the West Pond Trail.  It was scenic as usual, but quieter on the bird front. We did spot these baby Robins in their nest:

Baby Robins

Baby Robins

It was another great day of birding in Jamaica Bay, and I’m sure the Bird Nerds will have many more.  And now the list:

Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Queens, New York – August 10, 2014 1:11 PM – 4:30 PM

East Pond:
Laughing Gull
European Starling
Gray CatbirdNorthern Flicker
Northern Waterthrush
Black-Crowned Night Heron
American Goldfinch
Lesser Yellowlegs
Black-and-white Warbler
Empidonax sp. (There are five Eastern species in this genus of flycatcher that cannot be reliably identified, except by voice.  Naturally, this bird was quiet as a mouse.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow Warbler
Snowy Egret
Mute Swan
Canada Goose
Double-crested Cormorant
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Mallard
Herring Gull
Red-eyed Vireo
Cedar Waxwing
American Robin

West Pond:
Mourning Dove
Brown-headed Cowbird
Eastern Towhee
Laughing Gull
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Kingbird
European Starling
American Robin
Great Egret
Herring Gull
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Song Sparrow
Double-crested Cormorant
American Oystercatcher
Osprey
European House Sparrow

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