Showing posts from February, 2017

Plankton feeding begins

The annual late winter/early spring plankton bloom in Long Island Sound is underway, as of today. Each March through mid-April (starting a bit early this year), thousands of birds congregate along the central and western Connecticut coast to feed on floating plankton (reportedly barnacle larvae). Rare and scarce gulls are often involved in this phenomenon. At its best, the gulling can be nothing short of spectacular. Here's hoping for more interesting sightings this year.  - NB

Quebec - Feb 18-21, 2017

I had been itching to road trip north sometime this winter ever since the New Year, when it became evident that this was not going to be an "invasion" year in southern New England. Neither the irruptive passerines nor raptors have made much of an appearance down this way. I actually had plans to do a combo birding/skiing/relaxing trip with my girlfriend, but once that fell through I decided to make the best of my time off by taking that trip north with friends instead. Not exactly the romantic getaway I had planned on, sharing a car with three dudes... Julian Hough, Frank Gallo, and Frank Mantlik accompanied me on said trip, with the focus being Great Gray Owl photography and seeing any other northern goodies that might be up there. I was up for some exploring too - anything north of Montreal would be new territory for me. We departed oh so early on Saturday morning and B-lined to Montreal, specifically to Refuge faunique Marguerite-D'Youville south of the city itsel

The PA Black-backed Oriole

Last Saturday morning I had a window to drive with friends to Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania to see the adult male BLACK-BACKED ORIOLE that had been identified coming to a feeder a couple days prior. Before making the trip I weighed the pros and cons whether or not this unprecedented sighting involved a wild bird. I figured the odds were high enough to justify the effort. My biggest issue with this bird is the lack of precedent/pattern with this species in the US (minus the CA bird at the border, also an adult male). But who's to say this species hasn't previously occurred in the ABA other plumages. Black-backed Oriole is rather closely related to the ABA area-breeding Baltimore and Bullock's Orioles. I don't know much about Black-backed Oriole, but from some online image searching it would appear that females and young males are not dissimilar in appearance from those age classes of our more familiar orioles. Check out some of those eBird checklists with imag

"BLACK" BRANT - Groton, CT - 5 Feb 2017

Doesn't it often happen that those days you didn't plan on birding turn out to be the best days? I unexpectedly found myself birding the eastern CT coast on Sunday, thanks to both a reported adult Ross's Gull in adjacent Rhode Island and altered social plans. The strategy was to bird this portion of the coast, not far from that Ross's Gull sighting, trying to find the gull in CT all the while ready to cross the border into RI for a short chase if it was refound there. Last week's first cycle Ross's only left me wanting more - why not follow it up with an adult for good measure? As it turned out, mainly out-of-state birders were over the border searching for the ROGU. Can't say I'm surprised. Classic Rhode Island. I was working the coast from west to east, starting in Waterford. My first couple stops produced nothing exciting, but as I pulled into the parking lot at Eastern Point in Groton I eyeballed a half-dozen Brant that were feeding close to shore