I have been very slow in sharing what was for me pretty exciting news. Yes, back in May I added a new bird to my Queens list, one that was long overdue. Finally, finally, finally, I saw a Whimbrel in Queens! It was number 311 on my Queens list and a bird that I was growing increasingly frustrated with as several are spotted in Queens each and every year.

This particular bird was the first bird I saw on a visit to the Least Tern colony just east of the Beach 59th Street jetty in Rockaway Beach. It was way down the beach and distorted by heat haze but I could make out its long downcurved bill. I had no choice but to hike further up the beach to get recognizable photographs and also to make sure that it wasn’t a much-more-on-New-York Long-billed Curlew. (Yeah, I knew it was a Whimbrel but I let myself get excited by the possibilities once and awhile. Besides, how absurd would it be to have a Long-billed Curlew on my Queens list and still lack Whimbrel? Oh, no more absurd than having Red-necked Stint, Ruff, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper before Whimbrel? Very well, ignore this increasingly long parenthetical.)

Once I had recognizable-though-still-distorted-by heat-haze images I just let myself enjoy the moment. There I was, on a beach with only birds for company, on a nice May evening. What could be better?

Whimbrel in the Rockaways

Sometimes, you just have to enjoy what you have in front of you. That’s much easier when it is a long-sought-after county bird.

Of course, I was soon distracted by the antics of Sanderlings, the flock of Laughing Gulls, the pairing-up Least Terns. Oh, and Piping Plovers. Yeah, it’s nice to add a bird to the county list but I can still enjoy them all.

Piping Plover

Piping Plover

Little did I know that a couple of days later I would be losing my mind once again over a shorebird in Queens

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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.