Archive for the ‘Welcome’ Category

Fall In Spring – Part Deux

May 13, 2019

Two stunning Black-throated Blue Warblers fed at knee level. Blackish-blue primary coverts and large white wing panel age this as a AHY.

May 11th – Brooklyn, NY

Similar meteorological conditions to those in CT last week, presented themselves this weekend. I was at Ingrid’s place in Brooklyn on Friday night and a band of weather across Manhattan and south-west CT boded well for downing northward-bound migrants.

My choices were to bird either Prospect Park or Greenwood Cemetery. Prospect always produces birds, but on a weekend, the amount of people and dogs really detracts from the birding for me and I prefer the less well-watched Greenwood Cemetery…a beautiful and often productive spot. But, I opted for Coney Island Creek Park, on the western end of Coney Island.

A small swath of coastal trees flanked by water to the north and urban development to the south, birds concentrate there in fall, moving south then west along the dunes. It was the spot I had one of the most exciting fallouts I have ever seen last October and figured the topography would work well in concentrating birds in spring.

Coney Island Creek Park, Brooklyn, NY. Looking east from the tree edge where it meets the creek. Birds head along this narrow dune line.

Figuring it would have birds, and would be under birded, I made the easy 20 minute drive from Park Slope and arrived at 7am. I got out of the car and it was quiet, with no sign of any migrants. However, after several minutes, warbler chips emanated from birds coming in high from over the water and were dropping into the trees. Game on! They were coming in hot, and it was evident a fallout was happening – birds coming in high from the south-west and other birds seemed to be coming in from the east, presumably birds that had made landfall and were following the east-west dune line that terminated at the creek where I had positioned myself. Birds were clearly jumping off from the trees here out into the bay. Birds increased by the hour and being a small green oasis surrounded by geographical and man-made barriers, it concentrated the birds here. Again, surprisingly, I was the only birder present to enjoy this exciting 2-hour blitz.

It was a big flight of Blackpolls this morning. Males dominated, with just one female seen. The grey crown, brownish alula and primary coverts, and what seems to be a molt contrast in the greater coverts (older, narrow retained outers and fresh inners) age this as a SY.

Parulas were the other numerous species, showing really well in the small shrubs and trees at the western end. Dark bronze in the breast band makes this a male. The primary coverts are blue-grey and don’t contrast much with the greater coverts suggesting a AHY, but the worn tertials and brownish alula suggest SY. So, not sure on the age of this one.

Another equally confiding male BT Blue. The brownish wing feathers and smaller wing patch age it as a SY.

Ebird checklist here:

Swainson’s Thrush, Greenwood Cemetery. A much more peaceful and enjoyable spot to bird than the neighboring Prospect Park.

Greenwood Cemetery held a few birds but nothing special…several Swainson’s Thrushes and Veeries and a few of the expected warblers.

Fall in Spring – Part 1

May 12, 2019

May 2nd New Haven, CT

Ad male Blackburnian Warbler, Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven. The epitome of a crippler! This retina-wrecking male foraged at head height giving amazing views!

(Click on images for hi-res versions)

Predicting “good” warbler days in spring is tough. Weather to the south and to the north of your locality, along with wind and precipitation combine to make forecasting migration events difficult. Throw in obstacles to time in the field such as work and adulting and Spring migration can be over before it even starts. But, May 2019 started off in great fashion. Southerly winds and a band of precipitation downed birds in an impressive coastal “fallout” in western CT on May 2nd.

A previously discovered Prothonotary Warbler at East Rock Park, New Haven performed well in the morning and it was evident that there were a few more migrants around.

SY male Prothonotary Warbler, East Rock, New Haven, May 2019. A bright bird, with contrast between the yellowish head and green back and grey-blue wings. The olive tinge to the head and slightly browner primary coverts point to a SY rather than AHY male.

AHY female Prothonotary Warbler, Long Point, Ontario, Canada, April 1991 (Julian Hough). Lack of contrast between the head and the mantle (with obvious olive tones) and restrictive yellow on the underparts suggest female. The blue grey primary coverts suggest AHY.

