Like many birders I am cursed with a job. Considering the economic times we live in that is probably not the most politic way of putting it but when there are good birds around (And when isn’t there?) a job can feel more like an albatross around your neck than a goose laying golden eggs. Or something.

Anyway, one of my defense mechanisms from the work-a-day world is finding little bits of time before, during, or after the work day to look for birds. There are several parks in Bergen County, New Jersey, that I can stop at on my way to work and there are a couple of favorite spots I like to hit back in Queens on my way home. (I usually try to sneak my en route birding in closer to my destination simply because traffic on my two-bridge, two-borough, two-state commute is so unpredictable.)

Yesterday, I took advantage of the friendly precincts of Van Saun Park in Paramus on my way to work. I have to find a really stunning bird there but I have had luck photographing some common species. While I once again didn’t see anything particularly noteworthy I was pleased to find five species of wood-warbler, including this inquisitive Magnolia Warbler.

Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia

It’s wonderful that land-bird migration has really gotten moving over the last week and a dedicated birder can find birds almost anywhere.

On my way home I stopped at the park that is closest to my house and on my way home from work, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, another place that has frequently earned my attention. The usual suspects were around in numbers – a host of Mallards, a swarm of European Starlings, scads of Rock Pigeons, and a bunch of Double-crested Cormorants. The early evening sun was getting low in the sky and providing perfect illumination for the Ring-billed Gulls that are always on the prowl for a handout.

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis (click it for a bigger version)

I spent maybe ten minutes and then got back in my car to head home. But I was momentarily distracted by a trio of juvenile Least Sandpipers feeding from the edges of a rapidly fading puddle in the parking lot. I have a soft spot for what I consider the most beautiful shorebird and couldn’t resist pausing to rattle off a hundred shots or so. They were continually coming with some kind of invertebrate from the pavement but I have no idea what it was. Then again, I might not want to know what kind of creepy-crawlies are living in parking lot puddles because they might give me nightmares.

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla

Considering that I put in a full day of work I was pretty pleased with my day’s birding. How about you? How do you get birds in on days when you have earn your living?

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.