On June 30th, I had suggested to Heydi Lopes that I wanted to return to Jamaica Bay on the East Pond (July 1st), to see if there was any significant change in the arrivals of shorebirds. The day before I had visited the East Pond and had noted a turnover of shorebirds indicating birds were slowly arriving. I had been scouting the East Pond since the end of May and I was excited. National Park Service, specifically the Jamaica Bay unit had kept their promise and had begun to lower the water earlier than normal dates and I had tested walking onto the pond. It was looking really, really good for the early date. Heydi, I suppose trusting my scouting came out with me on Sunday July 1st and she did not regret her decision as we found a 1st year molting male Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), in an unusual plumage - an all white head. But I am getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up to how the Ruff happened.
Sandwich Tern at Mecox LI, I began to conjure up images in my head. The bird shifted a bit and I could now see part of the left side, "black feathers". Could it be a Ruff? No way, I was thinking. I had missed out on chasing the recent Ruff at
Montezuma in Seneca NY and had mused that I may find my own in my home county. Did
it happen? The bird then stretched its neck and I got a good look at its small white head short bill and the feathers fluffed out from the side of the neck. I whispered, to myself in disbelief its a %#$%^#^ "Ruff".
NYSARC (New York State Avian Records Committee) archives, it was six years since a Ruff was seen at Jamaica Bay. How cool to be involved in finding one! I was extremely happy that we had found such a neat shorebird, a state bird at that, on the East Pond, at a place I love dearly...I could not have scripted it any better!!!
Tags: Ruff, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens