I’ve lived in Queens since March of 2008. Over three hundred species of birds have crossed my field of view in Queens in that time including thirty-eight thirty-nine species of shorebird. Why is that thirty-eight crossed out? Because I finally saw a Buff-breasted Sandpiper in my home borough! Finally! Finally! Finally!

Buffies are a very fine shorebird. They are also not very interested in shores, preferring to visit places like sod fields during their southerly migration, which is the only time they would pass through Queens. And, believe it or not, but Queens is rather lacking in habitat like sod fields. So we tend to only get a couple of sightings a year, usually out at Fort Tilden where there are some wide open athletic fields or on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, especially when water levels are very low, which leaves enough shoreline for plants to grow. Year after year birds would be reported only for me to miss them. Then, this week, one was reported mid-week from the East Pond. Two more were seen on Friday morning. I tried my luck on Friday evening when I got done with work but I couldn’t come up with one.

So, Saturday morning found Seth Ausubel and I making our way up the east side of the East Pond shortly after dawn, scoping through the rather lackluster shorebird flocks. I must have mentioned my lack of Buffies in Queens at least thirty times and how much I hoped we would find one. Seth was probably ready to kill me and leave my body in the pond. We got north of the now-filled-in cut where Hurricane Sandy had breached the pond and stopped to scope a distant Hudsonian Godwit. Then, as we were about to continue on, Seth said, “There’s your bird!”

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Queens

Yeah, I was pretty stoked. Especially as it was only about ten yards away from us. And as Seth worked on sending an email out to the listserv a second bird popped up! Two Buffies! Now that was shorebirding!

I think that such a sighting deserves a bunch of pictures, don’t you?

Buff-breasted Sandpiper feeding

Look, it’s eating something!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper with shell

Buff-breasted Sandpipers turn their backs upon shellfish.

Buff-breasted Sandpipers

Look! Two Buffies!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper walking away

Even walking away from me this bird looked good.

I really have nothing else to say. Number 305 in Queens! Awesome.

Now if only someone would find me a Whimbrel

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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, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. 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.