On Saturday I met up with Patrick, that nice guy from The Hawk Owl’s Nest, at Jamaica Bay for some birding.  Unfortunately, the birds seemed to have missed the memo or something, because they were not there to meet up with us.  That actually is not quite true: I am just a spoiled birder who has managed to get to way too many good birding spots this year. I say this because, when I look at my eBird report, I see that we actually had a total of 57 species of bird in the several hours we spent at the north end of the East Pond and circumnavigating the West Pond.  For most folks that would be a good day’s birding, but to this blessed birder who has amassed an absurd year list, well, it was kind of ho-hum.

The morning started off nicely enough.  The Q53 LTD bus met me at the bus stop on Woodhaven Avenue and whisked me to Jamaica Bay a full half hour before Patrick and I were to meet.  I spent the extra time digiscoping common birds in the morning light and spotting a Savannah Sparrow.

House Sparrow above and European Starling below, about as common as one gets in New York City

I jumped in Patrick’s car once he arrived and we headed north on Cross Bay Boulevard to the parking lot by the bridge where the walk to the north end of the East Pond, where the hordes of shorebirds are normally found, is much shorter.  And this is where The Jersey Curse comes into the equation.  Why is it The Jersey Curse?  Because Patrick is from New Jersey and the last time he visited, well, it wasn’t the most auspicious outing.

This time the shorebirds were just not there in very big numbers.  We quickly learned why: a Peregrine Falcon made several passes, spooking what few shorebirds were around, and most of our quarry did not return.  What did remain was pretty much the expected stuff like Short-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpipers, though we did have my first-of-the-fall-migration Northern Waterthrush, heard-only White-rumped Sandpipers and a small flock of Stilt Sandpipers momentarily appeared in our scopes.  But not a single rarity in a place known for producing amazing rarities!  The only interesting thing to watch was a Great Black-backed Gull killing and eating a young Laughing Gull, though, really, how many times do I need to watch a Great Black-backed Gull kill and eat another bird?

Was Patrick and I did spend a bunch of time doing was talking about the impending doom that our birding would soon suffer.  We discussed stroller options, where our children would be born, baby showers, and a host of other baby-related stuff.  Then we realized that the heat was getting to us and got back to the important stuff: birds!

Unfortunately, our stroll around the West Pond didn’t find us much either, just more of the same shorebirds and, of course, a bunch of the long-legged wading birds.

So, rather than continue to suffer in the heat, we went to the Cross Bay Diner and ate some good food.  Hopefully, August 22, when a horde of bird bloggers descend on Jamaica Bay, we can break The Jersey Curse (though Patrick, for some reason, seems to think there is no curse).

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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, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. 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.