Sunday, July 02, 2006

Jamaican'-Me-Crazy Bay

As summer has rolled around, I'm not the only one to feel the itch to get out of the city for a day trip on the weekends. Amy, Micky, Paul, and Eric agreed to join me on a birding trip to the Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge in Queens. I think I was most thrilled about the sweet bastketball jersey that Paul was sporting with his cutoff jeans shorts. He was going on a date later that night, and I really wanted him to wear that outfit to impress the lady.
Jamacia Bay is all the way past JFK airport, in the middle of the bay between JFK and the Rockaways. It's a huge refuge and apparently one of the big spots in New York state for shore birds. Paul and Eric were very worried about the sign that advised to watch for ticks. I warned them that ticks smell fear. Also wusses.

One of the first things we saw was an osprey nest on a man-made pole specifially for osprey nests. I recognised these poles from the Felix Neck refuge in Martha's Vineyard, though I don't think I ever actually saw any ospreys at their nests there. But at this best, there were two adults flyign to and from the nest, and as we saw through our binoculars, at least two little baby ospreys. It was pretty far inthe distance, and even with the binoculars, it was hard to see, but the telltale white marks on the head were visible. Paul wasn't convinced that it was realyl an osprey, and suggested it was instead a loon after conferring the guide book.
Thankfully, just then a parks service ranger walked up to us with a giant scope and tripod, and asked, "looking at the ospreys?" He told us that the ospreys were rebounding in population from a few decades ago, and they nested here for a while on their trek up and down the Altantic coast. For some reason, I had thought ospreys were a little more rare, and felt slightly disappointed to know they weren't such a big deal to see.

We saw several sandpipers, which I was unable to idenify, as well as a seagull which gave me some confusion. It looked like a little gull or a bonaparte's gull becuase of its black beak and black feet, but mostly white body. I ended up decided that it was an immature Laughing gull, but to be honest, I'm not erally sure. I couldn't get all its features to match up to any of the images in my guide book, but since gulls look different at different times of year and at different ages, it's hard to tell. I need a better guide.

Paul on the hunt for ospreys, looking fly in his jersey:

I was pleased to see some american oystercatchers, black skimmers, a great blue heron, snowy egrets, gret egrets, and cormorants. I was especially happy to get a good look at some glossy ibises. We left tick-free and satisfied. Paul was abel to make it home in time to change for his date.