Documenting the Birding Adventures of Scott Whittle
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Two More for the Road
Last week we had a pair of interesting birds at Jamaica Bay. Once again I got a text from Shane Blodgett, and followed his find. This time it was White Faced Ibis, as found by Shai Mitra a couple of days before. I had hoped to find this bird earlier in the season, since it is easier to ID then. Now that the Ibis are generally out of breeding plumage, the marks have become fairly subtle. Specifically, the White Face Ibis shows a red eye and pink facial skin, while the more regular Glossy Ibis has a dark eye and face. I was apprehensive about finding marks like these, especially on my own and from a distance. I arrived at the East Pond and immediately found a large group of Ibis across the water, a couple of hundred feet distant. I put the scope through its paces, but despite careful scrutiny I failed to find the marks I was looking for. I noticed then that there were two more birds off on their own further south on the pond. As Shane has taught me more than once, it's important to be thorough, so I made the (possibly ill-advised) decision to walk south along the muddy shoreline to get a better look. After about twenty minutes of careful wading, I got myself into a better spot, and checked these two birds. I was immediately struck by the red eye of one--it was the White Faced Ibis, and obviously so. It was especially nice to have it feeding next to the Glossy Ibis, as that brought out the contrast even more clearly. I got some distant photos, and then spent another forty-five minutes or so walking around the pond to get some slightly closer photos. I ran into a European tourist along the way who tagged along to get my help with general IDs on the pond...I was happy to oblige as well as I could, having been the recipient of that sort of help countless times this year.
As I was heading back to my car, I got another call from Shane's group (from Sean Sime)...this time it was American Golden Plover on the North End. This bird is expected in small numbers in the fall, so I didn't have to go right then, but as the old saying goes, "a bird in the hand..." I got out to the pond as Shane, Sean and Doug Gochfeld were moving on, and soon saw the plover, standing out on its own with a few other shorebirds and gulls. It was molting from breeding plumage, and had a distinct gold tone on its back (as opposed to the much more common Black Bellied Plover, which is more black and white), as well as the fieldmarks of some black still in the undertail coverts and a smaller bill. Again, got a few good photos, and back home to get work done and prepare for my trip out west.
My name is Scott Whittle and I'm a professional photographer (www.scottwhittle.com). I have an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I started birding as a teenager, and then dropped it for many years. I started to bird again in 2007, and have been birding since then in Brooklyn, NY and Cape May, NJ.