16th September- CALL MY BLUFF!

Observers ready to be humbled by the Bluff Point morning flight spectacle

Mid-september, Bluff Point, CT, the day after a cold-front is a perfect recipe to witness the spectacle of morning flight of passerines, predominantly wood-warblers as they funnel through the so-named “hot corner”. This phenomenon of concentrated visible diurnal migration was first discovered in the late 90s by Dave Provencher, and astute and sharp local observer. Standing at the edge of the railroad tracks at the northern end of Bluff Point State Park, thousands of birds pour out at daybreak offering would be gladiators the challenge of identifying these projectiles in flight.

A longtime birding friend of mine, Patrick Baglee, visiting from the UK had his retinas well and truly wrecked by his first-ever morning flight spectacle.

Today was a c.5000 bird day, involving a combined total of 26 species of warbler! The most interesting were a Prothonotary Warbler and 2 Connecticut Warblers.

Nick Bonomo and I positioned ourselves to the north of the tracks to try to get a better vantage point to identify them in flight and to attempt some “fun flight” photography. There were some surprises least of all a Connecticut Warbler. Nick was far better on the draw with this one and his photographs of the bird in flight make mine look silly!See here: http://www.shorebirder.com/2012/09/connecticut-warbler-bluff-pt.html

How nearly all of my images turned out of warblers in flight!!

Red-eyed Vireo, one of the more numerous birds of the flight.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Apparent Blue-headed Vireo migrating with prey


Swainson’s Thrush – no problems iding this baby!

Surprise Yellow-throated Vireo!


My sub-par Connecticut Warbler shot!

Here is a run down of some the species seen (in some instances numbers are conservative estimates):

Northern Flicker (60-70)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (10)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (1)

Eastern Phoebe (3)

Great Crested Flycatcher (4)

Yellow-throated Vireo (2)

Blue-headed Vireo (4)

Philadelphia Vireo (3)

Red-eyed Vireo (25)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (20)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (15)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (5)

Veery (2)

Swainson’s Thrush (15)

Cathurus thrush sp (20+

Cedar Waxwing (100+)

Blue-winged Warbler (2

Tennessee Warbler (7)

Nashville Warbler (3

Northern Parula (200+)

Yellow Warbler (3)

Chestnut-sided Warbler (10)

Magnolia Warbler (20+)

Black-throated Blue Warbler (15) surprisingly low number

Yellow-rumped Warbler (10)

Black-throated Green Warbler (200+)

Blackburnian Warbler (10+)

Pine Warbler (1)

Prairie Warbler (4)

Palm Warbler (4)

Bay-breasted Warbler (1)

Blackpoll Warbler (100+)

“Baypoll” Warbler (400+)

Black-and-white Warbler (50+)

American Redstart (400+)


Ovenbird (2)

Northern Waterthrush (1)


Oporonis species (1)

Common Yellowthroat (10)

Wilson’s Warbler (2)

Canada Warbler (2)

Unidentified Warblers (approx 3,000 to 3,500)

Scarlet Tanager (15)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (15)

Indigo Bunting (1)

Baltimore Oriole (1)

Purple Finch (75+)

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7 Responses to “16th September- CALL MY BLUFF!”

  1. Graham Catley Says:

    photographing warblers in flight — an achievement by anyone’s standards Julian! amazed that you managed to get any at all — sounds like an amazing spectacle – beats the 3 Meadow Pipits here yesterday

  2. Jodi Says:

    Great shots! I love reading about your birding adventures!

  3. Glenn Williams Says:

    That Swainson’s Thrush looks like a museum skin! It was indeed a humbling morning. Usually I just hang out with my teen-aged daughters when I want to find out how stupid I am.

  4. J carter Says:


  5. East Coast Wrap Up | Periodic Wanderings Says:

    […] Bluff Point State Park, CT (Sept 16).  Some other birders wrote up their experience that morning here.  I was standing next to them against the fence (first photo on their page) for a […]

  6. Martyn Jones Says:

    Hi Julian

    Great blog! You don’t know me from Adam, but I met your parents whilst taking photos of a Goosander at Moses Gate Country Park in Little Lever. They told me all about your birding exploits around the world! I said I’d look you up on the internet and so I have. Send them my best wishes!

    Regards, Martyn Jones (aka GeekTeacher)


    • julianhough Says:


      thanks for the reply…and thanks for looking. I’ll be heading back to blighty in Novemeber to see my folks. I am sick of the sun here and need to see some grey and rain!!! ;(

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