Friday, July 8, 2016

Migration heating up

This afternoon I kicked around Stratford and Milford Point for a few hours in search of migrant shorebirds and terns. Results were pretty solid for the date, as I had a dozen species of shorebird and four terns. The shorebirds were all common migrants and breeders except for the continuing RUFF in Stratford. More than a few peep and dowitchers were present to look at, indicating that migration is really kicking into gear.

Terns were highlighted by single CASPIAN and ROYAL TERNS at Milford Point. The Caspian was a quick fly-by, while the Royal was roosting on one of the distant sandbars. Also loafing on the bars was a first summer LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL among a mixed flock of young gulls.

Record shot of the Caspian Tern as it passed by Milford Point
So far this has been one of the birdier early July's in my area that I can recall. In just a few brief outings this month I have chased a Ruff, seen four Royal Terns and a Caspian, have seen good numbers of migrants for the date, and stumbled across a Snowy Egret with Little Egret-like head plumes (more on that cool bird in a future post). Here's hoping the activity continues and includes something like, say, a stint??

 - NB

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Fall migration underway (incl. RUFF)

Well this must be as long as I've ever gone between blog posts!

Work, travel, work, last few months. Essentially zero local birding, and no Big Day either. But I have been birding while traveling - this includes over two weeks in China and a road trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I plan on catching up with blog posts on those trips, hopefully sooner than later.

But now I am back to a much more normal schedule. No big trips on the horizon for a while. This should mean more local birding and a return to a more relaxed summertime.

Speaking of local birding, the "fall" (AKA southbound) migration of shorebirds is off to a solid start. A few adults of the early-arriving species had already returned by the end of June. Short-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, and both yellowlegs were predictably first to arrive in any numbers at several east coast hotspots. Other highlights included a few different adult male Ruffs plus the first Whimbrel and Western Sandpipers of the summer. This seems a touch earlier than most years, but perhaps not.

Here in CT, Stefan Martin began the season with a bang by finding a RUFF in Stratford yesterday. Already in the area, I managed a quick detour to see the bird. This is the third Ruff in the state already this year, which has been a fantastic one for this species up and down the east coast.

record shot of the Ruff in Stratford, CT on July 1

The start of the "fall" migration always sneaks up on me. It's hard to believe that birds start moving south so early in summer, but the days are already starting to get a bit shorter :) No worries though...summer has just arrived and we have a few months of warm weather ahead.

 - NB