Showing posts from 2014

Dec 27 & 28 - MA North Shore (Thayer's Gull ++)

Julian Hough, Greg Hanisek and I spent the better part of last weekend birding the North Shore of Massachusetts. Reports from the area had been surprisingly few in the days preceding our visit, thus our expectations were a bit tempered. Still, there may not be a better winter birding destination in New England, so we were game to try. Besides, I think we were all about sick of seeing Common Loons and Black Ducks around home!! :) Less than three hours from home on Saturday morning we kicked things off at Marblehead Neck for our one-and-only twitch of the weekend. A TOWNSEND'S WARBLER had been frequenting the neck's sanctuary and adjacent backyards for several days. Well-known to CT birders as the Undisputed "How-the-hell-has-this-species-never-been-seen-in-CT-before" Champion of the World, we could not pass up the opportunity to check out this western vagrant. After a bit of watching and waiting the bird appeared at a backyard suet feeder, giving nice looks for all.

Is it too late for Cave Swallows?

Not according to the calendar. In past years we have experienced major incursions of Cave Swallows into the 20s of November. One of the first big incursions to CT occurred on November 23, 2002. For a big Cave Swallow event here in New England you usually need two things to happen: 1) a strong SW flow directly from Texas to the Great Lakes region followed by NW winds to push them to the coast, and 2) a successful breeding year for the species at the northern edge of its range. Without the wind, the swallows don't have that extra tailwind they need to make it all the way up here. And without the breeding success there is not a large pool of young birds that are more likely to take the "scenic route" to their wintering grounds. I have no idea how Cave Swallows did this past summer in the Texas/Oklahoma region. But I do know that we have had not had any decent Cave Swallow setup weather this month. Not surprisingly there have been zero eBird records of Cave Swallow from New

Notes from Last Weekend (Nov 14-16)

Here are a few photos, with captions, from this past weekend along coastal Connecticut. immature Golden Eagle over Lighthouse Point, New Haven, CT lingering Baltimore Oriole at Harkness SP, Waterford, CT Lark Sparrow found by Russ Smiley in New London, CT Among about a dozen Horned Larks in fading light at Hammonasset Beach SP in Madison, CT was one noticeably paler individual. There is much variation in this species throughout North America, particularly regarding upperpart and head color. This pale individual is likely from a different breeding population than the birds with which it is flocking. At least two subspecies of Horned Lark occur in Connecticut...which might make for an interesting future blog post!  - NB

Nov 9 - apparent hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull in CT

I spotted this interesting adult gull as I pulled into my parking space at Long Beach in Stratford, CT about a week ago. It immediately struck me as Herring Gull-like but darker mantled. A quick check of eye color showed a bright pale yellow iris...unfortunate, as this one feature lessens the chance at something mega rare like Vega Gull. Anyway, a glance at a few other features all pointed strongly towards HERGxLBBG rather than a pure bird of some rare taxon. ID points are included in photo captions below. the right-most bird next to two typical adult American Herring Gulls Head/neck streaking showing a concentration of fine streaks around the eye that is often seen in LBBG, but thicker on the neck and breast than in your typical LBBG (note that winter head streaking is notoriously variable in HERG). The dark mantle makes those scapular and tertial crescents really pop. Leg color was ambiguous to me at first...I had to talk myself into seeing definite yellow tones. More b