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:
Beautiful beach views today:
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:
NORTHERN HARRIER hawking over the field. It turned out to be quite the day for raptors as a noticeable movement came through overhead.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, one of the many in the area:
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, another raptor migrating through now:
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.
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!
After over an hour of seawatching, I grew tired and walked back to the road. Along the way, this YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER showed up:
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:
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).
GREATER YELOWLEGS flyover:
This PEREGRINE FALCON allowed for truly jaw-dropping views of the fastest animal on earth:
As did its smaller cousin, the MERLIN:
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW immature:
Beautiful sunset landscape:
And it looked equally pretty on this YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
A beautiful end to a great day of birding.
Bird-of-the-day to the life bird Northern Gannet with runner-up to Surf Scoters & Merlin.
World Life List: 955 Species (1 lifer today: Northern Gannet)