Having heard stories of how wonderful birding was and then reading about the recent rarities being reported on the ListServ; when I saw the notice about the Jamaica Bay Shorebird Festival, I decided to go. I even convinced a few friends to go too.
Never having been to the refuge, of course we got lost, arriving an hour late. Oy. After dashing in to get the trail permits, we found the small group of festival birders was just moving off to another location when we finally got to the East Pond. We birded East Pond as far around as we could, but since the water was pretty high in places; we didn’t follow the trail all the way around. (If you go, knee-high waterproof boots are key. We didn’t know.) There were small flocks of sandpipers, dowitchers and plovers frantically feeding along the water’s edge fluttering off as we approached to resume chowing down when we were past. Whole families of Mute Swans lounged trailside; no protective hissing and flapping like the ones on my lake. Terns plunged into the still green water and overhead a Peregrine Falcon folded its wings diving at an Osprey. As I watched a Gull-billed Tern wing past, a Blue-winged Teal came flying over my head to settle on the water at the end of the pond. (I just love ducks.) We crossed the street to bird the West Pond behind the Visitor’s Center too. In the end, we came away with 30 species. I got no life birds, but one of my friends did. She was happy.
While I can see that it could be a very birdy location, it was not what I expected. I thought there would be loads of birds and birders. Not so. The participants were few and many of the birds had moved on. It was a better day at Brigantine and according to an email even the marsh by me was full of birds that day. Sigh. But that is how it goes. You just never know. That is the ups and downs of birding. Maybe the Meadowlands festival will be better.