Monday, May 20, 2019

CT BIG DAY - May 16, 2019 - 189 species

What a strange spring we've had so far. It was quite cold and wet for a while there. The bird migration has come in a few distinct waves, with little movement between those waves. Some years, migration moves through at a steady pace, with birds seemingly trickling through on a daily bases. It was boom-or-bust for the first two weeks of May. We were hoping that we would hit one of these waves that would hold a mix of early and late migrants, but we clearly caught more early birds than late ones. Each year is different. Our 189 total seems to be about our average these days. As always, we had a blast being crazy for 24 hours; those few moments before midnight on "the day" are always exhilarating.

A bit burnt out for a full analysis this year, but we had our usual array of surprise hits and disappointing misses.

"Best" birds: Yellow Rail (continuing), Sandhill Crane, Wilson's Snipe, Evening Grosbeak, Common Goldeneye - all five of these are new for this team's CT Big Day efforts.

Biggest misses: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Alder Flycatcher, Blackpoll Warbler - you can see what I mean about missing some of the later migrants/arrivals.

 - NB

Thursday, May 9, 2019

YELLOW RAIL in CT - May 9, 2019

This isn't how I expected to get my state Yellow Rail.

The few recent CT records of this species have fallen between mid-autumn and early winter and involved individuals at coastal saltmarshes. I just assumed that I had more November rope-dragging days in my future, as spring New England records are very sparse in modern times.

At 3:45 this morning I stepped out of my car at a brackish marsh in Old Saybrook to hear a YELLOW RAIL clicking away. That textbook Morse code-like call. Obviously first I used my iPhone SE (go ahead and snicker) to record the call, though it struggled to pick up the target sound. After a few minutes of standing there and just enjoying a call that I never thought I would hear in Connecticut, I texted (and surely woke up) several friends. Concerned for the local residents (this listening site is very small and located in a residential neighborhood), I called the town's police department and let them know the deal. They were fine with making the observation public. Unfortunately for others, the bird stopped calling at around 4:20am, before anyone could make it.

Here's hoping the bird sticks and is audible for whoever tries to listen tonight.

eBird checklist with sound:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56052182

 - NB

Saturday, May 4, 2019

May 2nd fallout at Lighthouse Point, New Haven, CT

The SW coast of Connecticut experienced an impressive fallout on May 2nd. 

I arrived at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven just before 2pm to find the place covered with neotropical migrants. This was truly a fallout - at times birds littered the forest floor and understory, as well as the canopy of course. I was joined by Julian Hough later in the day. We tallied 18 species of warbler in this small park (16 of those at eye level or lower!) plus your expected vireos, tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks and thrushes. It was probably the best single-site landbird fallout I have experienced in spring in Connecticut, as far as bird density goes. The composition was dominated by the species you'd expect for the date (i.e. Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, and BT Green Warblers etc). Highlights included a LINCOLN'S SPARROW and an early WILLOW FLYCATCHER.

The previous night's NEXRAD radar did reveal that, while very little seemed to leave CT, a concentration of birds arrived in SW CT during the early morning hours, presumably from the take-off in the mid-Atlantic. Dreary coastal weather conditions likely caused birds to concentrate there upon arrival.

Hammonasset seemed to be the approximate eastern boundary of the fallout. I birded Bluff Point in Groton and Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme before noon and had modest numbers of migrants at those locations, but nothing like what was happening to the west.

Blackburnian Warbler

 - NB