It was also evident that northbound birds were reorienting and dropping into coastal habitat downed by a band of inclement weather. Nick Bonomo had been scouting the coast and discovered the woods at Lighthouse Point Park, on the eastern edge of New Haven was particularly “hot”. So, after work I joined him and spent an enjoyable bird-filled couple of hours. The north woods held an assortment of warblers, down in diversity and numbers from earlier, but there was still more than enough birds to keep my retinas flushed with color! The highlight for myself included two adult male Blackburnian’s feeding at eye level and often watched foraging on the ground.

Ad male Blackburnian Warbler, Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven. Blackish remiges and primary coverts not contrasting with greater coverts age this as a AHY male.


AHY male Black and White Warbler, Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven. Good numbers of this amazing looking tree crawler! The black throat and ear coverts sex it as a male and the blackish primary coverts similar in color to the greater coverts make it a AHY


Black auriculars and throat sex this as a male. Brownish primary coverts (as opposed to blackish) contrasting with the blackish-centered greater coverts would imply this as SY. Milford, May 2011

Veery, Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven. One of several birds, this one was particularly confiding and was seen in company of Swainson’s and Wood Thrushes.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, East Rock, New Haven. Bright yellow crown and well-marked plumage with extensive chestnut on sides sex it as a male. The slightly browner primary coverts and alula, brownish remiges and slightly worn and pointed tertials and central tail feathers point to a SY male.

White-crowned Sparrows – good enough for Gambelii?

December 3, 2018

HY Eastern WCSP, Greenwich, October 2018

One of the oft-reported subspecies in New England is the gambelii subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow, colloquially known as Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow. The main features that birders key into when comparing/contrasting with the more local eastern forms are the orange (instead of pinkish) bill and the pale lores (rather than a short dark line connecting the lateral crown stripes).

However, due to the clinal nature of the various subspecies and integration in some breeding areas of some populations, subspecific identification is often problematical or impossible.

I recommend reading this great treatise on this group – David’s Sibley’s article here.

The main forms that occur are noted below:

  • Eastern Taiga (Eastern) Z. l. leucophrys
  • Western Taiga (Gambel’s) Z. l. gambelii
  • Interior West (Mountain) Z. l. oriantha
  • Pacific group (Nuttall’s) Z. l. nuttalli group (includes Nuttall’s Z. l. nuttalli and Puget Sound Z. l. pugetensis subspecies

Essentially, in the note below, I’ll refer to them as he does, the Western Taiga (Gambel’s) and Eastern Taiga (Eastern).

I was taking a walk this afternoon after an outpatient procedure when I came across two White-crowned Sparrows feeding with other sparrows in a disused lot by the beach at Sandy Point. As always I noted the bill color and lores and was struck by the adult’s bright orange-yellow bill and what appeared to be pale lores. Because the loral feathers can often become fluffed up or displaced, I sometimes get a pale-lored impression on both adult and HY Eastern WCSP. However, on these two birds, they did appear to be as pale-lored as many known Western Taiga (Gambel’s) .

Adult WCSP showing characters of the Western Taiga race gambelii, New Haven, December 2018

It was joined during the time I watched it by a HY WCSP, which, surprisingly, also appeared pale-lored and orange-billed! In the words of wise CT birder Greg Hanisek, the words “That’s one too many!” rang in my ears. It was late in the afternoon and the pictures aren’t great (and click on them for larger images), but these two individuals seem to show characters associated with the Western Taiga (Gambel’s) form.

Adult WCSP (right) and HY WCSP (left) showing characters of the Western Taiga race gambelii, New Haven, December 2018

Adult WCSP showing characters of the Western Taiga race gambelii, New Haven, December 2018

Other features noted was that both individuals were quite greyish on the ear-coverts and throat, and had only a pale brown wash on the flanks, restricted to the rear and a bill that appeared on the small side – another pro-Western Taiga (Gambel’s) feature. The HY was quite dusky and almost montone which made the rich chestnut mantle and lateral crown stripes, yellowish bill and pale lores stand out.

