Wednesday, July 26, 2017

East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

     This morning I got up really early, put on my boots and made my way to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for a pre-work trek at East Pond. Last weekend while there, the shorebirds there looked so good- I wanted to get back.
     After a night of awful dreams of me visiting the pond and getting mugged/attacked/etc. I woke up and compelled myself to go, because I knew if I didn't do it, I'd be dying to get back there and this morning was my chance otherwise it will be another week or so.
     I got to the refuge and set out, I found another birder in the reeds which helped me feel a bit better, but then I got to the dreaded fence. The property next door installed a fence.... right on to National Park Service land. I was able to precariously work my way around it, finding the concrete that it was installed on under water, blindly with my foot and swinging around to the other side. The water level felt high, and I got to a point where I was walking through reeds and poison ivy... then I heard rustling. I paused and listened-- like the way a startled deer takes into account every scenario, and is ready to flee at any given second. I thought it's probably a raccoon, maybe even a bird flying and landing between the reeds that I perhaps startled. But the sound continued and it made me very uneasy-- I assessed what I had on me... nothing to help me in any situation, nothing to whack an attacker with, so I walked out of there, just a large cumbersome camera and binoculars- retreating to get back out in the open was my best choice.
     It sucked to feel that way, uneasy, untrusting, and playing out every awful scenario possible, as a lone woman in nature. I expect my father to call me and give me the "what the hell are you thinking," type talk. But it sucks for people, because this isn't just a problem for a lone woman, to just not feel safe outside.
     Aside from feeling slightly terrified, I had a good time and in the end, had some nice observations of some of my favorites...
Very happy to FINALLY see a lesser yellowlegs-- conveniently, a few were walking around with a greater- so it was easy to see the difference in bill size between the two! 

Least sandpiper were pretty easy to observe, they were practically underfoot!

The pond has an amazing mat of microbes that these birds walk through and sift through for yummy things feeding on those microbes. It also attracted semipalmated sandpiper and one semipalmated plover over where I was observing.

What makes the lesser yellowlegs lesser? They are smaller than the greater, but I thought this bird was better than what it's name says it to be. Their bill is just a tad bit longer than their head is long. The greater's bill is much longer.

This bird was very active chasing down food, using those yellowlegs to its advantage.


Also a few Glossy Ibis-- the one in the foreground is interesting as it has some piebald-type white markings on its neck and head.

Jamaica Bay is known for its Glossy Ibis' that it attracts in the spring and summer. The birds migrate here from the south and come here to feed and reproduce.

Normally these ibis do not have white markings like this on their necks- if any, there is some speckling, as seen on the individual in the photo above, but noting as drastic as the marking on this bird.

I decided to walk the trail to Big John's pond, since retreating the seasonal trail. I got down to the water and found the type of creeper I am okay with meeting-- a common yellowthroat, creeping through the reeds and looking at the intruder, me, in its space.

On Big John's Pond, from behind the blind, there were quite a few black crowned night herons gathered.

It was nice to view a few of these handsome birds. I watched this one walk up and down its perch to satisfy its thirst.

And then... This.
I LOVE cedar waxwings, I think they are such a sharp looking bird, I love their hunting behavior-- swooping and diving at insects from their perch. But this sight, was a super memorable one-- I have never seen fledglings before!! <3
First there was one...

And then there were two... part of me recognizes this scene, as a teacher and an aunt. I suppose "you get what you get and you don't get upset," does not apply in birds.

One berry and two mouths to feed-- how does one ever decide?!

Bright gapes and constant voices, it's hard for mom to ignore...

....And then there were three,  and you just gave that berry away!

One was not enough-- but mom, she keeps it cool. Stone cold.

She knows he is the favorite... the oldest bird usually gets fed first as they are bigger, stronger, and able to push their way to the front of the line.

Being second in line isn't too bad either, basically, you are the back up- if your sibling doesn't make it, you move up pretty quickly in the world. But if food is scarce, younger siblings could suffer starvation as they get pushed around and denied food by their older, pushier siblings.

But third in line, usually the last to eat, the smallest, and clearly, they know it. Sitting quiet this youngster seems to know its role, or perhaps not enough energy to vocalize constantly. Better to save that energy up for flight in case a predator comes through. 

Seeing these new cedar waxwing additions to the wetland was my favorite part of my morning trip. If this was all I saw, I'd still say my visit was worthwhile!