New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Part 8 Continues.... and Part 9- "First-1st on the Beach"

       Part 8 (continues).... Day 16 , Saturday, February 16 ..... Circle Beach, Madison CT- 

     "First-1st on the Beach"-  After a late lunch of hot chowder and codfish cakes, we drove down to Madison to visit Jen's parents. But before stopping by their house we made a quick run down the street to Circle Beach. The usual number of Gulls were present, and of course more started arriving when we walked out onto the beach.

     We had only been there a minute, when Jen tapped me on my back and pointed to the small bulkhead at the west end of this small beach. There swimming out from the shoreline was a 1st cycle Kumlien's Gull; the first one to stop by Circle Beach this winter season. It's long slender silhouette was unmistakable.-

      By now the afternoon wind had picked up quite a bit and the Gulls all seemed to huddle together just off the beach. The Kumlien's Gull positioned itself right in the middle of the group-

     1st cycle Kumlien's Gull in the middle of the group-

     After a short swim, the Gull lifted off the water and flew into the southwest wind crossing the outer boulders of the sandbar.....

     ......but circled back when it passed the point and into the heavier wind-

     It came right back and landed in the corner of the beach by the small bulkhead where Jen first spotted it-

     This 1st cycle Herring Gull didn't appreciate being crowded, so it gave the Kumlien's Gull a little push out of its space-

     Apparently, the Kumlien's Gull didn't give the Herring Gull enough room, so it took off and landed back in the water with the other Gulls-

     Also on the beach this morning was FC.....

     .....and the 2nd cycle Kumlien's that showed up a few days ago.-

       Day 16, Sunday, February 17- Buryinghill Beach, Westport, CT.-  It was a little colder this morning and the wind was still whipping out of the west. We decided to take a drive to the Westport/Southport area and visit with the Lesser Black-backed Gull(s). However, neither Gull was on the beach, but we did enjoy the show from these Herring Gulls that were fighting over this Quahog. The 3rd cycle Herring Gull had found the clam and dropped it onto the parking lot from the air. Unfortunately, the two other Gulls showed up and the adult ended up with the clam!-

     Plenty of Brant in the area-

     And after fifteen minutes, one of the Lesser BLack-backed flew in to the beach from the east. This was the larger of the two Gulls and the original winter resident on the beach-

     It's legs have become very bright in its almost complete breeding plumage-

     What a handsome bird-

      Interesting stretching pose-

     The Gull only stayed for five minutes and then flew off back to the east. But it must have enjoyed our company, because it flew back just as we were ready to leave a few minutes later-

     As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy watching Gulls preen. They become so animated and make excellent subjects for carvings and paintings-

     One of the few adult Herring Gulls with pale yellow legs. There were the only two Herring Gulls out of sixty on the beach this morning with yellow-ish legs.-

     This worn juvenile/1st cycle Herring Gull actually looked pink with its pale beige feather markings contrasting with the white feather edging-

     On the way home, we stopped by the West Haven boatramp. I was concentrating on the Gulls that were all around the pier. So far this winter season, I didn't find one White-winged Gull! My hopes of a Glaucous Gull were fading fast into the winter. Jen got my attention from the warm car and pointed to the large piles of dumped snow on the top of the boat ramp. These piles were left here by the city's road clearing efforts from the aftermath of the nor'easter.

     At first I couldn't make out what Jen was pointing to. But as my eyes adjusted (somewhat) from looking directly into the frigid 30 mph wind, I saw what Jen was showing me. On top the dirty snow piles was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. I was trying to figure out what the Hawk was doing perched on top of the icy snow pile. Was it trying to get out of the wind? No, because it was perched directly in the winds force as it clung on trying not to be blown off the ice.

     When my eyes finally stopped watering, I could see a large pile of feathers on top of the pile just underneath the Hawk. Now it became clear, the starving Hawk was feeding on the bird carcass. I looked closer to see that the carcass was a juvenile Mute Swan. It had apparently died and was pushed up on the top of the pile when they were plowing the parking lot and moving the giant snow banks around.-

     This Hawk really looks thin-

     The Redtail fed for nearly a half an hour while we watched. It pulled small morsels of meat off of the frozen carcass, but did manage to consume a substantial amount of flesh.-

      On the way home we made a quick stop at  Circle Beach in Madison. We ran into Dan Rottino and his family, and we all enjoyed FC. The other two Gulls (1st and 2nd cycles) were not present.-

     Dan Rottino and his family-

      Jen reminded me that we forgot to stop at Wal Mart on our way home, so we doubled back to Guilford. After a quick shopping run, we drove down to Guilford Harbor-

     The usual Herring and Ring-billed Gulls were standing in the parking lot and on the sand bars, but "KC" the banded Ring-billed wasn't there. In the harbor by the culvert a single Horned Grebe was enjoying the quiet water out of the wing-

     As we watched the Grebe, this Red-throated Loon "just popped-up" as they always do-

     It dove several times.....

     .....and one time came up right below us on the dock we were standing on.-

    When it dove for the last time, we never saw it again.-

          Chapter three, The "Kumlien Diary" reports will continue at a later date 
                             (to be announced). To continue  
                with the regular posted on "Older Posts" below right!-