Archive for the ‘Welcome’ Category

BBC August Overnight Pelagic

August 28, 2015
 Title page
This summary is taken from a post written by Jeremiah Trimble and posted to MASSbird:
This weekend 58 lucky birders explored the offshore waters of Massachusetts, south of Nantucket.
main areas
It was an absolutely incredible trip,and that is an understatement. To the say the trip was a success would be an understatement! We found our first ever White-tailed Tropicbirds (andhad two species of tropicbird in one day!), set trip high counts for White-faced Storm-Petrel, Audubon’s Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
and Pomarine Jaeger and had such an amazing variety of rarities on top of these including Black-capped Petrel, Bridled Tern and South Polar Skua. In a later email, I will provide a narrative of the two day trip but to summarize, here are the major avian highlights in brief:
2 Black-capped Petrel
202 Audubon’s Shearwater
28 White-faced Storm-Petrel
161 Leach’s Storm-Petrel
23 Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
4 White-tailed Tropicbird (two adults and 2 immatures)
1 Red-billed Tropicbird (an immature bird)
17 Pomarine Jaeger
1 Long-tailed Jaeger
1 South Polar Skua
1 Bridled Tern
2nd Cal-yr Bridled Tern

2nd Cal-yr Bridled Tern

 

Leach's Petrel

Leach’s Petrel

 

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Imm Red-billed Tropicbird

 

tropicbirds

Imm Red-billed Tropicbird (left) and Imm White-tailed Tropicbird. This composite of two birds seen on this trip shows the important pattern of the greater coverts – blackish on Red-billed Tropicbird and white on White-tailed. Talking with Nick about assessing this in the field is essentially the dark primaries extend only 1/2 way up the leading edge in White-tailed.

 

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White-faced Storm-Petrel

 

White-faced Storm Petrel

White-faced Storm-Petrel

 

Adult White-tailed Tropicbird - a world tick and a bogey bird for me finally laid to rest!

Adult White-tailed Tropicbird – a world tick and a bogey bird for me finally laid to rest!

 

Adult White-tailed Tropicbird - a world tick and a bogey bird for me finally laid to rest!

Adult White-tailed Tropicbird

 

2nd Cal-yr Pomarine Jaeger (all juv primaries replaced with p10 almost fully grown)

2nd Cal-yr Pomarine Jaeger (all juv primaries replaced with p10 almost fully grown)

 

3rd Cal-yr Long-tailed Jaeger. A cool bird and my first non-juv/adult plumage. Aged by the largely brown underwing and dark cap. Although the markings on the breast seemed suggestive of a breast band and the tail projections looked spikey, any initial thoughts of Parasitic were dispelled by a combination of features and behavior, notably the short bill, grey-toned upperparts with a darker trailing edge and 2-3 white primary shafts all being pro-Long-tailed. In discussion with Nick, he mentioned the lack of any white primary bases on the underwing which is probably diagnostic (?) in itself at this age for LTJA

3rd Cal-yr Long-tailed Jaeger. A cool bird and my first non-juv/adult plumage. Aged by the largely brown underwing and dark cap. Although the markings on the breast seemed suggestive of a breast band and the tail projections looked spikey, any initial thoughts of Parasitic were dispelled by a combination of features and behavior, notably the short bill, grey-toned upperparts with a darker trailing edge and 2-3 white primary shafts all being pro-Long-tailed. While discussing it with Nick Bonomo, he brought attention to the lack of any white primary bases on the underwing as a pro-LTJA feature – in itself possibly diagnostic (?) for this age for LTJA.

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Adult Pomarine Jaeger. Broken breast band and clean flanks suggest male. Note inner primary moult taking place; an adult jaeger in late August in primary moult is almost certainly a Pomarine; both Parasitic and Long-tailed are not moulting.

 

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Band-rumped Storm-Petrel

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2nd Cal-yr Pomarine Jaeger at sunset

 

The CT contingent of the trip

The CT contingent of the trip (photo courtesy of Tina Green)

Here are links to two general checklists for each of the two days of the trip which include great images by Jeremiah Trimble.

