Sunday, January 25, 2015

Field Day

Spent today helping Daniel Field catch up with a couple species he's been meaning to see in Connecticut...

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Glaucous Gull
 - NB

Friday, January 23, 2015

CAS trip to Pacific Northwest - September 2015

Each year I lead or co-lead one or more overnight tours for Connecticut Audubon Society. I will keep links to these trips in the sidebar to the right. Join us for high quality birding, culture, and great fun! Nonmembers from anywhere in the world are welcome of course!

Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands
September 12-21, 2015

Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Peninsula is anchored by the majestic Olympic Mountains. No place in America can match its diversity in terrain and weather in such a compact geographic area. Explore lakes, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, beaches, and rain forest. While the main attraction is Olympic National Park, time will be spent among the San Juan Islands and on Puget Sound, the second largest estuary in the United States. Its numerous glacier-carved channels and branches are fed by freshwater from over 10,000 rivers and streams that flow down from the Olympic and Cascade Mountains to the wetlands, salt marshes, and bays of the Sound. Puget Sound has numerous sea birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including Tufted Puffin, Pigeon Guillemot, and Rhinoceros Auklet. Many marine mammals, particularly Orca, often steal the show.

If interested, visit the CAS EcoTravel website for more information.

 - NB

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A few days in Florida

Just back from a few days in Florida with Daniel Field and Frank Mantlik. Our searches for the continuing (but sporadic) Key West Quail-Dove and American Flamingos were largely unsuccessful, but we did enjoy our time in the field. The highlight was a morning kayak down the Snake Bight Channel. Here are a few pics!

American Alligator

Great Blue Heron

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinules and Florida Redbelly Turtle

Double-crested Cormorant

Brown Pelican

"Wurdemann's" Great Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Barred Owl on nest

American Bittern

Tricolored Heron

American White Pelican

American White Pelicans
 - NB

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"COMMON" MEW GULL - Southbury, CT

Work was slow today, which allowed me to get out and do some birding while waiting for the pager to go off. I had wanted to check the Shepaug Dam section of the Housatonic River for gulls for some time now. It had always been on my radar, as I recalled Greg Hanisek and Mark Szantyr having a Thayer's Gull there some fifteen years ago, about the time I started birding as a young teenager. Patrick Comins really brought attention to the place by birding it often last winter, during which he recorded a fantastic "Common" Mew Gull that was seen sporadically for a few days. Due to work, travel, and personal obligations I never did find the time to go there myself, until today.

I arrived mid-morning to find few gulls around. After some waiting they began to trickle into the river itself. The turnover was steady as birds came and went from the main flock along the river. A first cycle "Kumlien's" ICELAND GULL and second cycle LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL appeared side-by-side on the water.

"Kumlien's" Iceland Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull at center, among Ring-billed Gulls and a couple Herring Gulls

Scanning the flock over and over, between bouts of warming up in the car, eventually paid of with an adult MEW GULL of the nominate race, Larus canus canus, often called Common Gull. The bird was seen from various distances in various lighting and weather conditions, from bright overcast to dark with falling snow, from noon to 2pm when the snow really started to come down. The bird was seen roosting on the west bank of the river, roosting in fields at Mitchell Farm, and perching atop the farm buildings. I will include images from several angles and distances.

First look, digiscoped as it was roosting with Ring-billed Gulls on a lawn across the river. Note that the mantle is only slightly darker than the surrounding Ring-bills, though this varies with angle and light.
note very thin gray-green bill with dusky subterminal markings

dark eye, sparse head and nape spotting

strongly contrasting tertial crescent

primary pattern consistent with nominate canus

After comparing images, I am all but certain that this must be the same individual seen here for a few days last winter. It is quite similar to the Mew Gull I had back in 2009, which was also a pretty classic-looking "Common" Mew Gull...yet not terribly similar to this bird from Cape Ann in 2010, which was not firmly IDed to subspecies.

A great start to 2015!

 - Nick