Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Caspian Tern - West Haven, CT

Late this morning I found myself at Bradley Point in West Haven, CT, to see if the California Gull, which was last seen flying north a couple evenings ago, was still hanging around. I did not see it amongst a gull flock that was reduced in size from the preceding few days, but there was a single CASPIAN TERN roosting with the lingering immature Ring-bills. It seemed to adopt the lazy beach bum attitude of its companions and was quite approachable. Apparently it lingered for several hours, which is atypical of a Caspian Tern in Connecticut - they are notoriously difficult to chase.

Caspian Tern

 -NB

Sunday, April 21, 2019

White-faced Ibis - Madison, CT

Yesterday afternoon Allison Black and I took a ride through Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT after the rains had cleared, partially in hope of downed birds in the numerous lawn pools. The pools were just about completely devoid of birds, but we did sort through a flock of Glossy Ibis long enough to pick out a WHITE-FACED. Scope study revealed the set of field marks you are looking for: complete white border of feathers around the facial skin and eye, pinkish-red facial skin, and a red iris. White-faced Ibis has become annual in the state in small numbers (now averaging more than one per year) and was just removed from the Review List by the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut.

Not even 'record photo' quality, but this phone-scoped pic gives an idea

 - NB

Friday, April 19, 2019

YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER - Milford, CT

Another post-work coastal outing paid off this afternoon. Stepping out of the car at Milford Point I immediately heard the chips of a warbler I could not immediately place. Given the mid-April date, I considered Yellow-throated, which I vaguely recalled having a similar call note. Yellow-throated Warbler arrives very early to its breeding grounds not far to our south and is typically the earliest of the southern overshoots that we see in Connecticut. The bird showed itself quickly and was the hoped-for YTWA.

For the ensuing couple hours, the warbler made circuits around the coastal center building, sticking fairly tightly to the cedars but occasionally showing itself in the open. It called frequently, which made keeping tabs on it pretty easy most of the time. Several birders successfully observed and photographed it.

Of note, yesterday evening's California Gull was seen at the same location and time today, despite unsuccessful searches at different tides and times.




 - NB

Thursday, April 18, 2019

CALIFORNIA GULL in CT

This spring's gull migration in Connecticut has been the worst in at least a decade, as far as I can remember...which made this evening's find of an adult CALIFORNIA GULL all the more surprising.

Showery weather conditions have set in for a few days, which can mean downed birds during migration. It's been a loooong week at work and I was itching to hit the coast for just an hour or two this evening. The Oyster River mouth had nothing, and nearby Bradley Point in West Haven had just its usual loafing flock of a couple hundred gulls. Scanning with bins from the car, and not expecting to see much, I noticed at least three adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS straight away and decided to take a close look at the flock. The initial count of 8 LBBGs would have been my personal high count in the state by a wide margin. Then I saw the Cal Gull, which was facing straight away into the wind for a while before finally getting a bit active and showing all salient field marks just in time for Julian Hough's arrival. We watched the bird for a bit before it flew offshore, likely to one of the breakwaters to roost.

This is the state's second record, the first being seen in spring 2016 and reappearing briefly in September of that year.

The final LBBG tally was fourteen.

CAGU bathing, at right


Open wing includes a p9 mirror, a typical pattern for this species and differentiates it from a CAGU seen earlier this season in MA and NJ.

Behind a few Ring-billed Gulls. A bit of a bruiser, this one was closer to Herring than to Ring-billed in size.

Right of a couple Herring Gulls. The bird's legs were not bright yellow as I would have expected at this time of year, instead appearing an interesting dull grayish yellow-green.

Nine of the 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

 - Nick

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Antarctica in Feb 2020 via Connecticut Audubon Society



Antarctica Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent

February 5 - 17, 2020             
13 Days!

Antarctica has been inspiring explorers for centuries and this expedition offers you the chance to discover why, with an unforgettable journey through the spectacular wilderness of the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. You’ll encounter a world where nature creates the rules, her unpredictable temperament making each trip unique, exciting, and personal. Imagine cruising in a Zodiac through crackling sea ice like shattered glass, witnessing penguins building their nests, or navigating through a maze of icebergs, each one uniquely shaped by its journey through the sea. You’ll enjoy iconic Antarctic highlights, exhilarating adventures, and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime.
Leader: Nick Bonomo 
Fee: Call or email for more information 1-860-767-0660; ecotravel@ctaudubon.org


Ecotravel Home Page: https://www.ctaudubon.org/ecotravel-home/
Join us for the Ultimate Bucket List trip, and support a fantastic local non-profit while you're at it!

 - Nick

Friday, April 5, 2019

A pale Red-tail from late October in CT

Last Oct 30th (2018), I found myself at Lighthouse Pt in New Haven, CT during a healthy passage of buteos and eagles. These large raptor days are all too scarce at Lighthouse, where it takes a well-timed late Oct-early Nov cold front to produce a day like this along the Connecticut coast. One of the Red-tails that day, a juvenile bird, was strikingly pale below. The bird wasn't terribly low, was picked up when it was already just about overhead, and streamed westward across the harbor, never allowing for a topside view. I did manage a handful of poor ventral images, which show some features that suggest a Krider's intergrade.

In the photos below, note the overall ghostly underparts, in particular the faint patagial. A zoom-in on the face strongly indicates a whitish cheek that offsets a dark malar, which is another Krider's-like feature. As Red-tail expert Brian Sullivan notes, you can't say much without upperpart photos in this case. Wherever it came from, a unique bird for sure, and outside the norm for borealis.





 - NB