Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens, NY, 3 August 2008
It was while watching flocks of shorebirds on Friday on Cape Cod (an adventure I will soon describe) that I first heard of a Red-necked Stint being found at Jamaica Bay. I got back-to-back calls that I let go to voicemail from Jory and Will, my upstate birding buddies, and when I checked my voicemail I found out the news. There was nothing I could do about it though, so I let it go (ok, maybe I whined a bit) and figured I would chase the bird down on Saturday when I was back in New York. After getting home from New England on Saturday I changed my mind and decided that I could let the stint sit one more day before I went after it: I was tired, I hadn’t seen Daisy in days, and I figured that maybe some of the upstate folks I haven’t seen in awhile might come after the bird. Am I ever glad I waited until today to chase that stint!
Before I even got out on the muddy East Pond I ran into some birders, including Doug, who kindly helped me find a Eurasian Collared-Dove near Binghamton last year. We headed into the north end of the pond after getting our waders on and quickly encountered some other birders with exciting news: they had not yet found the stint but they had seen a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper!
A quick word about both of these birds. They both breed in Siberia, which is pretty far from Jamaica Bay. They must have taken the “Siberian Express,” which is a birding term for when birds ride the jet stream across from Siberia, over Alaska and Canada, and veer south wherever the jet stream does. Fortunately for me and about fifty of New York’s finest birders, the jet stream must have been veering south towards us!
herd o’ birders at Jamaica Bay
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was refound on the island in the middle of the pond and then across on the opposite shore. While looks were achieved they were far from optimum because of the range and light, which was against us. While trying to find the bird after it had disappeared again a birder spotted the stint on the other side of the pond, and, again, lousy looks were acquired. Now, at this point, I could have gone home, happy with having had identifiable looks at two rare life birds. But I wanted good looks (and pictures) so I stuck around sweating in the stinky air, hoping against hope that the lone birder working the opposite side of the pond would flush the birds over to us.
Shortly thereafter, when the herd of birders had split up a bit and I was in a short scope line of about six people I looked up in front of us and there was the Red-necked Stint, about twenty feet away! Oh, and did I mention that the stint was still in breeding plumage?
the rightmost bird is the stint (ust in case you couldn’t tell)
here it is again, on the left this time
by now you can find it on your own, right?
Then word came from further south on the pond that the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper had been refound and I joined the herd trekking south, through the treacherous cove where at least one birder lost a boot and at least two birders took spills into the disgusting mud, down along the shore until I was directly across from the bird with a bunch of birders. We all watched the sandpiper, also an adult in breeding plumage, and I was content with the so-so looks at its cap and “chevroned” flanks.
In addition to the aforementioned birds I picked up three other shorebirds that I either hadn’t seen this year or hadn’t seen in a way that qualifed them for my Anti-Global Warming Big Year List, so I ended my excursion with five new birds for my list and two lifers! Not bad for a quick jaunt to Jamaica Bay!
This blog post was first published on 3 August 2008 but a post involving two out-of-place Siberian shorebirds is just too good to leave hidden in the archives.
And they couldn’t have arrived a week ago when I was there? Bloody Hell (oh, and congrats!).
I am so totally, insanely jealous. I am moving in a week and can’t afford or spare the time for a trip down to see those birds. Congrats on getting them though!
I went down there earlier today, and quickly realized I was not properly prepared… I was soon forced to turn back in my muddy, muddy sneakers. I wonder if I was in the wrong place, because I didn’t see any place like the picture captioned “herd o’ birders at Jamaica Bay”… people were walking along the coast, almost knee-deep in mud.
I’m going to pick up some more suitable boots, and try again this weekend… I wonder what the chances are of the birds still being there…
Great birds! You can tell I’ve been living in the southwest for a while when I start oohing and aahing at all those lovely Semipalmated Sandpipers, too.
Oh man… I’ve been keeping an eye on these birds, but didn’t get a chance to go see them and probably won’t. Both would be lifers. Congrats!
Two Sibes in one day – outstanding!
They are both escapees from JFK!
When I got the Text Message from Corey I thought he was joking, I had to confirm it by e-mail, and when he called and said “It was just another ‘normal’ day at Jamaica Bay”.
I’m sooooooooooooooooo jealous.
Your photos are lovely, but for those who haven’t seen it yet, the Stint itself is even lovelier, red coloring on the head, neck and breast, more vivid. We were lucky to have the bird fly from east to the west shore, practically at our feet. And the glorious mud, all part of the Jamaica Bay adventure. Bring your boots and a companion to pull you out should you get stuck.
@Charlie, Nick, Will, Patrick, BABW: They surely are great birds. Wish you guys could have seen them.
@Rick: You have been in the southwest too long…but you have bunches of birds there that I would certainly ooh and aah for.
@Tom: That mud is vile! Hope they stick around for you. The spit is a couple hundred yards down the west shore from the north end.
@Judy: The stint is absolutely gorgeous. Though I do question your characterization of the mud as “glorious.” 🙂
Don’t do that! I was already dialing Jet Blue. Where’s my heart medicine.
@Steve: I just found out how to turn a telephone and a computer monitor at my office into a powerful and effective defibrillator.