Yesterday, I was planning on visiting Central Park since I had most of the day free. When I woke up, though, reports were saying that the park was much less active than anticipated. Accordingly, I changed plans because I had wanted to visit Jamaica Bay before I fly home Friday, so I took the opportunity of this free day to do so. After a commute on the M100 bus, the A train, and the Q53 bus, I made it around 9:30am.
I started off my birding day by making the long loop around the West Pond near the Visitor Center. I found these LEAST SANDPIPERS:
A single BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE foraged out in the saltmarsh — I would end up seeing a few of these throughout the day:
An OSPREY, one of multiple nesting pairs in Jamaica Bay, flew over. At one point, I saw one come in with a gigantic fish in its talons; the fish was nearly as long as the bird!
There were a few terns flying about, particularly early in the morning. The highlight of my morning was by far seeing this LEAST TERN with a strikingly yellow bill fly by. Unfortunately, it flew with such an erratic flight and it was so tiny that I only managed this one horrible photo. Within it, though, you can definitely see its lemon-yellow bill!
BLUE-WINGED TEAL flyovers:
Another highlight was when I approached the edge of the saltmarsh and I saw a long-tailed sparrow duck into the marsh grass. It soon teed up a little, allowing for these horrible but, once again, clinching photos: SEASIDE SPARROW! This was a life bird for me just last week!
GLOSSY IBIS flew over a few times:
TREE SWALLOW perched on its nest box:
FORSTER’S TERN, I saw many of these this morning:
As I did LAUGHING GULLS — nice to finally see in breeding plumage:
Mimidae, also known as the mockingbird family, rule at Jamaica Bay. Here is a BROWN THRASHER:
And its relative the GRAY CATBIRD:
And of course the ubiquitous NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. All three of these species sing vociferously and mimic many other avian species, hence their Latin family name. They can all be found by walking the West Pond loop trail.
Male EASTERN TOWHEE singing:
Male YELLOW WARBLER:
This LINCOLN’S SPARROW, my first of the year, was a nice surprise:
As was this late RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
A great mixed flock of warblers appeared by the end of the West Pond trail, including a male BLACK-AND-WHITE:
And multiple cooperative YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS:
As well as a NORTHERN PARULA:
Then, I headed over to check out East Pond where I heard there was a Barn Owl nesting box that has been occupied by these beautiful birds. Thanks to a kindly birder, I was able to spot a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW over the pond:
A male PRAIRIE WARBLER was really nice to see:
And here is the Barn Owl nesting box — unfortunately mama owl didn’t ever peek her head out for me, but I am sure she was snoozing the day away inside.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at Big John’s Pond:
Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
Male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD:
Then, I walked over to the viewing platform past the Visitor Center where I was hoping to possibly see the Least Tern again for better photos. There was a SNOWY EGRET:
A species I have never seen in New York before, a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, was a great treat:
There was a flock of far-away roosting shorebirds which included WILLETS and RUDDY TURNSTONES:
As well as DUNLIN:
The Least Tern never reappeared for a better photo, but that won’t stop me from making that life bird my bird-of-the-day! Runner-up to the Seaside Sparrow.
World Life List: 971 Species (1 life bird today: Least Tern)