Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cape Cod -- Aug 19-21, 2017 (Part 1 of 2)

Cape Cod weekend birding map (courtesy of Julian Hough)

The weekend of Aug 19-20 was supposed to be spent offshore. More specifically, this was the weekend of the uber-successful Brookline Bird Club overnight deepwater pelagic, AKA the 'Extreme Pelagic.' The track record for this late-August trip is unparalleled in the region, so we greatly anticipate it every summer. So, naturally we were bummed to hear that this year's trip would be canceled due to high seas.

In an effort to make the most of the situation, several friends made the journey to Cape Cod anyway for some birding by land and boat. Given the nice inshore forecast I decided to trailer my boat.

Aug 19:
Most of us arrived early on Saturday the 19th with the idea of seabirding from Race Point in Provincetown, having heard recent rumors of shearwaters right along the beach. We did not think they would literally be along the beach, but that is exactly what we found. Thousands of shearwaters of four species (Great, Cory's, Sooty and Manx) were feeding heavily on "peanut bunker" (AKA juvenile menhaden) that had reportedly been pushed to shore by feeding mackerel and other predatory fish. We quite literally had these birds at our feet.

photo by Blair Nikula

photo by Blair Nikula

Great Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater (this showing some white on the underside of the primaries, indicating that this may represent the nominate form, diomedea, called Scopoli's Shearwater)

Cory's Shearwater

Manx Shearwater

Shearwaters weren't the only birds to be seen. Gulls and terns were also getting in on the action. Three Sabine's Gulls (two adults and a juvenile) were a highlight.

adult Sabine's Gull

adult Sabine's Gull

adult Sabine's Gull with juvenile Laughing Gull and immature Herring Gull

juvenile Black Tern

Minds fully blown by this point, we decided to pull ourselves away from the show and make our way down to Chatham to look for the adult LITTLE STINT that had been frequenting the Morris Island area for several days. Lucky for us, the bird was faithful to its favorite patch of mud, and we were able to observe and photograph this mega rarity for a while, before calling it a day.

Little Stint (right) with Semipalmated Sandpipers


no toe webbing there...





The journey would continue via boat on Sunday and Monday...

 - NB

Sunday, September 3, 2017

SABINE'S GULL in CT

Connecticut is not exactly known for its pelagic birding. If you're familiar with the state at all, you know that our entire coastline lies within Long Island Sound rather than open ocean, so seabirds are few and far between. The summer of 2017, however, has produced more than its fair share of pelagic excitement. And we haven't even been hit by a tropical cyclone (yet...). The past five weeks have brought Bridled Tern, multiple Cory's Shearwaters, and the best summer for Wilson's Storm-Petrels in some time.

This morning Tina Green, diligently birding the remnants of what used to be called Hurricane Harvey, located a juvenile SABINE'S GULL at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT. It is just the second state record. Remarkably, this bird was on the water, grounded by rain and wind, thus was chaseable for a few hours. It was loosely associating with a flock of 20 or so gulls, mostly Laughing. It spent most of its time drifting on the water, but it would occasionally swim or fly back closer to land, presumably to stay in the lee of the point. A few birders had some tense moments when it first went missing sometime mid-morning, but Stefan Martin was able to save the day for himself and a few others by relocating the bird at nearby Compo Beach. It wasn't seen for much longer after that. Presumably it eventually moved on, towards the Atlantic, when the weather let up later in the day.

Enjoy some high ISO pics below.









 - NB