After missing the Greater White-fronted Goose and having a very late night on Friday and sleeping until noon on Saturday it was time to see some birds Saturday afternoon. Daisy and I headed over to Jamaica Bay, the amazing birding hotspot in the south of Queens.

We started off with a late lunch of delicious deli sandwiches which we ate while watching gulls winging overhead. The three common species were joined by at least one Laughing Gull, my first of the year in New York. Then another first of the year in New York flew over in the form of an Osprey (we later spotted Osprey perched on two nests that were also active last year). Not bad considering we hadn’t left the parking lot yet.

We decided to just walk around the West Pond Trail and were rewarded with many skulking Song Sparrows. It seemed like every rustle in the leaves or chip note from shrubbery was a Song Sparrow. Eventually, we gave up investigating each little brown job because of Song Sparrow fatigue. Instead, we focused on the large numbers of waterfowl from which we picked out shovelers, Canada Geese, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, Ruddy Ducks and a Pied-billed Grebe.

A quick walk down the Terrapin Trail took us to a big ol’ flock of Snow Geese.

Fortunately, two other birders with scopes were packing up as we arrived. When queried about the presence of Ross’s Goose, the diminutive species that is essentially a small Snow Goose, both responded in the negative. Whew! Saved us a whole lot of scanning.

We did spot some Brant, Tree Swallows, American Oystercatchers, Eastern Phoebes (feeding on the beach…at first we thought they were some weird shorebird at first), a Northern Mockingbird, and more Song Sparrows.

The rest of the way around the pond was quiet. Except for both kinglets, the first Black-capped Chickadee I’ve ever seen at Jamaica Bay, and a Northern Harrier poorly seen there wasn’t much.

We stopped at the parking lot just before the bridge over the bay. Brant were still there in a large flock and they are pretty accustomed to people.

For the two hours we spent at Jamaica Bay we totalled 38 species. Not bad for an outing in a major metropolitan area, though I remember one day last fall when people saw over 100 species there in one day. Might have to try to do that myself at Jamaica Bay some time.

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.