A Travellerspoint blog

Breezy Point & Jamaica Bay: Life bird!

Queens, NY

semi-overcast 29 °F

After some rain moved through this morning, I birded two great hotspots of the Far Rockaway area of Queens, NYC. It was a wonderful day and particularly fruitful for photography!

My target birds at breezy point were Parasitic Jaeger, Northern Gannet, and Black Scoter, all aquatic avian species which are passing through, but in low numbers, right now.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS allowed for gorgeous shots at Breezy Point:
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Beautiful beach views today:
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Then, a scoter flew by! Turns out, it would be one of a few SURF SCOTERS (as opposed to my hoped-for Black) which would make appearances off of Breezy Point today. Both scoter species are wonderful, uncommon diving ducks. The colorful males were quite fun to see, as well:
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NORTHERN HARRIER hawking over the field. It turned out to be quite the day for raptors as a noticeable movement came through overhead.
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AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS:
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BRANT:
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FORSTER’S TERNS:
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GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, one of the many in the area:
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SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, another raptor migrating through now:
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This gull flock looked promising because jaegers are gull-like birds which actually prey on gulls and terns, especially when they are gathered and feeding like this. Fortunately for the gulls, no jaegers paid them a visit today.
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Then, as I was scanning far out into the open sea - boom! - I laid my eyes on my life bird NORTHERN GANNET. Here it is sitting far, far out in the water, it was by mere chance and luck that I spotted this beautiful lifer!
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After over an hour of seawatching, I grew tired and walked back to the road. Along the way, this YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER showed up:
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The next stop was Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where I birded both the East & West Ponds in search of Stilt Sandpiper again, and anything else that might be hanging around this bird magnet. This NORTHERN SHOVELER (with a RUDDY DUCK in the background) greeted me upon arrival to the East Pond:
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More shovelers:
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AMERICAN WIGEON:
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MUTE SWANS:
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My heart skipped a beat when this shorebird landed across the pond from me as it looked quite like a Stilt Sandpiper, but it’s hugely long, straight bill proved it to be its cousin: the SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (“short” being quite the misleading adjective in this case).
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SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS:
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ROYAL TERN:
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FIELD SPARROW:
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NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD:
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GREATER YELOWLEGS flyover:
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This PEREGRINE FALCON allowed for truly jaw-dropping views of the fastest animal on earth:
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As did its smaller cousin, the MERLIN:
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WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW immature:
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Beautiful sunset landscape:
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And it looked equally pretty on this YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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A beautiful end to a great day of birding.
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Bird-of-the-day to the life bird Northern Gannet with runner-up to Surf Scoters & Merlin.

Good birding!
Henry
World Life List: 955 Species (1 lifer today: Northern Gannet)

Posted by skwclar 19:43 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Jamaica Bay After School!

Queens, NY

rain 72 °F

Today after school I took the train and the bus to Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Queens in search of shorebirds, and particularly one would-be life bird: the Stilt Sandpiper.

I arrived around 5:30pm and birded for a bit over an hour in off-and-on rain showers, which was annoying — there were birds around though, such as these expansive flocks of BRANT geese as well as DOUBLE-CRESTED & GREAT CORMORANT & GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL:
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BRANT again, this time with GREAT EGRET and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER:
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GREATER YELLOWLEGS flyover:
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At one point, I played the Clapper Rail call in a good-looking section of the salt marsh, and lo and behold, my life bird CLAPPER RAIL called back to me! Score! Its elusive reputation preceded itself as I was never able to see it, though.

SNOWY EGRET, nice:
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AMERICAN BLACK DUCK:
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Some sort of Turtle poking its head out of the water. Any ideas as to the species?
Edit: I figured out this is a Diamondback Terrapin, a “life turtle” for me — how cool!
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MUTE SWAN:
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GREEN-WINGED TEAL:
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COOPER’S HAWK:
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A better look at the BRANT geese:
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PEREGRINE FALCON, cool!
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And one last bird, an immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
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Alas, I never found the Stilt Sandpiper, so maybe next time! Bird-of-the-day to the Peregrine Falcon and Clapper Rail gets bumped to runner-up because it didn’t allow for views.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 954 Species (1 life bird today: Clapper Rail)

Posted by skwclar 18:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Central Park North with Maddie!

New York, NY

On saturday I visited the beautiful woods of Central Park with my girlfriend, Madeline Casagrande! We had quite an exciting time admiring the beautiful nature and being together for the weekend!
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Female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER:
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CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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At one point during the day, Maddie posed in front of this Puerto Rican flag — a beautiful part of her cultural background.
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SWAMP SPARROW:
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A New York City Brown Rat!
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER — warblers were all over today as the woods were absolutely hopping with birds. Maddie and I wanted to relish our time together so the entire time wasn’t spend birding, even though part of me wishes it was, haha!
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MAGNOLIA WARBLERS:
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BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS:
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WINTER WREN:
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BLACKPOLL WARBLERS:
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PINE WARBLER:

A great day! Bird-of-the-day to the female Black-throated Blue which is always a nice find.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 954 Species

Posted by skwclar 18:37 Comments (1)

Birding Across NYC!