Checklists:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24748705
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24750035
We would like to first of all thank Ida Giriunas, as always, for her efforts
in organizing and pushing for these trips to happen. She has helped so many birders enjoy the offshore birds of Massachusetts! Thanks!
Also,thanks to Captain Joe Huckemeyer and the crew of the Helen H.
Thanks as well to my fellow tripleaders; Nick Bonomo, Doug Gochfeld, Julian Hough, and Luke Seitz.
Their skills at identifying and spotting birds, communicating to participants and getting everyone on each bird was critical.

Smith’s Longspur, Wilton, CT – Twitch on!

May 2, 2015
Male Smith's Longspur, Wilton, CT

Male Smith’s Longspur, Wilton, CT

TGIF! Friday ended with no real plans for the evening, so I was doing errands at the store, when my phone rang. It was Jake Musser. “Smith’s Longspur reported at Allen’s Meadow! I’m leaving now!”.

Smith’s Longspur was a much-wanted bird in the state – it was essentially a lifer, since the only previous bird I had seen was a skulking b!!@@## of a bird at Jones Beach, NY several years ago. A one observer-photographed-bird, seen by Larry Flynn, in late March several years ago, was not available to the masses and could not be found subsequently by yours truly and others searching in vain the day after.

So, this was the first chaseable bird since the early 70s or so and a state tick for just about everyone alive!

Homeward-bound, via rush hour New Haven traffic, I made a quick pit-stop to pick up the optics and I was on my way.  Although it was overcast, there was plenty of light left. When I arrived it was in view, showing brilliantly, shuffling around a short area of cropped grass and gravel. Occasionally it would flush, giving it’s rippling, liquid-like rattle call.

With a careful, not-too-close approach, I managed to get a few record shots at high ISO. Kudos to Bruce Stevenson for a mega-find and also proactively putting the news out – even when he wasn’t 100% sure of the id. – to allow people to get there tonight!

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11th August, Sandy Point, West Haven

August 14, 2012

Alex enjoying being out in the field

A nice evening, wonderful night hanging out with my son and a lot of roosting shorebirds and terns. Nothing unusual, just a lot of cool stuff to keep the retinas working overtime. A pristine juvenile Forster’s Tern and 2 adult Roseate Terns were cool.
Notable were a good number of juvenile shorebirds: Lesser and Greater ‘legs, Least and Semi-palmateds and Short-billed Dow. Not sure, but it seems that juveniles are on the early side this year..perhaps an indicator of a successful breeding season??

Summer Surprise

August 14, 2012

5th August, Sandy Point, West Haven

After last weeks surprise adult BAIRD’S SANDPIPER – only my 2nd adult ever in late summer/fall, numbers of shorebirds continue to rise. A private guided walk yielded the usual suspects but also a nice adult ROSEATE TERN. Difficult to pick out of the hordes head on, but the tell-tale primary pattern was useful – more on that in a later post.

Surprise was an adult and juvenile Least Sand – my earliest juvenile ever! The tern colony is looking really healthy and good numbers of Common Terns abounded.

Southbound Semis…despite a thorough grilling no Red-necked or Little Stint could be found. Mid-July-early August is the best time for these Eurasian vagrants to show up in the north-east.

Interview on BirdCalls radio

April 17, 2012

Here is the archive of the Sunday, April 8, 2012, BirdCallsRadio show with yours truly as the special guest.

There’s discussion on wildlife photography and art, as well as birdwatching tips, the CT Avian Records Committee, and coming to America from England and birding in Cape May, N.J.

Click here for the archive BCR 4-8 julian hough

April 8 Bird Calls Radio

April 7, 2012

I will be the next guest on BirdCallsRadio on April 8, 2012. It will air on Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m EST on 1490am WGCH & WORLDWIDE internet Streaming
Check out:  http://birdcallsradio.com/listen-live/

Hope you will listen in!

From the Archives..on this day in 1984!

