Trip Reports
Jamaica Bay, Queens County — August 22, 2009
posted 1/6/10

Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld, who led the trip in spite of the dire weather forecast.

On the mudflats of the East Pond, photo by Herb Thompson
On the mudflats of the East Pond
photo by Herb Thompson


On August 22, 2009, at 8:00 am, the New York State Young Birders Club went birding on the mudflats of the north end of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.  Our leaders were Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld. 

It was the weekend of Hurricane Bill.  As a result, there were thunderstorms the night before.  It was still raining just before the trip.  We were all wondering whether this would be the first Young Birders trip in the rain, but it ended up being a beautiful day. 

The group drove from the Visitors’ Center’s parking lot, where we heard a Gray Catbird, to the parking lot of the north end of Jamaica Bay.  We put on our rubber boots and hiked to the mudflats.  On the way, we heard an Eastern Towhee. 




American Avocet, photo by Mary Batcheller
American Avocet
photo by Mary Batcheller

We first came to an area where there was a little island.  On that island were Stilt Sandpipers, a White-rumped Sandpiper, and a Greater Yellowlegs.  On the mudflats around us were Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.  In the water, there were Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, and spinning Wilson’s Phalaropes. 

At the next stop, there was a Pectoral Sandpiper in a flock of shorebirds.  We also saw two other good birds: an American Avocet a little ways away and a molting Sora going in and out of the reeds.  We would see the avocet better later on. 

It was then that people started falling into the mud.  The mudflats were deceiving.  You would think you were stepping on solid ground but your boot would be sucked right in.  Some people went up to their waists in mud! First, it was Carena who fell in, but later Barbara and Michael would too. 



Was that a grebe out there?  Photo by Mary Batcheller
Was that a grebe out there?
photo by Mary Batcheller


At the third stop, we saw Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers as well as Semipalmated Plovers on the left side of another island.  A little bit to the right of them, a White-rumped Sandpiper was preening. 

After that, we stopped to look at a whole line of birds.  It consisted of Short-billed Dowitchers, Red Knots, Black-bellied Plovers, Willets, and some peeps.  We also got a good look at the avocet, who was wandering around.  Around now there were a few American Oystercatchers that flew by. 

Our last stop before we turned around was at another line of birds. Here, there were Great Black-backed Gulls, Canada Geese, and Mute Swans.  There were also Northern Shovelers and a sleeping Ruddy Duck at the shore opposing us, and a Gadwall swimming nearby.  Also nearby, a Forster’s Tern was flying around and making his loud call. 




In the Visitors' Center, after a long day of birding, Photo by Carena Pooth
In the Visitors' Center at the end of a great day
photo by Carena Pooth

At one of the stops, Doug Gochfeld explained how to differentiate a Baird’s Sandpiper from a juvenile Semipalmated Plover.  A Baird’s Sandpiper is as large as or larger than a White-rumped Sandpiper and the wings cross over the tail even more than a White-rumped Sandpiper. 

Throughout the trip we saw a lot of passerines.  The passerines that were spotted included a Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, a Song Sparrow, and a Louisiana Waterthrush. 

We returned to the Visitors’ Center to eat lunch in the shade (and to hose off our boots).  After eating lunch, some of us went home and the rest went to the other end of Jamaica Bay for more birding. 

Thank you Rodney Johnson and Doug Gochfeld for leading the trip, Lou Celenza for organizing the trip, the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club for sponsoring the trip, and Annette Lehner, Carena Pooth, and Herb Thompson for making the New York State Young Birders Club able to do trips like these. 

                                       — Daniel Wallick, age 11

             View photo gallery 

List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Michael McBrien

Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Mute Swan
Canada Goose
Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Black Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Rufous-sided Towhee
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Species Total: 68