Birding with the Empire State Building as background

I had a nice day’s birding today.  And I think I saw another warbler species.

I went to Jamaica Bay – over the Queensboro bridge from 59th St Manhattan, then get lost a bit, and you are there!

A walk through some scrub and then you are looking out over a wetland.

Many of the usual birds and some new ones besides – Glossy Ibis, Osprey, Yellow Warbler, Towhee, Tree Swallow, House Wren, Willet, Forster’s Tern, Canada Goose, Brown Thrasher, Laughing Gull and more.  The new birds for the trip were Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup and Black Brant.

And this warbler.  Help me out here US birders, please. It had a very obvious double wingbar, was yellow and olive green, generally unstreaked and had a partial yellow eye-ring.  Prairie Warbler I think – am I right? As soon as I saw it I thought ‘I haven’t seen one quite like that before’.  What I didn’t notice was any white on the tail but it might have had some.  Does the location and date fit or not – looks like it does actually?  And if not, then what was it – I don’t think it was a female Blackpoll – far too yellow and green.

I met three other birders – which was nice because each stopped to chat.  The first lady had seen a few warblers and was happy.  The second lady struck me as a good birder – just by the way she spoke about the birds.  She was very pleased to have seen a Willow Flycatcher – I tried to look pleased for her too even though I have not much idea what that look like.  She had also seen Dunlin and Red Knot (neither of which did I see) but she didn’t mention Ruddy Turnstone or Willet (maybe because they were not worthy of mention? but both of which I did see).  She had heard there was a Black-billed Cuckoo around and was keen to see it.  I hope she did – I didn’t.  And the third birder was a bloke who told me a bit about what he’d seen and the best path to take.

We are a band of brothers and sisters we birders.  Almost all of the birders I have met have been much chattier than the average English birder – it’s nice.  Loosen up, you Brits!

I drove down to the ocean.  I knew of a site for Piping Plover and when I got there the beach was fenced off to give the birds a chance to nest in the dunes.  I saw Oystercatchers and Least Terns but in the rain there were no Piping Plovers.

But I did look out into the Atlantic and thought that home was 3000 miles that way.  But I was going 3000 miles the other way, West, and I would be seeing another ocean in three weeks time.

In some ways, after one more day in New York, my journey would start.  It was due West from here, in the direction that the continent was opened up (not that it was closed to people before), in the direction of European progress or exploitation – depending on your view.

But tomorrow I will visit Ground Zero, take a look at the Statue of Liberty and spend my last night in a big city for a while.  My last bite of the Big Apple.  And why is it called the Big Apple? – click here.


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