March 23, 2012

While birding is at a slow-ebb, I thought I’d post a page out of my journal from this day back in 1984 when i was a rabid twitcher at the naive age of 16.

Sociable Plover, London, March 1984 (Julian Hough, age 16)
(click for larger image)

This crippling Sociable Plover (or Sociable lapwing as it is often called) was present on the London/Kent, UK  border. In those pre-mobile, pre-internet days, word of such megas was spread by the telephone grapevine. This bird had been present the week before, unbeknownst to us, as we drove past it on the way back from seeing another top-class vagrant at the time, a confiding female Little Crake in Sussex. So, the following week we had to drive the 4 1/2 hours back down but had superb views of this bird as it foraged in a small grassy area. Still a rare bird, I have seen a few more in the UK, but always a classy vagrant.

NY Oriole-a solution

December 16, 2011

I’m not that familiar with fall Bullock’s as vagrants in the east (the only one I have seen is an adult male in Goshen, CT in the 90s) but I think this is a first-winter female Baltimore. Worn brownish flight feathers and pointed, worn tail feathers age it as a first-year and the predominantly yellowish-orange tones and clean, unmarked mantle imply it’s a female. Female Baltimore’s can be really variable, but the coloration is strong on the breast and has an orange tinge – good for Baltimore and bad for Bullock’s. The mantle is brown-toned, the ground color of Bullock’s being more grey (often washed with olive), so again good for Baltimore. Also, the undertail coverts, while variable, are bright orange-yellow, another feature, while not diagnostic, is supportive for Baltimore.

HY (First-winter) female Baltimore Oriole, Central Park, NY, Dec. 2011 (David Speiser)

The upper, median wingbar is clean white and seems to lack the pointed dark centres typical of HY Bullock’s (even allowing for the scaps covering the upper wingbar, I think you’d see the pointed centres poking out from underneath). The feathering in front of the eye is slightly ruffled, but I don’t think there is a dark loral line, the kind I’d want to see on a putative Bullock’s. Also, the crown is fairly uniform without a subtler, paler supercilium. In Bullock’s the malar and sides of the earcoverts are often the brightest yellow (rather than the breast) superficially reminiscent of a fall Cape May Warbler.

HY (First-winter) female Baltimore Oriole, Central Park, NY, Dec. 2011 (David Speiser).The areas of the head, upper breast and vent are predominantly orange-toned, which is good for Baltimore,not clearer yellow as in Bullock's. The head pattern, lacking dark lores and a paler, contrasting supercilium are also pro-Baltimore features.

To compare, here’s a link to a similar-plumaged Bullock’s in New Brunswick, that has the appropriate credentials. Thanks to Louis Bevier for comments and bringing this link to my attention and to David for allowing me to use his great shots!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stubirdnb/6517531719/

 

Hendrix – before and after

December 4, 2011

No sooner had I arrived at daycare to pick up Alex,  he ran up to me, beaming and proudly thrust his drawing he had done into my hands.  Encouragingly, I said “Awesome”, but realized as someone of an artistic background (i.e. someone who used to draw) that I was obviously failing my offspring in the drawing department.

Before Lesson

One night when we got home, I said “Hey, why don’t we do some drawing?” He said he liked to draw planes and I said “We can do that!”. So, sketch pad and biro in hand, on the spur of the moment we started off with simple shapes e.g. a circle and figured he could follow my lead. He’s four, so even holding the pen at this point takes some dexterity. However, within an hour I was amazed at what he threw down on the paper!!!!!

"Daddy..this drawing thing is easy...I bet you could do it too. Who's Jimi Hendrix.. is he in the Wiggles?"

After Lesson

There’s hope yet! Now, if I can only get him to pick up a pair of binoculars!

A nice pair of breasts!

September 14, 2011

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - one of my favourite shorebirds!(click for larger image)

A beautiful pair of Buff-breasts watched running inbetween myself and ace photographer Paul Fusco this evening. Just exquisite birds watched at sunset actively feeding away, unconcerned by the parade of  ‘fun-runners’ doing laps around the field!