Bird watching and the start of summer

May 29, 2012 |  Category:   life nyc outings

Memorial Day weekend was hot, like something out of midsummer. You know, hazy days in July when you’ve all but forgotten what a day below 80 degrees feels like. Only it’s the end of May. But it is the official start of summer, so the warmth was not unwelcome.


Our three day weekend was booked-ended by work for Mark with Sunday being the family outing day. Mia wanted to go bird watching. The second graders have been studying birds for the past few months and oh hey, we actually have a prime bird sanctuary right here in Queens, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, supposedly with over 325 species of birds spotted in the last 25 years (I think we saw maybe 15 of them).

I know nothing about birds, but for all I knew, Mia could have been totally correct in identifying every bird that we saw, “That’s an American Redstart. Oh, I just saw a Double-Crested Cormorant”. Aside from her 2nd grade studies, she’s been really into reading this bird guidebook for the past few years that we randomly got one year as a Christmas present from a family gift exchange (that one elicited a head scratch, but who knew it would be well loved by our future kid?), so I’m just going to assume that she’s some sort of bird identifying genius.

Oh, and the beach nearby at Far Rockaway. Haven’t been there in about 23 years when my friends and I would come around these parts just so that we could take the A train to the end of the line. Wasn’t much going on back in the late 80s, but Rockaway Beach in recent years have come into a resurgence, thanks in part to local surf culture and of course, the food. It sure isn’t the Hamptons (there’s nothing hip about the Hamptons) but then again, in all my years as a native New Yorker, I still have yet to go to the Hamptons. I have a feeling I’d probably prefer the gritty beaches, food stands and the tattooed crowd over the Hamptons any day.

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  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag May 29, 2012 at 2:02 am

    I’m curious Jenna! — what’s the water temp like over in the Atlantic where you are? I’m from Hawaii originally so I’m used to fairly warm ocean water, but I now live in WA state and I wouldn’t poke a toe, much less swim, in NW ocean water. But the native Pac NWestern kids don’t bat an eyelash about getting into the ocean here in the summer.

  • Jenna May 29, 2012 at 2:21 am

    @Melissa the Atlantic is much warmer than the Pacific. Not as warm as Hawaii, but during the height of summer, it’s pretty warm and comfortable for swimming. I could never even put my feet in the NW for more than a few minutes – it’s way to cold for me. The Pacific is even cold in central California. Being familiar with NW waters and Hawaii waters, I’d put the Atlantic where we are somewhere in the middle of those 2.

  • sreebindu May 29, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Was hooked to our writings for while. The feeling of going through your blog is absolutely adorable Jenna. lovely and lively pictures =) Following you. Hope u visit me some time.

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag May 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Oh that’s cool Jenna! Yah, I agree, the water off the coast of the Pac NW = FRIGID. The water I see in pix off the East Coast always looks a lot calmer than the water I’m used to in Hawaii — I was pummeled by so many waves growing up that it pretty much put me off ocean swimming :(

  • sarak May 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I love Mia’s suit and am curious about where you found it. I have my own slim 1/2 and 1/2 daughter (my Japanese husband’s term is “whasian”) daughter, and finding a suit for her has been crazy hard. Any advice? It doesn’t help that she’s just going on three, and without the swim dipe every manufacturer seems to assume she’s wearing, things are a bit too breezy down below . . .

    Thanks! Love watching your girls grow–and I’m sure you *do* have a bird identification genius in your house!

  • Mo May 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I love the bird pictures. The tree swallow is gorgeous. A redstart? We don’t get them here. Well done Mia, that’s so great. All my friends are birders and I spent five years working for a bird biologist. One of my favourites is a Common Nighthawk.

  • Helle (Helen) May 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I’m a keen birder myself, have an ornithology exam coming up this weekend, so really enjoyed reading about Mia’s interest in birds. It’s definitely an area where one will never learn all there is to know, but if she keeps it up she will have a great head-start over people like me who only started once they were grown-up. And, of course, lovely pictures as always.

  • roxana May 30, 2012 at 3:55 am

    we have a rockaway beach too (oregon) and yes the pacific northwest ocean painfully cold but for some reason my kids and many others haven’t gotten the memo. beautiful pictures. lovely blog.

  • Lisa May 30, 2012 at 9:56 am

    It’s so nice to hear young kids really into books. It almost seems like a novelty now–sad as it is. The food looks so delicious, I’d love to have more food stands in Montreal but it’s been banned for some time.

  • Amy May 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Which food stand does that lovely mess of fried and limey goodness come from? I only know about Rockaway Taco, next to the co-op. The photo here, with the guac and radishes!, makes me want to drive out there. Now.

  • John Warren May 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Your blog showed up in my Google Alerts. I work for Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes both the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Jacob Riis Park, among many other areas. We’re glad your weekend was so much fun! Please check our website for free programs for bird enthusiasts of all ages and other information about your local national park, Gateway. Many park rangers were just like Mia at her age.

  • Jenna May 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    @Amy – that is from Rockaway taco!

  • tara sullivan May 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    What are all those buildings doing on the beach? I wish more people shared your sentiment about the Hamptons, maybe the traffic would die down a little:(

  • Annie May 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    sounds like a perfect family day – love the bird in the little bird-house pic! And give me Rockaway over the Hamptons any day – way more grounded and real.

  • Joya June 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    My 9yo son is just recently into bird watching (?!) too. So much that I threw together a “bird/nature/birds of prey watching” birthday party for him two weeks ago. Ok it was loose in my interpretation haha.