World lifers indicated in bold
When I first birded in Central Park this year, Ryan asked me if, after he returned from Hog Island, that I would meet up with him and Jonah Benningfield, another young birder going to Hog Island that would be staying with Ryan the week after. The reason we decided to meet up on Monday is because we would be joined by two more young birders: Tucker and Baxter Beamer, the latter was also at Hog Island last week. (fun fact: I met both at the Black-backed Oriole stakeout last winter) We spent most of the time photographing baby terns at the eastern colony and getting dive bombed by the parents before I eventually had to leave the group.
I had no class today, so I spent the day working on algebra homework and trying the 4th of July Birding Challenge. For the challenge, participants have to try and see every species that begins with the word “American,” any species that begins with the name of a U.S. state, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, the official birds of each U.S. state, and Red-tailed Hawk. Unfortunately, I did poorly because of poor planning in an effort to get to the coast for American Oystercatcher, and getting to a known Bald Eagle nest when the eaglets had most likely left the nest. I only managed to see 8 species and didn't get Red-tailed Hawk, a species I can under normal circumstances never seem to avoid, until the last minute.
The next day, I went to Robert Moses state park for a seawatch, where I got several shearwaters (including Manx), two Wilson's Storm-Petrels, and many terns.
As I had promised at the kickoff, I would be leading another field trip to Nickerson Beach this year. Some highlights included a continuing group of Common Eiders and two Gull-billed Terns.
My patch at Jones Beach is a peninsula. Most of my shorebird counts have been on the bay side, which I thought was easy, yet boring. I wanted to try a spot on the ocean side of the peninsula, which turned out to be no better than the bay side because I was attacked by swarms of mosquitos entering and exiting the beach.
As I was completing my new route, I got an alert about the presence of a Wilson’s Phalarope on the west pond at Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge. Finally, a bird I needed for this year! This was attempt two, as I had missed one at Heckscher State Park earlier this year. When my dad and I got to the pond, we were both swarmed by mosquitos again, forcing us to buy bug spray at the refuge visitor center. Since I had chosen to not bring a scope to the shorebird count, we had to stand on benches to get a better look through the foliage surrounding the pond. After straining, I got a glimpse of the phalarope near a group of Double-crested Cormorants. Since Wilson’s is surprisingly not flagged in summer, I didn’t need to add any more details, and then got out as quickly as possible. Worth every mosquito bite.
To be continued…
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