Saturday, October 26, 2013

Good Times at Jamaica Bay

So yes, I, Maureen, am still here! Lady Hipster Birder had to go on a posting hiatus while finalizing wedding plans and decor. But now that we've tied the knot, I'm ready to get back to the blog. 

A couple that plays together...
… stays together. =P

So, as I mentioned in my previous post from our birding adventures in NYC, we were fortunate to spend a lovely morning at the famous Jamaica Bay. While planning our trip, I had noticed on the website for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge that they were going to have quite an exciting event on the very day we planned to be there - a trip just down the road to Broad Channel American Park to see the emerging of mating horseshoe crabs and the numerous shorebirds expected to appear to feast upon their juicy, tasty eggs.

A look at the underside of this ancient creature.

An intimate moment… 

Horseshoe Crab Action

Although I had visions of hundreds of Red Knots congregating for this feast as they are known for especially having an affinity for horseshoe crab eggs, there were actually none present on this day. But we did have hundreds of Semipalmated Sandpipers and a handful of other shorebirds, such as Willets and Ruddy Turnstones. 

Semipalmated Sandpipers

Semipalmated Sandpipers

The shear number of sandpipers was pretty exciting, but what made this part of the morning especially exciting was seeing our LIFER Brants - and not just one or two, but about 150 of them! There were great rafts of them floating along the shore, and they created such a splendid sight as they were gently carried on the waves as the Semipalmated Sandpipers swooshed above them in great numbers.


Brants Flying

Brants in the Concrete Jungle

More Brants a-floating

Brants and Semipalmated Sandpipers en masse

After playing with horseshoe crabs and basking in our glee from our lifer Brants, we went back to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and hit the trails to see what else we could find. We didn't have any lifers there, but there were some great sightings nonetheless. A darling Canada Goose family greeted us as we started on the trail. As we walked parallel to the shore, we saw yet another avian family - this time a pair of Osprey doting over a couple of young chicks in their platform nest.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose Family with a Human Family reflecting in the background

Osprey Family

Ospreys feeding their chicks

One pleasant surprise wasn't a lifer, but it was a fantastic and long look at a close-by perched Tree Swallow, a bird usually seen on the wing. And if we have seen them perched, they're always too far away to get good looks like this one, showing off his brilliant, electric blue sheen.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Another "striking" encounter was something we'd never seen before - a Brown Thrasher attacking a snake! It happened all so quickly, and we cheered in excitement as we witnessed this most unheralded display.

Step One: Approach Snake from behind

Step Two: Attack that snake with all of your fury!

Step Three: Make sure you show that snake who is boss!

The rest of our day was much more serene as the day warmed up and the bright passerines continued to dot the verdant spring trees. Yellow Warblers seemed to pop up everywhere we turned, and a few other warblers, such as Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart, also greeted us. We had an overall fantastic time at Jamaica Bay, and we can't wait to go back some day!

Lazy Caterpillar

Eastern Towhee with a morsel

Another look at the Eastern Towhee with grub

Yellow Warbler

Magnolia Warbler


  1. Maureen, I love that photo of the Brants with the Sandpipers flying overhead. And the Thrasher attacking the snake is really cool too. Thanks for sharing your day with us! ~ Kim

  2. Great photos of the crabs and Thrasher! Dream to someday see a red knot...and again, those horseshoe crabs! We don't have anything like them over here on the west coast. I know from your post that you did not see red knots that day, but have you seen them in past birding trips?

    1. Thanks, Bryony! Yes, we have seen Red Knots - right in our area on Tybee Island, GA. We actually had a post about them before: They're such a great bird!