Adult WCSP showing characters of the Western Taiga race gambelii, New Haven, December 2018

HY WCSP showing characters of the Western Taiga race gambelli, New Haven, December 2018

I am not making any concrete affirmations here, but I think these birds may be indicative of what people, in my opinion, rightly or wrongly, are calling Western Taiga (Gambel’s) here in New England.

Kirtland’s Warbler, Central Park, New York City, 12th May 2018

May 13, 2018

SY male Kirtland’s Warbler, Central Park, NYC (Julian Hough). Sharply demarcated earcoverts and throat with stout bill, white eye-crescents and blackish gorget all typical of Kirtland’s. (Click on images for Hi-Res versions)

It was one of those days when a spring surprise sends you into a flutter. A late afternoon text that a Kirtland’s Warbler was found in Central Park, NYC sent all birders in New England into a panic. Why? Because, of all the warblers occurring in North America, this is the rarest! It nests in only a small area of Jack Pines in Central Michigan and areas of Wisconsin. Parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds, its survival depends on continued conservation and habitat management.

Like Blackpoll Warblers, it is a long distance migrant, wintering in the Bahamas and is rarely seen on migration, seemingly making long jumps from the breeding grounds to Florida and then to the Bahamas. It has been seen sporadically in spring in Ohio and southern Canada. Needless to say, most birders, unless they have made the pilgrimage to Michigan, have never seen this species. I have been in the US since 1996 and this was one of only a couple of records in the east. A brief male in upstate NY a couple of springs ago wasn’t available to the masses, so, a chaseable bird in NYC was incredulous and only the 3rd state record. It was simply a bird that any self-respecting birder had to go for. But would it stay?

If the bird was seen the following morning, I would make a dash for it. Saturday dawned overcast and with steady rain in the forecast, it bode well for migrants not moving on. Checking my texts at 6:45a.m, the bird was still reported as still being there. Twitch on! I contacted Tina Green who offered to drive and I hastily left to meet her in Westport, only to be hampered by a crash closing down I-95. We diverted up to the Hutchinson Parkway to pick up Sara Zagorski. With me navigating, we opted to drive in and try and find somewhere to park rather than mess with the train. It was all a bit of a chaotic blur of excitement and on the fly logistics. Locating a nearby parking garage, we walked the block to the 90th street west entrance and within seconds had laid eyes on the bird feeding in the same area. It turned out it was that easy. This was a bird that had eluded me and many others for years – but the mystique had suddenly been laid to rest in an instant. But at least I didn’t have to drive to Michigan!

SY male Kirtland’s Warbler, Central Park, NYC (Julian Hough).

It was rather chaotic – many bikers, runners and police all in attendance as passers-by stopped to ask what everyone was looking at. The bird foraged high but would occasionally drop lower and lower until it fed at eye-level, only five feet away. Dayam!!

Part of what was actually a big crowd, annoying runners and cyclists ‘cos rare birds are more important than fat loss!

With overcast, leaden skies and no real direct light, photography was difficult. The bird performed well for all and occasionally belted out its short, but surprisingly loud and full song.

SY male Kirtland’s Warbler, Central Park, NYC (Julian Hough). Stocky-bodied and long-tailed it occasionally belted out its distinctive song.

Rather dull compared to an adult male, the brownish primary coverts and remiges indicated it was a second-year male. The distinctive throat patch, large size, long tail and yellow underparts with contrasting white undertail coverts were all as expected.

As rain set in, we retired to find some breakfast and headed home for a hassle-free afternoon!

Those late summer “Dodgy Dows”

August 6, 2017

Dowitcher, Boulmer, Northumberland, July 2017 (Alan Curry) Present for several days this worn adult (or 2nd cal yr?) showed well on a tidal beach in the UK. Certain aspects of the bird caused locals to consider Short-billed.

My old buddy Alan Curry, from the UK, sent me a pic of this dowitcher that was present in north-east England in mid-July. Long-billeds are vagrants and the more likely suspect, but with a couple of records of Short-billed, any dowitcher must be examined carefully. Assumed to be Long-billed, he had some concerns about the habitat choice (rocky, tidal seashore, rather than inland freshwater), plumage and the obvious fact that this bird has a short bill.

