Monday, August 26, 2019

SFBY Spell Broken

The last six weeks or so have been quite slow around here. Shorebird and tern diversity has been low - not something you want if you're doing a big year of any kind. The weather has honestly been too nice. Connecticut lacks extensive shorebird habitat. That fact, combined with our east-to-west coastline and proximity to Long Island, make it too easy for shorebirds to fly right over us on their way south. So, we need inclement weather to drop those migrants out of the sky and force them to land in CT. Other than a couple lines of strong storms and one or two dreary mornings, our days have been dry and sunny! Perfect beach weather, not so perfect shorebirding weather. Not surprisingly, those few moments of inclement weather have resulted in the few appearances by scarce species such as Stilt Sandpiper and Marbled Godwit.

I've been looking forward to the last week of August because, even on beautiful days, diversity should be increasing as we reach peak juvenile migration. Juveniles migrate later than adults and are more likely to wander a bit outside their species' ideal migration route.

Two of those species are "grasspipers" that we almost exclusively see as juveniles in late summer: BUFF-BREASTED and BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS. Right on time, I had one of each at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison yesterday morning.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

The evening high tide at Milford Point did not produce anything new for me, but three WHIMBREL were a highlight.

Whimbrel

Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstone against dramatic skies

Whimbrel and Black-bellied Plovers

The evening before, I boated to the mouth of the Connecticut River in search of terns. The flock out there did not disappoint - the five regularly-occurring species for this time of year were present: COMMON, ROSEATE, FORSTER'S, LEAST, and BLACK.

Forster's Tern (juv)

Common Tern

Roseate Tern

Roseate Tern

Common Tern (juv)

Forster's Tern (juv)

Roseate Tern (juv)

Roseate Terns

juvenile Common (left) and Forster's Terns

 - NB