After walking what felt like halfway across Queens I arrived at Flushing Meadows Park and found it totally packed with people. There were soccer players, remote-control car racers, barbecuers, and a whole host of other folks enjoying the great outdoors. What there was not a lot of was birds. It was frustrating, to say the least, to have spent all day out and about and finding birds everywhere and now being stuck with nothing but pigeons and Ring-billed Gulls. Okay, so I exaggerate a bit but there wasn’t much else, not even on the lake in the middle of the park. Sure, Barn Swallows swooped low over the lake looking for bugs and a single Black-crowned Night-Heron perched in the reeds but I needed one more new bird and I wasn’t finding it!

It was at this point, when I could look south and west from the lake and see the shiny building next to where I live, that I resolved to walk to the subway and go home and call it a day.

Queens from Flushing Meadows Park

Of course, I still had at least a mile to walk to get to the subway, so I ambled along, spotting a surprising muskrat in the lake as I headed south along the western shore, and finally making it to Jewel Ave where I turned west towards Queens Boulevard.  Not one minute before getting on the train I got a call from a fellow Queens birder who let me know that a Summer Tanager had been spotted at the Forest Park waterhole.  Immediately thoughts of a lifer to end the day and get me to 120 species started running through my mind and I hustled into the subway station, jumped on the train, rode it to my stop, ran to my apartment, dropped off my backpack, and hustled to the waterhole.

The Summer Tanager did not appear.

Instead, a Blackburnian Warbler came in and drank and bathed and put on a great show, bringing me to my goal of 120 species and my day to an end.  It wasn’t a lifer but the brilliant orange and black plumage was more than enough to satisfy this birder!  I was asleep by nine o’ clock.

I can’t wait to do another Big Day!

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.