It has been eight days since I came back from California on a red eye. Once we got back last Sunday Daisy and I cleaned the house while Desi played. Then, having not managed to sleep much at all while I was on the plane, I fell asleep for several hours. When I woke up, discombobulated and confused, I saw that I had a voicemail on my phone from Isaac Grant, a Staten Island birder doing a New York City big year.

His message was about how he had spotted an Upland Sandpiper at Edgemere Preserve. (Edgemere, by the way, has really been coming into its own as a good place to see good birds.)

Fortunately for me, Daisy must have still been in a stupor from our overnight flight as well, because she put up no objection when I gathered my birding gear and told her I would be back in an hour-and-a-half.

Why did I risk the wrath of my better half and the drudgery of weekend traffic just to see an Upland Sandpiper? The answer, simply, is that I had never managed to see one in Queens and my Queens list is the one birding list that I really like to see grow.

Anyway, to keep this tale short, I drove to Edgemere, continued up on top of the capped landfill, and watched the bird I wanted to see flush from the road, circle around me, and return to the gravel road. Just like that I had reached 299 species in Queens!

Upland Sandpiper in Queens

Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda

Because the bird was so site-faithful, continually returning to the same stretch of road, Isaac, Andrew (who also got out to see the bird), and I decided not to report to the listservs for fear that we might be disturbing a breeding bird, which would be a pretty amazing breeding record for anywhere in New York City. Sadly, our fears turned out to be unfounded, as the bird has not been seen since that Sunday.

Upland Sandpiper for 299! What will be bird 300? Stay tuned for a fun chance to make your prediction and possibly win a prize…

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.