Showing posts from 2022

Greenland Canada Geese

Danish researcher Tony Fox has been studying geese in Greenland for many years. Canada Geese have been increasing in west Greenland since his research began in 1979, and further study has revealed that these birds mostly winter in the northeastern United States. This past July he and his team tagged several Canada Geese in the area of Isunngua, an upland plateau located near 67.12 N, 50.59 W. On November 19th I spotted one of Tony's Canada Geese, labeled "GYH," at the Greenbacker Pond in Durham, CT. It was the only neck-banded goose in the flock, but it makes one wonder how many of the 290 birds present came from the same part of the world. Around here, Canada Geese are often eschewed by the general public as year-round pests that soil golf courses and lawns. However, several populations of this species are impressive long-distance migrants that travel 2,000+ miles to their wintering grounds. Look for these far-flung members of this familiar species starting in mid-Octobe

400th Connecticut bird - Smith's Longspur

Birders are, by nature, collectors. When we observe a species new to us, we add it to our collection AKA list. Some birders are obsessive listers and need to know how many species they have seen on cloudy Tuesdays during October while the moon is in waxing gibbous. Others may not keep an official list at all, only mentally recalling if a particular species is new or not. Most of us lie somewhere in between. In this part of the world, one of the most commonly kept lists is the state/provincial list. This is especially true for a small state like Connecticut in which one can chase pretty much any rare bird in a half day or less, no matter which corner of the state you inhabit. When I began birding some 25 years ago, I was mentored by several birders who were very serious about their Connecticut state lists, so I picked up the habit straight away. The first to "400 before 40," I am the youngest to 400 species in the state by a reasonably wide margin thanks to the era in which I

"Ivory" Common Tern

Last weekend was busy with family matters as my brother was married in Old Saybrook, CT on Friday night. The day after the wedding a few of us hopped on his best friend Rob's boat for a ride across the Sound to Long Island. As we were departing the mouth of the Connecticut River, I scanned the flock of Common Terns that frequents the breakwaters at this time of year. One shockingly white bird stuck out like a sore thumb, and Rob was kind enough to double back for a closer look. The bird appears to be a leucistic Common Tern with fully white plumage and bright orange bare parts. We could not linger for long, so I did not see it fly, but I don't see a trace of pigment in the feathers at rest. I've never seen a tern of any species like this, and after a bit of research this appears to be a rare abnormality among terns.  - NB

CAPE VERDE SHEARWATER off Cape Cod, MA - August 12, 2022

For the past couple months, Ian Davies and I had been eyeing this week for a little summer Cape Cod birding adventure. The feasibility of this plan would depend largely on the weather, as I wanted to trailer the boat to the Cape for access to pelagic waters and Monomoy NWR. After a rather uncertain and oft-changing forecast thanks to a stationary front passage, a brief weather window opened for the second half of the week. Julian Hough was free to join me for the mini vacation, so we left CT on Tuesday evening. Wednesday was spent shorebirding; Ian had to work that day, but Pete Trimble and Phil Rusch filled out the boat. Thursday found us rained out, but we regrouped for a full Friday on the water. At sunrise on Friday the 12th, Ian, Julian, and Pete & Jeremiah Trimble and I left the harbor and headed around the tip of Monomoy to the productive waters east of Chatham. I had been out there a handful of times prior between my boat and a friend's, and there has always been at lea

Madeira...finally! Early June 2022

After three years of trying, Dave Provencher and I finally made it to Madeira in search of Zino's Petrel. The pandemic had postponed our 2020 and 2021 bookings, but we were not denied this time around. We spent about 5 days on the island, three afternoons of which were at sea. The rest of the time was spent casually exploring from sea level to 6,000+ ft peaks. We connected reasonably easily with the island's few endemic species and subspecies, plus a few other target birds. Madeira is a small island whose jagged peaks jut out of the ocean like the tip of an iceberg. Information about the island is readily available online, so I will spare the repetition here. Though I will add one thing that surprised me...Madeira is very affordable. Cheap, even. At least once you get there. Flights seemed to run $650-800 return from the northeast US, but once on-island, our stay did not set us back much. The rental car cost $215 for the duration, our downtown Machico hotel room was $55/night,