Worn breeding plumage dowitchers are difficult and tricky here in the eastern US. I told him it is not a problem exclusive to the UK. He asked for my opinion on the UK bird to make him sleep a little easier!

Indeed this month a few birds have shown up that people have had trouble with so I figured I’d throw a few comments together to illustrate what I personally look for. The issue is compounded here in the US by the presence of the inland, ‘prairie’ race hendersonii, which migrates along the eastern seaboard in good numbers and is brighter than the Atlantic form griseus, and is slightly larger and more colorful and often hard to separate from Long-billed.

Back to the UK bird? I won’t go into a long treatise of these birds, there are plenty of papers and resources on the web, so this will just be a few things I hone in on. Despite the short bill, I think this is a male Long-billed for the following reasons:

  • First, the underpart color is extensive, reaching underneath the legs. It isn’t as “brick-red” in saturation as many Long-billed’s, but color is variable (especially when represented in photos).
  • The upperparts are quite dark, especially the mantle.
  • A slight neck collar formed by a coalescing of barring/streaks.
  • The internal bars to the scapulars are bright, rufousy colored.
  • The barring at the carpal area is distinctly chevron-shaped, not lozenge/spot-like.
  • The tips to some of the upperparts are white-tipped (similar to tertial  tips of a White-winged Crossbill).

Jizz is hard from this one shot, but it looks like it could well look very rotund/dumpy, but it is hard to judge. Judging bill length, shape and loral angles to me are less important than the features i can see noted above, so find them often misleading or a red-herring. Habitat choice is also misleading since Long-billed can be found in habitat similar to Short-billed (as in this case).

Long-billeds also moult inner primaries earlier than griseus Short-billeds since they are shorter distance migrants, but this bird was fully-winged and any molt clues are likely better off used later in the summer (late August?).

I remember looking hard at dowitchers in Cape May during my years there, trying to separate some hendersonii Short-billed from Long-billed was sometimes a bit of a headache for A UK birder that didn’t grow up seeing them regularly.

Comparison sketch of Long-billed vs Short-billed noting some subtle differences, Cape May, August 1991, Chevron-shaped markings with a paler terminal fringe (if unworn) at the carpal area is the first thing I gauge on difficult birds.

The chance to see Long-billed with both races of Short-billed was key, and even then, some birds can still be tough if not seen well, or heard to call. I still struggle with some individuals.

Ad Long-billed (left) and hendersonii Short-billed (right), Cape May Meadows, August 1991. Note the rotund shape and “greyer-faced” look of the Long-billed. The breast side barring is almost worn off on the Long-billed. The brighter, golden fringes to the upperparts, mantle and tertials are typical of hendersonii.

Flock of Short-billed Dowitchers, Connecticut (Nick Bonomo). This nice shot comprises what appears to be mostly hendersonii (H) and a griseus (G) and one bird that both of us are unsure about (?).

So, just a couple of comments to concentrate and dwell on if you happen to come across a silent, bright dowitcher in July/August.

A Tale of Two Grippers!

May 29, 2017

27th May – Act 1 –  Slam Dunk in Shawangunk!

A singing Henslow’s Sparrow, discovered by longtime birding acquaintances Tom Burke and Gail Benson, at Shawangunk grasslands, near Walkill in upstate NY was tantalizingly close to CT’s western border. Henslow’s Sparrow is a scarce breeder in the north east and basically absent in New England. It was also a nemesis, a ‘bogey’ bird for me. Eons ago, I had missed a November bird in CT that Andy Brand had found in nearby Hamden.  A one afternoon wonder, it was nowhere to be found the following morning when we scoured the area. I had always assumed I would find one “kicking the bushes” in late October, but after 20 years of kicking bushes, I was still empty handed. I would simply  have to twitch one!

Saturday dawned at zerodark4thirty .  An hour and half later, in Walkill, I was having SEVERE PTGSD. That stands for Post-traumatic Gyrfalcon Stress Disorder. I had spent two days dipping a Gyrfalcon that spent the winter here in 2015, so driving the same roads did not evoke warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. “!!@@ you Gyrfalcon”, I muttered under my breath as I passed Blue Chip Farm.

