Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shorebird Festival At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

The 10th annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, (10th, according to the organizers) had good weather, good turnout and some good birds, even though the numbers were not that high.  In total, based on feedback from all of our leaders, we had 14 species of shorebirds with our highlights being 1 juvenile Baird's Sandpiper and multiple Western Sandpipers. Non shorebird highlights included 3 juvenile Black Terns and the continuing juvenile and adult Gull-billed Terns...I thought there might have been a second adult bird but I was not sure since it was a single bird observation and could have been the one adult.

Juvenile Black Tern on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
The program lineup was pretty much the same as in previous years. The presentations went well and Lloyd Spitalnik's killer photographs always a crowd favorite was well received with the usual "Oohs and Aahs." The one presentation most people look forward to was just as impressive as in past festivals. Kevin Karlson's talk on "Birding by Impression," was the talk of the town. It was the last presentation of the day but people waited patiently and it was a packed house even though it was near 4:00 p.m. when the talk began.

Lloyd Spitalnik one of the organizers and leaders giving tips on ID'ing shorebirds.
There was one other speaker that many birders were keen on hearing. I was on the East Pond teaching a small group who had stayed with me on how to identify Western Sandpipers when I got a text message that the superintendent of Gateway, Jennier Nersesian, had announced that they NPS, will close the breach on the West Pond. If anyone were looking at me when I read that message, they would have seen a stoic look as though it was business as usual but inside of me was sense of peace and satisfaction. At last, we have on record a commitment to close the breach on the West Pond. While the announcement did not get into all the details including a timeline on what else might be done, the mere fact that the West Pond is not being given up was a momentous achievement for those of us who were fighting hard to ensure that the pond was restored to a fresh water resource. Additionally, money has been obtained to restore the south and north gardens--all of this seems to fall right in line with the Birders Coalition wanted as outlined in the online petition.

Kevin Karlson giving his "Birding by Impression" talk.
Skeptics will be sure to chime in that this means nothing but it does. Closing of the breach gives this pond a chance to begin the recovery period it needs on the way back to being a fresh water resource. We have to remain positive and keep the faith.  I will post more on West Pond work as I get more information. In the meantime, enjoy some additional photos of the birds seen yesterday and think about coming to the Shorebird Festival next year.

Juvenile Stilt Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

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