New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hammonasset Shorebirds: Golden Plover, Upland Sandpiper and Wilson's Phalarope

   Thursday, Sept, 12, Hammonasset Beach SP, Madison, CT- Golden Plover-  First birds that morning were Great and Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons flying in and out of Meigs Pond. Snowy Egrets>

     In the Nature Center parking lot, a small group of Kildeer and a juvenile Golden Plover >

      Nice double wing stretch >

     The Kildeer and the Golden Plover were actively feeding. The high grass seemed to facilitate their hunting tactics. At this time the birds were actively feeding. The Park Maintenance Dept. was mowing this grass parking field and the birds seemed to stay just ahead of the mowers. >

     Portraits of the Golden Plover >

    The Golden captured a small coiled Millipede! >

     Now a small Grasshopper >

     More Kildeer portraits >

     This Golden Plover became quite tame and would approach my Jeep quite closely! >

      A beautiful Shorebird....that's for sure!! >

     Another juvenile Ring-billed Gull. I am very fascinated with this species in immature plumage. We don't see too many of them in this plumage. >

     Friday, Sept 13, Hammonasset, Meigs Pond- 
 The morning had a few Shorebirds coming into Meigs Pond such as these three Greater Yellowlegs.....

     ......and the bottom bird completely rolled over as it "wiffled" into the pond. >

     Another small flock of Yellowlegs flies into the pond. This group included a single Short-billed Dowitcher (bottom right) >

     As they land in the pond, they set in near a Dunlin....the first one of the year at Hammo. >

     Greater and Lesser yellowlegs>

     The resident hybrid Little Blue x Tricolored Heron makes its appearance in the pond >

      Yellowlegs, Dunlin and Semi-palmated Sandpiper>

      The hybrid Heron and Dowitcher (extreme right) in the group>

     Another flock of yellowlegs fly over heading southwest over the Sound. >

     The Dunlin and Semi-palmated Sandpipers>

     The hybrid Heron>

     A nice appearance by a Marsh Wren>

     Two Bitterns were spotted in the small marsh at the north end of the Nature Center parking lot>

     A few Greater Yellowlegs portraits>

     Just before the Park closed, Upland Sandpiper -  I was checking my emails later in the day just after Jen came home from work. Paul Fusco had posted that an Upland Sandpiper was "now" being seen in the Nature Center parking lot. It was around 6:20 pm and I asked Jen if she wanted to take a quick ride to Hammo. The Park closed at 7:00 pm today and we had about a fifteen minute drive to get would be close. We pulled into the front gate at Hammo at 6:40......and at 6:45 we pulled into the parking lot. There was still a little bit of light remaining, illuminated by the setting sun. We spotted two cars with camera lens' at the foot of the field, so we drove there, At first I didn't see the bird and started to wonder if it was still there....had we missed it?? All of the sudden, the bird popped out from behind the red-orange barrier tape and was standing broadside to our Jeep. The bird was about twenty yards from us, but was walking in our direction. >

     Wow, what a beautiful bird! I have only seen them at a distance, but this bird was getting closer. The warm orange glow of the setting sun illuminated the soft brown plumage of the Sandpiper as it negotiated the barrier tape from the area of the controversial "filled-in" Shorebird pools! >

     The Sandpiper remained nearby our Jeep giving me many great opportunities for pictures in the rapidly fading light. >

     As the Sandpiper slowly walked away from us, it was getting too dark to take any more images. We slowly left the area, and thanked this magnificent bird for the wonderful opportunity to enjoy it and to take pictures of it. Thanks to Paul Fusco for posting the alert on CTBirds and not on Ebird. Since the bird left that night and was not present the next morning, we were able to experience this fantastic bird and not read about it a day or two later.

     The Golden Plover from this morning was still present nearby. >

      Saturday, September, 14- Hammonasset SP- Wilson's Phalarope-  What seems like a repeat from last night, I checked my email around noon time and found the CTBirds posted alert from Mary Covello
that a Wilson' s Phalarope was now being seen in Meigs Pond at Hammo. Again I asked Jen if she wanted to take a ride, and we were there in twenty minutes. We pulled up to the Meigs Pond parking lot and spotted the Phalarope standing in the open in the middle of the small pond with a Greater Yellowlegs! >

    Within a few minutes, the bird walked off and disappeared into the grass. It emerged after fifteen minutes in the middle of the pond along the grass edges.>

     As we watched the Phalarope walking in and out of the grass, the Tree Swallows put on an amazing show. Over a thousand Tree Swallows whirled around the Park and seemed to want to settle in the trees behind Meigs Pond.>

    By now a small gathering of birders watched intently into the pond for the Phalarope: Jim Carr, Jack Faller, Russ Smiley, Mark Szantyr, and many others (forgive me for forgetting)! >

     The Phalarope disappeared again. It was spotted again by Russ Smiley as it reappeared on the other side of the pond near the road. There was a small gathering of birders there, but they never saw the bird. From their angle it was only a few yards from them, but the high grass in front of them blocked their view! We walked over there and pointed the bird out to them when it emerged from the grass again. This time it was a bit closer for viewing....unfortunately a bit back-lit. >

     It joined a pair of Greater Yellowlegs as they walked back to the center of the pond along the edge of the grass. >

     A nice wing stretch>

     Once and a while a smaller group of the Swallows would fly low across the pond.....

     .....which made the Phalarope nervous causing it to fly.....

        .....but only for a short distance. >

     I figured that this bird would eventually move to a new area of the pond, so I gambled a bit. I walked over to the area behind the small boat ramp area near the few isolated pines and positioned myself near the edge of the swampy pond. I was hoping the bird would come closer to that side of the pond.....and it did!! >

     It gave me much closer views and a better position for photographs and observing this wonderful bird.>

     It eventually walked slowly back to the center of the pond and joined a few Yellowlegs. They all stayed there for half an hour and preened and fed a while longer.>

     The birds walked onto a small muddy area and began preening....

     .....until something made them alert.......

      ......and they flew off.....

     They flew over the pond heading east over the road to the Moraine Trail. >

     The Tree Swallow show continued>

        That was a great way to spend two hours! The Phalarope was very was the third species of Phalarope I had seen in just a few weeks; wonderful!! The Swallow show (although only 1,000 + birds) was quite impressive!

     Another special Donation.....for the Brookline Bird Club's 100th Anniversary Celebration....
                                        a Red-necked Phalarope decoy.-

                                                        Congratulations BBC!!

Keith Mueller
Killingworth, CT