Not having to work until the afternoon on a Wednesday, I took advantage and decided to go birding yesterday. At seven in the morning I had just refound the Eurasian Wigeon at the north end of the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and turned around for the long slog down the east side of the pond when my phone buzzed with an email. At first I was going to ignore it but curiosity got the better of me. And what I read got me moving off of the pond fast:

I just got off the phone with Shane Blodgett, he is looking at a Northern Wheatear here at Plum Beach in Brooklyn. More details to follow.


I had only ever seen one Northern Wheatear in the United States and it had been awhile so I made my move. From Jamaica Bay I drove up Cross Bay Boulevard to the Belt Parkway and, fighting heavy commuter traffic, headed west. Off at Knapp Street where I turned around and headed east on the Belt Parkway until I reached the Plum Beach parking area, grabbed my gear, and headed out onto the beach.

Eurasian Wigeon

Distant and lousily photographed, but it is a Eurasian Wigeon.

On my way out I ran into Keir Randall, who had just posted an email letting folks know the bird was still present. He was on his way to a meeting, for which the wheatear had made him late. He had no time to talk but let me know the bird was still there, down the beach, and that Shane was still with it. I redoubled my pace and soon got to Shane and got the wheatear in my scope.

Northern Wheatear in Brooklyn

Northern Wheatear

The bird worked its way up and down the beach, staying near the dune line. It regularly perched on detritus, preferring solid perches with a bit of elevation, especially big chunks of driftwood, which it used to spot its prey. More and more birders arrived and delegations were sent to dog-walkers as they were spotted, asking them to keep their dogs from the dune line to avoid flushing the bird. When I left, the bird had worked its way pretty far west, almost back to the parking area, and it is my understanding that after I left the bird disappeared for awhile too, before being refound late in the day by Rob Bate.

Northern Wheatear at Plum Beach

This Northern Wheatear is not only a first (so far as we know) for Brooklyn but also the first to be named Nancy.

It was a great bird and great find by Shane, who is on a serious roll as a Brooklyn birder, with three self-found county birds in the last month. (The other two are King Eider and Western Kingbird, both of which are amazingly good birds for Brooklyn.)

Oh, as an aside, did I mention the Connecticut Warbler I found on Tuesday in Madison Square Park in Manhattan? No? Well, let me remedy that and share a picture…

Connecticut Warbler

This Connecticut Warbler made me very, very, very happy.

Get out there and look for birds! There are tons of wonderful rarities waiting to be found. Get to it!

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.