New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Sunday, September 2, 2012

July and August Shorebirding Journal Highlights- (Part 1)-


  Part 1- Summer Shorebirding in CT was a bit slow this year. Although Milford Point held good numbers, it didn't last long. Once the large concentrations began to mass, they were gone in a moment with the passing of a quick moving cold front. Other shorebirding hotspots in the state (mouth of the CT River, Sandy Point and Hammonasset) did hold a few flocks, but their numbers thinned quickly leaving only a few loose groups to sort through. But a few seasonal specialties were located:  including Whimbrel, Baird's Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpipers.

     Here are a few of the highlights while Shorebirding:

     July 2, Great Harbor, Guilford- Portraits of a Snowy Egret. Having just returned from my summer  teaching workshop on the UP of Michigan ( ) we had decided that the subject for next years workshop would be the Snowy Egret. So when I returned home, I needed to photograph a Snowy Egret for that class. Having good photos for reference would be key to a successful portrayal of this bird recreated in wood and obtaining close-up images of the bird would be a challenge in itself. The first location I thought to try would be Leetes Farm Pond in Guilford. As I was driving over the Lost Lake outpouring causeway on 146, a white head suddenly peered up and over the guard cable, it was a Snowy. I walked back and found that this Snowy Egret had found a perfect location to go fishing. It had positioned itself right on the edge of the outpouring waiting for fish to pass through the culvert; and it was quite successful. The best part being that it was concentrating so intently on fishing that it ignored me. I was able to sit across from the bird a few yards away for two hours taking a few thousand images. Here are a few:


     July 11, East River Marsh boat ramp, Guilford-  This is the last Willet I saw here at this location-

     July 17, Hammonasset Beach SP- One of the handful of Little Blue Herons in the Park-

     Short-billed Dowitcher-


     Great Egret-


     Tree Swallow gathering (with a few Bank Swallows)-

     Bank Swallows-


     Tree Swallows-


     July 18, North Farms Res., Wallingford- summering Coot- I stopped by on my way home from a visit with my Mother in So. Meriden. I was a bit surprised to find 3 summering Coot......


     ......and another interesting surprise; someones released pet Red-eared Slider Turtle has survived and grown quite large. The turtle's shell was neatly nine inches long.

     July 19, Hammonasset- The overnight hard rain was ending just after the Park opened. In the puddles at the west end of the Park was this single Pectoral Sandpiper......

     .....and a few first summer Ring-billed Gulls-

     In Meigs Pond, this Stilt Sandpiper was mixed in with the flock of Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitcher-

    One of the "much discussed" Tri-colored X hybrid Herons-


     Little Blue Heron. This bird was fishing in the shallow water and twisting itself into many interesting positions. The bird used its long neck, head and body to shadow the water from many angles maximizing its potential to locate fish......

     July 21- 29 Maine and the Red-billed Tropicbird

     August 5, Hammonasset- Tree Swallows!!

     Chipping Sparrows-


     August 7, Milford Point-  It was low tide in the morning and the flats were quite extensive. There were only a few Shorebird flocks and groups of Terns roosting on the sand bars in the river. It seemed like most of the reported  large Shorebird flocks had moved out leaving only a few small bunches of Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitcher and Semi-palmated Sandpipers thinly scattered over the flats. This small group of Summering Brant were present-

     Steamer Clams always give themselves away at low tide-

     First summer Least Tern-

     This pair of Oystercatchers were watching over their single fledgling-

     I like to call Fiddler Crabs; Willet and Clapper Rail food!-

    Sandy Point, West Haven- After a few hours at Milford Point, I stopped by Sandy Point on the way home. Maybe there would be larger numbers of Shorebirds there on the incoming tide. The tide was low enough so I walked out on the north bar and returned on the south beach bar staying clear of the nesting enclosures. On the way out, this Willet let me know that I wasn't welcome. As I walked along the path, it followed me announcing its disapproval all the way.

   The Oystercatchers were also a bit nervous. Their chick must have been hidden in the rocks nearby; they flew off as I walked by at a respectible distance......

   Black-bellied Plover were present in various stages of plumage transition.....

     Common Terns were busy taking care of their noisy begging young-

     A few of the Terns were banded-

    I always enjoy seeing Laughing Gulls-

    The only Shorebirds at the end of the sand spit were a small flock of Sanderling-

      Both Common and Least Terns were flying into the enclosed areas attending to their young.

    This Least Tern hatchling was exploring the area of the enclosure-

    Common Tern returns......

     This Common Tern chick was hungry.......

    That's better!

   These two Terns seemed to be having a territorial dispute-

   There were many Barn Swallows feeding along the beach-

    Part 2 on "Older Posts" (below right) to continue-