The Core Team went birding for Saemangeum yesterday. Even in the face of Super Bowl Sunday holiday observances, our commitment to global environmental justice remains firm. Anyway, I wanted to get out birding and Mason wanted to run around. We all like Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the adults for its plethora of winter waterfowl, the youngest of our contingent for its long, gravel-strewn paths. What can I say… Mason loves rocks!
New York has been unseasonably warm of late, but what else is new. Nonetheless, a strong wind barreled down the walkways and across the West Pond at Jamaica Bay. Perhaps that explains the minimal diversity of birdlife. Don’t get me wrong; Jamaica Bay is one of the best birding spots in the northeastern U.S., any time of year, hands down. Were we willing and able to spend a bit of time, we could have sussed out a greater array of species. As it was, we observed a fair number, just fewer than I expected.
Jamaica Bay in winter is all about waterfowl. Though Tundra Swan had been reported here recently, we only came up with Mute Swan. In a similar vein, though we hoped for Snow Geese, we had to settle for Brant, which I don’t mind at all, and Canada Goose, which we couldn’t avoid if we tried. Of ducks, we saw quite a few. Of course Mallard and American Black Duck were common; I even spotted a picture-perfect Mallard-Black Duck hybrid drake. The West Pond also sheltered mixed rafts of Greater Scaup and Ruddy Duck. Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Hooded Merganser could be picked out in small numbers along the shore. Out on the bay, Bufflehead bobbed along with the brant.
Not much else was happening out at Jamaica Bay, at least for us. We saw the three common gulls (Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed) and the three common trash birds (European Starling, House Sparrow, and Rock Pigeon.) Raptors were represented by a single Northern Harrier, waders by a windswept Great Blue Heron. The passerine pickings were mighty slim, with just one each of Northern Cardinal and Northern Mockingbird to show for our troubles. The big surprise today was that there ware no surprises.
Nonetheless, 90 minutes of birding delivered 21 species of birds for a good cause. If you haven’t yet pledged to donate to Saemangeum (perhaps afraid that I’d turn in a more ambitious bird count) you can still do the right thing. Visit Birdwatch Day for Saemangeum and send some money to protect a valuable ecosystem.