The day started with some Bronx birding; first at Pelham Bay Park, then a bird walk in the rain at Van Courtlandt Park. While drying off and contemplating my next stop, I called my friend Shai Mitra to inquire if his party had anything good for the morning. Shai indicated that the diversification of shorebirds was good at West End, Jones Beach and so I decided to head there. It was that decision that led to the afternoon excitement.
I had just finished checking the Black-belied Plovers on the spit at the Coast Guard Station in the hopes of finding an American Golden Plover, when movement in the sand caught my eye. A bird that was sitting in a depression in the sand looked like a plover, but neither a Semipalmated Plover nor Piping Plover.
I had never seen a Wilson’s Plover other than in my field guides, but that was the bird that jumped into my mind. Not wanting to take my eyes off the bird for the field guide, I opted to photograph/digiscope the bird and waited to see what it would do. It eventually stood up and I got more photos; after the bird settled back into the sand, that is when I went to the book. Subsequently, a phone call to Patricia Lindsay who relayed my find to Shai and a follow-up text msg with a photo resulted in a positive for a Wilson’s. Tom Burke, then called and I also sent him the photo – Tom also responded in the affirmative. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, the bird took off from the spit with the flock of Semipalmated Plovers that it was with and I did not see them return. After checking the spit for a few minutes, I decided to head over to the swale at West End, to see if I could find it; after about 30 minutes or so, I was able to relocate the bird at West End where it was again in the company of Semipalmated Plovers.
I stayed all afternoon babysitting the bird waiting for other birders to show up. The first to arrive were Dave Klauber and Sam Janazzo followed by Joe Guinta, Ken Feustel, Tom Burke and Gail Benson. After the bird flushed several times, it was relocated in the same area by Joe and then Ken. Later on, Shai Mitra, Patricia Lindsay, Joan Quinlan and Sy Schiff joined us and Shai relocated the bird again after it had flown off to the south end of the swale. It was still there when I left around 5:15 p.m. Hopefully, it sticks around for others birders to get it. The following are some additional digiscoped photos of the Wilson's Plover.
Tags: Birding, Wilson's Plover, Jones Beach Long Island