New York, New York

semi-overcast 72 °F

Today I spent almost the entire day birding around NYC and I had a blast!

The morning was spent in Central Park, where I started off with this beautiful and obliging NORTHERN PARULA:
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Very soon after arriving, my highlight of the morning was FINDING a rare CONNECTICUT WARBLER — a bird that only comes through New York in the fall, and in very small numbers! This find created a sensation among the birders in “The Ramble” of Central Park. I had particular fun meeting two other young birders, Ryan and Cole, who were also delighting at the migrants passing through.
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One section of a trail through the Ramble had this OVENBIRD:
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As well as a cool BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER:
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Then, a large, long-tailed form flew through the canopy and I found my first YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO of the year — whew! I thought I was going to miss this one as they will soon be gone for the tropics.
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A very obliging CAROLINA WREN:
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
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EASTERN PHOEBE:
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BROWN THRASHER:
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BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
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PALM WARBLER:
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Overall, it was a stupendous morning of birding in the park. Then, I took a few subway trains and a bus to visit Marine Park in Brooklyn in search of a would-be lifer Clapper Rail.

Almost immediately upon arrival, a VERY uncommon species flew over — this GREAT CORMORANT, a bird I have only ever seen in the Old World before.
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GREAT EGRET:
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COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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SAVANNAH SPARROW:
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AMERICAN KESTREL:
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Unfortunately, despite trying very hard, the rails were nowhere to be found.

Next was Far Rockaway Beach where I wanted to check for any migrating marine birds. Nothing of note bird-wise was seen, but my best sighting was a pod of Dolphins! Birding has many advantages, including becoming an overall more observant person which can yield great results such as finding these Dolphins.
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And my final birding stop of a long day of birding was at Broad Channel off of the A train where I looked for, and after only a few minutes of searching, found this BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE, another species I’ve never seen in the US before.
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What a view from the train! This is overlooking Jamaica Bay by JFK Airport.
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My final avian sighting of the day was a quick view of a flock of MUTE SWANS in the bay from the train, props to you if you can spot them through the shrubbery!
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My commute for the day: 4 buses, 7 trains, and multiple miles of walking — what a journey!

A full, long, but successful day of birding! Bird-of-the-day to the Connecticut Warbler which was truly a magical experience, and runners-up to the Great Cormorant and Boat-tailed Grackle.

Good birding!
Henry
World Life List: 954 Species

Posted by skwclar 17:18 Archived in USA Comments (1)

A Wild Eider Chase!

New York, NY

all seasons in one day 72 °F

Today I woke up before 6am, rode five subways, two ubers, and walked/ran a total of 2.5 miles in order to find a prospective life bird, the Common Eider, a species of subarctic duck. They are fairly easy to find in the winter in this area but I prefer birding when it is warmer and I wanted to switch it up a bit today and bird before school. Note that this odyssey was entirely accomplished prior to classes at 11am!

When I arrived to Breezy Point along the coastline southeast of Brooklyn, I immediately spotted this OSPREY:
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GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS such as this specimen were pleasantly abundant:
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FORSTER’S TERN:
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AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER:
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First-winter LAUGHING GULL:
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It seemed like the walk through the sandy dunes and beach was taking forever, and I was on a time crunch. Now, I was starting to worry if I would even have time to walk all the way to the jetty for the Common Eider or not. It was certainly close!

Finally, at the base of the jetty a few cute SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS poked around:
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Then, I spotted it — a large, dark, regal-looking diving duck — this was the female COMMON EIDER! My first life bird since moving to New York and my most recent life bird since the Cassia Crossbill!
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I looked at the time, though, and had to leave after less than a minute of observation! Crazy fast twitching!

The uber ended up taking almost thirty minutes to arrive since it was such a remote corner of the city, and I observed a little flurry of bird activity while waiting for the car. NORTHERN FLICKER:
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NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD:
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Female HOUSE FINCH:
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Then, I had a fantastic treat of seeing two NORTHERN PARULA warblers, what a sweet avian surprise! Very cool!
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And, I somehow made it to class with 1 MINUTE to spare! Whew!

Bird-of-the-day to my life bird Common Eider and runner-up to the Northern Parula warblers! Stay tuned for Central Park birding on saturday morning!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 954 Species (1 life bird today: Common Eider!!!)

Posted by skwclar 15:16 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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