Monday, September 23, 2013

Connecticut River swallow spectacle

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of narrating a cruise down the lower CT River to view one of the most impressive North American avian spectacles - the autumn staging of Tree Swallows. For those who have not heard about this, up to a half million (!) Tree Swallows congregate each evening during late summer and early fall to roost in a marsh along the river. A boat is needed to reach this location, and Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel helps to arrange access to this special event. Several evening river cruises are run each year at this time. If you haven't seen this yet, you must. This is the sort of thing by which even non-birders can be amazed.

My 400mm lens is just too much to capture the display these birds put on, but this small fraction of the flock gives an idea of the density involved.

Tree Swallows at dusk
 - NB

Lighthouse Point raptor show

I spent a really entertaining afternoon at Lighthouse Point in New Haven, CT today, where 2,140 migrating raptors were tallied. The bulk of the action came thanks to 1,640 Broad-wings, a very strong coastal number. We had kettles all afternoon thanks to a brisk NW wind pushing these ridge-loving birds all the way to the shoreline. Other than the broadies, we enjoyed decent numbers of your typical September migrants. Five species of swallow were also tallied among other diurnal migrants.

Perhaps the most interesting sighting of the day came in the form of eight southbound "white-cheeked" geese of greatly varying sizes.


What the heck do you do with these???
That is no illusion; the size difference is as drastic as it appears. How many Canada and how many Cackling (if any)? Nobody had the guts to try to put a name to any of these, but I'm assuming the tiniest birds are either Cackling or parvipes Canada.

 - NB

Monday, September 2, 2013

Just Announced September Hatteras Pelagics

Brian & Kate have just announced that they will be running pelagic trips out of Hatteras on the weekend of September 28th (Saturday) with Sunday being the weather date. If enough interest gathers, they will run trips on both days.

This is potentially a VERY exciting month to get into the Gulf Stream off Hatteras, NC. Most previous September trips have gone out of Oregon Inlet in search of White-faced Storm-Petrel, and as a result only 7 September pelagics have been run out of Hatteras since 1994. The species list is amazing, including the only North American record of ZINO'S PETREL (Sept 16, 1995), plus Trindade, Fea's, Bermuda, and of course the Black-caps - that's five pterodroma species in just seven trips...wow.

Not to mention other rarities & scarcities. This is a great time for jaeger and phalarope migration as well as tropical terns. The counts of Cory's Shearwater at this time of year can be impressive, so it may be a great time to pick up another Cape Verde Shearwater. Hatteras is still looking for its first Barolo Shearwater record, and September seems like as good a month as any.

The only Gulf Stream specialty far less likely at this time of year is Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, which has generally cleared out of the waters by then (but is not out of the question).

So have I talked you into it? Join us! Visit http://seabirding.com/ for signup details.

- NB