Showing posts from October, 2012

Birding Hurricane Sandy

Well, folks. A mere fourteen months after Irene and here we are again. Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Hybrid Storm/Perfect Storm SANDY is currently forecast to track off the southeastern US coast as a low-end Cat 1 Hurricane, then bend back to the NW and W directly into the coast somewhere between Maryland and Long Island as she loses tropical characteristics. More specifically, New Jersey is the currently predicted landfall location, and forecasters seem very confident in this right now (premature or not?). This is subject to change as we are still 48 hours from landfall, but the models have been in very good agreement today, so that's what I'm going with. eBird has posted a nice summary that applies to the entire region, much of which overlaps with what you'll read here. Below is a summary of what to expect in the southern New England region, with a particular focus on Connecticut, which has NO open ocean thanks to being blocked by Long Island and various other islands of

Strong weather ahead

This week's upcoming weather calls for an alert to all birders in the northeast US, Atlantic Canada & Ontario. We currently have a rather strong low pressure system in the Great Lakes region with an associated cold front draped south to Texas. Ahead of this front is a moderate-to-strong SSW flow in a straight line from Texas to SE Canada. Behind the front we see a sharp drop in temperatures with a moderate north wind. courtesy of In late October (and through November), this is classic Cave Swallow weather. The birds are swept northeastward ahead of the front to the Great Lakes/Ontario region. If the front proceeds eastward with strong enough NW winds behind it, the birds will then redirect in a southeast heading, eventually reaching the east coast. It's quite predictable at this time of year. Cave Swallows are the classic bird species associated with this weather, but really any migratory species from the central/western US is more likely to

Oct 13 - Hatteras Pelagic

On Saturday 10/13 Carolyn and I joined Brian Patteson for their annual October trip offshore. For the full story, be sure to check out their blog . Highlights were a single SOUTH POLAR SKUA and a killer show of Black-capped Petrels. I kept busy scanning for birds and not taking many photos, but I did manage these. Black-capped Petrel (white-faced) "Scopoli's" Cory's Shearwater South Polar Skua  - NB

Lighthouse Point flybys

The flight of diurnal migrant passerines was mighty impressive this morning at the Lighthouse Point "hawkwatch" in New Haven, CT. Not that it was an unprecedented day...quite the contrary. Late fall mornings after a cold front typically produce bigtime flights of common species such as American Robin, blackbirds, and finches, and others (passerines and not). Top billing goes to these EVENING GROSBEAKS, part of a flock of 20 that zipped through the park mid-morning. A close second was this skein of SNOW GEESE that shone like pearls against the blue sky. Sixty-one. Count' em! Several EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were swirling around the park for a while. A nice showing by EASTERN BLUEBIRD, with several small to medium-sized flocks throughout the morning. Watching the spectacle of migration at this site is both amazing and overwhelming on good days. When I pulled into the park just after 7am today, there were hundreds of birds in the air at once. Of note, the

Common Nighthawk with short p10

Just wanted to throw this one up there for fun. On October 9th at Lighthouse Pt in New Haven, CT this presumed Common Nighthawk made two passes through the park. It's getting late for CONI here, but definitely not too late. There are often lingerers into October. But still, I studied the bird with vagrants on the mind. One feature to look for on Lesser Nighthawk (very rare vagrant this far northeast of its breeding range) is a more rounded wingtip on average, caused by p10 being shorter than p9. However, Common Nighthawks can show p10 slightly shorter than p9. This individual happened to have a particularly short p10...shorter than I have ever noticed on one. It's likely within the variation of CONI though, since everything else about this bird seems just fine for Common, including the more proximal position of white wing patch. Common Nighthawk with rather short p10  - NB

Interesting NC Emberizids

Last weekend Carolyn and I spent a few days on the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina, drawn mainly by a pelagic trip scheduled for the 13th. We spent some time landbirding at Pea Island NWR on the mornings of the 12th and 14th. Friday morning (10/12) was moderately birdy following a cool night with a light north breeze. We got out early to check out the morning flight at the north end of the island, which wasn't terribly impressive at the old Coast Guard Station. But along the sand road here we had a LARK SPARROW give a few brief distant views. Other than Palms and Yellow-rumps, not much else. Our next stop was at the impoundment at the north end of the North Pond, which was much birdier and held a nice variety of passerines. I would've liked to have seen what it was like earlier in the morning. Walking down the path we ran into a spiffy CLAY-COLORED SPARROW that was loosely associating with a Chipping Sparrow and a Dark-eyed Junco. While the JUNCO never really showed th


Carlos Pedro strikes again! After a Little Stint in July and a nice Kamchatka Gull a few years back, Carlos has turned up another mega in his home state of Rhode Island. Out of town til late last night, I was lucky enough to catch up with the bird this afternoon after work before the rain hit. Wood Sandpiper  - NB

Western Kingbird @ Lighthouse Pt

The highlight of a really birdy morning at Lighthouse Point in New Haven, CT was a brief visit by a bright Western Kingbird. During the peak of the raptor flight I spotted a yellow-bellied kingbird flying away to the north. Few folks got on it and views were poor. We thought that we would have to leave it at "Western-like Kingbird sp," but I picked up on the bird again a few minutes later, this time on its way back into the park. After a few circles, it finally landed, teeing up on a distant treetop and allowing for specific identification. I ran for record shots and the hawkwatchers enjoyed scope views before the kingbird disappeared. It was last seen flying hard to the north out of the park. Western Kingbird Otherwise, we had a really nice hawk flight today until it shut down around 2-2:30pm. Notable was a new park record 29 Bald Eagles (unless others moved through after I left at 3pm!).  - NB

Yellow-headed Blackbird at Sherwood Island

A great morning's birding was highlighted by this HY male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT earlier today. Yellow-headed Blackbird  - NB