Will has already written about the first part of our birding adventure from this past Friday so you should definitely click through and read his account if you want to have some idea what this blog post is about, but, if you don’t, well, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Anyway, it was as Will subdued the guard with the submachine gun that I finally finished sawing through the rope that had kept me tied to the band saw…oh, what’s that?  You are going to click through to Will’s post and find out what happened in the first half and then come back to read the rest?  Fine, I’ll wait.

Ha!  You see what I did there?  Never think that I am a reliable narrator!  I make up dialogue as I see fit, invent incidents that never occurred, and generally write whatever I feel like whether it is true or not.  It works for reports to the New York State Avian Records Committee and it works here on the…wait, I’ve said too much.  Just forget the last couple of sentences, alright?  Look, an American Avocet!

American Avocet with a Boat-tailed Grackle and in flight across the West Pond

It was neat to see an American Avocet, having not seen one since last year, when a couple hung out on the East Pond.  It was also good to run into John Beetham and get him onto the avocet, to say nothing of the small group of birders that had assembled to see the American Avocet and the three Marbled Godwits that had decided to fly away ten minutes before we arrived.

I’m going to take a moment for a brief word about Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa.  For some reason, in New York, they avoid me like the plague.  I have just missed Marbled Godwits several times over the years and have never found one of my own.  Sure, I’ve seen them in California, but they are easy there, and willing to be photographed and generally admired.  They shouldn’t be this hard to track down in New York; they should be the most common godwit, but somehow, until Friday, I had seen more Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, and Red-necked Stints in New York than I had Marbled Godwits.  You can imagine my frustration when I found out that the darned birds had probably flown over us, unobserved, when they left the West Pond and headed in the direction of the East Pond.  Bobby Kurtz was convinced that they had landed in the vicinity of the Raunt, but Will and Danika and I decided to head up to the north end of the East Pond so we could get Will his life Wilson’s Phalarope and see what else was around up there.

juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus

There were many shorebirds and the mud wasn’t bad at all as we walked into the north end of the pond.  We scanned for awhile trying to find the phalarope but had no luck at first, though we did enjoy better looks at the American White Pelican than we did from the south end of the pond.  Eventually, we caught up with Doug Gochfeld, and he pointed out the phalarope to us, which made Will very happy.  I was happy with close shorebirds to photograph!

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus

What I really liked, though, were the juvenile Least Sandpipers, of which there were several running around…there might be a gallery in the near future of the gorgeous little creatures that, several short weeks ago, were still in eggs on the tundra of northern Canada and Alaska.

juvenile Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla

Then my cursed cell phone rang.  Cursed because we were enjoying the birds on the East Pond and then technology had to come in and… “Oh, hello Andrew Baksh!  What’s that you say?  You have the three Marbled Godwits at the Raunt?  Well, hang on, we’ll be right there!”

Will and Danika were already exhausted, having hit horrible traffic on their way to New York City, which made a two-and-a-half-hour drive into a five-hour nightmare, to say nothing of the fact that they had already been dragged to the south end of the East Pond, out to the West Pond, and up to the north end of the East Pond.  Now I was insisting that we walk the not-insignificant distance back to their car, drive to the refuge parking lot, and walk out to the midpoint of the East Pond to try to see a bird that wouldn’t even be a lifer for me, but just a state bird.  It’s a good thing Marbled Godwit would be a lifer for both Will and Danika!  I walked very quickly ahead of them on the way to the overlook near Big John’s Pond so they could see this through the scope when they arrived:

Marbled Godwits Limosa fedoa

Now that is a sight worth seeing!  After a too brief time with the birds we packed up and headed back to my house because Will and Danika had to be home in Albany before they passed out from exhaustion and we needed to get Daisy and Desi because Will and Danika were going to drop us off in Saugerties on their way back.  It was a long ride, and Desi was a bit miserable until he finally fell asleep, but we made it alive, though Danika did her best to try to kill us (just kidding, she wasn’t trying to kill us).  It was a great day and many thanks to Will and Danika for coming down for such a fun visit and being kind enough to give us a ride upstate, screaming baby and all…

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.