This past Saturday I made my way to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s West Pond a bit before sunset in order to try to get more flight shots of ducks like these as they made their way in to the pond to roost for the night. On my way in I convinced a fellow Queens birder, Jeff Ritter, who was on his way out, to turn around and enjoy the evening spectacle, which is always worth watching. And, sure enough, as the sun set birds came over in ones and twos and fours and fives, adding to what was already a pretty darn big flock of birds spread out on the West Pond. Then, at 6 PM, as the sun disappeared completely over the horizon, the ducks on the pond started massing on the west end of the pond, with many small flocks from all over the pond flying in to the west end until it was basically covered with ducks. Mostly the ducks were Red-breasted Merganser and Greater Scaup, the two most prevalent species on the pond, but there were a few other birds mixed in as well. Then, suddenly, great hordes of ducks took off and flew over us and out to the southwest towards Fort Tilden, for those who know Queens geography. It looked to us like once the ducks reached the coast they turned east, but it got very difficult to track them with the lack of light and distances involved. It is my belief that the birds were migrating, though one New York birder suggested that they might have been flying out for some crepuscular feeding. Either way, it was a heck of a sight and another example of why Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the best place in New York City to see amazing wildlife spectacles.
Anyway, I captured as best I could some of the spectacle in images but none of them can convey the immensity of the number of ducks, to say nothing of the sound of thousands of diving ducks going directly overhead. I hope you enjoy what I did manage to get…
Am I ever glad that I am a birder!
Migration is just great!
Heard our first Eastern Curlew leaving to go north Friday night.
Wow thats a lot of ducks! Great serie of image 🙂
The word “awesome” is thrown around a lot these days, but this does sound truly awesome. Were you and Jeff the only witnesses? Just think, if no one was there to document this, would it really have happened?
Wow Corey, that must have been some sight to behold, and sound too! What a spectacle indeed. I have had similar experiences at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and you are so right on when you say “am I ever glad that I am a birder!”
Thanks, all. It was a great experience.
And, Donna, no, there were a couple non-birders there who were really taken in by the spectacle.