Showing posts from November, 2011

East Shore Park - November Warblers

East Shore Park in New Haven, CT has developed a reputation as one of the best late fall birding spots in the state. The park lies immediately south of a sewage treatment plant that keeps flying insects alive well into the autumn season thanks to, well, the treated sewage pools. These insects have concentrated lingering warblers, a phenomenon that has brought more birders to the park, which has in turn led to more interesting sightings. Satellite view of the north end of East Shore Park adjacent to the treatment plant The other specialty of the park happens to be Cave Swallows, which during invasions can often be seen hawking insects over the treatment plant, particularly on colder days. A few Northern Rough-winged Swallows attempted to winter here a few years ago. This month 10 different warbler species have been recorded at the park so far...not bad for November in New England. Today I had single TENNESSEE and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS plus a late BLACKPOLL. This place is now OVERdu

Overdue western vagrants in Connecticut

Political borders are a funny thing in birding. Whether town, county, state, or continent...most of our listing areas are determined by these boundaries. For those of us who keep a Connecticut state list or reside on the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut, we frequently scrutinize bird status and distribution on a relatively small scale. The sample size for a state like Connecticut pales in comparison to the northeastern US region as a whole, for example. So we have perhaps more "quirks" in our avifauna's history than a larger state might have. For instance, Connecticut has ZERO records of Townsend's Warbler (widely considered our #1 biggest miss), but New York has about 20. If CT and NY were formed as one state, Connectiyork would have about 20 records and most birders living in what is now Connecticut would have it on their Connectiyork lists and would hardly consider it a statewide "blocker." Given that we're entering the heart of the western vagr

Texas express?

UPDATE Nov 9th: It now looks as if Friday is the best-looking day for Cave Swallows along the CT coast in the short-term, as it will be the only day with NW wind here (potentially quite potent, which is good). The overall setup has continued to be unimpressive, but since we're entering that peak time for these birds, it may be enough to produce a few along the coast. Tim Spahr of MA pointed out to me that next week may be more promising...indeed it looks like we'll see a more prolonged period of SW flow, more in line with classic Cave Swallow invasions of recent years. If followed by NW winds, it could be very interesting. But that's well down the road. Plenty of time for things to change. ORIGINAL POST: While at Lighthouse Point on Friday, Paul Roberts mentioned that we would be seeing some SW winds this week. During the month of November us birders in the northeast look for weather patterns like this one - a straight-line SSW flow from Texas to the Great Lakes. It is this

Nov 2 - western Long Island Sound

Yesterday morning I took advantage of relatively calm waters and took the boat out for some fishing. Over on the Long Island side of the sound (NY waters) the fish and birds were well concentrated in the Eatons Neck area, a location typically full of fish at this time of year. The fish were easily located thanks to a feeding frenzy of Laughing Gulls. Mixed in the flock were a single ROYAL TERN, several FORSTER'S TERNS, and a few first-winter BONAPARTE'S GULLS. Back on the CT side of the sound were a few more FORSTER'S TERNS and a late immature COMMON TERN. A three-tern day in November...not bad! first-winter Forster's Tern (CT waters) three more Forster's Terns (NY waters) - NB

"Interior" Nelson's Sparrow - alterus or nelsoni?

UPDATE 11/3 - Julian has made a blog posting with his photos and thoughts on this bird, so check it out . Included are thoughts from Fletcher Smith, author of the recent NAB article on the sharp-tailed sparrows, who agrees this bird fits alterus best. ORIGINAL POST: Yesterday at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT Julian Hough and I observed this bright Nelson's Sparrow, clearly representing one of the interior races. It is quite unlike the drab, gray-toned Acadian subvirgatus subspecies that breeds not far up the Atlantic coast to our north. All photos are untouched - only cropped. Nelson's Sparrow, likely alterus Separating alterus from nelsoni during migration is a difficult task. A recent article in North American Birds states that approximately 30% of interior birds banded in Virginia during the nonbreeding season could not be assigned to subspecies given current knowledge. If they're tough in the hand, they're tougher in the field. Here are some notes: -