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.
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.
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:
A few pairs of Goldfinches landed in the mud near the blind to eat as well.
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!
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:
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
Gray CatbirdNorthern Flicker
Black-Crowned Night Heron
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.)
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Blue Heron
European House Sparrow