Early Tuesday (June 7) Carol and I took the A Train to Broad Channel and walked to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We got there around 9:30 am. The main building is under renovation, so they’re housing the visitor’s center in a trailer. We stopped in and talked to the ranger and got the free permit to walk the trails around the east and west ponds. The ranger expected the walk to take about an hour and a half without stops.
As we entered the trail to the west pond and decided to circle around clockwise. As the trail started out, the path paved its way through the tall bushed and sporadic trees. There was very little breeze, and we immediately experienced something we don’t usually in California: mosquitoes. And there were plenty of them…big ones. We’d thought of sun tan lotion, but not bug repellent, so the first couple bites kinda caught me by surprise and as I swatted the first one, I ended up with a big blood splot on my arm. After about five minutes or so, and lots of bites later, the brush opened up, a breeze came in, and the mosquitoes subsided. To the left we saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest box with one of the parents keeping watch. There were a few Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), American Robins (Turdus migratorius), and a plethora of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor).
About this time, we also caught good looks at some of the shorebirds flying over including new birds for us, the Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), the Lauging Gull (Larus atricilla), and the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). As we continued along the path, the pond became visible and the variety of birds increased. Among them were ones on our regular list: the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), the Great Egret (Ardea alba), the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), the Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla, the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), the Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax. New to us were the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), and the Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).
As we walked around the north side of the pond, we met a couple people walking. They mentioned a turtle who was digging itself into the middle of the trail, possibly to lay eggs. They continued their walk, and we carried on towards the turtle. About a hundred yards, there it was, still digging. I got a few pictures of it and left it alone so it could continue its duties. When we got to the visitor’s center, it was about noon. The ranger was out, expecting to be back around 12:30. It was getting pretty hot and humid, so we decided we’d wait until he got back so we could tell him about the turtle in the air-conditioned trailer.
After waiting for about ten minues, the two people we met on the trail made it back. One of them decided to leave a note for the ranger about the turtle and the possible eggs. After talking for a couple minutes we introduced ourselves, as did they: Sue and Debbie…both airline attendants out for a walk on their day off. Debbie offered to drop us off at another park near there, Fort Tilden, and then drop us off at the train. Carol and I decided it was too hot to walk the other pond, and took Debbie up on her offer.
We stopped at the vistor’s center at Fort Tilden and Debbie walked in with us. We found that we could drive around the park, so we climbed back in her SUV and continued around the park. We didn’t see many birds anywhere. Debbie mentioned that her community of Breezy Point lost a lot firefighters in 9/11 and that they had raised money to build a memorial. She offered to take us there and we graciously accepted. The memorial consists of a wooden walkway with a platform on the end, containing 29 glass etchings for each of the community members lost. Next to it is a cross-shaped piece of steel from the World Trade Center. If you look at it from the corner of the platform, the cross covers the place where the towers once stood. Carol and I had been to Ground Zero a couple days prior, and the memorial personalized the experience even further.
Once we left the memorial, Debbie once again showed her hospitality by treating Carol and I to her favorite Sicilian pizza at L&B Spumoni Gardens. What a delicious slice! She then dropped us off at the D Train so we could get back to Manhattan. Thanks again Stilly!
To be continued…
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