Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 22 - Southern Connecticut

I made a trip to Stamford this morning in hopes of seeing the Common Black-Headed Gull that had been reported on both Thursday and Friday of this week. I arrived just after 7 a.m. however the bird was not present. There were some Bonaparte's Gulls, but the dozen here were a far cry from the 200-300 recently reported.

There were some nice birds to be seen though with Monk Parakeet being a highlight.
Duck species seen Shoveler, Black, Mallard, Bufflehead, Wigeon, Gadwall, and Lesser Scaup. Also Red-Breasted and Hooded Mergansers were about. My first Blue-Winged Teal of the year was a nice surprise.

On the ocean side of the park there were beautifully plumaged Long-Tailed Ducks, Horned Grebes, Common Goldeneye, Brant, and Great Cormorant. Also a Merlin was observed.

Having dipped on the gull, my next stop was the CT Audubon's Coastal Center at Milford Point about 25 miles further east. I had been here once before in July 2006 when my friend Rob F. took me to see the Red-Necked Stint. This morning I was able to see very close look at a dozen Common Redpolls.

On the water here was my first Osprey and Oystercatchers of the spring, and numerous duck species. They being Blue-Winged and Green-Winged Teal, Canvasback, Pintail, Black, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, and Goldeneye. Two large rafts of Greater Scaup were out in the ocean, as was a Common Loon, many Horned Grebes, and RB Mergansers. There were more Monk Parakeets seen here also.

Alas, the target was not seen today, but it was a fine morning of birding.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 15 - Sussex County spots

Having just a few hours free today I visited some spots in Sussex County. On the drive to my first stop, I saw a Kestrel.
At the Sussex County Landfill, I was able to locate two Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, and identify another gull that I feel is a Herring x Glaucous hybrid (a.k.a. Nelson's Gull). Certainly I am not a gull expert and could always be mistaken, particularly with the high variability of the gull family.

The bird in question was predominately white, with not a touch of gray to be seen on the mantle. The pinkish bill with complete dark tip also got my attention, and I immediately thought I had a Glaucous, yet the bill was not large enough. On further examination, also I noted that the primaries were darkish, and the bird had a dark tail band. Certainly a leucistic Herring Gull should be considered. However, I feel that a hybrid gull is likely.

Here is an image I found on the internet that appears like the bird I saw:

My next stop was Paulinskill WMA, also known as Hyper-Humus. Here I saw a pair of Tree Swallows, nearly a dozen Rusty Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and several species of duck: Mallard, Black, Gadwall, Pintail, GW Teal, Wigeon, Wood, Ring-Necked, Bufflehead, Ruddy & Common Mergs, and a few Coot.

Finally at Swartswood Lake, I saw a few Common Goldeneye, and a Lesser Scaup.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

March 9 - Eastern Long Island geese

This was an incredibly windy day with sustained winds in the twenties, and gusts that seemed to touch forty ! The life-bird of Ross' Goose was finally seen after trying for over 4 hours. Many thanks to Seth A, who was kind enough to call me once he had located the bird !! I had just finished lunch and was preparing to head back home. I certainly would not have gotten the bird without the phone call. The bird was seen among Canada Geese in a farm field near Water Mill in the town of Southampton.
credit: Dean Edwards

This excellent comparison shows the diminutive Ross' Goose in front of the larger Snow Goose:

credit: Bill Schmoker

Otherwise some good birds seen in the vicinity of Southhampton were Kestrel, Cooper's Hawk, and Red-Tailed Hawk. Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Ring-Necked Duck, Ruddy Duck , Mallerd, and Black Duck were seen along with Canada Geese and Snow Geese.