Monday, July 16, 2012

Some birds just insist on being seen ....

 ... or so it seems.  In particular this American Avocet simply insisted on joining my NY year-list.

Friday morning and I'm up early to drive Ryan to Newark Airport for a flight to Mexico (I'm jealous).  We sail out there but after dropping him off I have to crawl back through rush-hour traffic and navigate the weekday morning experience of the Holland Tunnel.   By the time I get back to TriBeCa, I'm in no mood to get back in the car so I decide to stay in the City for the day.

At around noon, I finally check my e-mails and find out that an AMERICAN AVOCET has been being seen all morning in Ithaca (insert curse word here).  Ithaca is just about far enough away to make it a pain to get to - at least a five hour drive if you include getting out of the City in the middle of the day.  So I rationalize, and decide that there's bound to be one later in the year at Jamaica Bay and ignore it.

On Saturday morning I wake up thinking I've made a terrible mistake and am quite convinced that this is the only American Avocet that I'll get a chance of in New York this year.  I start sending e-mails to folks, looking to see if it's still there.  No-one is posting anything but perhaps all the locals saw it yesterday and aren't checking (turns out off the locals were driving to Montreal for Little Egret, but I didn't know that at the time).  Finally, the ever reliable and helpful David Nicosia responds.  He hasn't heard anything about the bird but he's heading over that way now and will let me know if its still there. I wait for a couple of hours but finally give in to impatience and call David on his cell-phone.  He is on site, he is scanning, and the bird has moved on.  Glad I didn't drive up there but now I'm nervous that I missed my one shot at Avocet for the year.

Sunday morning, out on the flats on Cupsogue where Shaibal Mitral is leading the New York State Young Birders group, and a small group of local regulars has joined to form a social birding crowd.  We're enjoying Black Terns and "Western" Willets among other things when Rich Fried gets an e-mail that an American Avocet has just been found at Piermont in Putnam County.   Closer, but with Summer weekend traffic still and six-to-eight-hour round-trip from Hampton Bays, so I decide to keep the faith that one would eventually show up closer to home.  I go so far as to predict that the bird will no doubt show up at Jamaica Bay the next day.  Not sure I believe it, but I really don't want to do that drive on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning, after an early start checking the local hot-spots (which haven't been so hot of late), I get back to the house at around 9am and see the predictable e-mail that Andrew Baksh has an American Avocet at Jamaica Bay.  I swear, that man must sleep in the phragmites and bird the place 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week.  Not that I'm complaining, I'm glad he found it, and given the habitat, I'm pretty sure this bird will stick around for me.  So this is only a 5-hour round-trip from East Hampton and I'm on my way in no time.

American Avocet at Jamaica Bay
Parking at the North lot, I'm quickly booted-up and on my way in, but soon pass a birder coming out of the East Pond who has discouraging news.  He says that there are almost no shorebirds on the North end of the pond and that he hasn't seen the Avocet (!).  Pressing on, although admittedly in a bit of a gloom, I pass another birder (Tristan Lowery?), who say that he *has* seen the Avocet, and as I emerge through the phragmites tunnel, a quick scope-scan quickly gives me a distant Avocet (NYS 2012 #329).

In fact the North End is positively awash with shorebirds (who was that mystery pessimist - a secret agent working for one of my competitors?) and among the hundreds of SBDOs I pick out a REEVE, 6 Stilt Sandpipers, good candidates for Western Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher (no photos, no count), and a GULL-BILLED TERN.  It really looks like good birding, even though the mid-day heat is more than this pale-skinned Celt can really handle.  I retreat from the sun and head back East ... but I'm happy I went.

Gull-billed Tern (with Short-billed Dowitchers)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent!!!

    Send me some descriptive on the mystery pessimist. I'll flush em out.

    And message to your so called "competitors" don't bother, its over already!!