Coastal birds today: Roseate Terns, Black Skimmer and more

June is typically a slow month for birding in CT as few true migrants are around, particularly in the second half of the month. The odd mega-rarity aside (see Anhinga and Eurasian Collared-Dove), this can be a very quiet time.

I spent a few hours along the west-central coast today, hitting my two favorite hotspots: the mouth of the Housatonic River and Sandy Point.

First, a quick stop behind the warehouses in Stratford yielded one very vocal COMMON RAVEN calling from the communications towers on Pleasure Beach.

Common Raven, an increasingly regular coastal bird

I was very pleased to find the mouth of the river about as birdy as it could be at this time of year. As the Connecticut Audubon Society blog notes, there has been a concentration of small baitfish here recently, and this was evident at low tide this afternoon. In addition to dozens of Great and Snowy Egrets, there were about 300 Common Terns feeding and roostingLink in the area. Also many Laughing Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants getting in on the action.

Among the Common Tern flock were at least six adult ROSEATE TERNS. Most of the Commons were adults, but two begging juvenile birds were noted along with a few first-summer birds. Only one Least Tern was noted. A solitary BLACK SKIMMER appeared out of nowhere on a distant bar.

four of the six Roseate Terns are in this photo

Black Skimmer

These birds were quite distant, not exactly allowing for feather-by-feather study. Still, it was great to see so many terns locally at this time of year. Let's hope the baitfish numbers remain which case it could be another exciting summer here!

A walk out Sandy Point in the early evening revealed the tern colony there to be thriving. The Least and Common Terns were as numerous and raucous as I can remember, which is even more meaningful following two very subpar years for this colony.

The shorebirds are also apparently doing well here. One pair of Willets had two growing young, while two proud Oystercatcher parents were tending to three chicks. A few adult Spotted Sandpipers and Piping Plovers were kicking around as well. The Pipers have young this year, but I'm not sure about the Spotties.

large Willet chick

American Oystercatcher chick

One could make the argument for the single adult SEMIPALMATED PLOVER being the season's first southbound migrant here, but I'll err on the side of caution and say this may be a summering bird.

Semipalmated Plover

All in all, a VERY birdy late June afternoon along the shore.

- NB


  1. That's the first I've ever seen an oystercatcher chick. Nice photo! I've only seen the adults.


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