I started out this morning at Plum Beach in Brooklyn. The mudflats on an
incoming tide were nearly devoid of non-gulls, and it was far too windy to
enjoy the marsh sparrow spectacle that is now in full bloom there.
The highlight of my excursion to Plum was undoubtedly the large
concentration of Monarch Butterflies in the dunes. In addition to Monarchs
scattered through the Seaside Goldenrod, this agglomeration included
impressive communal roosts in the small willow bushes interspersed through
the dune-tops. The next day or two will undoubtedly feature a large exodus
from the region of these fantastic creatures as they continue their trek
down to Mexico.
I was then joined by Sean Sime at Jamaica Bay's East Pond, and we devoted
most of or rain-punctuated effort to the north end of the pond. Highlights
here we're the long-staying and very confiding American Avocet, handfulls
of Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers, a Stilt Sandpiper, fairly good
numbers for the date of Semipalmated Sandpipers (all juveniles,
unsurprisingly), and watching Snowy Egrets incorporate some very
interesting foraging techniques. The high number of Dunlins on the pond is
a sight I'm not used to, but this may be because there is not usually
extensive shorebird habitat on the pond at this time of year, when their
migration is in full swing.
Duck numbers are also very good, with most now sporting at least some
semblance of breeding/winter plumage.
Moving on to Breezy Point (via some pizza), we experienced the final band
of rain from the remnants of the storm as we hoofed it out the bay side. As
we got towards the jetty we judged the sustained wind to be in the 30 MPH
range, give or take a few, and the rain mostly abated shortly thereafter.
We immediately noticed small flocks of sterna terns heading out of Rockaway
Inlet, some quite close to the shore on the bay side, and it was apparent
(in part due to the large number of Common Terns mixed in) that these were
birds displaced by the storm and heading back out to the ocean.
Our hopes buoyed, we found a windbreak near the base of the jetty and began
scanning the large mess of gulls of terns feeding to the southwest of the
jetty. To make a long story short, we ended up seeing no less than *15
PARASITIC JAEGERS*, and at least *19* *jaegers* total. Almost all of these
were first seen well to the north or west, and then came through the
feeding flock before continuing out to the ocean. The primary flight line
was coming from the direction of western Coney Island/Sea Gate, with the
balance coming from almost due west, towards the Amboy or Sandy Hook
vicinity. We had one jaeger that we judged to be a subadult *POMARINE
JAEGER* (based on size, shape, flight style, and some hints of plumage),
and another that was very bulky and showed some Pomarine-like traits, but
that I currently suspect was just a large Parasitic (photos of this latter
one should settle the matter).
Around 4:00 PM visibility dramatically improved, the rain and fog/mist
completely cleared out, and the jaeger flight died.
Another bonus bird that was present for most or all of our time there
was a *CORY'S
SHEARWATER* that was hanging out in the feeding flocks, often disappearing
from our sight by sitting on the water. While this species is sometimes
downright abundant from shore eastern Long Island, it is only seldom seen
from land in NYC (and even Nassau County). There were also 2 each of Great
Cormorant and Lesser Yellowlegs.
Here is the Breezy Point eBird checklist:
The other eBird lists will be submitted in the near future and will be
easily searchable for in several ways, including at their respective
hotspot pages, and photos will be added in due course as well.
-Doug Gochfeld. Brooklyn, NY.
NYSbirds-L List Info:
Please submit your observations to eBird: