New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Friday, October 21, 2011

“The Pelican Tale” - East Shore Park, New Haven and last hour at Hammonasset

     Day 7 (Oct 26)- : Having completed teaching my ten day art seminar, I was anxious to get out for a day of Coastal Birding. My intention was to photograph the Brown Pelican perching on a buoy or on shore in New Haven Harbor. I have already seen the Pelican twice, but each time it was fishing in the harbor. Reading the reports all week about the Pelican (making many appearances in the Harbor) made me quite anxious; especially since I couldn’t leave my class. So yesterday, I couldn’t wait to get out of the door! With the predicted (possible) snow and dropping temps and the nearing end to he baitfish run, I feared that this may be my last chance for this bird. Just after dawn, I was standing on the shoreline at East Shore Park. I watched for an hour, and decided to try Lighthouse Park. After an hour at Lighthouse Park, I drove back to ESP. I waited a bit longer, but like many of us, I became anxious, and thought I should try the West Haven Shoreline. I could see large numbers of Brant, Gulls and Cormorants covering the shoreline of Sandy Point and West Haven, maybe the Pelican was there?

     As I was packing up my scope to leave, I noticed a large scrap freighter coming into the harbor between the gap in the outer break walls. When I reached the West Haven boat ramp, I noticed that the freighter was passing by the UI bldg. and ESP. I didn’t pay too much attention to the vessel and continued on my way along the West Haven Shore; no Pelican. I decided to go to Stratford for Shorebirds for a little while and head back to New Haven later in the morning. As luck would have it, I was just pulling off the exit for West Broad St, when Brenda Inskeep’s CT Birds alert came in to my Blackberry: Brown Pelican in New Haven Harbor off ESP. It flew into the harbor following a large Barge and landed on a buoy! Well the rest is birding history, I arrived back at ESP, no Pelican, in fact no Pelican all day! I stayed until 4:30 pm, but did have nice conversations with many birders including Brenda, Sally Brown and Paul Desjardins. Although the Pelican didn’t show up, the birding was exceptional.

    The all-day Brant Show was tremendous...........

     The flocks of Brant showed a high percentage of juveniles as in this image (Sandy Point)

                               Two banded adult Atlantic Brant preen together

    There were also a few unexpected surprises such as I almost stepped on two Snipe as I walked across the wet field by the parking lot (lower Park by the Coast Guard Station)....

       ........a spectacular Royal Tern sitting with a few Cormorants on the small breakwater at the Coast Guard Station........ 

.........a  hen Wood Duck along the shore at ESP (unusual location for a Wood Duck-it was in the area all day, later flying out into the harbor and landing with a few Black Ducks).... early pair of Gadwall in the harbor........

...... and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, to name a few!

          The "bright rufous" dorsal and ventral primaries, field ID for a Yellow-billed Cuckoo

  Another unexpected surprise- five Horned Grebes swimming along the beach at Sandy Point. (four of the five below)

     I walked down to Sandy Point on the beach side of the long spit to look at the birds at the tip of the Point. While I was on the "Sound side" of Sandy Point, Sally Brown was on the "Harbor side" of the spit, and she found this awesome Peregrine standing on the beach next to a few Swans. Here is her digiscoped shot, its a beautiful bird. Excellent shot Sally!

     Peregrine Falcon on Sandy Point. Photo courtesy Sally Brown

     As I watched the Cormorants feeding heavily near the rip just off the channel by UI, they were gorging themselves on Menhaden….since the baitfish are still here, maybe the Pelican will “hang-out” a bit longer!?

Other images...........

                          Part of a small raft of Lesser Scaup off East Shore Park

                                                     Pair of Palm Warblers

                                                         Female Belted Kinfisher

                                Flock of Sanderlings and Dunlins (Sandy Point)

                                                     Dunlins and a few Sanderlings


                                              Greater Scaup (Long Wharf)

                               Flock of Scaup (Center Breakwall-Outer Harbor)
It was 4:30 pm, so I thought I would spend the last hour of the day at Hammonasset seeking any lingering Shorebirds before the puddles and the ground froze!

Royal Tern, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers, both Kinglets, hen Wood Duck, pair Gadwall, 2 Common Snipe, Brant**- 700+/- in the harbor from East Shore Park, Sandy Point, West Haven Beaches and Long Wharf, 2,000- 2,500 flying is steady lines outside the center wall heading west all morning, mid-day and afternoon, 300+/-, Scoters (mostly Surf) in many small flocks outside center wall, 2 Peregrine Falcons flying along the outer walls, 3 Forster's Terns, 50 Sanderling, 65+ Dunlin, 24 Black-bellied Plover, 7 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Yellow-Crowned night-Heron, 3 Great Blue Heron, 7 Great Egret, 1 Snowy Egret, 11 Common Loon, 5 Horned Grebe, 17 Lesser Scaup (rafted off ESP), 24 Greater Scaup (flying into Long Wharf and landing by the Amistad pier, 3 Belted Kingfishers.

Hammonasset Beach State Park (5:00 - 5:45 pm):

- in the small puddle in the west end of the park: 7 Pectoral Sandpiper, 3 Semi-palmated Sandpiper, 1 Stilt Sandpiper, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, and 1 Dunlin with colored bands and white flag band....sending data in now.

  "Puddle of Sandpipers"- Pectoral, White-rumped, Semi-palmated and Stilt.....and a Dunlin!

                       Two Pectoral Sandpipers....notice the size difference?

                                             Portrait of a Stilt Sandpiper

                                                  Semi-palmated Sandpiper

                                                     Striding Stilt Sandpiper

                                              Feeding Pectoral Sandpiper

                                             Excellent view of a Stilt Sandpiper

                               Great field mark.....White-rumped Sandpiper

                                         Beautiful White-rumped Sandpiper

                  The banded Dunlin........

                                     Dunlin (rear) and Stilt Sandpiper (front)

                             Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper

The end to a great day!!...........

Keith Mueller      Killingworth, CT