Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spring Birding by Boat

Late last summer I purchased a boat of my own, a 20-ft center console, that I have tentatively named "Ardenna." I say tentatively because there is no actual decal on the boat yet, and I reserve the right to change my mind at the last minute if I want to :)

Boating has been in my family as long as I've been alive, so I have been boating and fishing western Long Island Sound for years now (we keep our boats in Norwalk Harbor). But now that I have one of my own, I have the freedom to spend more time birding from it. I can put it in the water earlier in spring, keep it in the water later into autumn, or even trailer it elsewhere if I'd like. Honestly, as far as actual pelagic birding goes, there probably isn't a worse place to keep a boat in New England than western Long Island Sound (we don't even get Wilson's Storm-Petrels on a regular basis). But the opportunity still exists to be out there in case something interesting shows up, like the time we chased this Brown Booby.

This spring I put the boat in the water on April 16th, later than I was hoping due to various schedule and weather conflicts. The following morning Daniel Field and I spent the AM birding the sound between Norwalk and Fairfield. I was hoping that we would run into some plankton-feeding gulls, but that early-spring event had essentially already ended. We did see a decent variety of lingering waterfowl plus an impressive number of Northern Gannets. A few of the birds earlier in the morning were photogenic in nice light (such as the Common Loon below), but by mid-morning the bright sunlight was rather harsh on the water, making photography more difficult (see the gannets).

Common Loon with European Green crab

Long-tailed Ducks

Northern Gannet

Northern Gannet









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