I arrived at the preserve and decided to head out to the less dilapidated blind where the bird had been reported singing. I was surprised that I appeared to be the only person here!

The sound and sight of Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks  and Grasshopper Sparrows pervaded the beautiful dawn morning. I made a right, approaching the blind when I met another birder who was equally clueless about where it was.

“ It’s not down there!”, he said, gesticulating in the opposite direction. Almost immediately, after about 20 ft, a bird sang to our left “tsi-lik”, and then again.

“That’s it! It’s really close!”, I uttered. Could we see the little bugger? Could we hell. Then, finally, up it popped, basically 14 ft off the path, in full view. It found the tallest thistle and sang its tiny heart out. After 20 years, it had been that easy!! Several pixels were burnt.

A singing male Dickcissel a few further yards down the path showed well, but light was not great for pix.

I headed back to the car, intent on birding the Doodletown forest area on the way back to CT, for Cerulean Warbler and other woodland goodies, but news of yesterday’s Lesser Nighthawk in northern New Jersey, had been refound sitting on the same path, prompted me to reconsider my options.

27th May – Act 2 –  Turd in the Grass!

Last night, there had been no info on what was only NJ’s second Lesser Nighthawk. Again, frustrating information given that pictures were posted, but no info on exactly where it was, or what the circumstances had been around the sighting. This time I had directions. It was still early and I could be onsite by 10:30am.

And so I was. Walking past the environmental center building, one birder acknowledged the bird was still there and a few minutes later I arrived at the spot. Again, I was one of only two people there, surprising since this was so close to NYC and other large NJ cities – and this is a mega!

The guy present pointed out to me what amounted to a turd – a turd  mostly obscured by grass!

Rather “shitty” views of what amounts to a turd in the grass!!

The path was blocked by cones to prevent disturbance to the bird, but it was also preventing me from actually being able to see it! It was not the views I was hoping for. I could barely see it, let alone photograph it!!

Better views of the front after the bird shimmied over to the other side of the path.


Lesser Nighthawk. Note rather compact shape, with large head, short, rounded primaries and buff barring on primary bases.

Then suddenly, without warning, the little turd started shuffled on its tiny, swift-like feet and shimmied across the path giving awesome views and allowed a couple of decent photos. It buried itself in the grass on the other side of the path and was then basically out of view! Talk about jammy. What a great little bird!

Lesser Nighthawk. Appeared small and compact in the filed, with rather rounded primaries that fell equal with the tail tip (longer in Common). The cinnamon-buff tones to the face and breast also favored Lesser, as did the obvious buff barring on the bases of the primaries. The lack of a discernible paler, whitish wing patch hints at this being a female, and thus a Lesser.

So, based on these views –  a compact, rich buff-toned caprimulgid- it did appear to be a Lesser Nighthawk as advertised, but I went through the features, just to make sure for myself. Antillean and some Common’s can be warm-toned and I needed to rule them out. Antillean in particular is small, like Lesser, and warmer-toned, but they are unrecorded in the east. Thankfully, ‘cos I don’t really have any experience of Antillean in the day outside of Marathon, Florida!! So…quickly moving on from that one…

The issue is that the south-western form of Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor henryi,  unlike most of the subspecies of Common, shows buff-spotting on the base of the primaries – like Lesser!

The other main difference is that Lessers show a short first primary (P10), with P9 being the longest primary, but that does vary in both Common and Lesser with some Commons showing equally long P10 and P9.. and some juvenile Commons showing a shorter P10. Clearly on these images, it is impossible to judge primary placement since it would be folded underneath what is the visible longest primary (which is actually P9 in Lesser).

So, is it possible to conclude this is a Lesser and not a henryi Common – equally as likely perhaps?? I am not sure to be honest, but if I go by what I see on the images, they favor Lesser, but something that should be considered here and ruled out on any putative Lesser Nighthawk.

Anytime you get to see a nighthawk in the day is a good day, especially if it is a Lesser (even if it is in NJ!).

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



Imm Red-billed Tropicbird



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.



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.


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.



Band-rumped Storm-Petrel


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.

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!


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.