Tuesday, September 4, 2018

And Fall.

     Most people feel Labor Day marks the end of summer, but for birders, fall begins in August. Many of our beloved birds are done with their summer residence and are moving south and this is a hot time for shorebirds. Normally at this time, one can walk quite comfortably around the south end of the East Pond at Jamaica Bay WR, but we had an exceptionally rainy summer- higher totals than normal. So the pond is a bit more submerged and one needed at least calf-height boots to traverse. It was a little scary, after my last ordeal with quick sand/peat, I didn't want my day to end with me submerged thigh high in muck. If you go, hug the phragmites and then do a good tick check - thankfully I only had another arachnid all over me, some really cool, streaky looking jumping spiders (I like spiders, so this is no problem for me- but be warned).
So many lesser yellowlegs, as mentioned in the post before the one, they are the bester yellowlegs.

Short-billed dowitcher- a few of these in the mix among the peeps.

A greater yellowlegs with a tasty treat- looks like a small fish?


A lesser yellowlegs acting like a phalarope.
Note how much shorter and finer a bill it has from the greater yellowlegs above.

Feel pretty good calling these white-rumped sandpipers- wings extend beyond the tail- they are longer than the semipalms and base of bill is lighter.

Here is the white-rump with a semipalmated (in front) - you can see the base bill color difference and you can see in the semipalm, the tail and wing tips are equal in length. The back bird is also longer and larger than the semipalmated.

oh and there is one more way to ID the white rump...

...their namesake.

I took a lot of pictures in the field, so I can better study them with a field guide in hand- because man, there is so much variation from bird to bird it can cause you to second guess yourself.
So, white-rumped compared to...

Semipalmated sandpiper--- right off the bat, the wing lengths are different between the two birds.

Even with their heads underwater- you can tell when you don't have a semipalmated sandpiper.

Not a semipalmated sandpiper.
(this is the other end of the same bird above - a white-rumped sandpiper)

When you hear this loud wooshing and splashing- you just want to make sure it's not heading in your direction. For this mute swan, part of a family of 6, it just needed to move a distance fast, so it did some water "walking" that comes with loud flapping.

Without waterproof feathers- I would assume drying was quite easy today for these double-crested cormorants, as temperatures soared.

It's so hot, even the osprey are panting!

At least this bird scored a bunker for lunch.

This bird seemed different- I admit, I could not ID this bird in the field, so I snapped some photos and grabbed my Crossley Shore Bird Guide.

Upon studying and thumbing through pages, this is a Western Sandpiper.
The long legs, the uniformly dark bill, the overall size compared to a semipalmated that was in the foreground tipped me off in the field that this one was not like the other ones.

A crappy photo, but I promise, in real life, blue winged teals are damn stunning! And why did they all take flight?

This trouble maker. I think this juvenile peregrine falcon was just having fun stirring up the locals. It flew low and swooped over groups of birds, just being its fast, powerful, flying self.

I just imagine this bird is flying to "Enter Sandman," on repeat, as it wreaks havoc and hunts unsuspecting prey.

bad ass.

This monarch must have been hungry- because it barely as much as flinched as I walked by.

One of many great egrets on the pond- I love egret flybys.

And the lesser (bester) yellowlegs snags a yummy wormy snack! 

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