We started our adventure in Jamaica Bay, bright and early. Well, early, anyway. I had gotten so wrapped up in my novel that I didn’t get to bed until 2 in the morning, and then I had to navigate the troubled and troubling public transit of Queens. So bright was a bit of a tall order.
But a few minutes at Jamaica Bay quickly cured all ills. The male Red-wings are back in black, and full of song, although the girls haven’t showed up. To my surprise, the Tree Swallows have arrived too. Swallows and spring are a poetic convention, but a biologically sound one; dependent as they are on flying insects, they gamble high stakes on judging the changing seasons (albeit Tree Swallows hedge their bets a bit by being able to eat some berries when times are tough.) These Tree Swallows were all in. They had arrived in numbers, and some were already staking out the nest boxes along the West Pond trail.
But in nature, there are far more continuums than bright lines, and a lot of the winter regulars were still hanging out at Jamaica Bay as well. On land, Juncos and White-throated Sparrows still fluttered up from the path, along massive flocks of energetic Yellow-rumped Warblers and those year-round stalwarts the Song Sparrows. On the water, Northern Shovelers and Ruddy Ducks in winter drab mingled with Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads and Black Ducks, while good numbers of Brant and Snow Geese were still around, gearing up for their trips back north to make more Brant and Snow Geese (something that Snow Geese, in particular, excel at.) A few more transient visitors, including a pair of Pintails, a single Green-winged Teal, and a handful of Common Goldeneyes (no Barrows, alas) put in appearances as well. And a lone Great Egret formed the vanguard of what will, by summer, be a veritable wading bird convention.
The contrast with my last trip to Jamaica Bay could not have been more marked; from splendid but ice-locked isolation to a scene of bustle and promise, adorned with good company. It got my mouth watering for the season just around the corner. And it definitely got my mouth watering for more more birding.
Happily, courtesy of Patrick’s car, more birding was in the offing….