CT Shorebird Day: 21 species incl Wilson's Phalarope

I set out this morning with a casual goal of seeing 20 species of shorebird across the state of CT. As it turned out, I would record 21 in the two adjacent towns of Stratford and Milford, making it one of my best local shorebirding days ever.

The 21 species were: Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Oystercatcher, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, (Western) Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope.

Misses included Piping Plover (locals have departed already), American Golden-Plover, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, and other rarer species.

Here were the highlights:
Stratford, Access Rd pools - WILSON'S PHALAROPE
Stratford, Wooster Park - SOLITARY SANDPIPER
Stratford, Stratford Pt - 3 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS
West Haven, Sandy Pt - SORA, WHIMBREL, RED KNOT

This molting juvenile Wilson's Phalarope was not present during my first drive-by the pools at mid-tide, but was there at dead high tide with about half-dozen Lesser Yellowlegs. A scarce species in Connecticut, this was the bird of the day.

The above two photos show a basic-plumaged adult Long-billed Dowitcher. This is the third year in a row I've seen this plumage at this location, just about the same time of year. Returning individual each year? Although it is partially obstructed by a SB Dow in both photos, note the large size, slightly hunched back, and very long bill. In the bottom photo, note the more upright stance while the bird sleeps (as compared to the SB Dow to the far left).

Molting adult Stilt Sandpiper at the same location as the LB Dow above. Same bird as last week at Milford Pt?

This flagged Semipalmated Sandpiper was also present on the floating dock at the Stratford Marina.

Juvenile "Western" Willet. See this post for a comparison between Eastern and Western forms of Willet. This bird was classic Western in structure and could be IDed by it's silhouette alone.

Molting adult White-rumped Sandpiper at Milford Pt, one of 4+ individuals there

Whimbrels at Milford Pt

Flagged Red Knot at Sandy Pt, West Haven

First birds of the day, immature Sora and a Clapper Rail side-by-side at Sandy Pt.

Sure warblers, hawks, and gulls are fun, but August shorebirding is where it's at. Like a kid in a candy store today...

- Nick


  1. This was certainly my best day of shorebirding in Milford/Stratford with 21 species on the day. I did see 21 species of shorebirds on 8/30/08 too, but that was over a much larger area, from the mouth of the CT River to Hammo to Sandy Pt to Stratford/Milford.

  2. I should add that "Western" Willet was seen on both of those days, so if they're ever split, the number would be upped to 22.


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