It’s sad but true; some people just don’t deserve to be able to visit as marvelous a birding Mecca as Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.  Why?  Because simple rules, like staying on the paths, is too much for some people, people who feel entitled to walk wherever they feel like no matter what harm they may cause.  What am I talking about?  Well, take a look at this photograph, taken from the trail on the south side of the West Pond on Sunday, looking east along the south shore of the pond.

I was at Jamaica Bay with Seth and we were birding with Dave when we started seeing ducks swimming and herons flying, and gulls fleeing from the shore to our right.  Then the guy in the picture above popped out of the bushes and lied down and started trying to get shots of a Forster’s Tern.  In his defense the refuge staff had cut back some weeds between the path and the pond’s edge and the area wasn’t well signed, which is why Seth walked over and politely let the guy know he shouldn’t be at the water’s edge flushing everything in a wildlife refuge.

Later, when we three birders were on the other side of the pond a host of birds came flying over and we joked that the guy must be at the water’s edge again.  Little did we know that we were probably right because later, when Seth and I returned to our original spot, we watched the jerk make his way to the water’s edge again, this time on the northwest side of the pond.

This is the point at which the guy went from being a guy enjoying the day and the birds to a full-fledged jerk.  He knew the rules (Seth had made sure of that) but he still thought that the fact that he wanted pictures from close up outweighed the rights of the creatures for whom the refuge exists and other people who would like to enjoy seeing some wildlife without it being scared away from the pond.  So, if you see this guy, make sure he knows he is a jerk.

On the way out Seth and I ran into some park rangers and let them know of the situation but they didn’t seem overly concerned, which, sadly, seems to be the status quo at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge of late.

A gem of a place like Jamaica Bay only stays as great as it is for birds and other wildlife because people respect the rules and the wildlife.  In a city as big as New York City it is amazing that we have such a wonderful place to visit and it drives me nuts to see jerks like this guy disrespect the place and get away with it, which is the only reason his image is posted here.  Hopefully, someone will see this and recognize him and let him know just how inappropriate his behavior is.

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.