Saturday, July 27, 2013

It is shaping up to be another RUFF year at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge...

Last year we had a total of 4 RUFFS, on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.  This year we have two so far with RUFF number two found this morning on the East Pond by Jim Schlickenrieder and perhaps a couple other birders?? (I noted 3 other birders with him).  I had not planned on the East Pond today and instead had designs on birding out on Eastern Long Island, but a late night foiled my plans + coupled with only 2 hours of sleep - it was not going down well.  I decided to play it safe and avoid the long drive and so it was back at Jamaica Bay.  I was on the pond by 6:00 a.m. deciding to go in from the South End to scout out the Long-billed Dowitcher I had found on Thursday.  That bird had found a corner on the south end to its liking and so it was there yesterday feeding quite contently with a few Stilt Sandpipers and I was able to pass on that intel to Ann Lazarus and her crew who got good looks.  (Ann as always sent a thank you note - a polite but important gesture not often practiced in the field). Much appreciated Ann!

RUFF in the background with Short-billed Dowitcher flock
The LBDO was not there and so I slowly worked my way up north checking like I always do every little nook and cranny for anything that might be quietly feeding.  It was way early before high tide so there were not many shorebirds in as yet, but 3 juvenile Spotted Sandpipers made for enjoyable views.  Once I got to the Raunt (ruins), I scoped way up north to see what I could make out.  Believe me on a good day with no shimmer and just enough light you would be amazed what you could pick out up north from that distance. I could see some shapes of shorebirds and size with some indicating Dowitchers.  There was one bird that looked heavy and long legged but that is about what I could tell.  I started up the next portion of my schelp and I felt the phone vibrate indicating incoming e-mail.  I quickly checked and read the report of a RUFF from Jim.  SWEET, I thought I was not feeling too bad anymore about not making it out east.  I hurried up to the north end where I saw the bird feeding but it did not look quite settled and soon after it flew heading south.  It appeared to be heading off the pond but to be sure I walked all the way back to the South End and looked.  It was not there, but I was gambling that it had only left to feed in the bay and would return once the tide turned.

By then Jim and I had exchanged phone numbers via e-mail so that we could get in touch with each other should either of us saw the bird if it returned.  Sure enough, around 10:25 a.m. Jim texted me that the bird had flown in on the west side (the side he and the 3 other birders were on) and was feeding amongst the Short-billed Dowitcher flock - for well over an hour this continued.   Other birders arrived, most of them coming in from the North End; I got better looks, but it got even better when the bird flew across the pond and came over to my side (I won't get into to details, but thank you folks I knew it was going to happen and silently urged you on).  I enjoyed studying the bird getting some photos and video, plus it was fun trying to keep photographer Steve Walter at bay - sorry Steve if you missed the great shot you wanted.  Steve was a good sport and I left him on the pond in search of that glorious shot.

The morning then got EVEN better when birder Ken Feustel called to report that a couple had passed on to him intel of an American Avocet on the South End of the East Pond.  Acting on this, Ken who was on his way out on the South End, found the bird and called me while looking at it in his scope.  Isn't technology wonderful?  I later saw this bird as I made my way back out on the South End and found out that the couple was birder Keith Michael and his friend.  Thank you Kieth!!  So how is that for a day that I thought would be ruined because I could not get out to bird east?  Pretty RUFF don't you think!

Female American Avocet with Semipalmated Sandpipers

Picnicking on the East Pond?  Shout out to the folks; make sure you clean up :)
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Birding Dude! One of the picnic-ers here (far right) It was cool to meet you! Thanks for the shout out. We left our spot Jamaica Bay just as we found it. Respect to nature and appreciation for it's glory! Continue your cool adventures! You've definitely made some new fans!