New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Here we go again!! Another Storm and No Power! Four day Birding Highlights 10/30-11/2

A Late October Nor'easter, Frozen Food, and a very Playful Deer

     Sunday (Oct 30)- Although this Nor'easter was forecasted; where the heck did it come from-who really expected it!? Saturday night it came, first in light snow than the fury of the wind started. Waking up at 3:00 am Sunday morning to a dark house, Jen and I and so many others realized our worst fears; another power outage. Looking out onto our back deck made the reality of this storm real; snow; ten inches of it, and it was still falling! Only one thing to do, start the generator and get on with life!

     The only difference between Irene and this storm, we weren't stranded. With sunrise came the end to the snow, but not the wind. Not wanting to sit home, Jen and I were a bit curious about any local damage (also what caused our power outage) so we decided to take a ride. Since we would be out, I guess I should take my cameras and our binoculars with us. Aside from the huge inconvenience that the storm brought everyone, the outdoor landscape was beautiful! The heavy snow coated every tree in sight, and with the added illumination from the morning sun, created a spectacular winter landscape worthy of any Christmas calendar.

    In our area of Killingworth we ended up with about a foot of soft fluffy snow. Interesting enough however, a few miles down the road south at the Killingworth circle, the snow line was obvious. Approaching the circle, the depth of the snow changed to just a few inches, the edge of the snowfall line. By the time we reached Hammonasset, there was only an inch or two of snow on the ground, and many areas were bare, exposing the grass and ground underneath. Looking ahead, our power finally returned on Wednesday, and a couple of people I talked to who live in the Northwestern part of the state told me that they may not have their power turned on for up to two weeks; the damage was extensive, worse than Irene. Good Luck to you all, I hope you get your power soon!

                                               Looking out our front yard.........

........sunrise......... interesting paradox; my Mango Tree seedling against a cold winter background..........

                                               ..........heading East down 148.........

                                ...............a beautiful landscape across Krupa's Pond.

     Looking E/NE across the pond. Since the winds were northeast, notice that most of the snow has collected on the southern side of the pond (right). The collected snow was less on the norteastern side of the pond (left).

     Over the four days of birding I didn’t find anything significant, but we did enjoy the expected seasonal species under beautiful weather conditions (except the storm of course). Rather than a lengthy and detailed report, I am just going to detail the highlights from this four day birding report.

     At 9:00 am Jen and I drove into Hammonasset and ran into Paul Wolter. Paul told us that there was a good group of birds hanging out at the western end of the park. The birds consisted of a handful of Shorebirds, many American Pipits and Tree Swallows. He mentioned that the birds were congregated and flying around the puddle on the right.

    As puddle #1 came into view,  an awesome gathering of birds were drawn to the now larger half-frozen puddle like wildebeest to an African savannah waterhole. There were over a hundred Pipits, fifty Tree Swallows, five Pectoral, two Least, five Semi-palmated and two White-rumped Sandpipers surrounding the half frozen puddle.  The Swallows were gliding over the ice along the surface and many would land on the ice mixed in with the Pipits and Shorebirds.

     Jen asked me why the birds were acting this way, I told her; frozen dinner! The quick storm and temperature drop caught the hordes of hatching midges and small flies off guard, and I was sure that if you looked close at the ice and nearly frozen water, it would be covered with dead flies. And that is just what was there. The birds were feasting on this frozen bounty, a gift from the severe storm. This was a great and most memorable birding experience!

     Here are a few of the highlights:

                                              American Pipit with a Pectoral Sandpiper

                     Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers, with flyover Pipit and Tree Swallows

                          Least Sandpiper and American Pipit. Which one is larger?

                        Pectoral Sandpiper and Tree Swallows picking dead flies from the ice

                  American Pipit balancing itself from the sudden gust of the west wind

   American Pipits:

                                                 Notice the small fly in its bill.

                                                        Pulling a fly from the ice.

Tree Swallows:

                                       ....with a small fly in its delicate little bill

                              Portraits of a beautiful shimmering Tree Swallow......

                                          Picking a fly from the ice on the fly

                                                      Picking a fly from the ice

                                           Can you see all the flies in the ice?

The Dunlins arrive:

And more Dunlins and a few Black-bellied Plovers arrive:

                                        An American Pipit joins the Dunlins

                                                      the Shorebird numbers grow

                        Tree Swallows, Dunlins, Pectoral, Least and White-rumped Sandpipers

A few Shorebird Portraits:

                   Pectoral Sandpiper female wading through the deeper water in the puddle

                                Semi-palmated Sandpiper caught in the wind

                                                     Semi-palmated Sandpiper

                         Pectoral Sandpiper (rear) and White-rumped Sandpiper (front)

    White-rumped Sandpiper bracing itself from the wind gust from behind....notice the angle of its legs and the "dug-in" claws?

                                      Least Sandpiper landing on the ice

   Least Sandpiper gripping the ice heading into the wind; notice its claws and the wide spread digits?

                  The bird re-adjusts and "digs-in" harder from a sudden wind gust


           A nice trio of Sandpipers: White-rumped (rear), Pectoral (center) and Least (front)

                                  A real beauty: White-rumped Sandpiper

                                            A little gem: Least Sandpiper

Monday, Day 2 (Oct 31) on "Older Posts" to continue