Showing posts from November, 2010


Northern Lapwing A mind-boggling find by Phil Rusch in Storrs, CT at the UConn campus. A first state record, and I believe only the fourth New England record (singles from Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island...nothing recent). With Barnacle Goose. No, this photo was not taken in Ireland. Apparent basic adult with a tall, wispy crest. At the risk of sounding like a teenage girl, OMFG. CT has hosted some damn good birds over the past few months, particularly WT Kite, Fork-tailed Fly, and now this bird. Incredible. On top of that, a BARNACLE GOOSE and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at the same location completed the Ireland/UK trifecta. A flyby COMMON REDPOLL was another highlight. - NB

Cave Swallows: conservation, expansion, and vagrancy

Concerning a recent/current die-off of Cave Swallows in New England: Cave Swallows from the southwestern population pelodoma (the one we see here in autumn) are doing very, very well. The species' IUCN conservation category is "Least Concern," which is the 'best' category possible. The expansion of Cave Swallow breeding range has been explosive in Texas. For some of the statistics, check out this abstract . There are multiple articles on the range and population expansion over the last few decades. A Google or SORA search will likely get you to some of those online. There may be other theories/reasons for the expansion, but the most prevalent is the species' adaptation to breeding on man-made structures, and the increase in number of those man-made structures. What we are seeing here is apparently a product of this exploding range and population. This may be an over-simplification, but vagrancy can be a method of, and/or result of, expanding populations. For

Coastal birding (LBBG, Common Terns, Cave Swallows, etc)

Frank Mantlik and I spent the day battling some very strong west winds along the eastern CT coast this morning. One of our goals, late/rare passerines, was severely inhibited by the wind. Luckily there was a bit of a surprise movement of birds on the water, most of which were heading straight into the stiff wind. We started at Stonington Pt, where there were whitecaps in the harbor and the parking lot was bathed with sea spray! Here we had 10 COMMON EIDER, about 30 NORTHERN GANNETS, 4 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS, a single PURPLE SANDPIPER, and 3 BONAPARTE'S GULLS. At Enders Island, we had our rarest birds of the day, 3 immature COMMON TERNS that put on a good, long show near the parking lot. This is my personal latest record for Common Tern in CT, by a good few weeks. We also had two lingering adult LAUGHING GULLS, 5 COMMON EIDER, all 3 scoter species, and 4 more BONAPARTE'S GULLS. At Haley Farm State Park, the only passerine of note was an EASTERN TOWHEE. Great habitat for late mi

East Shore Park - OCWA and other warblers

East Shore Park in New Haven, CT continues to produce late-season warblers in 2010 (as in past years). From 0715 to 0835 this morning I had four species: ORANGE-CROWNED, 2 Pine (one bright adult and one very drab), 2 Palm (one Yellow and one Western), and several Yellow-rumps. Also reported in the park in November have been Nashville, Blackpoll, and Northern Parula. That's 7 warbler species, if I'm not missing any. One of these days a western vagrant will be found there, hopefully sooner than later... - Nick

Brazil's Pantanal - 22 Oct (Day 10)

On our last day we had time for a few hours of birding before heading to Cuiaba for our flights home. First stop was to the cerrado, followed by a waterfall observation tower. In these final few hours we were still adding new trip birds in the form of Small-billed Tinamou, Blue-winged Macaw, COLLARED CRESCENTCHEST, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Rusty-backed Antwren, the recently-described CHAPADA FLYCATCHER, and White-rumped Tanager. Collared Crescentchest Rusty-backed Antwren White-eared Puffbird It wouldn't be a trip to the Pantanal without a photo of a Rufous Hornero, a ubiquitous ovenbird we saw every day. One look at the photo will show you where the 'ovenbird' name comes from. Rufous Hornero So that concluded our fantastic tour of the Pantanal & vicinity! Our flight left Cuiaba around 1:30pm, bound for Hartford via Sao Paolo and Dallas. - Nick

Brazil's Pantanal - 21 Oct (Day 9)

We started the day at sunrise in the cerrado habitat that was home to several new species for us. This habitat is dry and scrubby, even reminiscent of Arizona desert birding. Here we picked up Pheasant Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Plain-crested Elaenia, and Grassland Sparrow among others. In a span of a few minutes we had our two coolest hummingbirds of the trip, and two of the best birds overall: SWALLOW-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD and HORNED SUNGEM . cerrado Our afternoon was spent at Giuliano's father's organic farm, picking up a few new species such as Gray-fronted Dove and Magpie Tanager . Giuliano & his father nice 'backyard' eh? Black-fronted Nunbird Gray Monjita A pre-dusk stop at one of Giuliano's stake-outs produced a stunning YELLOW-BILLED BLUE FINCH . Some nighttime owling produced incredible looks at TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL. Night at Hotel Penhasco. - NB

Brazil's Pantanal - 20 Oct (Day 8)

Our goal for the morning was to return to the HARPY EAGLE nest to see if the bird had spent the night. Sure enough, the eagle was sitting on the nest itself, occasionally tearing some meat off the prey we saw it carry in the night before. What an impressive bird. HARPY EAGLE nest tree after sunrise Later in the morning we took a walk through a bit of forest that had suffered a large fire a few weeks prior. Despite the apparent extent of the fire, the forest here was birdy. We enjoyed great views of the minute SHORT-TAILED PYGMY-TYRANT and CINNAMON-THROATED HERMITS. The pygmy-tyrant is so tiny that it looks more like an insect during its brief flights. the fire still smoldering in spots... ...yet one can see some greenery has survived the fire. The vegetation here is very resistant to fire. After lunch it was back on the road again, this time to our final destination: Chapada dos Guimaraes & vicinity. On the way, in a flooded farm field, we picked up a species we thought we had mis

Brazil's Pantanal - 19 Oct (Day 7)

An early morning walk around the Pousada Piuval property got us a handful of new trip birds, with RED-LEGGED SERIEMA and HELMETED MANAKIN being the highlights. Helmeted Manakin Savanna Hawk After breakfast we waved goodbye to the Pantanal and headed for our next destination, known for its Harpy Eagle nest. The eagles are not currently nesting, but an 18-month old immature bird is still frequenting the nest site, giving us a decent chance of seeing one. On our drive in we were surprised to have great roadside views of three RED-WINGED TINAMOUS. Around the nest site we had RED-AND-GREEN MACAWS, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, BLACK-TAILED TROGON , and LETTERED ARACARI. A couple of SPIDER MONKEYS were vocalizing from the distant canopy. Red-winged Tinamou Lettered Aracari Red-and-green Macaws Plumbeous Kite Spider Monkey As dusk approached we began to lose a bit of hope with the eagle. However Giuliano spotted the magnificent bird flying in with prey hanging from its talons. W