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!

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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.