Now that passerine migration has largely wound down the attention of this New York birder has shifted to seabirds, shorebirds, and the occasional trip looking for breeding birds. One of my regular stops in late May and early June is Big Egg Marsh, a wonderful salt marsh just a short distance south of the much-more-famous Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It is a great spot for Horseshoe Crabs to spawn and lay eggs so it is no wonder that shorebirds congregate to eat those eggs.

Yesterday morning (26 May), I was out at Big Egg Marsh a little bit before high tide and set myself up in a sitting position on a bit of rubble with my Swarovski digiscoping rig in front of me. After initially flushing as I got into place the birds came back quickly as they always do at Big Egg Marsh, where they are used to people fishing and otherwise recreating along the waterfront. The flock was mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers but there were a bunch of Dunlin, a decent number of Ruddy Turnstones, and a couple of Willets. There were actually quite a few more shorebird species roosting and feeding out in the marsh proper but they were distant and will not factor into this post.

Not that there is much to tell in this post. I sat and watched and digiscoped the birds, hoping to pull a Western Sandpiper or a White-rumped Sandpiper out of the teeming hordes with no luck. (At the time, until a certain commenter pointed out the one in the picture below.) Instead, I found two banded birds, which I reported of course. When I find out where they were banded I’ll report back. Until then, enjoy the Semipalmated Sandpipers!

Semipalmated Sandpipers

Someday, someone will figure out how Semipalmated Sandpipers manage not to land on top of each other.

banded Semipalmated Sandpiper

“MJ7” tried to escape before I could get a decent shot of his leg-flag but I was quick on the draw.

Semipalmated Sandpipers with Dunlin

Dunlin in breeding plumage are sexy beasts.

banded Semipalmated Sandpiper

Though it is not terribly difficult to get shots of banded shorebirds like Semipalmated Sandpiper “68U” here, it is even easier to get shots of tagged Horseshoe Crabs.

Semipalmated Sandpipers

Eh, Semipalmated Sandpipers. Even a blurred-out Dunlin in the background is more exciting. I miss wood-warbler migration already.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.