Festival of Shorebirds at Jamaica Bay

It was a beautiful late summer day, Mardi and I headed down to Jamaica Bay for the 8th Annual Shorebird Festival on Saturday, August 24, 2013. The weather people gushed that it might be the best weekend of the summer. Well any summer day that has shorebirds in is ok by me. But we had to admit that it was simply a fine summer day to be at the 8th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay with the Founders Don Riepe, Kevin Karlson and Lloyd Spitalnik and assistant Elizabeth Manclark. After a welcome talk at the headquarters, several groups of birders went out for shorebird walks to the famed East Pond of Jamaica Bay NWR.

Welcome Remarks, Don Reipe, Co-Organizer, 8th Annual Shorebird Festival  Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson / KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome Remarks, Don Reipe, A Founder & Co-Organizer, 8th Annual Shorebird Festival Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. from iPhone 4 ©Mardi Welch Dickinson / KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

We elected to go to the North End. Arrangements had been made by the organizers for a bus to take people to the distant North End entrance of East Pond. Tom Burke, Gail Benson, Kevin Karlson, Andrew Baksh and Lloyd Spitalnik were the leaders of this excursion. Don Riepe, Seth Ausuble, Glenn Phillips and Peter Post went to the South side of East Pond.

Kevin Karlson teaching Shorebird Identification  at the 8th Annual Shorebird Festival. North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. iPhone 4 ©Mardi Welch Dickinson / KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

Kevin Karlson teaching Shorebird Identification at the 8th Annual Shorebird Festival. North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. iPhone 4 ©Mardi Welch Dickinson / KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

I dallied a bit and Mardi left with the group as it headed south along the edge of the pond. Soon I was left alone with my camera.  I found a place where the sun was behind me; I had waded a dozen or so yards out in the water leaving an exposed mud flat and more water to the northwest. I knew that if I moved slowly and kept low profile, the birds would get used to my presence. It did not take long for small flocks of peeps to fly in and after awhile they foraged their way into the good light and were close enough for me to make photos. The deep blue sky and reflected vegetation, helped to make this Semipalmated Sandpiper pop.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, juvenile, foraging on exposed flats, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend Dickinson P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, juvenile, foraging on exposed flats, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

The presence of peeps instilled enough confidence to entice a busy Lesser Yellowlegs to race walk along the shore of the North End of the East Pond.

Lesser Yellowlegs, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend Dickinson P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Lesser Yellowlegs, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

After  a bit, a few colorful juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers began to forage their way nearer to the peeps and my position. They were in no hurry, and were not wary of me.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging,  fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY ©Townsend Dickinson P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Here is a momentary association of two foraging Short-billed Dowitchers.

Short-billed Dowitchers, juvenile, foraging,  fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitchers, juvenile, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Here a Short-billed Dowitcher has pulled up the soft parts of a submerged marine worm which was slurped down in an instant.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging, with marine worm prey, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging, with marine worm prey, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

After the constant foraging, I saw one Short-billed Dowitcher and then another and another take a feather care break. Usually they were in shallow water and then suddenly they seem to be struck with the urge to preen. Now if you think about it, these birds have probably just flown a few thousand miles from the place they were born only a few months ago, yet they have all the necessary skill needed to migrate south and take care of themselves.

This bird seems to be thinking about how good it would be to preen. No sooner did the through happened than the preening behavior began.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile,  fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Here the bird uses the tip of its bill to stimulate the oil gland near the base of its tail. You can even see that the prehensile tip is open.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, prehensile bill tip open near oil grand at base of tail, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, prehensile bill tip open near oil grand at base of tail, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Now the bird rubs it head in area near the just stimulated oil gland.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, rubs head over oil grand at base of tail, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, rubs head over oil grand at base of tail, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Another bird preens by head scratching with a toe nail. I cannot help but think that this bird has the look of sheer bliss because the scratching feels so good!

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, prehensile bill tip open while scratching head, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preening, prehensile bill tip open while scratching head, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

And then there is the feather fluffing,

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, fluffs body feathers after preening, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, fluffs body feathers after preening, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

which leaves some birds with a momentary puffy look.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging,  fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

After the feathers are fluffed, some birds simply feel the need to flap their wings to make sure that everything falls into the proper place and still works.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, flaps wings after preening, , fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, flaps wings after preening, , fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

After a few last minute tweaking of feathers here and there,

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preens leg feathers, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, preens leg feathers, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

the just finished preening bird instantly started foraging again. It seems to know that these pleasant days at the East Pond are for putting on fat for the long flights still to come as it heads deeper into the South.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging,  fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, foraging, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Plovers  could be seen among the sandpipers. Here is a Semipalmated Plover, also a migrant foraging in the shallow water, the special dark ooze of the East Pond can be seen on it’s feet. Shorebirds don’t need muck boot.

Semipalmated Plover, foraging on exposed flats, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Semipalmated Plover, foraging on exposed flats, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

I noticed ripples around some of the Semipalmated Sandpipers while they were foraging in shallow water. The birds employed rapid probing motions which produced a virtual halo of concentric ripples, one ripple for each probe. I thought about timing the probes and measuring the distance between the ripples and wondered what it could teach.

Semipalmated Sandpipers, uniform ripples formed by rapid probing while foraging in shallow water, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Semipalmated Sandpipers, uniform ripples formed by rapid probing while foraging in shallow water, fall migrant, North End, East Pond, Jamaica Bay, NWR, Queens, NY. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

The 8th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay was a chance for all participants to make their own observations. Mine were made in a couple of hours and there was much that I missed. Mardi and the rest of the North Enders saw more species than I photographed. We hope you enjoy them. Our advice is this, get out and let the birds teach you things about our world. It doesn’t hurt to have the likes of Don ReipeKevin Karlson, Lloyd Spitalnik, Tom Burke, Gail Benson, Andrew Baksh, Peter Post around for the pesky calls and encyclopedic knowledge of shorebirds and Jamaica Bay. We look forward to next years festival.

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About Kymry

Welcome to the Kymry Blog. In this blog we will be showcasing photography by several different photographers with a Look in time from 1925 to the present. Share some Business & Technology of Photography. Including adventures in the birding world and many other interesting insights and observations along the way.
This entry was posted in 8th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay, Bird Migration, Conservation, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, KymryGroup, New York, Photography, Queens NY, Shorebird migration, Shorebirds, Wildlife Photographer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Festival of Shorebirds at Jamaica Bay

  1. Larry says:

    Fantastic Shots!
    Larry

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