Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with Baby

     The first time I tried to walk at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last week, the trail was closed because it looked like a goose round-up was occurring, I got attacked by mosquitoes, and we found some poop that was for sure not from any of the refuge inhabitants. It was not much of a trek, so we tried again today. A much better trip for sure!
     Armed with a mosquito net for baby, and some strong smelling herbal mosquito spray that did not contain any harmful chemicals for us both (but only sprayed on me), I only encountered one mosquito on me. Now, could that have been due to the help of the constant breeze today? Possibly. Only means we will have to go back and try again to ensure my new mosquito repellent works.
     Anyway, we were out for a little over an hour and observed 35 species. We also saw terrapins, many predated terrapin nests (insert sad face), and found a barn owl feather! We also noticed the cicada killers are out, these are awesome huge wasps that specialize on catching cicadas to feed their young. It was an enjoyable walk and again, the stroller does really well on the gravel paths there, and I think she enjoys the constant sound of slushing through the rocks and the vibrations of traversing through the trail. If I stop for too long, a whimper reminds me to "get movin' ma!"
Anothe rmama "welcomed" us to the refuge. We opted to walk the west pond trail, and hang left because it is the least buggy. Turning right and heading into the forest will only greet you with a wall of mosquito. A gamble I am not willing to take. With or without a baby! I skip it in the dead of summer.
And oh, this mama is a common yellowthroat. These birds nest here and she likely has a nest as she came out to scold us. And we got to moving to let her have her space to feel safe for her nest.
Speaking of babies, the osprey nest has three chicks who are all eager to stretch those wings!
Soon after I wandered away, the other adult swooped in to check in on the nest.
One of the birds of Jamaica Bay in the summer is the glossy ibis. If you don;t get to see one on your visit to the refuge, you just didn't look hard enough. They fly in constantly, wade on the ponds of both the west and east side. You really can't miss them!
Another breeding bird of the refuge are cedar waxwings. They are also one of my favorite birds to look at, they are really beautiful.
One of  my (many) favorite birds of summer, Common Terns! This one was fishing for some eats.

When they hunt they are far easier to observe as they hover and spy unlucky fish below.

Another nesting bird of the refuge, a yellow warbler, who is actively foraging in the shrubs.

You can see down the middle of her belly some feathers are missing/exposed from below, I wonder if that is a brood patch? A brood patch develops to allow for egg incubation. As a new mom, I've learned a lot about skin to skin contact with my new baby, it helps us bond and keep baby's body temperature regulated. Well, think of the brood patch like that, it helps warm the eggs and regulate their temperature.

Cat birds are everywhere singing throughout the refuge.
I was hoping very much we'd see some terrapins and we did!!
This sweet female is likely looking for a place to nest. You can find perfectly dug holes all along the pathway. This is the females searching for the perfect place to deposit her eggs. Raccoons also unfortunately predate on their eggs and we observed many dug up and devoured eggs.

I love how different each turtle looks, their patterns are so unique and beautiful.

And talk about luck, we saw not one, but three brown thrashers and this one even paused to observe us. Usually once eye contact is made they dive into a bush.

This relative of the catbird and mockingbird is so very different with their larger size and piercing yellow eyes.

These birds ALSO nest here - sensing the importance of this refuge? It's important for birds who nest here, stop over here on their migrations north and south of here, and in the winter it is a place for many birds of the north to overwinter.

In contrast to the female common yellowthroat (first two photos), this male has a dark mask over his face.
As we left, we caught this Eastern Towhee preening.
While he advises all to "drink your tea," I opted for some iced coffee on our way home.

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